Although it technically begins with the blessing of the fleet in Everglades City in September, Florida stone crab season runs from October 15 to May 15. Insiders will tell you that the six weeks prior to the New Year are the best time to snag the sweetest, most succulent meat.
Stone crabs are found in the waters from Connecticut to Belize, but they are most closely associated with the Sunshine State. Much of that connection is due to the legendary Joe’s Stone Crab on Miami Beach, which is the largest buyer in the country. Stone crabs are the ultimate in sustainable seafood, as no crabs are killed: One claw is removed, and the crab is returned to the water to regenerate.
Dozens of local eateries serve the delicacy, but the best known is Truluck’s. The restaurant operates its own fishing fleet in the Gulf of Mexico and promises crabs “from our traps to your table in 24 hours.” Every Monday night, Naples foodies can indulge in unlimited stone crabs for a low, set price.
If you want to get up close and personal with these gems of the sea, mark your calendar for the Naples Stone Crab Festival, taking place October 25-27 at locations on the waterfront including Tin City and Bayfront. Live music, arts and crafts, and 20 food booths will provide the perfect kickoff to the season.