The Gulf oil spill doesn’t have to mean the end of eating seafood. There’s still plenty of fish that’s fresh and safe. We went in search of casual seafood places, where you can go in shorts and flip-flops.
- Small, family-owned Kelly’s Landing has been in business for 24 years. Its signature seafood is flown in twice a week from New England. Owner Debbie Skinner started as a waitress at the restaurant and gradually bought out the original owners. On a busy weekend night you’ll find Skinner and her family members working the dining room. Whether you’re a regular or it’s your first time, it’s the kind of friendly service that’s rare in South Florida. Come early on Saturday night or make a reservation, because the restaurant fills quickly. While you’re perusing the menu, order some of the “Best Eva” onion rings to munch on — they live up to their billing. A half order is enough for everyone at the table to taste. Other menu must-haves: Ipswich clams, either steamed in the shells or deep fried, and sea scallops baked with lemon and butter then topped with fresh breadcrumbs.
- Family-owned restaurant and fish market Seafood World has been a local fixture since Hugh “Papa Hughie” Ganter and his family opened the doors in 1976 in Lighthouse Point. With all the dark wood and tables tucked into cozy corners, you almost feel like you’re on someone’s boat. There’s no denying the freshness of the seafood when you walk past the market counter. The seafood selections reflect Caribbean influences with items like cracked conch, conch chowder, conch fritters and Bahamian peas and rice. Prices are a little steep for a casual place, but with careful ordering you can eat plenty without breaking the budget. Portions are large and one entree and an appetizer or shellfish selection is plenty for two. Bahamian conch chowder is flavorful but not spicy, with plenty of conch in every bite. A pound of mussels in red sauce is a bargain for $9.95; just save some of the crusty French bread for dipping. Shrimp and scallops fra Diablo are tasty but come with a lingering peppery taste. Find a partner and ditch the diet for the fried combo platter – a huge mix of fish, scallops, shrimp and conch fritters. Scallops were large and sweet, yellow tail snapper was cooked perfectly and the conch fritters had just the right mix of conch and well-seasoned batter.
- Ever since Food Network’s Guy Fieri featured The Whale’s Rib on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, business has been booming. On a busy Saturday night, it’s not uncommon for a “40-minute wait” to stretch into an hour. The Deerfield Beach restaurant has the look of an old boathouse, with wood paneling, old license plates and photos of fishermen showing off their catch. Diners are crammed into every inch, including bar stools along the edge of the open kitchen. Unlike most seafood places, this menu has a large selection for the landlubber, particularly sandwiches. Don’t miss the whale fries, homemade thin-sliced potato chips that come with “whale juice,” essentially honey mustard dressing. California Shrimp & Scallops, a scampi-like dish with artichokes, peppers and onions served over spinach pasta is enjoyable, but slightly low on shrimp and scallops. An abundant portion of rock shrimp tastes similar to lobster at a smaller price, just beware tough, prickly shells.