When most people think of stone crabs in South Florida, the immediate location that comes to mind is Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach. Nobody mentioned Billy’s Stone Crab in Hollywood to me back in 2001, when I was a transplant from Minnesota finding his bearings in South Florida.
Years later, I started a family and moved north to Broward County, I started exploring Hollywood’s murderer’s row of dining, as I call it, an d made my way into Billy’s Stone Crabs. If you haven’t visited this strip of restaurants on the intracoastal, head on over there, it’s worthy of it’s own post, which I’ll be writing soon.
While Miami folks swear by Joe’s Stone Crabs, they can have it. Been there, done that. Us Fort Lauderdale area folks are totally cool avoiding the horrendous drive to South Beach and dealing with all that comes with it, and enjoying our stone crabs in Hollywood.
You can find the sweet-meat claws that are fresh from mid-October to Mid-May at Billy’s in Hollywood both at the restaurant, and even fresh to take home if that’s what you desire.
Opened in 1995, Billy’s offers many options when it comes to dining. I prefer the upstairs area in the air conditioning, normally arrive early to enjoy their luxurious bar prior to being seated in the floor to ceiling glass room that has gorgeous views of the intracoastal.
Billy’s has their own fishery, called BSC Fisheries, thats located in the Lower Keys. Their fleet brings in stone crabs daily as well as Florida Lobster and other fresh fish. All of this goes directly to Billy’s Stone Crabs and their restaurant and seafood market, where you can order in the USA for overnight delivery.
Naturally, like many South Floridians, we like to compare Billy’s to Joe’s Stone Crab, and for those wondering, here’s my takeaway after over 20 years of dining at both establishments.
Both restaurants offer white glove service from their staff, who are decked out in tuxedos and armed with not only a meat cart but also a seafood cart. After seeing the offerings, you’ll want your food to show up ASAP – they are that appealing. They also overlap on many dishes, from starters, to entrees, to the fresh key lime pies Florida is known for.
To be clear, this isn’t a comparison article, because as a no frills, “let me sit when my reservation time arrives” type of guy, Billy’s is the hands down winner, and I’ll elaborate on that in a Joe’s Stone Crab review.
While Billy’s Stone Crabs can and will get crowded, it’s never a horror scene like it an be at Joe’s, even during peak hours. They are very punctual with reservations and there are plenty of dining options at Billy’s, including the upstairs lounge with a view, the upstairs cocktail bar, or the downstairs venue, which features both indoor and dockside dining on over 200 feet of dockage. The dockside is nice if it isn’t too hot, and they even have covered tables for some shade when it does get unbearable.
As mentioned, there is a small market downstairs when you enter the venue where you can purchase stone crabs to take home, or even get them cracked to eat at a high top table or directly at the small bar which is more casual and usually plays sports.
Again, I recommend the second floor for formal dining. It’s quaint when you look at it, but it seats 150 people for both lunch and dinner. During Summer months you can enjoy stone crabs that have been flash frozen, and of course, during season they are freshly caught and served same day.
Here are a few pictures of the upstairs bar area:
Who Owns Billy’s Stone Crabs?
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There’s been an urban legend that Billy’s is connected to Joe’s Stone Crab, and thanks to an excellent piece by the Sun-Sentinel, they’ve laid out the facts.
William “Billy” Hershey is the founder of Billy’s Stone Crabs, and not ironically, he was once employed by Joe’s and married a member of the family who owned the venue, the Weiss family. Billy’s son, Brian, is the general manager of Billy’s Stone Crab and he shared that after the marriage ended, Billy founded his own seafood market in Miami Springs way back in the 1970’s. Later, he started Billy’s on the Bay in North Bay Village.
Eventually, that restaurant was sold and Billy was mentally retired. However, a bank reached out to him one day about a restaurant that went under on the Intracoastal waterway that is now Billy’s. He purchased the land and building in 1994, and after a year of building it out, Billy’s was born.
Billy’s Stone Crab Dress Code
According o Elena, Billy’s wife, the dress code is to feel comfortable. While the venue is upscale, shorts and flip flops are totally acceptable.
One thing I appreciate more than anything is seeing the gigantic display of steak and seafood, which every server will bring by and share with you the daily prices for each. If you are lucky enough to be in South Florida in the final weeks of Stone Crab Season, (late April – early May) you can take advantage of all you can eat stone crab. Prices vary by season, but in May of 2023 I paid $80 for all you can eat medium stone crabs and killed four trays of about a dozen each. That’s a bucket list meal if I’ve ever had one.
While the steaks look incredible, make no mistake, seafood is what you should order here. You’ll find yellowtail, grouper, snapper, salmon, mahi mahi and much more on the menu. You can have it prepared a variety of ways, including grilled, blackened, or key west style.
You’ll find typical shareable sides including brussel sprouts, french fries, potatoes lyonaise, and more. Salads are abundant, and even burgers for the kids or burger person in your group.
Parking at Billy’s Stone Crabs
Billy’s offers value parking for just $5. You will have to make a sharp right if you are coming from the north, or wait for the light and take a left if you arrive from the south. The lot does fill up during prime hours so there are metered spots in parking lots across the street to the east.
This is in my list of the best seafood restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and it’s something you have to experience to truly appreciate. The iconic setting is good for any setting, whether it be a casual meal, a date, or a celebration.
Feel free to check out our recommendations on the best Fort Lauderdale area seafood establishments. Our top 8 picks includes Billy’s.
For more information:
Billy’s Stone Crab
400 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood
Cuisine: Seafood, steak, and shellfish.
Hours: Noon-10 p.m. daily (closed Thanksgiving Day)
Reservations: Varies. We always call ahead and get on the list.
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Full liquor bar, beer, extensive wine and craft cocktail list.
Noise level: Conversational
Wheelchair access: Elevator to second floor
Parking: Valet ($5 or $10 for closer lot), or metered street nearby