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Peace River Seafood: Cracker cabin is a real crab shack


Punta Gorda crab shack serves fresh seafood from local fishermen

Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda is located in a Cracker cabin under spreading oak trees.

Peace River Seafood is two miles off I-75 between Naples and Tampa, yet from the moment you pull up next to the weathered wooden Cracker cabin, you feel like you’ve entered a different world.

This is a true Florida crab shack; they don’t come more authentic than this.

Bucket of blue crabs at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Bucket of blue crabs at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda.

You hear the squawks of the parrot on the porch and the BAM! BAM! BAM! of wooden mallets cracking open blue crab claws. The doors and windows are open to the breeze, shaded by sprawling live oak trees.

The prettiest sight, though, is the array of  buckets on the tables piled with bright orange crabs (they’re blue before they’re cooked) and yellow cobs of corn.

Mid-afternoon on a November Friday, half the tables are filled. A woman walks in alone and is immediately greeted: “Hi dear, you here for your crabs?”  She proceeds to order the $20 all-you-can-eat bucket of blue crabs and sits alone, wielding her mallet in a  cheerful attack. It is clear she is a regular.

Other tables hold noisy groups. They go through reams of paper towels as they make their way messily through their crab buckets, with newspapers spread on the picnic table serving as their only plates.

Cracking open blue crabs at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Cracking open blue crabs at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Peace River Seafood serves fresh local shrimp, stone crabs, crab cakes, clams, grouper and mahi mahi as well as fresh fish from outside the area, such as salmon and lobster. But crabs are king here.

Co-owner Jimmy Beall  was a long-time crabber and the Peace River is the source of fresh crabs exported around the country. (Folks in Punta Gorda like to brag that their blue crabs are actually shipped to restaurants around the Chesapeake Bay.)

The fresh seafood here is primarily sourced from local Punta Gorda fishermen, and it is also a wholesale market.  (If you’re planning a big crab cookout, you can buy their crabs wholesale — minimum order is a 65-pound crate.)

The wooden house was built in 1927, according to manager Sarah Engman, and it’s decorated with fishing nets and floats.

There’s a small informal dining area inside and picnic-table seating on on a covered outside deck under the oak trees.  Under the deck, a fish pond is home to koi.

Specials at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Specials at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Folks who love seafood make pilgrimages up and down Southwest Florida to dine here.   Be warned, however:  It is often crowded in season; it is closed Sundays and Mondays, and crabs aren’t served after 7 p.m.

Tip: If you’re not familiar with cracking open blue crabs, the servers are happy to instruct.  Several previous reviews rave about a server named Chris, who “taught’ them to how to eat crabs.

Peace River Seafood
5337 Duncan Road, Punta Gorda
941-505-8440

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. Peter from MA says:

    Tried it because I had a coupon, now im hooked, every time im in Punta Gorda ill be here, best crabs I have ever had!

  2. its great

  3. The soft shell sandwich is Great ! Stop by when ever I am in the area for one, I am hooked.

  4. Pingback: Punta Gorda: Reborn and full of natural beauty, historic charm | Florida Rambler

  5. Driven by this place numerous times on my way to go mullet fishing in Pine Island. Definitely will have to stop one of these days.

  6. Kelly Beall says:

    Thank you for the nice words you said about our place! We are looking forward to seeing all the first timers it will bring!! Punta Gorda is a great place to come and we are greatful for those who stop by our place!!!

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