Grouper Sandwich Quest

A trip to the beach just isn’t complete without lots of delicious seafood so while spending a few days enjoying Stump Pass State Park on Manasota Key we set out to find the island’s best grouper sandwich.

First, we tried Flounders, a place recommended by a woman at our hotel. She described Flounders as a fun place to eat, and I think she’s probably right about that. When we arrived at 3:30 a live band was playing music in the outside bar area.

Unfortunately, the staff at Flounders was preoccupied with the set up of the stage for a dueling piano show later in the evening. That could have been overlooked if the food was outstanding, but that was not the case. The grouper sandwich was average, and while the mango salsa was tasty, the fish tacos were dry. Unfortunately, we were looking for good food instead of fun.

On day two, we headed to Lock ‘n Key, located across the street from Flounders, it received a rating of ‘4’ on Yelp so it seemed like a good place to try. Again we ordered a grouper sandwich to split as well as a prime rib sandwich.

We were a little surprised to find that the prime rib sandwich was a hunk of meat on a slice of bread instead of an actual sandwich with sliced meat, a lesson to read the menu more carefully. And as for our grouper sandwich…it was large and the taste was alright, but again, nothing special. We did splurge on a unique dessert. Banana split pie with several flavors of ice cream with bananas and cherries frozen in the pie topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Yummy, but way too many calories!

Our final attempt to find a delicious grouper sandwich was at the Gulf View Grill, a restaurant with numerous awards plastered on the wall for everything from “Most Romantic” to “Best Dinner”. Gulf View Grill certainly deserves the award for best sunset view, but I hope there’s someplace else on the island with a better dinner. The grouper sandwich was about the same as the fish at the previous two restaurants, but the shrimp dinner came with only 4 fried shrimp and not nearly tasty enough to justify their $20 price.

I could go back to any of these restaurants for another meal, but I’ll need to try something other than the grouper sandwich I craved. Next trip, we’ll have to continue the great grouper quest…or drive another hour to Sanibel Island where I know I can sink my teeth into the World’s Best Grouper Sandwich.

Grouper Time

After spending the day on the water at Crystal River, it was time to satisfy our seafood craving. We motored over to Crackers Bar and Grill, located on King’s Bay, where we sat on the deck at one of the picnic tables under a grass umbrella to soak in a little more of the view while we ate lunch.

We rarely order appetizers at lunch, but there’s no way we could pass up the potato skins. It’s hard to call them skins since there’s plenty of potato on the skin which is smothered in cheese, and then topped with bacon and onions. These are by far the best potato skins.


photo 4 After loading up on an appetizer, we split the grouper sandwich with cole slaw…didn’t need any more potatoes so passed on the french fries. Plenty of food to split and very tasty. Not as good as the grouper sandwich at Sanibel Grill, but about three hours closer!

photo 2Good food. Waterfront dining. Great way to end a trip to Crystal River.

World’s Best Grouper Sandwich

IMG_0087On both Friday and Saturday night last week we ate at the same restaurant in Sanibel. That’s because Sanibel Grill serves the world’s best crunchy grouper sandwich.

More than fifteen years ago, after staying on the beach longer than planned, we searched for a restaurant where we could place a take out order. The thought of getting five people cleaned up to eat was not an option that evening. Looking through a local magazine found in the hotel room, the ad for Sanibel Grill included a phone number to call for orders to go. Just what we were looking for! The menu items satisfied those of us looking for seafood options as well as those who turn up their nose to seafood. The grouper sandwiches and pizza ordered that night hooked us.

Every subsequent trip to Sanibel has included one or more visits to Sanibel Grill. The fried crunchy grouper sandwiches can’t be beat. Hot, crunchy, fresh, delicious, large portion of grouper served with french fries or pasta salad. Can’t go wrong with either choice.

The following review of Sanibel Grill found on Trip Advisor confirms our experience:

When I go to Sanibel I’m there for 8 days. Last year I managed to go here 7 of the 8 days. I guess I should expand my horizons, but when you’re comfortable with a place and the people who work there (and remember you from the previous year), then why bother? Good specials, good food and a great atmosphere. Can’t ask for anything more. And if you have a sweet tooth late at night, be sure to order a piece of cake. Absolutely wonderful.

Sanibel Grill is a must for anyone visiting southwest Florida!