Soft-Shell Crabs on a Budget

When the springtime warmer weather in Charleston hits, that’s when you know the season of soft-shell crabs has officially arrived! This year, soft-shell crabs seem to be going like hotcakes, so we knew we needed to get ourselves on the softie train quick! Most restaurants in Charleston have a dish on their menu that in some sort of way incorporates a soft-shell crab. Generally, the crab is either pan-seared, fried, or served in a sandwich.

The unfortunate thing about these crabs, is that most restaurants charge $20 or more for their soft-shell crab dishes because crabs themselves are quite costly and can be difficult to obtain. However, we were determined to find a restaurant with a soft-shell crab dish that cost less than $20. Fortunately, we found one for just $16 at the cute, fun and very laid-back restaurant, Pancito and Lefty.

Pancito and Lefty is a small restaurant, located on upper King Street that serves up delicious and fresh Mexican cuisine. They are also known for their different flavored margaritas on tap, which you can get for just $6 during their happy hour! We were fortunate to go here during their newly deemed “Not Taco Tuesday”. Every Tuesday, until August 28, Pancito and Lefty will be offering up a menu of very reasonably priced food options. The menu will have different items on it each week. Last Tuesday, we were pleased to find that they had a soft-shell crab salad on the menu. The crab was fried and was placed on top of fresh fava greens, pickled fennel, marinated asparagus and a creamy, green cumin yogurt sauce. This dish was outstanding and we loved how deliciously creamy, spicy, and tangy the yogurt sauce was. It complimented the crab quite well, and made the dish feel a bit lighter.

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We also ordered their sunchokes to share and we found these to be quite delicious as well. Sunchokes are a very unique vegetable that have become a large part of many restaurant menus in Charleston. Sunchokes are root vegetables that can be cooked quickly because minimal preparation is required. These sunchokes were roasted and mixed with fresh rainbow chard and were placed on top of a slightly spicy chile sauce with fresh orange slices. It was an explosion of crunch with a sweet and spicy flavor. We were in some real sunchoke heaven!

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If you’re looking to get your soft-shell crab fix before they are out of season, but want to avoid having to spend over $20 on your soft-shell crab meal, Pancito and Lefty is definitely the place to go! Over the past couple of weeks, Pancito and Lefty has had a masa-fried soft-shell crab taco, topped with red chile crema on their normal dinner menu, as well as a fried soft-shell crab with a black bean fritter, guacamole, pico de gallo, chipotle lime, and hollandaise on their brunch menu. Be sure to note however, that if you go on another “Not Taco Tuesday”, you may not see the soft-shell crab dish we had on the menu because these crabs are very hit and miss. They can only be acquired if the weather is warm. If this is the case though, do not fret because there are sure to be plenty of other delicious and affordable options on the “Not Taco Tuesday” menu!

Other restaurants with soft-shell crab dishes for less than $20 include:

  • Roadside Seafood-James Island (classic fried soft-shell crab over greens)
  • Saltwater Cowboys-Mt. Pleasant (Soft-shell crab sandwich)

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