Story and photos by Mark Sterling-Ogle, Jan. 1, 2015.
The Angry Crab Shack, which opened last year in Mesa, has been on my radar for some time. Now that they’ve opened a second location in Arcadia (at 28th Street and Indian School Road) and added BBQ to the name, I had no excuse.
The spacious spot they had taken over was once home to local neighborhood sports bar Teakwoods Tavern and Grill, which still has two locations in town. The large dining room has been redecorated with unfinished pine siding, which has been adorned with the sharpie marker graffiti of diners. There are still plenty of television screens for sports fans and a hand-washing sink out in front of the restrooms (well played, as I would later discover).
The menu, which encourages diners to “Roll up your sleeves and get some,” is split into two sides: the Seafood Market and the Meat Market.
The Seafood Market is priced by the pound, and includes lobster ($19), shrimp ($12), clams ($12), blue crab ($13), snow crab ($15), mussels ($10), crawfish (flash frozen. $8; live, $11), king crab ($24) and dungeness Crab ($18).
Guests are directed to “sauce it” and choose from tamarind, pacific rim, traditional boil, “kajun,” lemon pepper, garlic or a trifecta of the last three. After your sauce selection, you choose your spice level, from none (me no likey spice) to mild (wimpy) all the way up to scorching scorpion (order at your own risk).
Additions to the boiling bag can include sausage, corn on the cob and potato. The menu also offers a side of seasoned and spiced mixed veggies.
The Meat Market works in almost the same way. One may order by the half-pound or whole and it come with two side choices – slaw, potato salad or barbecue beans. Pulled pork ($9; $13), brisket ($11; $19), chicken ($13), ribs ($15; $22) or a Pit Master Platter ($19), a three-meat variety, are available to choose from.
My friend ordered two pounds of blue crab, playing it safe with the traditional boil. The manager that had taken his order had told him that it would be the closest to Old Bay, often used in boiling crab on the East Coast, from where he hails.
I placed an order for a half dozen raw oysters on the half shell ($8) that are also available charred ($12).
When our waiter finally arrived, I placed an order of a pound of shrimp, trifecta sauced with a medium spice level. I asked about the type of sausage, hoping for perhaps some Andouille. I was told it was a “beef and pork blend” and I added it anyway.
Under the “Gotta Have Me Some” header there were appetizers such as Gator Nuggets ($9), fried calamari strips ($8), fried oysters ($7), fried clams ($9) and hush puppies ($3). Having “gigged” bullfrogs as a kid, I was pleased to see fried frog legs ($9), and ordered some just for old time’s sake.
Plenty of “The Fixin’s” side dishes are also to be had; cole slaw, potato salad and bread for “soppin’” are all only a buck for a small side. Other sides include onion rings ($4), cajun fries ($3)
and sweet potato fries ($4).
My friend’s order came out first, a large bag of boiled seafood goodness, delivered in a beer bucket that was left on the table for the inevitable “pickins.”
Delivered alongside were a pair of shears and some crab cracking tools. As he opened the bag a look of confusion came over his face and he whispered, “These are all female crabs! I’ve never in all my crab eating years had female crabs!” Apparently, back in Maryland they only serve the male of the species. I did a little digging into Maryland Blue Crabbing Law and while it was technical to say the least, all I found was that males and females were to be kept in separate bushels, in a limited amount. More likely, it was simply better for the species continued thriving to return the females when caught.
As he began to dive into the steaming bag it became apparent that there were several tools he lacked to properly harvest the meat to his skill level. He asked the manager for a mallet. The manager politely advised they don’t have any but he would be happy to bring a rock, which he did. He was also able to secure my friend a “real” knife, as the plastic utensils provided were no help in retrieving every morsel of the succulent crab.
My oysters, which were very plump, came out on a bed of ice with a spicy cocktail sauce and lime wedges instead of lemon. I inquired as to what kind of oysters they were and our food runner simply replied “raw.” There was no arguing that point. I decided to call back the next day to ask and got an even better answer: “on the half shell.” I decided to give up.
The frog legs, with a heavy cornmeal breading, were delicious and fleshy, served up with a spicy Cajun mayo. If you have never tried them, now is your chance, they do an excellent job here.
Although my shrimp were overcooked, the trifecta sauce was outstanding. I’ll be going back soon, to give the other side of the menu a try. Perhaps the management will work on educating the staff more and tightening up the ship a bit.
Angry Crab & BBQ
2808 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix | 602-956-3088
2740 S. Alma School Road, Mesa | 480-730-2722
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri-Sat