|The Allure of Crab Decks and Tiki Bars|
The radio program "Coastal Connection" featured Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay.
Broadcast on NPR's DC affiliate station from Fisherman's Inn Crab Deck on Kent Island, host Bryan Russo interviewed us about our Bay adventures.
Three "news" bits aired on CBS's DC affiliate
Crab tasting your way around the Chesapeake Bay
Click here to read the interview
As a Chesapeake resident, you ought to know all the crab houses and tiki bars worth visiting in not only your neighborhood but also your county.
Enjoy Atlantic blue crabs at one of Chesapeake Country’s many crab houses. Way back when, author and crab coinsurer Whitey Schmidt counted 250 from Baltimore to Virginia Beach and Ocean City to Washington in his book The Official Chesapeake Bay Crab Eaters Guide. Bill and Susan Elnicki Wade’s own book, Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay, out last year, lists 150. If you eat crabs out, you’re bound to have a favorite.
A new Maryland Edition of Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay was released recently. One half of a two-state series, the unique travel guide lists waterfront restaurants with hot crabs and cool drinks.
The new Maryland Edition of Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay was just released. This destination guide is a perfect resource for your lifestyle, travel, or food sections. Readers planning summer getaways can flip through the pages and pick places that transport them from their daily routine into a world of eating just-caught crabs under swaying palm trees.
Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Edition has grown 35% since the first edition, and it’s the third in a series of successful Bay travel books. Its 482 pages cover 200+ authentic seafood houses and island-inspired tiki lounges.
This expanded edition includes the Potomac River and Washington, DC, in addition to every Maryland county on the Bay. There’s something for every budget and mood. Thousands of people across the mid-Atlantic are using this book to discover authentic seafood houses, classic crab shacks, and island-inspired tiki lounges.
“We didn’t plan to update the Maryland book so soon, but observant crab fans started alerting us to places that closed their doors and blew out their tiki torches. And new ones were popping up on every shore,” say authors Susan and Bill Wade, who self-published the guide after spending 20+ years exploring each neck of the Bay.
“So we hit the road again and uncovered scores of new places for eating crabs. That ever-changing nature of the Bay makes it a dynamic destination.” With this book in hand, you can pick crabs at a Ravens Nest, sip rum drinks on the deck of a converted oyster-shucking house, or peel shrimp in a town that fooled the British in the War of 1812. It’s your personal GPS for sunsets under swaying palm trees and crab shacks where tiki masks have staring contests with portraits of old ship captains,
To make trips more memorable Chesapeake history, folklore, and watermen’s tales have been woven throughout the book. Every restaurant profile has basic contact info, as well as useful data such as Latitude & Longitude, Body of Water, Dockage, and Driving Distance from major cities. A unique Atmosphere Meter (ranging from a casual frosty beer mug to a more formal crisp martini) and photos taken on-site help readers know what to expect before they arrive.
Waterfront dining spots on or near the Peninsula beckon in the summer and fall
If you're looking for a great waterside dining spot in Hampton Roads and beyond, consider picking up a copy of “Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Edition.” It's a great resource for boaters as well as anyone looking for a place to dine.
Authors Susan Elnicki Wade and Bill Wade review more than 100 restaurants that serve crabs and other seafood and are located along the state’s rivers and Chesapeake Bay. The book is divided into seven regions that include the Potomac River, Rappahannock River, York River and Hampton, James River, Elizabeth River, South Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore.
“Crab Decks & Tiki Bars” is up-to-date, too, featuring just about all of the local places. The concise reviews offer a brief description of the atmosphere and the menu and sometimes list nearby points of interest and area folklore.
Diners who think they know the Hampton Roads waterside spots pretty well will find this book useful if they’re planning a boating trip or inland trip to other parts of Eastern Virginia.
Crab Decks & Tiki Bars|
Smash Hit Guide Book
This book sends you on adventures around the Chesapeake Bay and its hundreds of waterfront eateries and party decks. Be part of the fusion of traditional crab decks and modern-retro tiki. If you're ready to join the "crabby community" and tiki bar lovers of the bay, order your copy today!
