Apalachicola has all manner of good seafood restaurants, plain and fancy; but for local color (along with four-star food) in a totally laid-back setting, you can’t beat the Apalachicola Seafood Grill. A corner-store town lunch room surrounded by a raised sidewalk, it has a short counter where locals come to chat & chew as well as a scattering of oilcloth-covered tables. Souvenirs for sale include plush toys and amusing signs, such as “No Whining Zone”
Oysters are available raw, steamed, or grilled by the dozen, as well as fried on a sandwich or in a basket. Shrimp can be ordered fried or coconut fried, but the preparation that wows me is grilled. Modest-sized, but huge flavored, they come spangled with oregano and parsley with a tingle of pepper spice and a wisp of smoke in their seasoning. While they are remarkably tender, they aren’t the least bit flabby. What a joy each mouthful is! Grilled grouper is equally wonderful, the firm, flaky fish yielding the deepest sort of flavor satisfaction in every bite.
Another out-of-this-world dish is Apalachicola gumbo – spicy, robust, earthy, loaded with beautiful oysters and shrimp and forkfuls of flatfish. It is aggressively seasoned but with none of the complicated folderol of Creole gumbo. Instead, it glows with cordial Dixie charm that is more Mobile Bay than New Orleans. The Grill’s fried oysters are remarkably sweet, nutty, gentle. If we wanted to convert someone who thinks he doesn’t like oysters, these would be our argument. On the side comes hunky, homey potato salad with lots of bacon flavor.