PRICE $$ ($13-$20)
HOURS Open for lunch and dinner daily.
NVM AWARDS Best Bargain Restaurant 2006
NEARBY METRO None
By Warren Rojas
That first bite gets me every time.
The crunch of the spice-laden filet starts my head swimming. The tang of the herby, homemade tartar sauce makes me pine for a lime-spiked beer. By the time I feel that momentary sting of sliding into a sun-warmed chair on the America Seafood patio, I almost believe I’m back at the beach.
That is, until the blaring horns on Lee Highway rattle me out of my landlocked daydream.
Owner Gary Royce brings the best of the sea to Beltway-bound drones via a variety of daily soups (crab, grouper and New England clam chowder), homemade salads (grilled tuna, smoked mussels, shrimp vinaigrette) and robust specialty platters (conch fritters, sauteed salmon, fried, soft-shell crabs). Virtually all the fresh seafood on hand can be made into a generously sized sub of your choosing.
A serving of grilled swordfish summons a hefty steak sporting a properly charred exterior and tender white meat within (ready to rock with just a squeeze of lemon). The fried scallop platter brings more than a dozen tender scallops encased in a crunchy, herb-breadcrumb shell (well-seasoned nuggets, but they get even better with a dash of hot sauce). Blackened rockfish requires no such intervention, delivering definitive spice and an abundance of flaky meat.(May 2006)
By Warren Rojas
He may be miles from his boyhood home, but Key West native Gary Royce still loves the sea and everything in it. That affinity shines through in the amazing seafood creations he and his wife, Murtha, shell out at America Seafood.
Their tiny shack off Lee Highway is just big enough to house a wraparound seafood counter—Royce says he buys direct from fishmongers located from Boston to Key Largo—and a handful of picnic tables out back. The standard menu includes a slew of sandwiches (most under $10) and mixed seafood platters (hovering between $12 and $15), plus a number of daily specials.
The super mixed seafood plate ($17.99) bears a bounty of fried haddock filets, shrimp, clams (superb) and scallops, all served with coleslaw and hand-cut fries dusted with Old Bay. A monster crab cake sandwich ($11.75) is as thick as a burger but a hundred times tastier, spilling over with jumbo lump crab meat topped with a tangy tartar sauce. A blackened rockfish sub delivers tender fish with seared-on Cajun spices, while a hearty fish and chips plate brings lemony haddock (or catfish or cod, if you like) coated in homemade breadcrumbs. Royce also makes a killer key lime pie—whip smart, with a nice graham cracker finish—that’s as sweet as an island breeze.