Even in an abundant state like California, crab is still considered an indulgent ingredient. Not necessarily price-wise—rather, its presence always carries a festive, decadent motif, from the crab cakes to the crab eggs Benedict. The upcoming National Crab Meat Day is a great excuse to go beyond the obvious and sample some of the city’s most inventive crab dishes—in one of the best seafood cities in the U.S.

International Smoke’s Grilled Crab 

You can count on the phenomenally popular downtown restaurant to give the crab a good sizzle. At International Smoke, Michael Mina & Ayesha Curry’s downtown hall of BBQ, the crab is part of the charcoal-grilled shellfish platter, where it shares the spotlight with oysters, shrimp and lobster but it manages to steal the show.

301 Mission St.

True Laurel’s Crab Fondue

As any crab cake will tell you, crab meat and melting textures can make wonderful friends. True Laurel, the stylish endeavor by the folks behind Lazy Bear, is taking this relationship one step further by introducing the Dungeness crab and aged cheddar fondue, a twist on a cheesy dip. Served with crudites and toast points and available, in an unprecedented move for SF, until 2 a.m, this is all the crabby goodness you need from a night out.

753 Alabama St.

Flores’ Crab Tostadas

Just as it can be rich and gooey, crab meat easily stars in lighter, zingier dishes. Enter Tostadas de Cangrejo, the impossibly fresh crab appetizer from Flores, the colorful Marina eatery which happens to be a serious contender for the best Mexican restaurant title in the city. Featuring Dungeness crab, chipotle and spicy pickled onions on a crispy tortilla, the creation pairs nicely with a cold beer and lets the crab shine.

2030 Union St.

Commonwealth’s Crab Ravioli

Crab’s delicate flavor is a great companion for rich pasta dishes. At Commonwealth, a semi-secretive fine dining spot in the Mission, Dungeness Crab is packed into plump, delicious ravioli, along with kohlrabi, foamy lemongrass sabayon, and citron kosho. While pronouncing all the ingredients in this dish might be a mouthful, consuming it at top speed is as easy as it gets.

2224 Mission St

La Mar Cebicheria’s Crab Causa

The Causa is a Peruvian dish of whipped potatoes topped all sorts of goodies. At La Mar, the kitchen offers a number of twists on the simple appetizer, but the true San Francisco classic is Causa Limeña, a divine mix of purple starchy potatoes,  Dungeness crab, avocado, salmon caviar, quail egg, and creamy aji amarillo sauce. A contract of colors, flavors. and textures, this dish might not give crab central stage, but it’s a winner nevertheless.

pier 1 1/2 The Embarcadero