Where to find buttery Dungeness crab at Bay Area restaurantsSweet, buttery Dungeness crab is finally here.

After delays due to whale protection and then a string of storms, it’s taken longer than usual for local Dungeness crabs to hit stores and restaurants. At last, the wait is over.

Some restaurants are longtime fixtures for crab, like San Francisco’s Thanh Long and its fabled garlic crab, while others spin out new specials every year. Regardless, expect plenty of simple, classic preparations — from chilled crab with lemon to hefty crab rolls — because crab this good doesn’t need much.

Here are 24 Bay Area restaurants serving local Dungeness, listed in alphabetical order. Note: This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other delicious places to get local crab, including longtime seafood haunts like Swan Oyster Depot and Woodhouse Fish Co. Usually crab specials are listed as market price, which can vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $25 for toast topped with crab salad to $75 for a whole crab at a classy restaurant.

Also, there may be even more crab available next week, perhaps at better prices, when the state lifts fishing restrictions put in place to protect endangered whales that are now migrating out of harm’s way. Starting Jan. 15, crab boats will be able to use all their gear instead of just half of it. — J.B.

China Live: One of this modern Chinatown restaurant’s Lunar New Year specials is whole live Dungeness, which can be ordered with ginger-scallion sauce or in the classic Chinese salt-and-pepper style. – San Francisco Chronicle (01.11.12)