Best Restaurants while Birding: Apalachicola Florida

Fresh Shrimp served casually at Indian Pass Oyster Bar

Fresh Shrimp served casually at Indian Pass Oyster Bar

Apalachicola ranks high on our list for Great Places to Come Home to From Birding! Local ads read “old Florida attitude, new style”. We found a great emphasis on local foods (oysters, shrimp and blue crab fresh daily from the bay), creative menus (our number 1 pick boasts of ‘zesty originality’ and appreciation of wine. We spent 5 nights here on our Florida’s Forgotten Coast journey – we could have stayed for more. If you are venturing to this region –
order a Forgotten Coast Visitor’s Guide from the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce: 850.653.9419. http://www.apalachicolabay.org
When does Naturalist Journeys return for a tour? As soon as possible ! (Feb. /March 2010) – check our website for 2009’s Florida’s Forgotten Coast Trip Report & Species List to read of our adventures.

BEST for Dinner
#1  Tamara’s Café Floridita – we sampled Wednesday night Tapas, and then returned for another great meal. Terra cotta colors accent the historic brick building in its downtown location. Pecan-encrusted Grouper with creamy jalapeño sauce, Tamara’s Paella w/ sausage, chicken and fresh scallops, shrimp and grouper, Tupelo-glazed Duck with chorizo Mac&Cheese, Gulf shrimp and scallops in chili-coconut broth – yum! Florida favorites as well – excellent Key Lime Pie, but alas, they’d run out of rum flan…. 850.653.4111. http://www.tamarascafe.com

#2  Chef Eddie Cass’ Magnolia Grill – great first night location with a semi-private room for our group introductions. Chef Eddy, personable, fun and obviously talented came to our table to tempt us with the night’s selections. Great casual atmosphere, creative menu and way-too-delicious desserts. 850.653-8000. http://www.chefeddiesmagnoliagrill.com

#3  The Owl Café – This fine restaurants gracious staff squeezed us in on Valentine ’s Day despite a reservation mix-up and we gratefully ordered with glee. Classic and reliable with patio seating in warmer months. Extensive wine list. 850.653.9888. http://www.owlcafeflorida.com

Best for Breakfast:
#1  Café con Leche Internet Café – we enjoyed mingling with a steady stream of locals at this small café and returned almost every morning. Run by Tamara, the creative genius behind our r #1 dinner pick, the place is warm and welcoming and to our surprise we could get REAL Venezuelan arepas along with fresh baked goods and superb coffee. Her ads read “Get Wired” and she brews her coffee strong. When one of our group asked for a vanilla, decaf latte, her smiling response – ‘why bother?’. Tamara is soon to move back to her old digs across the street. You would be wise to track her down. cafedetamara@hotmail.com

#2  Caroline’s Dining on the River – while it did not make our dinner short list, we thoroughly enjoyed hearty breakfasts in view of the water, watching Osprey, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Laughing Gulls from our table. 850.653.8139 http://www.apalachicolariverinn.com

Fun for Lunch:
#1  Indian Pass Raw Bar
– eclectic, local and fun! If you love oysters a must. Located at the turn-off to St. Vincent NWR and close to Cape San Blas where an historic lighthouse and No. Gannets can be found. 850.227.1670 http://www.indianpassrawbar.com

#2  That Place in Apalachicola – nice atmosphere in historic building, fresh creative seafood and salads. That Place on 98 has outside deck seating on the bay where shorebirds abound! 850.670.9898. http://www.ThatPlaceOn98.net.

Convenient places close to prime birding areas include the Coastal Family Café at Sumatra (near Wright’s Lake and the scenic loop in Apalachicola National Forest – good area to find Bachman’s Sparrow and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers).

Disappointments – we loved the food (oh those soft-shell crab sandwiches…) at Posie’s Steam Room and Oyster Bar near Panacea but were chagrined at their use of Styrofoam – pounds and pounds of Styrofoam every day. In such a beautiful area where nature reigns, take care of our precious planet please! I must say, when I asked for a real plate they were happy to oblige.

Places we missed – so many birds, so little time…
Please send your comments and reviews! Verandas (nightly music, balcony outside seating) 850.653.3210. http://www.verandasbistro.com. Eddy Teach’s Raw Bar near great birding spots on St. George Island (locals rave about it) 850.927.5050. http://www.eddyteachs.com. Provisions in St. Joe (we did not get this far…) 850.229.9200.

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One Response to “Best Restaurants while Birding: Apalachicola Florida”

  1. Linda Willson Says:

    I was a lucky birder on this trip and certainly enjoyed the good food. Trying different restaurants and returning to ones we particularly enjoyed definitely added to the pleasure of our journey. The ambience at the places where we ate, whether simple or fancy was always memorable and contributed to our anticipation and enjoyment of meal times and of Florida’s Forgotten Coast.

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