Vacationers in Florida are shocked that some areas of Florida are thin on quality seafood restaurants and even disturbed when people start recommending chain restaurants available back home. Despite a coastline of 1300 miles, seafood is not inexpensive in Florida.
So here are our favorite seafood restaurants with an island location or sea view or at least some water to see, for we feel that people come to Florida to eat seafood with a location better than a parking lot. That location may mean jacked up prices, but even in Florida the rising cost of seafood is why you see so many Floridians on bridges and piers and boats with a rod in their hand.
I admit Joe’s Stone Crab isn’t on the waterfront at Miami Beach, but I would be expelled from the Florida writing fraternity to not mention the most profitable family owned seafood place in the nation. Even more shocking it closes down when the crabs are out of season. This is an institution not a restaurant.
The Most Profitable Private Restaurant In The Land
Another seafood institution is Jacksonville Beach’s Marker 32. Since 1992 diners have come for the creative seafood dishes as well as a second floor dining-room panorama of a sunset over the intracoastal waterway. Don’t be stunned when you see trigger fish with grits – there are all the Florida favorites on the extensive menu.
The Sun Goes Down At Marker 32
The Florida Keys are loaded with good seafood places and the competition is fierce. You can’t complain about Key West’s Sunset Pier at the very end of DuVal Street at the fancy Ocean Key Resort and Spa. The big rating booster for me is the moderate prices for both lunch and dinner at this prime spot. And the seafood is wonderful.
At The Southern Tip of Florida: Seafood
In tribute to the dozens of fine family seafood places in the Keys, I select The Fish House in Key Largo. An institution in the Northern Keys since 1982, it has all the ingredients you expect – it has its own fish market filled with grouper and yellowtails, tacky lighting and decorations all over the outdoor patio and inside plus photographs of famous TV chefs who came here. The delicious dishes won’t burn a hole in your wallet.
Nautical Casual Is A Key Largo Theme
Here in Tampa, we have no ocean, but Oystercatchers in the Grand Hyatt on the Clearwater Causeway gives you a nice waterfront sunset and a choice of weekend buffet, lunch or dinner. As a hotel restaurant it is expensive but you pay for Grouper Saltimbocca or Lobster Mac and Cheese and other dishes.
Oystercatchers Has A Big Sunday Buffet
The Maritana Grille at the majestic and historic pink palace known as the Don Cesar on St Petersburg Beach is in an Oceanside resort on the Gulf of Mexico, but the owners clearly want you to enjoy the seafood over the view. The price is very heavy here and it is also strong in meat entries but the iron griddled fish items and pan seared sous vide boost the seafood choices into orbit. When it comes to special occasions, this Grille is a favorite of both locals and visitors.
The Pink Palace At Night: the Don Cesar
Florida’s Panhandle always get short-changed in national publications, but this is home to many of Florida’s most popular seafood spots. Trebeache on Santa Rosa Beach on Highway 30A is deserving of its popular status for its potato wrapper grouper and all its oyster offerings straight from the nearby waters of Apalachicola.
Trebeache at Santa Rosa Beach
Pensacola and Pensacola Beach is a port and fishing area and there are so many good seafood places it was not easy picking one. The problem I had is that most are across the highway from the water and I want an outdoor table where I can smell the salt water breeze. Red Fish Blue Fish is a wildly designed lunch and dinner spot with huge portions of seafood at modest prices. It isn’t fancy, but this is the vacation culture of the Panhandle.
Red Fish Blue Fish Sunset
The most exciting and beautiful waterfront seafood restaurant I have seen in recent years is the popular 15th Street Fisheries at the Lauderdale Marina. At night when fancy yachts arrive, the place comes alive. You can dine on the docks or take a window seat on the second floor. The prices are quite fair for high priced Fort Lauderdale and the food and service are very good.
15th Street Fisheries: Urban Waterfront