Bag O’ Crab is exactly that: a steaming pile of seafood dumped onto a communal plate that’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. Wearing a large plastic bib and eating with your fingers is also self-selecting. If you’re up for both, or just find pulling off shrimp heads weirdly satisfying, Bag O’ Crab is your new favorite restaurant.
Primarily found in California, the seafood chain recently opened an outpost in Santa Rosa at the former Steele & Hops restaurant on Mendocino Avenue. The concept is pretty simple, especially if you’re into seafood boils. You pick your seafood, pick your sauce and wait for the hot mess to arrive. It’s literally hot. And messy.
Combos are the best bet, offering mix-and-match choices of Dungeness crab, king crab legs, clams, crawfish, shrimp and lobster ($31.95 to $83.95). Combos also include corn, potatoes and sausage. Sauces are the critical decision — we recommend Louisiana flavor, which has a hint of sweetness. Spice levels are up to you, from mild to “on fire xx.” Don’t be a hero, especially if you’re sharing. Go with mild or medium.
Your order includes plastic gloves, wet napkins and other torture implements for the shelled seafood. The whole shebang is mixed in a large plastic bag and not-especially ceremoniously dumped onto a metal platter in the middle of the table. Or you can eat the entire thing alone. Plan to make a mess and smell like Bag O’ Crab sauce for the next four to eight hours.
Add the garlic noodles ($7.95) and garlic bread ($3.95) to your order. Neither is especially impressive, but they bring back fuzzy childhood memories of spaghetti with butter and garlic salt and your mom’s buttery garlic bread — served, natch, on paper plates. The bread is a great way to soak up the sauce, too.
You’ll find other offerings including fried fish, chicken tenders, po’boys and grilled beef short ribs on the menu, but stay on brand and just go with the seafood unless you want people to look at you funny. Because who orders a hamburger at Bag O’ Crab?
The restaurant is still awaiting its beer and wine license, so if you’re craving a beer with your bag, call ahead and see if that’s changed.
Bag O’ Crab is at 1901 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-843-7267. bagocrabusa.com