We’re pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up with Marinalife.
Fact or Fiction from Bob's Almanac
Just the thought of crab decks and tiki bars brings welcome relief from December’s chill.
Imagine a balmy breeze off the river, crabs steaming, the water lapping against the bulkhead, an ice cold beer and you just can’t get them Jimmy Buffett “Boat Drinks” lyrics out of your head.
“Twenty degrees and the hockey game’s on
Nobody cares they are way too far gone
Screamin’, ‘Boat drinks’, something to keep ‘em all warm.”
Does it get any better?
Imagine an entire book of crab decks and tiki bars—a guide for spring, summer and fall adventure.
Make it a Christmas wish and it could come true.
Susan Elnicki Wade and Bill Wade have recently self-published Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Edition, and updated and republished the Maryland Edition, under the same title.
The 6-inch by 9-inch paperback sells for $20 each at crabdecksandtikibars.com, or contact Susan at
They make “perfect stocking stuffers,” said Susan.
The new Maryland edition was updated last spring, expanding coverage to 200+ destinations in every Maryland county on the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the Potomac River, Washington, D.C., and National Harbor.
The Virginia edition’s 100+ crab decks and island-inspired lounges cover the bay’s southern waters from Richmond to Virginia Beach. It was published in the spring of 2012.
They’ve sold thousands of the popular guides to bay enthusiasts, seafood lovers and especially crab connoisseurs, boaters, and folks with a thirst for adventure, said Susan.
The books are divided into geographical regions. The Maryland book takes in Annapolis and Eastport, Baltimore Fells Point and Canton, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore outskirts, headwaters of the bay, lower Eastern Shore, lower Potomac River, middle Eastern Shore, Patuxent River, South River to Chesapeake Beach, upper Eastern Shore and upper Potomac River.
The Virginia book takes in the Eastern Shore, the Elizabeth River, the James River, the Potomac River, the Rappahannock River, the south side of Hampton Roads and the York River and Hampton.
Restaurant profiles offer a map and photo, name, address, phone number, website, county, when its open, dockage, latitude/longitude, body of water and driving distance from major hubs.
The reviews describe each restaurant’s decor, atmosphere, cuisine and house specialties. Some also address history, folklore, culture, traditions.
Their “Atmosphere Meter” rates the ambiance and vibe on a scale of 1 to 10 from casual to formal.
With the Virginia book on board, “you can bite into crisp soft-shell crabs on a remote island discovered by Captain John Smith, sip rum drinks on beaches where Blackbeard the Pirate used to roam, or peel a mountain of perfectly pink shrimp near Robert E. Lee’s birthplace,” say the Wades.
They’re no armchair authors. The Wades spent more than 20 years exploring each neck of the bay before writing their first guide.
From Old Town Alexandria to sunny Colonial Beach, Norfolk’s bustling harbor and the serene Eastern Shore, the Virginia Edition identifies eateries that fit every mood and budget. It’s the perfect get-away guide for families, boaters, and people with a thirst for adventure, they said.
During their Virginia tour, the Wades consumed about 11 gallons of crab soup, 300 oysters, 85 crab cakes,
“We wanted to conduct thorough research and stay hydrated during the heat wave,” say the Wades.
A native of Maryland, Bill claims he can “pick crabs faster than a Phillips processing plant worker and would be perfectly content to live on Chesapeake seafood and Miller High Life.”
Susan grew up in western Pennsylvania. Picking crabs doesn’t come easy to her, but she can whip up a mean
The Wades each have 20+ years experience in the Washington, D.C., publishing industry.
Your compendium to Maryland's seafood and crab joints
Looking for a place to dock the boat and pick some crabs? Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay is the ultimate guide to Maryland's seafood restaurants, crab shacks, and tiki bars. Husband-and-wife co-authors Bill Wade and Susan Elnicki Wade spent seven months researching—and consuming 11 gallons of crab soup, 300 oysters, and plenty of beer, among other things. "I underestimated how much [Marylanders] love their crabs," says Susan, who grew up in Pennsylvania. She's hesitant to name her favorite spot ("It's like asking who my favorite child is"), but Nick's Fish House & Grill has a special place in her heart.
