If you tire of the kitsch of Joe’s Crab Shack, but still need to get your crustacean fix, San Antonio Crab Shack is definitely worth several visits.
Instead of the décor that haunts most seafood eateries (see: nets, expansive sea floor murals filled with sharks, schools of fish, and starfish, lifesavers, sand, stuffed sea creatures), the San Antonio Crab Shack goes for bare-bones pragmatic dining. There are a dozen or so tables, all topped with plastic buckets, napkin rolls and crab crackers. A flat screen TV usually draws attention, but that’s about it.
Like most often the case at such demure joints, you’re not there to play interior designer, you’re there for delicious food. After opening in mid-May at an equally nondescript shopping center off Rittiman Road, the San Antonio Crab Shack has amassed a small following — and for good reason.
I stopped by for my first visit on a recent weekday just past the lunch hour and was warmly greeted by one of their staff members. Like every restaurant worth its salt, SACS has a tight and concise menu, and theirs is made up of crab specials, shrimp and crawfish boils, po’boys and sides. There’s a mention of desserts, but my lunch partner and I stuck to savory offerings. I went with the Sunny Florida crab platter in the most go-big-or-go-home fashion, while my partner chose the fried shrimp plate.
Several minutes later, we were presented with our orders. My awe-inspiring plate was perfectly arranged with two snow crab leg clusters, a quarter-pound of shrimp, smoked sausage, sweet corn and seasoned potatoes. A fan of crawfish, I don’t mind putting in some work in order to chow down on any meal, and this was no different. Though plainly seasoned, the crab was tender, and my only complaint would be that the AC in the joint quickly turned my plate stone cold. No matter, the flavors were still balanced and the garlic butter that was paired with it helped jazz up the crab. The garlicky shrimp boil was doused in delicate chili oil that also worked well with the sweet corn. And the Kiolbassa sausage, boiled in with the crab, featured a lingering taste of salt water.
My partner’s fried shrimp was pop-able, and clearly dredged by hand in the kitchen with a hint of chili and plenty of pepper. The plates would have been near perfect had it not been for our fingerling potatoes, which weren’t completely cooked through.
The second visit, a week later and during the evening featured more patrons, both families and smaller twosomes. This time I was joined by a pair of pals who opted for the fried shrimp plate and a fried shrimp po’boy, while I chose the catfish po’boy. The shrimp was consistently good (ask for it spicy at your own risk), but the highlights were the po’boys. Both on the smaller side, and served on small baguettes if not hot dog buns, the po’boys hit the spot without inducing a coma. My catfish, coated with cornmeal, was fried to perfection, and didn’t call for any extra sauces (thankfully it’s served sans tartar sauce). The shrimp po’boy with a simple remoulade was hard to navigate on the small bun, but still worth every bite.
No frills, just plenty of Old Bay to go around and all the crab your heart desires — the San Antonio Crab Shack is unlike most seafood eateries in SA. And that’s a very good thing.
San Antonio Crab Shack, 4413 Rittiman Road, (210) 504-7227
The Skinny: Lots of care and little fuss at this new eatery off Rittiman that packs in crab legs, po’boys and more.
Best Bets: Sunny Florida, fried shrimp po’boy, catfish po’boy Price: $7-$40 Hours: 11am-9pm Tue-Thu; 11am-10pm Fri-Sat; noon-6pm Sun
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