8 Great Florida Seafood Spots

best florida seafood

Whether you're spring breakin' Florida style with a car full of kids or you have a beach cooler full of drinks in tow instead, you're guaranteed to work up an appetite. And if sinking your teeth into some of state's flopping fresh seafood is on your agenda, I've got the lead on some of the best spots to feast on grouper sandwiches, oysters, calamari and all the other ocean-grown goodness that make Florida great. I hit some of these spots up for a break from the madness during my recent Spring Break tour through Florida. Other picks are just places you grow to love when you call Florida home.

Florida's Top Seafood Stops
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8 Great Florida Seafood Spots

Talk about seafood in South Beach and everyone mentions Joe's Stone Crab, the go-to spot to try the legendary claws dipped in mustard sauce. And stone crab season, happily, falls just inside the spring break window (you won't find them on menus from mid-May to mid-Oct). But it's worth crossing the bridge back to Miami proper for a more casual seafood experience at Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market, where patrons pack wooden picnic tables in an unassuming spot along the Miami River for conch fritters, mahi mahi fingers, grouper chowder and yellowtail grilled whole.

Just because you're inland in Florida's theme park capital doesn't mean you can't get fish as fresh as you'd find along the coast. It's a bit out of the way (about 15 miles north of Disney), but people still flock to Lee & Rick's Oyster Bar for buckets of Gulf of Mexico oysters, peel and eat shrimp, Captain's platters to send your cholesterol skyrocketing (fried shrimp, clam strips and crab cakes) and Cajun-style crawfish. For a heavenly grouper sandwich – served on a toasted sesame bun with the perfect dose of tartar sauce in more refined surrounds, opt for an outside table on the patio by the lake at Hillstone in the tony Orlando neighborhood of Winter Park.

Penny-pinching spring breaking college kids mostly stick to two dollar slices of pizza along the beach to pad their bellies, but follow the lead of the bike crowd and Daytona locals who know that the best things in life cost $9.99 a dozen at the Oyster Pub, where fresh gulf of Mexico oysters are the lure. There are a few tables outside, but it's fun to sit at the big bar inside and watch as the shellfish are shucked right in front of you and piled high on a platter. A gas grill at the rear of the bar pumps out barbecued oysters, too, if you don't quite fancy them raw.

Head to the southern end of St. Pete Beach and the cute little historic village of Pass-a-Grill for one of the best grouper sandwiches in the Tampa Bay area at Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, which has been serving them up since 1977. The upstairs veranda is for fine dining. But if you're just after a classic Florida fish sandwich, you'll be just as happy sitting at one of the colorful picnic benches on the ground floor patio. Rather than being slathered with sauce or overwhelmed by a mayonnaise-drowned side of slaw (often the case with impostors) the grouper stars in Hurricane's version of the classic Florida fish sandwich -- it's a massive filet breaded with extra crispy crumbs and fried every so lightly (rice bran oil is the secret) to perfection.

Admire passing yachts while you tuck into Florida seafood cooked on a wood-fired grill at Bimini Boatyard, a waterfront restaurant set on one of Fort Lauderdale's many canals. The raw bar has Florida oysters and stone crab claws in season, and there's always Florida mahi mahi and snapper on the menu, too. People arrive on boats for boat drinks (Bahama Mama!) in souvenir glasses, and a party vibe prevails most nights, spring break or not. For a seafood-centric evening on Las Olas Boulevard, hit super-sceney YOLO for the killer Szechuan calamari and fab Florida fish like wahoo and grouper.

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