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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

SINGLETON'S SEAFOOD SHACK
MAYPORT, FLORIDA

The two best words to sum up this place could be uncouth and wonderful!  It's nothing fancy and it's name says it all.  But the seafood is super fresh, plentiful and it is served by extremely friendly waiters and waitresses.


It Is What It Is! -- A Shack!

It truly is a ramshackle shack and the floors seem a little iffy.  While using the men's room, I could feel the floor move little when somebody entered the women's room next door.  But this is my favorite kind of place.  It's a slice out of old Florida and a place where locals and visitors go.

Our latest visit here came on Sunday morning.  We got up there around 10:50 and started killing time figuring the restaurant wouldn't be open until at least 11.  But the sign flashed "open" so we pulled right into the parking lot and were immediately seated.  Actually you can sit anywhere you want and we chose to dine on the outside porch area.  It was perfect weather and the sound of seagulls was nice.  Pelicans buzzed overhead in great numbers along with helicopters from the nearby naval base.

We were unusually hungry and immediately placed appetizer orders for conch fritters and "gator bites."  The fritters were perfect with quite a bit of conch in them.  The gator bites, little chunks of alligator lightly breaded and deep fried, were tasty but a little stringy.

They had several specials that day and they immediately got my attention because of the types of fish that were offered.  Sheepshead was one of them. When you see that on a menu, you know its fresh because it is only caught locally.  It's a fish that hangs around pilings and loves to dine on crabs.  I've caught numerous sheepies myself and they are mighty tasty.  Another fish that was on the menu was triggerfish.  In this case, gray triggerfish.  Again, I've caught hundreds of them offshore when we had a boat  and you don't see them too often in a restaurant or in a seafood market.

For my main meal I ordered a large order of sheepshead deep fried.  It came out perfectly!  I chose not to order any sides (they have meals but I simply ordered ala carte this time around) because I was pretty stuffed thanks to the appetizers.  It couldn't have been any more perfect! I also ordered a deviled crab to go along with the fish and it was quite good although I suspect it contained artificial krab rather than the real deal.  Still it was excellent!  My wife ordered a fish sandwich and she also chose sheepshead.  There was so much fish that she had to "unload" part of the sandwich.

This is Florida 50 years ago.  The menu is huge with many fresh selections.  You dine on wooden picnic tables and everything is plastic from plates to knives and forks.  Your "sweet tea" (or whatever you select as your beverage) comes in a giant plastic cup.  Go here and come hungry!


Great View From The Rear Outside Deck!

You'll find this rustic, good friend at 4728 Ocean Street, which is also A1A.  Just head to Jacksonville Beach and turn left or north.  Follow the scenic route until it pauses at the ferry.  Just before you get to the Mayport Ferry, you'll find Singleton's on the left.  Their phone number is (904) 246-4442.


Yes They Really Do Have Mallard Ducks (And Cats) Roaming Around The Parking Lot -- Be Careful!

And here's a tip.  Take a large cooler with you and stop at Safe Harbor Seafood just down the street in the other direction on the right.  They have some of the best absolute fresh shrimp you'll ever sink your teeth into.  And if you're in the area on a Sunday, check for a sign right across the street where the giant Safe Harbor Seafood wholesale operation is located.  Often they have "Sunday Shrimp Sale" specials.  One one recent visit, they had large to jumbo head-on shrimp for $5.50.  That's a good deal.  So take your cooler, buy some ice, and load up on fresh shrimp before you head back home.