Where to find the best deals on crabs in Ocean City

On a recent weekend, I set off on a very simple mission: to find the cheapest crabs in Ocean City. What I discovered is that crab prices are more complicated than I thought.

Prices are difficult to pin down because they can change depending on the cost the restaurant pays for the crabs on a given day. Also, no two restaurants have to same definitions for crab sizes. Some sell mediums, larges, extra larges and jumbos. Some offer smalls. Some offer only jumbos, but no extra larges. Some sell the sizes together, mixing smalls, mediums and larges, or other combinations. Some define the sizes using ones and twos.

Even the all-you-can-eat varies. Most restaurants have a basic all-you-can-eat dinner with crabs and corn, and then some offer chicken, ribs, shrimp, or some combination, if you want to pay a little more.

It's not an exact science, but here's a rundown of the cheapest crabs around. And please remember, the bushel prices are as of today, and they may - probably will - change. But it should still give visitors to O.C. a good idea of where the deals are. (And if you know of better prices, let us know!)

For all-you-can-eat crabs, here are the cheapest places we found (price is per person):

Belly Buster's, 4408 Coastal Highway, 410-524-7116. $22.95 for crabs and corn.

PGN Crab House, 2906 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-8380. $22.95 for crabs, corn, french fries and chicken.

Higgins Crab House, 3102 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-2581. $23.99 for crabs and corn. (Add cole slaw, chicken and fries for $4 more per person.)

If you are trying to get your crabs by the bushel or half bushel, these places seem to have the best deals:

Bahama Mamas (North), 13201 Coastal Highway, 410-524-8585. Half bushel $49, bushel $89 for mediums.

Waterman's Seafood Company, 12505 Ocean Gateway, West Ocean City, 410-213-1020. For smalls, half bushel $35, bushel $69. For mediums, half bushel $70, bushel $139.

On the Bay Seafood, 4204 Coastal Highway, 410-524-7070. For small/medium combined, half bushel $55, bushel $95. For medium/large combined, half bushel $85, bushel $160. (Price as of June 3.)

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