We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“If you love steamed crabs, eat at Ernies, it's not high end, but fun”

Ernie's Original Crab House
Ranked #582 of 757 Restaurants in Alexandria
Cuisines: Seafood
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Jacksonville, Florida
Level Contributor
55 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“If you love steamed crabs, eat at Ernies, it's not high end, but fun”
Reviewed October 27, 2012

While visiting family in the DC area, our aunt wanted to take us out for steamed crabs at Ernie's. I read the reviews and was skeptical. Let's be clear people, Ernie's is a crab house, in the heart of Alexandria...there is nothing fancy about the place. Some would call it a hole in the wall.

There was only one other customer when we arrived at Ernie’s. It looked as though there were only two people working there, probably husband and wife, she cooked, he waited on us. We ordered a pitcher of beer and our food. After 10 minutes, my husband had to find the man and ask him for our beer. He served us the pitcher of beer with chilled mugs. The beer was great.

My aunt and I ordered a dozen medium crabs ($48). Every restaurant I've ever been to for steamed crabs has always served their crabs on a long piece of brown paper put over the table, so I don’t understand some of the negativity by other reviewers regarding this practice. In Florida, steamed crabs are served with drawn butter, crab-crackers and cocktail forks. I'm not sure if it's just Ernie's or the area's tradition, but after the brown paper was put on our table, wooden mallets and plastic knives were put on our table, along with a red plastic bottle (usually used for ketchup) filled with extra dry spices and a yellow plastic bottle (usually used for mustard) filled with vinegar. The crabs were served directly on the table, like I’ve had them served at many other restaurants. I requested drawn butter, which my aunt replied, “I’ve never had steamed crabs with butter,” so maybe it’s the region and how crabs are eaten in this area of the country. I also asked for a cocktail fork and was given a long, wooden handled fork, a little smaller than a dinner fork. The crabs were delicious, cooked and seasoned just right. Eating steamed crabs is a messy process and anyone who expects more, will be disappointed.

My husband is a landlubber and ordered the chicken tenders with French fries. Our cousin had an oyster po’boy sandwich with fries. They were satisfied.

If you love steamed crabs, go to Ernie’s. The prices were reasonable. If you like eating crab with a cocktail fork, bring one with you. It’s a crab house. Don’t expect too much and you’ll be happy.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Robin P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

88 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    9
    18
    25
    18
    18
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
106 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Inconsistent Quality and Service”
Reviewed October 1, 2012

There are surprisingly few places to get fresh blue crabs in/around Alexandria and Ernie's is a good "fall-back" spot. My honey and I went out there last night for a dozen crabs and I was disappointed.

The crabs, (we ordered the mediums) seemed like they'd been double-boiled. (i.e., they'd been boiled earlier in the day, left in the pot, and then reheated when we ordered). They were mostly mushy inside and VERY small for mediums at the end of the season. I come from a family that includes crabbers, so I'm aware of the challenges of getting good crabs and caring for the Bay, but these were just sad.

Also, we ordered a "basket" of fries - and the waiter brought us a small fries. (I suppose since the menu says "small," "medium" and "large" we had to order large?)

It took a while to get our server's attention (and it was a slow night) and frankly, I left feeling hungry and just frustrated.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Peggie A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hattiesburg
Level Contributor
273 reviews
150 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
“Great restaurant with lots of Style”
Reviewed September 14, 2012 via mobile

The quality of seafood & size of Platers of food was amazing. We ate well & had a cocktail for a little over $50. Had to even get a doggie bag. On historic king street which we loved to stop in shops & the old brick of cobblestone streets nearby was great. Very nice area felt very comfortable & secure in area. Will go back again!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank sudaniel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Smithtown, New York
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Should have listened to the reviews:(”
Reviewed July 15, 2012

We went to Ernie's on the first night of our stay in Old Alexandria. Read the reviews, but since we were staying right next store and my oldest son loves crab, we decided to take a chance anyway. There is good dive decor and just sloppy and dirty and Ernie's is the latter. The service was poor, slow and uninspired, I have rarely seen wait staff move so slow. The table next to us sat unbussed, long after the large party left. I had to wipe the pool of melted butter off our table with a roll of paper towels swiped for the table next door.

We did not have the crabs, too much work, they were rather pricey and we were hungry. The maryland crab soup was OK, rather bland and the vegetables tasted frozen. The Popcorn shrimp were good, the largest popcorn shrimp I've ever seen. The bacon cheeseburger was VERY generous with the bacon. I had the oyster Po' boy, tastless and uninspired could have used more seasoning-at least salt and pepper! The crabcake was really good, it had a lot of crab, not too much cake. The fish and chips were bland. (no tartar sauce?) Avoid the hush puppies, very dense and too much onion. My family enjoyed the fries, freshly fried and hand cut. But for the money, extremely pricey, combined with the poor service and atmosphere we will NOT be dining here again.

  • Visited July 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank knappT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kenmare, Ireland
Level Contributor
61 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Different and excellent”
Reviewed April 16, 2012

Smart but casual; good mix of interesting clients eating here.

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
Thank Westcork10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Ernie's Original Crab House also viewed

 

Been to Ernie's Original Crab House? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing