OLD FLORIDA WATERFRONT RESTAURANTS
Florida is surrounded by water: the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico come to mind, of course.
Thousands of miles of rivers and thousands of lakes also add to the Florida nautical inventory.
With this much water, it's no wonder Florida has more than its fair share of waterfront restaurants.
View From a Waterfront Restaurant
Here are a few of the older ones that we enjoy. There is a map at the end of this article that shows the locations of each of these restaurants.
Alabama Jack's, Card Sound Road
Good seafood and bar at this old place on Card Sound Road near North Key Largo. They have good seafood, including grouper sandwiches, grilled dolphin platter, crab cake sandwiches and conch fritters. I really like their conch fritters.
Aunt Catfish's, Port Orange
Good seafood and southern cooking in a waterfront setting at the foot of the bridge from Port Orange to South Daytona Beach. They are famous for their abundant buffet and luxurious desserts.
Drifters Riverfront Bar & Grill, Astor
This restaurant is in what was the location of the Blackwater Inn for many years. Astor is on the west bank of the St. Johns River where State Road 40 crosses over on its way from Ormond Beach to Ocala through the Ocala National Forest. This quiet river crossing is a slice of Old Florida, and so is the inn.
Drifters Riverfront Bar & Grill
Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant, Pineland
You can only reach this restaurant by boat or seaplane. There is outside and inside dining at Cabbage Key. The walls and ceiling of the inside dining room are festooned with thousands of one dollar bills, each bearing the name in magic marker of earlier diners.
You will not feel complete unless you leave one of your own.
Cap's Place, Lighthouse Point
This seafood restaurant is an Old Florida icon that should be visited at least once by everyone interested in Florida History and the old way of life. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and people go to Cap's for the ambiance as much as the food.
Clark's Fish Camp, Jacksonville
This restaurant in Mandarin is on Julington Creek just off the St. Johns River. The atmosphere is one of the attractions here, with what is reported to be the world's largest collection of private taxidermy.
It is currently (August 15, 2023) closed but there are reports a new owner will renovate and reopen the restaurant.
Corky Bell's, East Palatka
This comfortable restaurant on the St. Johns River is just east of historic downtown Palatka on the east end of the U.S. 17 bridge that crosses the St. Johns River.
Corky's is on the St. Johns River at a location the locals refer to as Devil's Elbow because of its steep turn from east to south at that spot. The restaurant commands a beautiful view of the river.
The seafood here is excellent and they have lots of inside and outside dining.
Gator Joe's, Ocklawaha
This old Florida restaurant sits on the white sand beach on the north shore of Lake Weir. It is a comfortable place with inside and outside dining and an Old Florida feel to it.
Seafood prepared in many ways including Southern and Caribbean. Their appetizer menu includes fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried pickles and a host of other things such as jambalaya, shrimp and wings.
Goodrich's, Oak Hill
This waterfront restaurant is in a small fishing village on the Mosquito Lagoon. Inside and outside dining and many entrees including fried seafood baskets, crab cakes, clam strips, shrimp, catches of the day and oysters, lots of oysters.
Oysters are how they got to be locally famous. They have oyster roast parties on the outside deck for parties of at least 20 people.
Hidden Treasure, Ponce Inlet
This gem is a hidden treasure with outside dining and a tiki bar in the shadow of the historic Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. It overlooks Ponce Inlet and is a great place to refresh and recharge after walking to the top of the lighthouse and soaking in the magnificent view.
Island Waterfront Bar and Grille, Merritt Island
Locals love this place, and so do tourists once they find out about it. It is located on the east side of Central Merritt Island at the beginning of the long causeway over the Banana River that runs to Cocoa Beach. As is fitting for its location on a beautiful river, it specializes in seafood.
Lazy Days Restaurant, Islamorada
There is a Lazy Days restaurant in Marathon and one in Islamorada. I visited the one in Islamorada. It is on the ocean side of US-1 and has a view of the Atlantic Ocean. This is a great place in the Middle Keys for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
You can eat downstairs in the dining room, or upstairs in the bar. There is also a large covered outside dining deck with a great view, and you can also sit on the beach.
Shady Oak Restaurant, DeLand
This little place looks like a fish camp. It is on the St. Johns River west of DeLand at the State Road 44 bridge.
No matter if you sit inside or outside you will have a view of the St. Johns River flowing gently by.
The food is okay, the service is good, but the view is magnificent.
Singleton's Seafood Shack, Mayport
Mayport is a fishing village near the mouth of the St. Johns River east of Jacksonville. Singleton's is a traditional Old Florida establishment featured not long ago on Guy Fieri's television show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Snack Jack, Flagler Beach
The formal name of the Old Florida oceanfront diner is High Tides at Snack Jack. It is directly on the ocean just south of Flagler Beach. All tables and booths have oceanfront views and the food is great. This is informal beach side dining at its best.
Starfish Company, Cortez
This restaurant is on the waterfront in Cortez, one of Florida's last remaining genuine fishing villages. It was founded way back in the early 1920's as a wholesale seafood market. Over the years it evolved into a retail seafood market, kitchen, and outside dining.
This is my favorite place to go for fried mullet. Cortez still has many accomplished mullet netters.
Uncle Ernie's Bayfront Grill, Panama City
Uncle Ernie's in Panama City overlooks St. Andrews marina, and has a very comfortable nautical atmosphere including old photos on the walls. The interior is very nautical and the seafood selections are delicious.
Click on this image for an interactive map that shows all of these restaurant locations.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2024
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