My New England heritage might be why I enjoy visiting seafood restaurants across Florida and with the longest coastline of any state other than Alaska there’s a lot of waterfront for restaurants to locate.
Here are some great places for seafood lovers along the Florida Gold Coast (Southeast Florida) and the wonderful Florida Keys. Rates are lower during the summer and the traffic is better for a trip down the coast.
Oceans 234 – Deerfield Beach
Right on the waterfront at 234 North Ocean Boulevard in Deerfield Beach, Oceans 234 has a gorgeous ocean view. This is a moderately priced restaurant that doesn’t bury the natural flavor of the fish with a pile of dominant ingredients. I appreciate that factor.
Redesigned To Show A Great View of the Pier and Beach
Danielle Rosse bought the place from her mother in law and added some upscale items to the local favorites. There is a lot of sushi and items for land-lovers. Oceans 234 does some wild things with lobster tail such as putting a half-pound lobster tail in their lobster mac-n-cheese dish. The sautéed shrimp linguini is excellent.
Seawatch On The Ocean – Fort Lauderdale by the Sea
I have loved this Caribbean-style ocean-side seafood restaurant for years and my only complaint is the sea grass has grown so high it is blocking much of the view of the Atlantic Ocean. At first it looks like a Bahamian fishing lodge placed on a large sand dune. Windows dominate the exterior.
The ocean is a good walk at SeaWatch
There is a nice full bar for those who come without reservations, you might have a long wait. This place has the best bouillabaisse in South Florida and there is wonderful seafood pasta. Seawatch does try some exotic dishes which I avoided such as triggerfish schnitzel and New Zealand style orange roughy.
Joes Stone Crab – Miami Beach
It is quite expensive and is packed during stone crab season. Most visitors may wonder why I mention this restaurant for it isn’t stone crab season. Guess what? I don’t even like stone crab and this famous place open since 1913 has a huge seafood menu. If you think a meat eater isn’t welcomed – you are wrong. You can order a 20 oz ribeye and Australian lamb chops.
A Lunch at Joes Stone Crab Is Casual
Not me. These people know seafood which is why it has been among the most profitable non-chain restaurants in the entire world. Their salmon and Maine lobster dishes are excellent. They know how to present those non-shell Florida creatures called grouper and snapper. The service is super-professional.
Now that we go urban sophisticated, let’s go down to the Florida Keys where fresh seafood and casual eating go fork and knife together.
The Square Grouper Bar & Grill – Cudjoe Key
The Lynn Bell family came to the Keys and loved the seafood so much, they bought this quaint restaurant at 22658 Overseas Highway. Don’t ask what a square grouper is unless you want a room full of laughter directed at you. A square grouper is a carton of marijuana dropped from a low flying plane from Central America or Columbia.
Like Most Seafood Spots In the Keys Square Grouper Is Simple
Just drive into the menu. There are some burgers and veggie dishes, but seafood is the show. The fish are on one side of the menu and the ways they will fix those fish fill the rest of the menu. I’m not just talking about fried and boiled. Would you like a grouper BLT or a grouper reuben or a grouper taco?
Green Turtle Inn – Islamorada
In 1947 Sid and Roxie Siderious obtained the rundown 1928 Rustic Inn, one of the only structures that survived the Great Hurricane and started a restaurant. It became a popular local hangout. When magician Henry “Bastille” Rosenthal obtained the Green Turtle, it became the party place for the island.
Don’t be scared that they serve the endangered green turtles – the only turtles on the menu are farm raised freshwater turtles. This place serves from breakfast until late evening so start your fishing trip with a lobster benedict.
Key West has some famous hotel restaurants but locals have their seafood favorites.
Blue Heaven – Key West
People line up for breakfast and they line up for dinner. There are no reservations in this famous moderate restaurant where Ernest Hemingway refereed boxing matches. The only fights today are to find a parking space. The locals don’t seem to bother for they come on bike or on foot.
The Entrance To Blue Heaven Tells It All
The place is special at dinner when people dine under the stars. Some people make a meal just of the huge appetizer list. There are meat dishes but when Florida spiny lobster is in season, that is the top choice. One added suggestion: don’t feed the chickens even if they seem to like you.
Louie’s Backyard – Key West
The chickens are replaced with a view of the ocean at the backyard of Louis and Frances Signorelli at was once the home of wrecker James R. Adams. Their small place became the hangout for Thomas McGuane and Jimmy Buffet. It closed for a short time but has been redeveloped by Pat and Phil Tenney.
What A View From Louie’s Backyard
The much photographed patio, however, is mostly used for cocktails and socializing. The inside menu is about as upscale as you will find in Key West. with dishes like snapper seviche with avocado salsa and sauted local snapper on onion rolls. But I think their Bahamian conch chowder matches any other seafood spot on the island.
If you find the price tag at dinner too expensive, Louie’s has a delightful café with some interesting food selections besides the drinks. There is a lunch menu (OK) and a Sunday brunch which is worth the amount.