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Visit: Waterman's & Johnny Boy's Ribs, Maryland


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Hello all,

I recently went on a road trip through the DelMarVa area and to prepare, restaurant-wise, for the trip, I consulted eGullet pretty heavily. So, to give back, I'm going to post some photos from the two places I went to that I learned about from eGullet.

First stop was Waterman's Crab House in Rock Hall MD. From reading the forums on here prior to the trip, I can tell that there are a few big names in Maryland crab houses and they all have a faction of supporters. We chose to hit up Waterman's over others like Mike's or Cantler's since it made for a more off-the-beaten-path drive. The scenery was pleasant but our stomachs were growling after the drive down from New York. We ordered:

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Cream of Crab soup for my lady friend. I am not a big soup guy generally, but this was exceptional, and I highly recommend it to anyone going out there.

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I had the Maryland Crab Soup. Flavorful with fresh crab meat. Very good, but I liked the other one more.

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Then, appetizer: Oysters on the half shell. Not much to say about them other than that they were fresh and delicious. (I was a little disappointed a Maryland crab powerhouse like Waterman's would bring us our sauces in those little plastic disposable cups.)

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We split a Rock Hall Platter, broiled instead of fried. I was so enchanted by that wonderful crab cake lump that I didn't think to take a picture until after we had torn into it. It was everything a crab cake should be: cooked perfectly, no filler, and absolutely not the faintest trace of funky crabbiness. I could have had another one. It was the standout; the scallops were overdone (although I'm not much of a scallop fan to begin with) and the cod was good-not-great. We forgot to order the one thing you go to a crab house for: crabs. Although it's my understanding that this time of year the crabs aren't local.

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On the drive back, we stopped at another place I learned about from eGullet, Johnny Boy's Ribs in La Plata MD. Someone in the forums mentioned that Charles County MD is one of the few places on the east coast that allows open-pit BBQs, so I thought it would be worth a stop. The only specific place in the county that got mentioned was Johnny Boy, so we punched it into our navigation system and headed north. We arrived on a Sunday so what I guess is the main restaurant was closed. We ordered from their adjacent shack. I hope it's all the same stuff.

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I ordered a sliced beef sandwich with baked beans. The beef was ordinary in every way and didn't even appear to have been BBQd; the baked beans were great. The real action though was on this plate: a pork rib sandwich with slaw. That is, literally a pile of pork bone-in ribs between two slices of bread. In my experience, worthwhile BBQ places do either pork or beef very well, but rarely both. I think this is one of those places that you go to for pork, like these meaty, juicy ribs. The "BBQ flavor" here is a bit understated, but with meat this good it just works.

That's all of the eGullet-worthy food from this trip.

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Thanks for the report!

Have not been to Waterman's (I'm a Cantler's guy, it's close). I always like cream of crab better than Maryland crab, the crab usually gets lost with all those veggies (especially the tomatoes) and spices. Demand definitely exceeds supply in these parts for crabs to pick. Maryland doesn't allow dredging of crabs in the winter, which is good. Virginia does, but dredged crabs can be muddy. Many crabs are shipped to Maryland to meet the demand both in and out of season with the bulk coming from Louisiana.

Johnny Boy's is definitely hit or miss in my opinion. We stop there sometimes when traveling that way. I've had very good ribs and ribs that were obviously reheated from the day before (or further back, really dry and overcooked), so it's a bit of a crap shoot.

Glad you got some good ones!

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