New Englanders might think they have a monopoly on the market when it comes to crab cakes, but here in the South, we, too, can get downright crabby about those gloriously golden cakes of magnificent meatiness. Other than being made with the most luscious lumps bound together with barely any fillers, we have no strict rules to follow; and the creatives on Panama City Beach’s culinary scene have their traps set for making crab cakes so tasty they’ll give any Nor’Easter a run for their money.

DEE’S HANGOUT

Harvesting lump meat from every portion of the crab, the crab cakes at Dee’s Hangout use freshly picked blue crabmeat combined with just the right amount of cracker crumbs to achieve a fluffier, lighter and less dense cake that allows the succulence of the crab come out of its shell. Served with a spicy Cajun remoulade sauce made from scratch inhouse, these decadent decapods make the perfect appetizer on their own or pair deliciously well with two sides and golden-fried hush puppies as an entrée; and guests at Dee’s can’t grab them up fast enough. Celebrating nine years of business, Dee's Hangout has been serving up Southern inspired seafood specials since day one, and has become a celebrated hangout that casts a wide net.

FIREFLY

Served up Southern-style with housemade shishito pepper remoulade sauce and crispy, crunchy fried green tomatoes, the jumbo lump crab cakes at Firefly prove this place definitely knows how to light up your taste buds. These golden cakes are packed with premium jumbo lump blue crab meat and spiced with a signature blend of seasoning, making them a decadent delight that’ll claw their way to the top of your list of appetizer favorites. Illuminating their menu with beautifully constructed dishes from sushi to steaks, there is a unique concept about Firefly and the crab cakes they serve will leave you nothing short of enchanted.

GRAND MARLIN

Made in the style of New England’s finest, the crab cakes at Grand Marlin are a stunning specimen of crabbiness at its best, bursting with fresh blue crabmeat and using the bare minimum when it comes to binders and fillers. Showcasing the crab is their top priority; and in using meticulous care to pick and clean these claw-clad crustaceans, the meat is kept large and in charge, moist and tender in a thin crust of golden crunch that seems to seal in the flavor. Served benedict-style with poached eggs, asparagus and jalapeno hollandaise at brunch or as a standalone star with roasted corn relish and a drizzle of creole mustard butter at dinner, these crab cakes are indeed a rich indulgence worthy of grand presentation. And since opening their Panama City Beach location in 2016, Grand Marlin has set the trap for grand cuisine.

MIKE’S CAFE AND OYSTER BAR

Clawing his way out of the sweet side of the business to cast a wider net, owner Mike Thomas of Thomas’ Donut & Snack Shop opened Mike’s Café and Oyster bar in 2011 as the perfect accompaniment to his already successful empire of enticing eats. Amping up the menu with local seafood favorites, Mike’s has crab cakes on lock down, using fresh, quality lump meat mixed with finely diced peppers and celery to create lightly seared and baked circles of succulence that let the delicate sweetness of the crab stand on its own. Served with scratch-made lobster cream sauce, Mike’s proves that some of the best cakes aren’t on the dessert menu.

RUNAWAY ISLAND

Making their Maryland-style cakes with only the minimal amount of fillers, the luscious lumps of blue crab meat at Runaway Island are prepared a la minute and formed into patties mere seconds before they’re oven baked, adding only the lightest touch of mayo and Old Bay seasoning to play up the sweetness of the meat and serving them up with a housemade lemon caper mustard sauce whose acidic bite brings out the inherent essence of the crab. Since opening in 2014, Runaway Island has been a beacon for highlighting local seafood at its best; and their crab cakes are sure to trap your taste buds and leave you craving more.

SALTWATER GRILL

What goes great on top of succulent circles of crabmeat? More crab! At Saltwater Grill, they amplify the sweetness of the crabmeat in their crab cakes by topping them with rich, creamy crab bisque and plump kernels of sweet corn that perfectly play off the earthiness of mushrooms, adding an elegant touch to this decapod delicacy. Saltwater Grill has become the toast of the town, offering seafood favorites that highlight the local treasure trove of freshly caught fish on a sophisticated menu that takes high tide to a higher class.

SHUCKUMS OYSTER PUB & SEAFOOD GRILL

They’ve got their traps set to bring in the flavor at Shuckums, creating golden rounds of crustacean temptation with a mixture of jumbo lump meat and backfin crab seasoned with the perfect blend of spices. Lightly coated in panko bread crumbs and seared to a light crisp on the flattop grill, it’s topped off with a dollop of specially made stone ground mustard remoulade, giving their crab cakes the perfect bite of heat to play up the flavor and make them circles of crab you’ll definitely want to grab. And while bivalves might be their claim to fame, at Shuckums Oyster Pub & Seafood Grill, they prove that man cannot live by oyster alone.