I love seafood, but we’re smack dab in the Midwest. This area isn't known for juicy crabs, plump lobster tails, and succulent shrimp. Any time I eat a cuisine that has to be imported because it isn’t native, there’s going to be some trepidation. However, I’ll finish this by casting those fears aside if you, too, share them. Allow me to do my best to prove to you that it’s worth your time and money to visit the new squid on the block, Jumbo Crab.

What I saw when I walked into Jumbo Crab was not what I expected. I’m sorry, Jumbo Crab, if my expectations of you were too low. What I expected were generic tables and decor, but what I saw delighted me. Jumbo Crab ran with the nautical theme — and I. Was. Here. For. It.

A fishing net spreads across the image of Jumbo Crab's dining room. There are several empty tables and a black ceiling. In the background, there is a white and red striped life preserver. Two servers talk in the background next to a bar. Photo by Remington Rock.Interior of Jumbo Crab. Photo by Remington Rock.

Tiki-type booths lined the walls and were framed by awnings and netting with little crabs and life preservers. A large mural on one side depicted an old-world map with illustrations of ships, and on the other wall was a large chalk mural with the specials listed. The wood-paneled walls were decorated with oars, more life preservers, and various license plates. Very crab shack. Even the lighting fixtures were draped in nets! The place also has a nice little bar tucked into the corner with fun fixtures and a couple televisions.  Frankly, it was shrimply delightful.

In addition to their meal menu, Jumbo Crab also has a drink menu. We skipped drinks and went straight for appetizers. I went all in right off the bat, ordering six (6) raw oysters ($12.50).  A dozen raw oysters was also available. I also ordered the seafood bread ($5.99). 

Six raw oysters arranged in a circle sit in an ice filled platter. Between each oyster is a lemon wedge. There are small sides of horseradish and cocktail sauce. Photo by Remington Rock.Raw oysters from Jumbo Crab. Photo by Remington Rock.

The oysters came out on ice — as they should — garnished with lemon wedges and sides of horseradish and cocktail sauce. If you like oysters, then you won’t be disappointed with these. They were really fresh tasting and fair in size. Then, there was the seafood bread: lightly toasted, buttery, cheesy goodness. From what we could guess it was seafood mix and cheese broiled on a french loaf. Pro tip: if you “check in” at Jumbo Crab via Facebook, you can get a free seafood bread, which is dolphinitely worth it.

Six slices of cheesy seafood bread sit on a newspaper lined wooden board with a handle. Photo by Remington Rock.Seafood bread at Jumbo Crab. Photo by Remington Rock.

There are lots of ways to customize your meal at Jumbo Crab. You can order single items, get a platter, or make your own seafood combo. We ordered dinner combos from the menu: C4 and C5. The dinner combos come with potatoes, corn, and broccoli. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and really benefited from soaking in the seasonings and butter; so did the corn, but it was a little soggy from sitting in it.

The C4 consists of one pound of snow crab legs, a half pound of shrimp (no head), and a half pound of crawfish. It’ll set you back $36.99. You can choose your seasoning and spice level. For us, it was the Jumbo Crab Special and hot. The Jumbo Crab Special seasoning is made up of the other seasoning options: cajun, garlic butter, and lemon pepper.

A plastic bag is filled with crab legs, shrimp, red potatoes, corn on the cob, and broccoli in a thin sauce. Photo by Remington Rock.Dinner Special C4. Photo by Remington Rock.

The C5 (also $36.99) gets you one lobster tail, a half pound of Dungeness crab legs, and a half pound of shrimp (no head) paired with garlic butter seasoning and at mild spice level. Our meals were brought out in a steaming bag that our waitress tossed for us, allowing all those glorious juices to douse everything.

A plastic bag of seafood including a lobster tail, shrimp, and crab legs. There is also potatoes and broccoli pictured. Photo by Remington Rock.Dinner Combo C5. Photo by Remington Rock.

The best seafood meals aren't complete without a bib, gloves (of which I regrettably rejected), crackers, and a bucket to dispose of shells. What followed was one of the messiest but tastiest meals I’ve had in C-U. All of the meat was juicy, oh so tender, and seasoned really well. The lobster tails and crab legs had quite a lot of meat. The meals were easy to eat and didn’t require a lot of manpower to crack open the shells.

All of Jumbo Crab’s fresh offerings are listed at market price, and our bill was high when it was all said and done. However, we thought it was certainly worth it. I love fresh seafood and having a place here in Central Illinois where I can get it is great. I won’t get to eat there a lot, but saving up for visits will shellfishly be on my mind.

We left Jumbo Crab feeling full yet simultaneously wanting more. Along with the delicious food and great customer service, there were other amenities that made it an all-around great experience. Little things like a coat rack, after dinner mints and towelettes, and a sink around the corner that was outside the restrooms really showed there was thought put into the whole experience of a seafood restaurant. If you have the oppor-tuna-ty to go to Jumbo Crab, take it.

Jumbo Crab
M-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F-Sa 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Top image by Remington Rock.