This is Part I of a series of restaurant features from Daytona Beach, FL.
If you want to know where the locals eat, ask a local, right? Well, we did that, and the most recommended restaurant in Daytona Beach was, by far, Caribbean Jacks.
This local pick features outside deck booths that gently rock as you watch the waves in similar movement. The restaurant is situated right on the Halifax River, with a clear view of the dining cruise and house boats scattered around the harbor. Live guitar music on deck is subtle and pleasant, enhancing that Caribbean feel. If you sit inside, you can watch them cook through a small window, but barring rain, go outside. It’s part of the experience.
Now, for the food. Start with the Caribbean crab dip. It’s a crock of chunky blue Crab meat served with bread ($10.99), and delicious. The rest of the menu is like reading a novel—you aren’t really sure where each dish will lead, and the cast of characters keeps growing. Where do you stop when you can choose from ahi tuna, salmon, longfin tilapia, mahi mahi, grouper, and more?
Interspersed with the fish is the story of Caribbean Jack himself, who—as legend and the menu tell—was a rum runner in the early 1900s who opened a restaurant when he settled down. True story or not, it lends character to an already-character filled restaurant.
Take our waiter, Shawn, for example. One of the best servers we’ve encountered, Shawn was ready to tell us his personal favorites, as well as give us the inside story on our favorite items. (We won’t give them all away, but we know that the great orange marmalade dipping sauce has a sweet chili sauce base!)
It doesn’t really matter what you order—they all taste good—but here is where you can experience some of the on-trend sandwiches that are popular with the twenty-something crowd. We tried the mahi mahi BLT, and were not disappointed. If you go for shrimp, make them coconut—the flavoring was some of the best we found in Daytona Beach.
Above all, get the Bananas Foster for dessert. This dish is popular throughout Florida, but this is the place to get it. It practically needs a straw for the syrup, and comes with a huge amount of pecans.
We asked people, ‘Where would you go on your day off,’ and this is where they told us: Caribbean Jack’s.
Crabby Joe’s Deck & Grill on the Sunglow Pier
It’s a long walk down the pier to Crabby Joes. And worth every step.
Along the way you’ll pass fishermen pulling up their catch right outside the restaurant. Once inside, the only difference is there is a roof over your head and the fish is cooked. Otherwise, you still get the breeze and all the sites and smells of the ocean as you eat.
We were greeted with a cheery, ‘Sit anywhere you like. All of our menu is excellent!’ So, we took them up on that challenge by ordering the Captain’s Platter, Specialty of the Pier ($19.95), with shrimp, oysters, clam strips, fish and stuffed Blue Crab shell. If you don’t like that, try the Coconut Shrimp with Pina Colada dipping sauce, or the Grilled Shrimp on Sugar Cane Skewers. Or, go for the Whale Sized Surf & Turf Burger ($19.99) – eat it all and get a free t-shirt!
Their standard side is a house made broccoli slaw that has a subtle ketchup base—a pleasant change from the usual.
Crabby Joe’s is all weathered wood and casual dining—sort of like having an outdoor picnic with fishermen walking across your blanket. If you have the nerve to look down, you can see the surf pounding through the slats below your feet, and a marvelous view in all directions. The restaurant is not technically at the end of the pier, so it really is a walk-through restaurant.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, too, with a chef station on weekends for omelets.
Oh, and for dessert? Try the mango cheesecake, or maybe the Italian Sundae ($4.00). It’s – get this – olive oil and salt on vanilla ice cream. Really.
This is part of our Beyond the Plate series. See Part II by clicking here.