On a brilliant summer Saturday afternoon paddling our canoe on Hopkins Creek in Essex, we took notice of the vibrant multi-colored umbrellas and tiki bar. Curious we docked our canoe in their new, small- boat-friendly pier. We were welcomed with the warm island sounds of reggae music as we walked down their small palm tree lined boardwalk and given options of sitting inside in the air conditioned sports bar or sitting outside at the shaded, Caribbean pastel, picnic tables, with our toes in the sand, and with a view of the water. An easy choice if you are still thawing out from the long winter. My little family of three chose to relax in the sand.
Hello, Crazy Tuna Bar & Grille!
We were immediately won over when the very friendly and attentive waitress brought over a sand pail for our three year old. What began as a quick stop for a snack ended up being a two-hour lunch. With the toddler dead set on creating a sand replica of Elsa’s castle from the movie Frozen and very seriously convincing other children to leave their sand games to help her, we were left to sit, eat — and if you can imagine it — talk to each other like we were on a date – shocking! With the breeze keeping us cool, the music lulling our city souls, the sand cooling our toes, and the $5 – all summer long- Orange Crushes sealing the deal- we were transported back to our honeymoon in Key West.
Crazy Tuna Bar & Grille
203 Nanticoke Rd
Essex, MD 21221
Hours: 10 am-1am, daily
GETTING THERE: The Crazy Tuna welcomes sea navigators and land folk alike. It is about a thirty-minute drive from downtown Baltimore on either US-40 E or I-95 N to Essex. There is plenty of free parking once you arrive.
For anyone on the water just call ahead to reserve one of 45 free transient boat slips that can hold boats of all sizes up to 100ft. You can also reach them at Channel 9 (VHF). Kayaks, canoes, paddle boats/boards can use the small boat pier that will soon have cleats and a swim ladder for easy access.
COST: The menu is reasonably priced ranging from $4.99- for an order of beach fries to $27.99 for a crab cake platter and plenty to choose from in between. This fresh seafood centered menu is broken down to provide plenty of options for adult and tiny picky eaters alike. There is also a traditional kids menu but if you are like me and like your little one to eat what you eat: the Fish Tacos, P.E.I Mussels, Shrimp Cobb Wrap, Grilled Tuna and Chicken, Crab Nachos, and Crab Soup (all priced under $12), have been easy favorites the last three times we have come here.
In case you were familiar with The Crazy Tuna before when it was Steel Fish or the Driftwood Inn — and loved their traditional Baltimore menu of creamed chipped beef, cream of crab, and Thursday night prime rib dinner — Crazy Tuna is working with the former owner and his original recipes to include those in the menu as well. The kitchen is also flexible and will accommodate any special diet- just ask! This bar and grill works hard to serve high quality, fresh seafood, with as little processed food as possible.
FAMILY ACCESSIBILITY:- This is a welcome all families atmosphere. If you don’t know anyone when you arrive you are sure to have a friend when you leave or at least your children will because kids tend to gravitate to one another in the community vibe island getaway. There are plenty of booster seats, high chairs, and space for strollers if one gets sleepy. The pub tables inside may be tricky for the under three set but booths are also available.
The tiki bar, while usually packed, has not been rowdy or inappropriate the times we have visited. Smoking is allowed outside but we have yet to sit for a meal and smell smoke or see anyone smoking by the picnic tables. (We get migraines from smoke so this would be a deal breaker but it has not happened.) The music is always relaxed island joy, never blasting even at night.
KEEP ‘EM HAPPY: Kids are given a menu to color. The entire picnic table area surrounding the tiki bar is covered with soft beach sand for kids to play in with community sand pales to share or your own beach toys. There are corn hole boards, a pier, and plenty of boat watching to do.