Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cool restaurants accessible by boats

Leland, aka Fishtown, courtesy of Captain Bill Crandell of C-Worthy Charter Fishing 
This picture in the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine caught my attention and inspired me to write this post. Chef Mario Batali wrote about his visits to Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan, and how he and his wife loved it so much that they ended up buying a 1920s fish camp near Traverse City. The chef talked about the food scene and the tranquil life on the peninsula. Fishtown, a former commercial fishing port in the 50s, is now a cool lakeside dining spot.
Our fourteen years of boating, and cruising from New England to Florida and the South have taken us to numerous exciting and delicious dockside restaurants. These are some memorable ones:

Warren's Lobster House, Kittery, Maine
Old Mai Thai (blue canvas in the back)
When we lived in Boston, we used to drive an hour north to Kittery to shop at the outlets, and before heading home, we would stop at Warren's. It has a humongous salad bar, and we love the fried clams (with bellies), the chowder and the lobster. There is 75 feet of free docking space here, although we never came by boat.
Once, we tied up across the river at the Prescott Park Docks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and only had to walk 15 minutes across the bridge to the restaurant. Portsmouth itself is an artsy New England seaside town with lots of great restaurants.

Phillips Seafood Restaurant, Baltimore, Maryland
Phillips in Baltimore Inner Harbor
The Chesapeake Bay is a wonderful cruising ground with many historic sites to visit and countless places to drop the anchor. If you are fan of blue crabs like we are, you would be delighted with the abundance of crabhouses in this region. We spent one fabulous August docked at Anchorage Marina, which is within walking distance to the Inner Harbor, and the quaint neighborhoods of Fells Point, Little Italy and Canton. Safeway supermarket, Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse are all conveniently located across the street from the marina.

Seeing the Mayor of Baltimore (ex-Governor of Maryland) performed a concert with his band The O’Malley March at nearby Patterson Park was awesome! At the vibrant Inner Harbor, retired jazz musicians entertained us as they jammed at Phillips. The crab cakes were outstanding.

Outback Crab Shack, St Augustine, Florida (closed after Hurricane Mathew, a category 5 storm, came through in Oct 2016)
Remote, rustic and swampy are words that aptly describes the Outback Crab Shack. Located on Six Mile Creek off the St John’s River, Outback Crab Shack offers a dock that stretches for more than a quarter mile, inviting you to tie up here. Before and after your meal, you can let the birds, alligators and turtles mesmerize you for hours.
We had the Low Country Boil with blue crabs. Low Country Boil is a one pot meal that is usually cooked with shrimp, sausage, potato, corn and seasoned with Old Bay. Our only complaint was that the blue crabs were not as meaty as their Chesapeake cousin. 

Burdines Waterfront, Marathon, Florida
Manatee drinking from our boat
Located in the middle Florida Keys, Marathon is a boater's paradise. Not only can you get up close and personal with nature (manatees, dolphins and birds), you also get the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Many cruisers stop here en route to Central America or the Bahamas, whether waiting for a good weather window or waiting for parts (there's always something to repair on the boat!).

Spending one February in Marathon gave us the chance to frequent Burdines Waterfront, which had the best fish sandwich and fries. And incredible sunsets.

Marco Lodge, Goodland, Fl
A laid-back fishing village, Goodland is quintessential Old Florida. The historic Lodge dates back to 1869. We were anchored in Goodland, which by the way, is very shallow. Boating friends turned RVers spending their winter in Marco Island, came over in their center console runabout to take us to the restaurant (excellent grouper fingers!) When we returned, Mai Thai was swarmed with gnats all over the window, curtains and lights. Fortunately, these tiny black bugs did not bite, and they weren't very active. We spent the night killing them with masking tape (literally taping them) so as to avoid making a mess!

Updated: 6/26/2020

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