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If you're in Virginia Beach, Virginia and you're in the mood for steamed live blue crabs Maryland style, the Happy Crab is the main choice.  At least near the main hotel/beach area.

This restaurant, just a few blocks from the hotel beach zone, sits on a little inlet and you can usually see some blue crabs fooling around on the bottom there.

If you're looking for atmosphere, this ain't the place to go.  Some might call it a bit on the ramshackle side.   But they do a good job with live, steamed blue crabs.  They offer an all-u-can-eat buffet including some blue crabs for $25 and it's not a bad deal.  But any crab aficionado worth his salt would pass on the buffet and instead order some live crabs steamed to order.  They're best eaten steaming hot.  So with that in mind, my fellow diners got the buffet and I was the only true crab lover to hold out for the genuine item.

The buffet consisted of all the usual suspects.  Fried shrimp, clams, scallops, fish along with snow crab legs and the above mentioned pre-cooked (and not all that great) blue crabs.  On a scale of one to ten my fellow diners gave it a five.

I started my ala-carte meal with a dozen steamed cherrystone clams and they were terrific.  Our daughter gave their She Crab soup a try and it was good.

The atmosphere at the Happy Crab could best be described as "rustic."  The tables each have a hole in them with a mini-hefty bag stuffed down there to pick up all the gory mess left over from picking through the crabs.  You just dump your discarded shells into the submerged bag.

Glancing around at fellow diners, it would appear as if this place is more favored by locals than tourists.

Some of the wait staff looked a little worse for the wear.  At least two of them looked like they had been out on a bender the night before.  But what the heck, the service was okay and the food was good.

Bottom line:  If you love live steamed blue crabs, this is a good place.  If you're in it for the all-u-can-eat buffet, there might be better options in town.  Captain George's drew rave reviews although we didn't have time to dine there.  And I don't know if it's related to a restaurant by the same name in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina but if it is -- it should be excellent.

The Happy Crab is located at 550 Laskin Road.  You won't need a reservation but if you should need directions or have questions, you can ring them up at (757) 437-9200.