It’s a weathered, open-air, waterfront spot known for conch fritters, fresh fish and Keys ambiance.

Alabama Jack's, Florida Keys
Motorcycles line up in front of the weathered building that is Alabama Jack’s.

~When I first planned a trip to the Keys, I mentioned to Bob Rountree, my partner in Florida Rambler, that I planned to stop at Alabama Jack’s, an open-air bar and restaurant on Card Sound Road.

“That’s a biker bar,” Bob laughed.

My husband’s response: “Yeah, all those dangerous orthodontists and personal-injury lawyers out on their Harleys.” (My husband David rides a Royal Enfield, a low-powered vintage motorcycle, and the subject of his blog.)

Alabama Jack’s has been an outpost for more than 50 years. It is located on Card Sound Road, a toll-road through the mangrove swamps where Miami-Dade County meets Monroe County.

Alabama Jack's conch fritters, Florida Keys
The conch fritters and sweet-potato fries.

If you’re not in a hurry, Card Sound is a good way to start a Keys trip because you are plunged into a vivid blue and green world, marked periodically by the dazzling whiteness of a Great White heron.  It’s a great place to acquire that Keys attitude.

License plates and rustic signs comprise the decor at Alabama Jack’s.

While Card Sound used to be a fishing community, there’s little evidence of it now. It looks like wilderness, and the “Crocodile Crossing” signs aren’t a joke. This area is one of the rare breeding grounds of the American crocodile, whose population grew so much at the nearby Turkey Point nuclear plant that the territorial reptiles have spread out into the adjoining areas.

Alabama Jack's, Florida Keys
Alabama Jack’s sticks to the plastic-lawn-chair school of interior decorating.

Alabama Jack’s sprawls along the side of the highway, built on pilings over a waterway lined with wobbly floating docks, in what it proudly calls “Downtown Card Sound.” Calling it weathered is like saying a hurricane is windy.

Alabama Jack's, Florida Keys
Folks arrive by boat and step onto rusting, wobbly floating docks.

On our visit, 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday, there were a few motorcycles out front, but the big surprise was inside. When we asked to be seated, we were told all the waterfront tables were reserved.

As we took an alternative table, the truth emerged: Alabama Jack’s was the site of a corporate event.

Alabama Jack's crocodile crossing sign, Florida Keys
The sign isn’t a joke: The waters around Alabama Jack’s are home to the rare American Crocodile. (They get along fine, we have read, with the more common alligators.)

Pennants for Volvo-Penta (they make boat engines) were strung throughout and huge yachts from Boca Raton were pulling up and unloading well-dressed folks who did not look like they belonged in a swamp.

Now I don’t plan to hold this against Alabama Jack’s: The place has a great Keys ambiance and their conch fritters and sweet potato fries were as outstanding as had been promised. Folks rave about the grouper sandwiches and crab cakes, too.

Many people — me in the past — drive by Alabama Jack’s because of the “biker bar” image. Well, don’t worry. The place is full of all sorts of people, including many families whose kids delight in feeding the fish over the railing.

In the afternoons, crowds build at Alabama Jack’s and country music is performed live on a small stage. The place closes at dusk, when the mosquitoes would make you the entree at Alabama Jack’s.

Here’s what folks say about it on Yelp. They love it on TripAdvisor.

Alabama Jack’s
58000 Card Sound Road

Resources for planning a Florida Keys vacation:

Things to do in Key Largo and the Upper Keys: