Sometimes after cracking open the day's shipment of ocean-fresh oysters, the owners of Murphys Oyster Bar measure the shellfish using an unconventional rubric: frosty beer bottles. At times, the oysters are nearly as long as a Corona Extra; other times, they almost reach the length of a Bud Light. In addition to those succulent, fresh oysters, diners can devour crab legs, clams, and other seafood, plus tender steaks, greek salad, and gyros. Live entertainment and hookah pipes packed with fragrant tobacco make Murphys Oyster Bar a relaxing place to unwind in the evening.
Chunky's Wings n Seafood flies fried chicken, clam strips, seasoned fries, and a full menagerie of regional flavors into waiting maws. The red-trimmed flavor shack—adorned with vintage signs—also promotes outdoor dining with red picnic tables and a varied menu of lunch and dinner treats. Popcorn spicy chicken, complete with the patron's choice of sauce, comes from ears of poultry kernels before it's served with fries and a soft drink as a combo ($5.99; $4.39 without fries and drink). Gator bites swim off the menu ($7.99 for combo) along with fried okra ($2.99 for large). Table denizens can choose from 10 varieties of wing sauce, one for each second it takes to flatten a soccer stadium built out of manila folders, to drench Chunky's eponymous cuisine, which are served up in batches of 10 and come with ranch dressing ($6.59 for 10).
In the kitchen at Mark's Prime Steakhouse, cherry and pecan flicker and pop in a wood stove. The smoke penetrates into thick cuts of U.S.D.A. beef and fresh seafood brought in from Mayport in Jacksonville. For filets, strips, or bone-in rib eyes, chefs singe a flavorful crust over each chop's juicy center before plopping it onto a plate sizzling with butter.
Servers with black vests and bow ties escort the prime proteins to diners' tables, where their conversations dance over dinner music by mid-century crooners, and light from the ceiling's stained-glass dome splashes onto dark woods. Nearby, martinis, classic cocktails, and a wine list—which has garnered Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" every year since 2004—rest on a vintage bar. Salvaged from the La Concha Inn in Key West, the tiger mahogany bar was built in 1873 during an era when bars were called saloons and bears were called mega-squirrels.
Founded 25 years ago by Bostonian Bob Theriault, the Boston Cooker crafts definitive New England dishes from fresh seafood flown in weekly. A hearty cup of New England chowder ($2.99) or a bowl of sherry-imbued lobster bisque ($4.50) offer tasty starting points on the fish-laden menu, while shrimp and eggplant Parmesan ($12.99) delivers ample bounty from land and sea with eight grilled shrimp over eggplant steeped in marinara. A glass of house Chardonnay ($4.50) pairs well with broiled and buttery Boston Scrod ($15.99) as well as the baked stuffed flounder topped with a delicate Newburg sauce ($14.50). Patrons can imagine they're in an old New England eatery while quaffing Boston brew Samuel Adams ($3) in a wood-paneled dining room bedecked with Red Sox and Bruins banners and wall-mounted fish. Finish the meal with a rich Boston cream pie ($3.99) before protesting the tyrannical English government by throwing shiploads of Queen Elizabeth's electro-rap album into Tampa Bay.
At Fresh on the Fly, chefs elevate classic comfort-food recipes with top-tier ingredients. They stuff po’ boys with wild-caught shrimp and creole rémoulade, for instance, and serve corn-flake-crusted, hormone-free chicken atop homemade waffles. Though seafood is Fresh on the Fly’s specialty, its chefs also serve up thick burgers made with grass-fed beef locally sourced from De Leon Springs. The emphasis on sustainability extends to the dishware, which swaps out plastic and coal-powered forks in favor of reusable china and plant-based utensils.
Diners can devour entrees in the cool-toned, streamlined dining room, which features corrugated-tin wainscoting that echoes the grays and silvers of sharks and swordfish painted on its walls.