Creamy, cheesy, crabby – these are the attributes of the perfect appetizer.
After an inspirational crab dip at a Raleigh brewpub, I took on the tough task of tracking down the rest of the best across the Triangle. It wasn't easy. What I thought would be a common menu item is really very rare, and there are some bad ones out there.
At Blu Seafood in Durham, the app is not dip but crab mac and cheese – pasta laced with prosciutto and truffle cream. Decadent and delicious no doubt, but the crab was not really the main event. What it lacks in lumps of crab meat it more than makes up for with flavor.
Our neighbors to the north enjoy jumbo lumps of crab meat in the dip at Shuckers Oyster Bar and Grill. Fans say the trip to Wake Forest (or locations in Southern Pines and Wilmington) is well worth it for this warm, cheesy bowl of greatness served with hot toast points.
Inside the Beltline, Cameron Bar and Grill accents "creamy crab and goat cheese dip" with caramelized onion and spinach. Strips of chewy crab hide under a breadcrumb and Parmesan crust, waiting to be enjoyed on soft, grilled pita points.
Tony's Oyster Bar & Restaurant may be hidden in the back of a dying Cary shopping center, but the crab dip (at half price during happy hour for a mere $3.55) makes it worth seeking out. Heavy cream is the key to the thick richness of Tony's dip.
And last but not least, the dip that started this quest is served at Natty Greene's (locations in Raleigh and Greensboro). The "Sideways Dip" is a generous serving of crab and creamy Parmesan cheese – an appetizer big enough to share with a group.
For a crabby treat at home, we offer honorable mention to the cold crab dip from Fresh Market. It is great right from the shelf or heated up.