Charles Seafood

Worth a detour

Saturday night in Tifton, Georgia. Wanting to beat the crowd to Charles Seafood, the city’s long-time favorite fish house, I arrive just after 5pm, when it opens for dinner. The parking area already is nearly full and inside the fairly capacious restaurant, I am lucky to nab the one available seat, at a tiny two-top table in the middle of the dining room.

It isn’t just crowded. It is jumping with joy. Families, extended families, friends, and couples on dates are yakking, laughing, and having a sweet good time that is the opposite of the frenzied desperation you feel in a hip city singles bar at the end of the work week. In some ways, the room tone reminds me of a good-times revival meeting … but perfumed by frying fish.

A git-er-done staff of fast-moving waitresses and an absolutely casual style of service (everything comes from the semi-open kitchen in or on disposable dishware) encourage the high spirits of Charles clientele. Then there’s the seafood: Nothing fancy here. It is all familiar, friendly Dixie fishhouse fish, including mullet, shrimp, oysters, catfish, flounder, and red snapper. Most are available either broiled or fried, served with hushpuppies (of course) and your choice of French fries, baked potato, or cheese grits. What I get on my top-of-the-line broiled Admiral’s Platter is darn good. Mullet is especially flavorful in its oily way (but not for fish frowners!); shrimp, scallops, and oysters all are exemplary, and these, I suspect, might be even better if ordered fried.

To be clear, the food at Charles Seafood may not have you singing culinary hallelujah, but it’s fine fare; and the experience of coming here is an inspiration for anyone seeking to tap into the good spirits of life in a small Dixie city far from the madding crowd.

What to Eat
Charles Seafood, Mullet
Oily, full-flavored mullet serves as a trivet for everything else on the Admiral's Platter.
Charles Seafood, Maryland Crab Cake
Maryland Crab Cake
There's a fresh, sweet taste to what's billed as a "Maryland crab cake."
Charles Seafood, Clam Strips
Clam Strips
Unusually rectilinear clam strips deliver modest flavor. Ho hum.
Charles Seafood, Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler
A fitting Georgia dessert, peach cobbler arrives very heated-up, so its ice cream melts fast.
Charles Seafood, French Fries
French Fries
An alternative to cheese grits or a baked potato, big fried potato logs are admirable fried-fish companions.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Monday5pm - 10pm
Tuesday5pm - 10pm
Wednesday5pm - 10pm
Thursday5pm - 10pm
Friday5pm - 10pm
Saturday5pm - 10pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Shady Lane Drive Inn

    Tifton, Georgia

    Shady Lane is a mid-20th century Georgia drive-in known for chili dogs and slaw dogs. No more car hops, though: dine at concrete picnic tables or in the car.