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Food and ambience

Local cuisine, American, Bar, Seafood, Gluten Free Options
Special occasions, Scenic view, Large groups, Bar scene
Joe's Crab Shack offers a variety of favorites from all parts of the sea and shore. From its extensive menu, guests can choose from buckets of seasonal seafood, fried shrimp platters and fish dishes, as well as options from the "mainland" that include steak, sandwiches, and chicken. Guests can indulge in over-sized and creative cocktails, such as the Shark Bite which is playfully garnished with a shark toy. Since its inception, Joe's popularity has stemmed not only from its menu, but also its retail store. With various pieces of merchandise for purchase, including the ever-popular tie-dye T-shirt with the phrase "Peace, Love and Crabs," Joe's has become synonymous with the word "fun."
Special Diets
Gluten Free Options
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
American, Bar, Seafood
Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Parking Available, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi, Table Service
Reviews (408)
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All reviews crab seafood oceanside harbor fun place full bar bibs platter
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Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Fun place. Get the crab bucket. It's so fun to eat. Messy, but fun. Friendly staff. Make reservations because this place stays busy. You can also get takeout.

Date of visit: April 2021
Reviewed February 28, 2021

Beautifully located on the harbor in Oceanside, we met with family for lunch. The restaurant is in a nice location along the docks of the harbor beautifully situated for a dining experience. The service was good, but most of the fish was fried. I ordered...the shrimp platter where they were grilled, but the shrimp were all overcooked and rubbery. My wife ordered the fish and chips which she said was "ok", but when I tasted it, while the fries were nice and crispy, the fried fish was rubbery. My sister ordered a giant platter of fried fish and enjoyed it, so one of the meals (out of three) was good.More

Date of visit: February 2021
Reviewed January 30, 2021

outdoor dining while under roof- we were close to the open door so technically we were outdoors while indoors. Several diners but few servers. Service was a little slow. Food was average.

Date of visit: January 2021
Reviewed October 4, 2020

Went there while in Vista for granddaughters wedding. A group of us went to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner and it was excellent.

Date of visit: August 2020
Reviewed September 22, 2020

We arrived at 2 in the afternoon on a Monday. There were maybe 5 tables with people eating. It took over 30 minutes to get a table but once seated our waitress was very helpful and made us feel welcome. The food was another story....The Calamari was Rubery and had way to much breading. The steamed pots were not the best either. The lobster was not cooked properly and the crab legs were like they were old or something. All in all a very expensive lunch and the food was not even so so. I gave it a 3 star only because of the waitress who was very good.More

Date of visit: September 2020
Reviewed September 17, 2020

Loved the ambiance and beach style decor. There were plenty of tables with a great harbor view, but we weren't allowed to sit there because the waiter told us that section was closed... not enough servers. Disappointing! They could attract more customers if they tried...to cater to their clients. (Maybe try bending the rules a little?) Fish and chips: $17.99. Very blah. not worth that much money. I've paid much less and gotten better fish and service. The waitors did the bare minimum. My friend had a big pot of fish with crab, lobster, etc. It lacked in flavor because it was frozen fish, just heated up. We will not be returning.More

Date of visit: September 2020
Reviewed July 26, 2020

I bring my parents here for early lunch often and we also celebrated my daughter's 16th birthday there. The food never fails and is always perfectly cooked. I don't know if there's anything on the menu that isn't good. Every dish is delicious.

Date of visit: November 2019
Reviewed June 21, 2020

Our server Peyton (female) was AWESOME. The price for 1-lb peel-n-eat shrimp was reasonable as was the cedar plank salmon. Restaurant was really good about Social Distancing. Parking can be difficult, and beware the handmade 15-minute parking signs taped over the actual 2-hour parking signs.

Date of visit: June 2020
Reviewed March 11, 2020 via mobile

My hubby's choice and what a good choice. Staying in Carlsbad a few days celebrating, the staff was accommodating, the drinks were strong,the food was good hot and cane quickly. the atmosphere was fun. they put on a song and we dance. a good choice...for a reasonable priced mealMore

Date of visit: March 2020
Reviewed March 11, 2020

The menu is lame, the options are few. I ordered Oysters and they don't even have saltines. Service sucks too.

Date of visit: January 2020
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Questions & Answers
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March 20, 2019|
AnswerShow all 5 answers
Response from Bookworms2010 | Reviewed this property |
THere are lots on both sides of the restaurant and another one nearby... very handy and we never paid or were charged
August 12, 2017|
Response from drlegner |
I did not have either, but the twin lobster tails are probably rock lobsters. Maine lobsters have claw meat as well as tail meat. Because they are more expensive than rock lobsters, and because their tails are smaller... More
August 12, 2017|
AnswerShow all 3 answers
Response from Chuck8700 | Reviewed this property |
Sorry, I don't know,
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Frequently Asked Questions about Joe's Crab Shack

  • Yes, Joe's Crab Shack offers takeout services.

  • Yes, Joe's Crab Shack offers delivery services.

  • Joe's Crab Shack is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travelers:
    • Food: 3.5
    • Service: 4
    • Value: 3.5
    • Atmosphere: 4