British Columbia

Coming to the boil? 3 B.C. hot spots for these finger-lickin' seafood feasts

On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson shares her local recommendations for this messy, communal, hands-on meal.

Food columnist Gail Johnson looks at the best local options for this messy, communal, hands-on meal

Food columnist Gail Johnson says the seafood boil — a meal popular in the coastal U.S. — has now become more common in B.C.'s Lower Mainland. (The Holy Crab)

Ever been to a seafood boil?

On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson says there are more local options than ever to enjoy this culinary experience, a trend which is enjoying greater popularity in Metro Vancouver as we move into the summer months.

"The coastal regions of the U.S. are famous for their boils, which might include clams, oysters, mussels, shrimp, or crawfish," said Johnson.

Now several locations in the Lower Mainland offer the meal, which often involves heaps of boiled seafood — accompanied by vegetables — simply dumped onto the dining table.

Johnson shared three of her top recommendations for the best places to enjoy this messy, communal, hands-on feast.

1. The Captain's Boil

This Toronto franchise now has six locations in Metro Vancouver.

It specializes in Cajun spices and its seafood options include crawfish and lobster.

The restaurant takes a less traditional approach to the seafood boil.

Rather than dump all the food on the table, it is served in biodegradable plastic bags. That allows all the ingredients to be mixed in with the different sauces.

"You can use plastic gloves if you like," said Johnson.

"And the plastic bibs are emblazoned with a pirate's outfit. It's quite the fashion statement."

The Captain's Boil has locations in Coquitlam, North Vancouver and Richmond, as well as three in Vancouver.

2. The Holy Crab

Another option if you are in downtown Vancouver is The Holy Crab, said Johnson.

This downtown Vancouver restaurant is a family-run business that got its start in Indonesia. 

Cajun spices such as cayenne pepper and paprika are front and centre here, as well.

"The spiciness level of the original Cajun garlic pepper sauce ranges from 'mild' to 'holy moly,'" said Johnson.

"Personally, I would order the sauce on the side, as there is quite a bit of it."

The establishment offers proteins that are relatively rare in the Lower Mainland, including catfish and frogs' legs.

For the seafood boil, Johnson recommends sustainable Ocean Wise  seafood options including lobster, clams, mussels, Dungeness crab and oysters.

3. Sea to Sky Gondola 

The owners of the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C., have announced they will be hosting a Backyard Seafood Boil on Thursday evenings throughout the summer.

These long-table dinners kick off June 28.

The menu features mussels, shrimp and crab claws, along with all the regular fixings, as well as crusty bread and Caesar salad.

"Sounds like a pretty great way to enjoy this beautiful place we live in, if you ask me," said Johnson.

With files from On the Coast