When you visit the Oregon Coast, enjoying a feast of Oregon's delicious Dungeness crabs is a must! Here is what you need to know all about eating or catching crab in Florence.
Dungeness crab specials pop to the top of menus at local restaurants through the winter and spring months when commercial crabbing is in full swing. Prices and availability for crab can fluctuate depending on crabbing restrictions, demand and the season, so checking in frequently with local vendors is helpful when your heart is set on crab for dinner.
Crab on the Menu
When crab is bounteous, local restaurants, wineries or organizations will feature crab feeds. Watch the calendar for these epic all-you-can-eat crab dinners from casual to grand affairs featuring wine pairings. In previous seasons seafood celebrations have been held at the Florence Event Center, the Cottage Grove Armory, WildCraft Cider Works, Provisions Market Hall and King Estate — often in February or early spring.
Start your search with 1285 Restobar in Florence which has crab encrusted salmon (two of Oregon's top culinary highlights!) and crab ravioli. Or explore the current menu at the intimate, romantic Waterfront Depot in Florence which typically features crab Caesar salad, crab stuffed mushrooms and crab cakes. Locavore-minded seafood and northwest-style restaurants are also good bets when it comes to fresh, seasonally available crab.
Some of the best places to eat or buy crab fresh straight from the boats include the two local fish markets in Eugene — Fisherman's Market and Newman's Fish Market. In Florence, Novelli's Crab & Seafood is right on the docks, serving up delicious crab chowder and freshly caught crab from their own boats. Also in Florence, conveniently on Highway 101, is the Krab Kettle, a charming seafood market by the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce visitor information center.
Do It Yourself
Recreational crabbing is legal and open at piers, jetties, bays, beaches and tide pools year-round on the Oregon coast. But locals know that months ending in "r" (September, October, November and December) are the best time to haul up abundant crab.
Getting in a boat and dropping your crab rings in the open ocean is not permitted from October 16 to November 30. Commercial crabbing typically gears up in November, just in time for holiday dining and markets. But both recreational crabbing and commercial crabbing may be restricted if health risks are noted during routine agency biotoxin testing. Crab size and population may also impact the season opening for commercial crabbing. Check with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife for any crabbing restrictions or closures.
Crab rings / pots and other accessories can be purchased at Bi-Mart or local sporting goods stores. You'll also need bait, which can be raw chicken legs or fish carcasses. A shellfish license is required for crabbers age 12 years old and up. Crabs must be male and no smaller than 5 3/4 inches wide. Get a crab ruler and learn to identify male versus females. Some of the rulers may have example illustrations on them for quick reference.
The daily limit is 12 male crabs per day per licensee.
Where to Pull Up Crab Pots
You'll need butter, lemons and crab crackers (pick some up at Kitchen Klutter in Florence) and plenty of napkins. Cooking crab is probably prohibited or discouraged in your vacation rental or hotel kitchenette due to the strong seafood odor. Please be respectful and request permission first. Seafood shops or boilers on the docks will often do the cooking and cleaning for you for a small fee.
Now you are ready to dine. Crab can be a very simple affair — pair it with a white wine from the Florence's Bodega Wine Parlour, a loaf of bread from, a whole lot of butter and a drizzle of lemon. Be prepared to be messy and enjoy. Depending on your appetite and the crab size, expect to eat anywhere from a half a crab to two whole ones. Leftover crab can be cracked and put in the fridge for the next morning's best omelette ever.