Five minutes outside of downtown Punta Gorda, a stone’s throw from the Peace River, is a Florida Cracker house that has found new life as a relaxed, informal seafood restaurant. On a huge lot shaded by giant oak trees, Peace River Seafood began in 2003. Owners Jimmy and Kelly Beall have something really great going on here.
Jimmy was a crabber most of his life and brings an intimate knowledge of local seafood to this unique eatery. I’ll bet you didn’t know that Peace River blue crabs were the main seafood export from this area. Yep. Heard it straight from Captain Ron of the Kingfisher Fleet while on a sunset cruise. Many of the crabs eaten in the Chesapeake Bay area restaurants come from right here in the Peace River. You won’t find them in the stores locally. Nope. They ship ‘em all up north. But you can get all you want right here at Peace River Seafood. Jimmy and Kelly get all their seafood fresh from local fishermen.
We chose to dine outside since there was such a nice breeze. We sat at “Jakes’ table,” pronounced by Jake, who took our drink order, as the “best table in the house.” Actually it wasn’t in the house at all, but out on the deck in the afternoon sun.
I was dining with Jennifer Huber, Tourism Public Relations Manager at the Charlotte Harbor Visitor’s Bureau. Jennifer ordered fresh mahi mahi. I ordered a shrimp creole that had okra and a half-dozen of the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen.
Not only does Peace River Seafood have a great dine-in restaurant. They also offer take-out, a fish market, wholesale seafood, and party plates and crab feast.
Next time I go back, I’m going to order some blue crab. Jennifer told me that Chris, our server, is very good at teaching folks the right way to shell and eat crab. Sign me up for a lesson.
So many seafood restaurants serve frozen fish. I’m rarely impressed with what I eat in most of them. But this place is different. The fish is right out of the river and you will absolutely enjoy it. It’s worth going out of your way to eat here. And I don’t say that about many restaurants.
5337 Duncan Road, Punta Gorda, Florida(links to Google Map)
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