Southeast Seafood Dives
Come as you are, but bring an appetite when you delve into the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast’s best offerings.
Pelican Point Restaurant & Lounge, Crescent
What to expect: Enormous seafood buffet; go for the shrimp, spicy crab stew, and crab au gratin.
Check it out: 1398 Sapelo Avenue N.E.; 912/832-4295 or pelicanpointseafood.com
Mudcat Charlie’s, Brunswick
What to expect: Go with what’s fresh. Grilled shrimp is a good bet.
Check it out: 250 Ricefield Way; 912/261-0055
Desposito’s Seafood Restaurant, Savannah
What to expect: Boiled or steamed seafood served on newspaper-covered tables.
Check it out: 1 Macceo Drive; 912/897-9963
Love’s Seafood & Steaks, Savannah
What to expect: This rustic family restaurant has served customers along the languid Ogeechee River southwest of Savannah since 1949. Try the crab stew at this rustic riverfront restaurant.
Check it out: 6817 Chief O.F. Love Road (Basin Road); 912/925-3616 or lovesseafood.com
Williams Seafood Restaurant, Savannah
What to expect: This beloved institution on the Bull River between Sanannah and Tybee Island serves great seafood, as it has since it opened as a roadside crab stand in 1936. We recommend the terrific broiled seafood platter.
Check it out: 8010 Tybee Road (U.S. Hwy 80 East); 912/897-2219
Hunter’s Café, Shellman Bluff
What to expect: The café’s ramshackle exterior conceals an uncluttered, surprisingly pretty interior and a menu that includes crab stew (like creamy she-crab soup with potato chunks) and tuna filet with sesame-ginger sauce and fried spinach.
Check it out: On the waterfront; 912/832-5771
The Crab Shack, Tybee Island
What to expect: “Where the Elite Eat in their Bare Feet.” The elite love the Capt ’n Crab’s Sampler and the Low Country Boil.
Check it out: 40 Estill Hammock Road; 912/786-9857 or thecrabshack.com
North Beach Grill, Tybee Island
What to expect: Southern- and Caribbean-influenced seafood next to the lighthouse.
Check it out: 41A Meddin Avenue; 912/786-9003
Driftaway Café, Wilmington Island
What to expect: Try the tuna tartare―bits of tuna atop crispy wontons and cucumbers, drizzled with a wasabi-and-miso sauce. Crispy scored flounder with sweet apricot sauce appeals to more-traditional tastes. Driftaway Café’s Sandfly location (912/303-0999 or driftawaycafe.com) offers virtually the same menu.
Check it out: 216 Johnny Mercer Boulvard; 912/898-4161
Sunset Waterfront Cafe and Bar, Cocoa Beach
What to expect: Most mingle in the tiled bar, open-air dining room, or dockside deck for the namesake setting and conviviality rather than the food. But no one leaves hungry (try the Sunset Seafood Platter) or thirsty (dare to finish the triple-rum Sunset Grabber).
Check it out: 500 W. Cocoa Beach Causeway; 321/783-8485 or sunsetwaterfrontcafeandbar.com
Rustic Inn Crabhouse, Fort Lauderdale
What to expect: Famed for its garlic crabs. You can sit inside, on a screened porch, or on the glassed-in patio overlooking the Dania Cutoff Canal.
Check it out: 4331 Ravenswood Road; 954/584-1637 or rusticinn.com
Theo Thudpucker’s Raw Bar, Fort Pierce
What to expect: Great oyster stew.
Check it out: 2025 Seaway Drive; 772/465-1078
Bayside Hut Seafood, Key Biscayne
What to expect: A palm-camouflaged, open-air hideaway at a marina with views of the Miami skyline and a nice seafood platter of fish, shrimp, calamari, scallops, conch, and crab sautéed in garlic.
Check it out: 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway; 305/361-0808
Singleton’s Seafood Shack, Mayport
What to expect: Fresh grouper and Mayport white shrimp, and a room full of boat models made by the late owner, Capt. Ray Singleton.
Check it out: 4728 Ocean Street; 904/246-4442
J.B.’s Fish Camp, New Smyrna Beach
What to expect: Anything fried is good; steamed rock shrimp are great.
Check it out: 859 Pompano Avenue; 386/427-5747 or jbsfishcamp.com
Rusty’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, Port Canaveral
What to expect: Wonderful platter of steamed seafood. You get steamed oysters, clams, and shrimp, plus a big dish of tiny broiled scallops, each the size of a pencil eraser but still wonderfully tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Check it out: 628 Glen Cheek Drive; 321/783-2033 or rustysseafood.com
Oscar’s Old Florida Grill, St. Augustine
What to expect: The fried fish and vegetables are hard to beat, particularly the house specialty butternut grouper.
Check it out: 614 Euclid Avenue; 904/829-3794
Chowders Seafood Grill, Rockledge
What to expect: Some swear by the lobster-and-cream starter―shellfish and cream cheese served with tortilla chips―and a well-mixed margarita. Others show up for specials, such as the catch-of-the-day grouper with a light Parmesan-cheese crust. But in the end, it’s all about Chowders' coconut cream pie.
Check it out: 6485 S. U.S. 1; 321/757-7200 or chowders.com
Schooner’s Seafood House, St. Augustine
What to expect: The lightly-fried seafood―especially the flounder and shrimp―keeps it going deliciously. Super friendly service makes the experience well-nigh perfect.
Check it out: 3560 North Ponce De Leon Boulevard; 904/826-0233 or schooners-seafood.com
Le Tub, Hollywood
What to expect: Rich gumbo with lots of shrimp; charmingly ramshackle decor.
Check it out: 1100 North Ocean Dr.; 954/921-9425 or theletub.com