Philly’s new most popular Instagram spot: ‘All you can eat crab legs’

Center City’s Tavern on Broad holds the key to the mystery.

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Danya Henninger / Billy Penn
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All you can eat crab legs are having a moment in Philly. Not the actual food deal, which is offered by a handful of restaurants around town, although that does come into play. Just the phrase — and the concept.

Over the past few weeks, a location called “All You Can Eat Crab Legs” has become the one of the most popular Instagram check-in spots in all of Philadelphia.

For many Insta users in the area, especially those whose friends have posted with it already, AYCE crab legs is now the very first geotag that comes up.

“I saw Scott [Schroeder] from Hungry Pigeon using it, thought it was funny, and then noticed it’s the first geotag in my list,” said Drew DiTomo, chef de cuisine at Amis. “Even if I search, it’s always the first one.”

DiTomo used the tag on a photo of orecchiette with lamb sausage — which was very obviously located at his restaurant and very obviously had nothing to do with crabs. Most of the pics under the geotag are similarly unrelated to its content, although some people have used the phrase to make visual jokes.

“Legs!” wrote PA Ballet dancer Ashton Roxander next to a photo of his elongated limbs leaping across the floor. Where was he executing that move? According to his post, “All You Can Eat Crab Legs,” of course. A male model who goes by the name Mac Gomez also used the tag to make a point about his own muscular stems.

Others are just embracing the weirdness of it, like musician and engineer Jeff Ziegler, who’s used it on pics of everything from soup to his dog.

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Instagram / @jeffzeigler_

“This location comes up for my house, too,” wrote one commenter on Ziegler’s pooch pic.

“Why is everyone geotagging ‘all you can eat crab legs,’” wrote another, on a skatepark video Ziegler put up.

Of note, Philly’s gotten a master class in geotag trolling recently, thanks to Sixers star Joel Embiid, who regularly uses his Instagram location to poke fun at opponents or rivals.

But where did the crab legs thing come from? Speculation has ranged from “it’s an art project by UArts students” to “it must have to do with Warmdaddy’s” — the Bynum brothers’ waterfront restaurant known for its seafood deals.

None of the above. The source of the tag is a Center City bar called Tavern on Broad.

The bar’s address, 200 S. Broad St., is what comes up when you map the ACYE crab legs tag. And the bar does offer all you can eat crab legs every Wednesday night, confirmed Tavern on Broad marketing and events manager Neina Langford.

“We created the promotion because it was something our new chef wanted to do,” Langford told Billy Penn. “Then we posted it on our social media, and next thing we knew it was shared thousands of times.”

Tavern on Broad’s event page for the weekly deal on Facebook — which owns Instagram — has been viewed by 196,000 people over the course of the past month, Langford said, an astonishing number, considering the bar only seats around 100 and is better known for its inexpensive drinks than its food. “That’s without any [paid] boosts, or anything!” she said.

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Instagram / @TavernOnBroad

The crab deal — $35 for corn, potatoes and as many steamed snow crab legs with butter as you can eat — was introduced at Tavern on Broad last summer. But the geotag only exploded in popularity this month.

There’s a plausible explanation for the recent surge in the tag’s prominence: Blame it on the Eagles celebrations and subsequent parade.

Over the course of the impromptu Super Bowl victory celebration the night of Feb. 4, and during the official procession on Feb. 8, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people passed by the corner of Broad and Walnut where the bar makes its below-ground home, and hundreds if not thousands of Instagram posts were made there.

Many people, as they scrolled through available geo-locations to tag their parade pics, probably saw “All You Can Eat Crab Legs” as an option and chose it because it was funny.

From there, Instagram’s algorithm likely took over — just like in Facebook’s Newsfeed, when something gets a lot of attention or use, it floats to the top. (Instagram has not yet responded to a request for comment on Philly’s specific crab legs situation.)

Langford, who’s worked at Tavern on Broad for the past seven years, is adamant she didn’t even create the geotag in the first place.

“Next thing you know, I want to tag our location, and that’s what comes up,” she recalled. “I asked my assistant, ‘Did you do this?’ No. Out of nowhere it generated itself.”

Said Langford: “I wish I could take credit for it.”