Here, if you order the house specialty - steamed crabs - your tablecloth is old newspaper, your napkins are a roll of paper towels and you'll dine to the tune of snapping shells.
Sure, it's a messy night out.
But that makes it all the easier to lick the delicious Old Bay seasoning or melted butter from your fingertips.
Route 30 Seafood makes you feel just like you stepped into a beachside crab shack only locals frequent, without the hours-long drive to Ocean City, Md.
As soon as you step out of your car, you smell the saltwater and seafood. Boating rope winds along the walkway into the restaurant, where wide wood plank floors cover the sprawling dining rooms.
Three out of the four people in my family love steamed hard shells.
The children dance in their seats, hammers in hand, as the platter of crabs arrive.
My husband barely controls himself from doing the same. As for me, I love crabs, too. So long as it's already separated from the shell.
That's why Route 30 Seafood is one of our favorite places.
The children and my husband get their crab craving fix, without flinging crab shell pieces around my kitchen.
At the same time, I get to savor perfectly prepared dishes, such as flounder stuffed with crab imperial, broasted chicken, prime rib, tuna steak or steamed clams.
Or rather, I thought I'd be able to savor the steamed clams.
My 4-year-old, however, discovered that they're just as tasty as crabs with less work.
After piling through nearly a dozen on his own, he quipped, "They look disgusting, but taste delicious."
Can't argue with that, and, at $3.50 per dozen, I can't argue with the price, either.
Thanks to the restaurant's all-you-care-to-eat specials, reservations are a good idea.
Once you're there, the service is fast and friendly.
Open every day, Route 30 Seafood offers an all-you-can-eat deal of snow crab clusters, steamed shrimp, fried shrimp, Maryland crab soup, broasted chicken, prime rib and french fries, or steamed crabs, soup, broasted chicken and french fries for $31.95.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, the all-you-can-eat deals include broasted chicken, broiled or fried haddock, choice of potatoes and coleslaw for $12.99.
Or opt for just the broasted chicken and potato, coleslaw and roll and butter for $8.95 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
- Beth Vrabel, for FlipSide
Keep it going
Looking to extend your night out? Consider these:
WHERE: 1724 Hanover St., Oxford Township, Adams County
WHAT: You might be messy after cracking your way through all of those hard shell crabs. You might not smell the best, either.
No worries! Head to Speedway 94, where your crabby smell will be cloaked with fuel fumes.
As for messy attire, who cares when you're speeding along in go-karts, bouncing around bumper boats, climbing a rock wall, defying gravity on trapeze equipment or flying down an enormous water slide.
The chance to race each other on four go-kart tracks, play video games and more makes Speedway 94 a great spot for those sometimes-awkward first dates.
But thanks to the family go-kart track, bounce house and inflatable water slide, it's also great for families.
The Bumper Boats are another family-friendly attraction, but my children couldn't resist the Gravity Storm, where they were harnessed and attached to bungee cords and lifted into the air.
They bounced down on huge air pillows and flew farther into the sky.
For more on Speedway 94, call 632-1040 or visit speedway94.com.
Crabbs Tropical Treat
WHERE: 2279 Carlisle Pike, Berwick Township, Adams County
WHAT: After leaving Speedway 94, I dare you to drive on by Crabbs Tropical Treat without being beckoned in by the Siren call of the giant fluorescent ice cream cone.
Here, you'll get a slice of Americana along with a killer fat boy burger.
Feel like you stepped back into the 1950s at the Treat, or at least back to your childhood.
Locals will know the Treat is just the same today as when they were kids. Maybe you'll even be lucky enough to make it to the Treat on a cruise night, when hot rods fill the lot.
Drive up for car hop service of sundaes, malts, shakes, cones and more. Or, get hamburger baskets, fried seafood, pizza or subs. For more on Crabbs Tropical Treat, call 632-3977.
York Street Treat Ice Cream Parlor
WHERE: 881 York St., Hanover
WHAT: Don't mix up Tropical Treat for York Street Treat. Here, order ice cream and more at the window and then park yourself on one of the picnic tables. Be sure to grab some napkins, too, as both Treats fit squarely into our messy night theme.
Maybe you'll need the napkins for a drippy, delicious black raspberry ice cream cone or the sugar shock-inducing peanut butter shake. But if you really want a one-of-a-kind delight, order the Treat burger.This belly buster is a double patty cheeseburger burger is filled with fried onions, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
For more on York Street Treat, call 637-4165.