If ever the Encyclopedia of Roadfood gets written and it needs a perfect example of a Florida seafood shack, Singleton’s would fill the bill. It is bigger than most – a sprawling dining room, deck, kitchen and museum annex – but its colorful shackitude is beyond reproach. It is a deliciously déclassé nautical wreck with low ceiling, listing wooden floors, bare wood tables and hard benches. Everything is served in Styrofoam. Utensils are plastic. No-nonsense waitresses reward good customers with such appellations as hon, babe, and dear. And the cuisine is a north coast primer. Yes, there are burgers and barbecue and slaw dogs on the menu, but they are immaterial. What matters is nut-sweet shrimp that burst with flavor, briny oysters sheathed in fragile crust, devil crab that is moist and seasoned with eye-opening panache.
There is a southern accent to most plates of local seafood. Every meal comes with a pair of hushpuppies clad in a red gold crust that surrounds insides that are as moist as cake. The day I dined, the vegetable du jour was collard greens: limp leaves that are vaguely sweet, as earthy tasting as tobacco and yet deliriously healthful. I also had a good bowl of Minorcan clam chowder, a specialty from down St. Augustine way, in which datil peppers provide a nice buzz to soup that is loaded with flavorful clams.