An international franchise of batter-dipped delights, Captain D's stocks its menu with seven seas' worth of shrimp, oysters, and tilapia alongside hushpuppies and land-lubbing veggies. Appetizers of mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers form a rich, cheesy foundation for oceanic bliss, helping soften the disappointing discovery that sea cows can't actually be milked. Select from a slew of dinner platters, each buoyed by a choice of two savory sides from a dozen options that include fried okra and mac 'n' cheese. Zesty tilapia flops onto plates from a pool of scampi, ginger teriyaki, or sweet chili sauce, and baked shrimp slip their native deep-fried shells to please health-conscious palates. Captain D's works without rest to serve dinner and lunch seven days a week, unlike the tides, which always seem to sleep in on the weekends.
The chefs at Red Snapper Seafood & More are fearless when it comes to trying new things: oysters, crabs, gator tails, catfish. They create dishes with them all, but there are also a few unexpected items in their repertoire—namely several traditional Vietnamese dishes, several of which are lower in calories. They cook stir-fry and fill bowls to the brim with pho, in which thin slices of medium-rare beef marinate in a rich broth. Popular dishes include vermicelli noodles and the salad bowl. Bubble tea makes the perfect complement to all the different meals.
The aroma of frying fish beckons diners toward Sam’s Crystal River Seafood's front door, behind which seafood, pasta, and steak are prepared amid family-friendly environs. The menu unfolds with appetizers such as double-breaded fried green tomatoes, served with house-made ranch dressing, based on the recipe famously eaten by all Wild West cowpokes ($4.49/half, $6.99/full). Shrimp can be ordered fried, broiled, blackened, or boiled, and chefs fill stuffed flounder with crab meat before broiling the fish and sprinkling monterey cheese on top ($13.99). Lobster bites are fried golden brown, providing a simpler way to explore the sea creature’s interior than administering a Myers-Briggs test ($7.49). Betray surf for turf with a clandestine rendezvous with a 12-ounce new york strip steak ($15.99), or opt to lunch on noontime burgers and sandwich fare. Ocean appreciation flourishes within the nautically themed interior, which includes a 50-gallon fish tank and walls festooned with fish replicas and oars.
The Southern cooking sages at Café Le Rue hearken to the bayous of Louisiana while conjuring up the robust dishes that adorn their menu of authentic Cajun delicacies. Appetizers roust slumbering appetites more efficiently than donning a belly shirt in a blizzard, with selections such as sweet corn and jalapeño hush puppies ($6.99), or fried oysters sidled up next to a spicy rémoulade sauce ($11.99). Po boys and wraps ($9.99) extinguish hand-held hunger pangs, while shrimp and crawfish étouffe snuggles together two types of shellfish on a bed of rice ($10.99). Sautéed sausage anoints the hot n spicy red beans and rice ($10.99), affording diners the privilege of sampling the flavors of the Gulf without robbing a museum of Louis Armstrong's lunch pail.
Andy Reiss, the fellow behind Andrew's Downtown, is a longtime restaurateur and ardent advocate of businesses in the city center. The Italian fusion sister of Andrew's Capital Grill & Bar, Andrew's 228 offers small plates and entrees in a classy bistro setting. Chefs here prepare Mediterranean-inspired nibbles, such as calamari and chorizo in red wine, along with decidedly American snacks that include black-eyed pea hummus with potato chips and rock shrimp popcorn with saffron-Old Bay aioli. The meats showcased in the main courses come from sustainable farms and local waters, while much of the produce hails from area fields or Mother Earth's crisper drawer.
Capturing the feel of the Big Easy throughout Florida, Po’ Boys surrounds diners with photos of New Orleans and Mardi Gras memorabilia, as well as the rich fragrances of gumbo and jambalaya. The menu presents fried pickles, gator baskets, po’boys, andouille sausage platters, and firecracker shrimp, which are proof one can never know what Mother Nature will do next. The downtown location remains festive with live music on the deck, while other locations, including the Killearn restaurant, host karaoke nights. Catering options are also available to bring bayou flavors to special events.