Illustrator Matt Caserta
Florida Atlantic Coast
Sunset Waterfront Cafe & 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 West 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
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
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