The day I watched helplessly as My Lovely Wife swelled up like a balloon after eating a crab — her breathing labored, her itchy skin breaking out in angry red blotches — was one of the saddest in my life. I knew immediately there wouldn’t be very many crabs in my future.
And so there haven’t been. When a loved one is allergic to something, it hardly seems fair to chow down on it in front of her.
Ruth had always loved crabs and was truly irritated that after 35 years of eating them her body had suddenly decided enough was enough. Allergies are funny that way. I’ve somehow ended up allergic to raw apples, which are pretty much the best kind of apples, don’t you think? About 10 years ago, I noticed that after a few bites of a nice, firm red delicious apple, my mouth would tingle and my throat would start to contract. It seemed best to avoid them after that.
I now dream of apples the way men crawling through the desert dream of water. Tell me, are apples as I remember them: the skin firm at first, before yielding to the pressure of your teeth; the flesh juicy; the experience as much an auditory one — crunch, crunch — as a gustatory one?
But we were talking about crabs. The blue crab is a staple around here, or used to be. For crab lovers, it can be hard to read stories about the Chesapeake Bay: the dead zones, the dismal annual report cards (C- last time around), the dying life of the skipjack-piloting watermen (although, actually, they’ve been dying for as long as I can remember, so maybe the news of their demise was premature).
I have crabs on the brain after speaking with Bill Wade. Bill lives in the District, where he runs a database publishing company. He and his wife, Susan Elnicki Wade, like to spend as much time as they can near the water. Last year the couple was looking for a project to do together. The result is “Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay,” their self-published guide to those unique attractions.
“If you go to the bay, you end up at one of those places, whether you’re a boater or just visiting for the day,” Bill said.
The couple had one firm rule: To be included, an establishment had to be on the water. “It’s not really the bay experience unless you’re at the water’s edge,” Bill said. “Why drive an hour-and-a- half to eat three blocks off the water?”
In the end, a whopping 158 places made the cut, from such popular restaurants as the always crowded Cantler’s in Annapolis to the Drift Inn, off the beaten path in St. Mary’s County. The owners say it’s the oldest crab house in Southern Maryland.
Although the crab deck — a place to spread out brown paper, crack crabs and suck Old Bay off your fingertips — has been around forever, Bill says the tiki bar is a more recent phenomenon. “Tiki started creeping in within the last 20 years,” he said. “Why? I don’t know. I think when people think of ‘tiki’ they think of ‘party.’ ”
Bar owners throw up some thatched huts and bamboo, order some tiki head glasses and — somewhat incongruously — crank up the reggae. (The Caribbean is nowhere near Polynesia.)
“A lot of them go down to Florida every year and bring back live palm trees, knowing they’ll die in the winter,” Bill said. “They don’t care.”
Researching the book required the Wades to head out nearly every weekend, something that did not always sit well with their kids, now 11 and 14. Bill and Susan once asked them if they wanted to go to the Anne Arundel County Fair. “They said: ‘Okay, we’ll go. Wait a minute. You’re not taking us to a crab deck are you?’ ” said Bill. “We said, ‘No, we’re not going to any crab deck.’ Of course, we took them to a crab deck.”
Why are crab decks and tiki bars so popular? “We Washingtonians need a change of pace every so often,” Bill said. “In 45 minutes, you can get to one of these places and all of a sudden you get to sit back and relax. It’s a whole different feel. It’s no longer the hustle and bustle of D.C.”
You can find info on the book at crabdecksandtikibars.com. Or go at 1 p.m. Saturday to the Broad Branch Market on Broad Branch Road NW, where Bill and Susan will be signing copies of the book.
The cover story of the August 2012 issue of Washingtonian Magazine is "35 Great Day Trips." The article starts with three crab decks submitted by Susan Elnicki Wade. It reads:
Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay