Restaurant Review: The Dancing Crab
The Dancing Crab
4615 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016
To start off, yes, I am as shocked as you are that I haven’t been to The Dancing Crab before given how long I’ve lived in the neighborhood. I don’t have much to say for myself on that front, other than better late than never, right?
The Dancing Crab might have a crab shack theme, but it’s a more polished version of what you’d find at the beach or on the shore. As you walk up the steps to the front door, on your left is a bright glass-enclosed deck with ceiling fans that even on a hot August evening made the space feel cool. Inside, the ceiling is hung with fishing nets that have trapped starfish, crabs and sand dollars in their midst – a bit kitschy but expected. High gloss wooden panels hung with large, bold pictures of seafood dishes adorn one wall, while mirrors run across the opposing one, making the small-ish space seem larger. At the back, a fish tank is surrounded by a dimly lit, but large, well-stocked bar.
My family and I were greeted by the attentive, friendly wait staff who make you feel like they are just-so-glad you came and took care of us throughout the evening. The Dancing Crab is definitely family friendly, and the dining area was filled with groups young and old pounding crabs with wooden mallets.
Our table, situated under Tiffany-style lamps, was suitably covered in brown paper to accommodate the inevitable mess of crab picking. Nearby were four large, flat screen televisions, which proved a distraction for my son as the Packers were playing a pre-season game, but would be great for a big game night with a few buddies over beers and crabs.
Our meal started with the spinach and artichoke dip. I was a bit nervous as it came to the table and I could smell the hot, decidedly not low-fat cheese crusting the top. However, it was quite tasty – nothing over the top, but exactly what you would expect from a crab place. The dip was very rich with nice, big pieces of artichoke hearts, and went well with the grilled
thin-sliced baguette. Our waitress brought us more toast without being asked when she saw us running low – always a plus in my book.
For the main event, my son had a kid’s burger with cheese and truffle fries. The portion could have fed two kids, and my son’s eyes grew wide when he saw the size of his burger. The burger was juicy and full of flavor, though a bit undercooked for the medium we ordered, and both my son and husband gave it a hearty thumbs up. The truffle fries were crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside and perfectly seasoned – a must order for any diner.
The star of the meal was the extra large steamed crabs from Louisiana, with a side of grilled asparagus, that my husband and I enjoyed. The half-dozen crabs arrived hot and coated in Old Bay just like I like them; diners can specify the amount they want ranging from none, mild, medium to extra. My husband described his crabs as heavy with good meat “especially for DC crabs” – this is high praise from a man who has spent each summer since childhood in Rehoboth picking crabs with family friends who grew up on the water. Mine were also quite tasty, but a bit lighter on the meat, though what I had was very tender and flavorful. Crabs on the menu range in size from small to jumbo and are priced accordingly. The crabs are a bit pricey, but fair.
After our first meal at this veteran Tenleytown establishment, my family and I agreed that The Dancing Crab is about as authentic as you can get without a bay in sight. We’ll definitely be back.
The Dancing Crab offers several weekly specials and live entertainment on the weekend. A full schedule is available on its website.