Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Delicious & Unique Everglades City Restaurants

Growing Up in Everglades City

City Seafood serves delicious gator nuggets. | Photos by Savannah Oglesby

Airboat rides, stone crabs and sunset kayak tours aren’t the only good things Everglades City has to offer.

Many come from far and wide (some even fly into our airport) just to eat at the local restaurants we have! Every restaurant in Everglades City and Chokoloskee is owned by a local who has resided here for years. The majority of locals that eat at them don’t even call the restaurants by their given names; we instead say, “Hey, want to go get a pizza from Carol’s?” or “I’m really craving a chicken sandwich from Terri’s!” Most are located along the Barron River, where you can watch alligators, airboats, and other unique treasures of the Everglades go by. All of them have amazing seafood and other items on their menus that make my mouth water every time I think about them.

Camellia Street Grill is located on 202 Camellia Street, right alongside the Barron River near the school. You can’t miss the turn for the parking lot because of the colorful, bold signs that direct you along with a vibrantly painted, old fashioned Volkswagen beetle that sits at the entrance. This small nook is filled with unique decorations with a rustic touch; almost like it was taken from the Keys and given an Everglades touch. Crab trap buoys are strung along the walls and fences, while painted saying and quotes on wood cover the walls above the waitress station. Waterfront seating is what accompanies this restaurant but there is also the option to sit inside. Their menu includes American food and seafood, but my favorite thing to get there is their blackened chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries.

You can find City Seafood on the Barron River at 702 Begonia Street. The historical wood building has a breezeway which opens up to dockside seating. While eating, you can watch Pelicans fly by and if you drop a piece of your food in the water catfish will swim up to the surface to eat it. You place your order inside at the counter and are handed a ticket. When the number on your ticket is called you go up to the window to retrieve your order and can sit anywhere along the dock. Their gator nuggets are what I usually order when I eat there.

Island Café sits on the right side of the road (305 Collier Ave.) on your way into Everglades, next to the Everglades City Motel. When you walk in the hostess states to seat yourself anywhere you’d like, and when you find the perfect spot your server will meet you with menus. The ambiance in Island Café is like an old Everglades frontier. The walls are filled with mounted fish, facts about the Everglades, and each table is covered with a map of the Ten Thousand Islands. One of my favorite things to get there is a pizza. While working there this past summer I had one customer praise how the pizza was better than one they had in Italy.

Located on Chokoloksee Island, about a five-minute drive from Everglades City, stands Havana Café. Unlike the other restaurants in the area that serve seafood and American style food, Havana serves Cuban cuisine along with some seafood selections. This small café is placed in a small strip mall and has both indoor and outside seating options. Lights are strung through the trees and light up during nightfall, looking as though fireflies are dancing with the leaves. It is a great place to try authentic Cuban food and one of my favorites on their menu to get is the pork sandwich with white rice on the side.

Triad Seafood is found right behind the school at 401 W. School Drive. Being a restaurant on the Barron River, there is seating under the breezeway and on the dock in a screened in porch. This baby pink building is placed alongside docks that belong to crabbers and often times you can see them working next door. I remember when I was back in high school and since it was so close for lunch my friends and I would walk over to get food (mainly their delicious cheese fries) and get back just in time before the bell rang. Other than the cheese fries, I really love their chicken strips and cheeseburgers!

The Rod and Gun is like stepping back in time to Olde Florida. Located at 200 Riverside Dr., you can dine both in and outside while overlooking the Barron River. This restaurant holds a lot of history within the walls, and many famous stars have visited and stayed in the hotel. One of these people being former President Harry S. Truman! The walls of this building are filled with mounted animals and fish, from the floor up. Serving American cuisines and seafood, my favorite thing to get is their grouper sandwich and fries.

Last but not least, Anglers Cove is a restaurant and bar located inside the Port of the Islands Retreat Hotel at 25000 Tamiami Trail East. Most nights they have entertainment, karaoke and live music. It is indoor seating with American style food/seafood, and you can also order food at the bar. When my sister and I eat there I always get their delicious chicken parmesan.

Next time you’re down in the Everglades make sure to go dine at one of our local restaurants to enjoy the delicious food and unique atmosphere!

University of Florida student Savannah Oglesby has lived in Everglades City her entire life. A lover of nature; some of her favorite things are sunsets, night lightning and mountains. She enjoys adventures and spending time with family, friends and two orange tabby cats. She also enjoys travelling, taking photos of nature, learning about extreme weather and seeing the world in different perspectives. Savannah’s love for Everglades City, and its history, is endless.

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