Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot about seafood since then. And while I’m sure there are many people who love Red Lobster, I have to admit that for nearly 40 years, I’ve never eaten there in Florida – or at any other beach. But I’ve definitely eaten at some fabulous seafood places!
To us, good seafood places are sort of like good barbecue places – they don’t look like much. Actually, the worse they look, the better the food usually is! And you don’t have to dress up to eat there!
He just wrote a story in which he mentioned Singleton’s Seafood Shack in Mayport, or their address says Atlantic Beach, near Jacksonville. The famous scenic Florida Highway A1A passes right by there on the way to the ferry that takes you across the St. Johns River.
You sit at picnic tables, either inside or on the porch. And the food is some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I might try something new, now and then, but I always come back to the fried shrimp. There’s lots more to choose from – everything from gator tail to conch fritters, both New England and Minorcan clam chowder, and all the usual. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area.
Another favorite is Hudson’s On The Docks in Hilton Head. It’s another place that’s been there for years, serving fresh-from-the-boat seafood. Nothing fancy, just good, fresh seafood prepared as it should be. I see that they’re now serving brunch on Sundays – something we’ll have to check out on our next trip!
We also lucked into another place in Hilton Head – the Sea Shack. It’s tucked away in an office park, of all places. But it’s so worth standing in the often long line winding out the door. You order at the counter, and the choices are numerous. Platters, combos, sandwiches – it’s all delicious.
And we can’t forget the Crab Shack, located on Tybee Island, Savannah’s beach. There’s inside seating for those that prefer it, but the outside deck is built around huge trees that provide shade, and the view across the docks where diners and fishermen tie up is spectacular. Their menu has expanded to include barbecue along with their famous Low Country Boil, as well as oysters, crab, and other delights. You can even feed the gators after dinner if you like!
But back to Florida. In the Daytona area, we always visit Hull’s Seafood in Ormond Beach. It’s another of those non-descript places, this one tucked into a row of shops. But like the Sea Shack in Hilton Head, you order at the counter, and the food is fabulous. Definitely not fancy. And like many of the others, there’s a seafood market if you’d rather cook yourself.
We always stop on our way to Key West at a place called Alabama Jack’s. The food’s good if not great, but the atmosphere is wonderful and really gets you in that “Key West State of Mind.”
And in Key West we always go to BO’s Fish Wagon, another place where the line can get quite long. Bobby Flay and his Food Network crew visited BO’s last year. The main draw is the fried grouper sandwich, but there’s lots more to choose from, all fresh, and all delicious.
Another Key West favorite is Blue Heaven. There’s an extensive menu here, but the real Key West vibe is alive and well, with the native chickens strolling under the tables and roosting in the trees. I see that they now advertise “rooster-free dining” inside if you’d prefer…
One addition from farther north is Moby Dick’s, located in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Fabulous New England Clam Chowder, as you might expect!
These are just a few of our favorite seafood places. We’ve eaten at fancier places, of course. And there are others we keep going back to, hoping to capture that first fabulous experience. But these are consistently among the top, in our opinion.
If you’re looking for fancy, none of these places will fit that bill. You might find a few people in their Sunday best, but most people dining at these places will be in shorts and flip-flops. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, and if you want good fresh seafood that’s well prepared, give them a chance. We think you’ll be glad!
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