Local Seafood Anyone?
5 minutes

Local Seafood Anyone?

- edited by: Michael Kaufmann

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Life on the First Coast affords our residents a number of luxuries that many cities around the country can not boast. While it’s true that thirty-one other cities do have professional football teams, DUUUUUUUVALLLLLLLLLL is indigenous only to here, and professional golf gives us an annual glimpse into the lives of the top golf pros for one week every year. One constant in North Florida though is an abundance of local, fresh seafood and having the tiny little community of Mayport at the mouth of the St Johns River means we have fresh seafood available on any given day of the year.

Fresh fish and Mayport shrimp come in daily and whether you go out to a restaurant or cook at home, when you want to include seafood, your options are virtually endless. And those options don’t end at what seafood you desire. The way any given dish is prepared opens your choices to another virtual smorgasbord of selections. At Sliders Oyster Bar the oyster menu could allow you to try a different variety every day of the week. Starting with your traditional oysters on the half shell that come raw or steamed. Then there’s the Oysters Rockerfeller, Oysters Casino, Lucky Gouda (with an amazing pineapple blueberry bbq sauce, smoked gouda and bacon) or Sliders signature Godzilla Oysters (served raw on the half shell, topped with a cucumber wasabi dressing, soy sauce, sriracha, seaweed and house made ‘pirate’ hot sauce). Of course, the Godzilla is strongly recommended for locals only, but the brave at heart from distant locales are certainly welcome to indulge…. All these choices and the fried oyster platter rounds out your choices! Where do you start?

With a catch of the day available everyday, the fish choices are so varied that we don’t have the attention span any longer to list all the many different dishes and methods of preparation to keep you reading until the end! But rest assured local restaurants like Sliders and Safe Harbor strive to offer any seafood dish that pleases the pallet of even the worldliest traveler and fine dining foodie. Beginning with one of the all time favorites, fresh grouper is joined by mahi mahi, tuna, flounder, and other entrees that change daily to give you, once again, choices that seem endless. Fried, grilled, blackened, butter crusted, ceviche, how do you choose?

All of these possibilities and choices like crab, scallops, gator tail and mussels haven’t even been mentioned yet. Now that your mind is reeling with thoughts of delicious fresh seafood it seems a good time to bring up a list of choices of how to bring it to your table, or you to a table in any of the establishments serving what you are craving! Maybe you want to visit the Safe Harbor Market in Mayport and bring your selection home to cook in the kitchen for a special family dinner. Or fire up your grill or smoker and invite friends over for a feast on the back patio? Lets not forget a birthday, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day is a special occasion for venturing out to your favorite restaurant and letting them do the cooking (and cleaning!) Sliders Oyster Bar is open everyday and features an iconic brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am until 2:00pm. Safe Harbor Seafood in Mayport takes Monday off, but offers a unique dining experience right in the heart of one of America’s premiere fishing communities that leaves you with an unforgettable memory every other day of the week.

One thing that is really cool though is something Chris Wooten pointed out, “You know, it’s like every plate has a story. Whether a diver goes down and collects lobsters or spears grouper, or a fishing boat is out pulling a long-line, the lives of these guys who bring their catch in all have really cool stories about their time on the boat. I’ve heard so many incredible stories from the fishermen who unload their catch at Mayport that I simply could’t recant them all.”  Wooten added that one of the craziest stories ever though is that of local skateboard legend and professional diver, Jimmy Plumer. “Plumer grew up in Jax Beach and became known for his antics as a spearfishing legend,” Wooten said. “Diving requires exact precision in how long you can stay underwater and how fast (or slow) you have to focus on your ascent. Jimmy suffered a condition called the bends more than once, but the craziest story was when he was spearing grouper one day and was bitten by a shark. It was a pretty gnarly attack, but Jimmy survived the incident and came up with his grouper! I have no idea what plate(s) that fish ended up on, but I often think about the story behind it that the person eating that fish never knew about!”

No matter where you go to enjoy your local seafood, how it’s prepared or what the story behind it is, the more we know about the rich cultural place the First Coast holds in the fishing industry, the more we can enjoy that our community is proud to be the home of some of the best seafood in the world. Whether you are sitting in your favorite restaurant, cooking outside on the grill or even attending a party at a friend’s, the fact that your meal was swimming in the ocean yesterday should bring a smile to your face knowing that you are enjoying a luxury that few communities can claim!

Suggest a Story: FCL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so when you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

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