Apalachicola is a small city in Florida’s panhandle. It has a population of little over 2300 people. Despite its small size, Apalachicola is the oyster center of Florida. More than 90% of the oysters farmed in Florida come from Apalachicola Bay. This translates to 10% of the nation’s oysters.
Many of the people who live in Apalachicola depend on the oyster industry supported by the bay. However, they were dealt an astronomical blow in July 2020 when all oyster harvesting was shut down until 2020.
The shut-down came as a result of dwindling oyster numbers and damage to the Apalachicola Bay due to the reduced numbers. Oysters aren’t just tasty snacks, you see, they filter the water and support larger ecosystems.
Part of the issue was reduced freshwater flow from the Apalachicola River. This river is used as a water source in Georgia. As they use more water, Apalachicola Bay sees less fresh water. This increases the overall salinity levels of the bay, which affects the oyster growth.
While you might not be able to sample Apalachicola oysters anymore, you can still visit the many seafood restaurants and oyster bars in the city. Nowadays, they get they’re oysters shipped fresh from Texas and the East and West coasts. They are still beautifully fresh and incredibly tasty.
If you do find yourself in Apalachicola, perhaps for the annual seafood festival, make sure to try some of these restaurants and oyster bars out. They’ve had a hard time over the last year, and they deserve some support.
The Station Oyster Bar
53 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320
850 653 8237
Gas station oysters sound like a recipe for disaster, but not if you’re eating at The Station Oyster Bar.
Built in a converted gas station, The Station has a quirky and laid-back vibe. The interior seating area is covered in Americana relics and decorations. It looks like a typical service station in the 50s or 60s. It’s super cool!
The Station also has outdoor seating covered by gazebos to protect you from those Florida showers. If you visit at night, string lights and neon signs make it feel like a tailgate party. It is awesome!
The menu contains a lot of hearty seafood meals and fried food. It’s your typical fish shop fare that sees you licking your fingers and looking for more.
The oyster section is pretty comprehensive. You can get them ‘raw and salty’ on the half shell. Farm raised oysters go for market value when available. Wild caught oysters go for $15 a dozen, which is a great price.
If you prefer your bivalves baked, you can have them baked five different ways including Rockefeller, with Parmesan and garlic butter, Cap ‘n’ Jack style (with bacon, jalapeños, cheese, and hot sauce), or The Station style (with crab meat, cheese, bacon, and a dash of cherry.)
You can also have your oysters fried. These are served in a basket with fries and a side. Or you can have fried oysters and grits which sounds amazing.
What’s super cool about The Station’s fried menu is that it includes a ‘cook your catch’ option. You can literally bring in whatever you’ve caught that day, and they’ll fry it for you.
The meal comes with your choice of 2 side dishes and costs under $10! The only stipulation is that you have to clean the fish upon arrival. The Station is a great place to hang out and enjoy some great food, maybe a few beers. It’s not a fancy, upscale place, but it’s full of heart and soul.
23 Ave D, Apalachicola, FL 32320
850 653 8222
As the name suggests, this place is literally a hole-in-the-wall. It has maybe four tables inside and a few stools at the bar.
Despite its small size, Hole-in-the-Wall does a roaring trade. This snug spot has some of the best oysters in town and an army of devoted regulars and returning customers.
When you walk into Hole-in-the-Wall, you feel like you’re being welcomed into a friend’s home. It has such a warm and friendly atmosphere you’ll want to stay for hours.
The interior, while small, doesn’t feel overcrowded. Tables are spaced apart enough that you can enjoy a private dinner with your family. It feels cozy and intimate rather than cramped.
Perhaps the most recognizable thing about the Hole-in-the-Wall, apart from its oysters, is the hundreds of baseball caps that line the walls off the restaurant. It’s just got such a homely vibe in there!
Now onto the oysters, the first thing you’ll notice about these oysters is that they are big and meaty! Seriously, there is nothing small about the oysters except the price.
For half a dozen raw oysters, you’ll only need to hand over $9.95! A dozen only costs $13.95! The prices are incredible in this place! If you’re after cheap food that tastes amazing, visit the Hole-in-the-Wall!
As well as raw oysters, Hole-in-the-Wall also serves steamed and baked oysters. The baked oysters are mouthwatering-ly good. Covered in bacon and cheddar or Parmesan and garlic butter, you will love the baked oysters.
Finally, you can have your oysters fried in a basket meal with fries and hush puppies. The fried menu is pretty extensive including crab, chicken, clams, and grouper. Despite being deep fried, the oysters are not overly greasy, which is always good to see.
If you’re after excellent nosh and a warm welcome, you need to visit Hole-in-the-Wall.
Up The Creek Raw Bar
313 Water St, Apalachicola, FL 32320
850 653 2525
The first thing you’ll notice about Up the Creek Raw Bar, is the phenomenally beautiful location. When sitting on their decks, you get an incredible view of the creek and wetlands.
It is so pretty there. You can relax with a cocktail or beer and watch the boats pass or spot manatees in the creek. Apart from the idyllic locations and views, Up the Creek has several dining options to choose from.
You can sit inside in the airy, well lit restaurant surrounded by nautical memorabilia, or you can take to the decks. On the deck you can choose from a covered location or the uncovered seating.
We love having options for seating. It means that you can take advantage of the wonderful views when weather permits, but find shelter on those cooler, wetter days.
Up the Creek describes itself as a laid-back joint but not ‘your father’s oyster bar.’ By their own admission, their chefs keep up with cutting edge culinary trends and techniques.
Oysters are served raw on the half shell or steamed with garlic and butter. You can also have them baked with Parmesan and garlic butter, Capt. Jack style (with pepper jack and bacon), or Moscow style (with horseradish and caviar).
For all its talk of being more refined, the menu does feature a lot of fried seafood with fries. We’re not saying it isn’t delicious, but it’s not the most sophisticated menu.
The fried oyster po’boy is incredible. Customers love it. The bread they use is freshly baked, giving it that perfect po’boy crunch. Another customer favorite is the shrimp tacos. They are beautifully seasoned and grilled!
The chef’s specials menu is more refined than the general menu. This changes daily but often features dishes like poke bowls, pork dumplings, and seafood pastas.
Half Shell Dockside
301 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320
850 653 1211
Located on Scipio Creek Marina, the Half Shell is a lively, bustling music venue. Bands play Thursday through to Sunday every week. Mondays are reserved for bingo, Wednesdays for trivia, and Tuesdays the place is shut.
If you’re after somewhere full of energy and music, then you have to check out Half Shell. It also serves amazing food and a huge range of drinks. So, we recommend getting there before the band for some grub and staying for the beats.
On the menu you’ll find a mix of seafood and grilled food. Oysters are served, raw, steamed, grilled, fried, or stewed. These bad boys are huge and delicious however you have them.
The oyster stew is phenomenal and, according to their website, ‘award winning’ so you should definitely check that out.
Alongside the oysters, you’ll find po’boys, shrimp, grits, burgers, gumbo, and Cuban sandwiches. The Cuban sandwiches in particular are excellent. If you’re feeling a bit over-saturated with seafood, you should totally try the Cuban sandwiches.
In terms of location and atmosphere, the Half Shell is hard to beat. It has an outdoor patio overlooking the creek with phenomenal views. Inside has a pirate cove sort of theme going on. It’s nice and airy until the band starts to play. Then, people pack in to hear the music.
Naturally, with such a great atmosphere and entertainment schedule, the Half Shell does get busy quickly. Sometimes there are wait times of up to and over an hour, particularly for the patio seats.
If you’ve got your heart set on visiting, perhaps go for an early dinner or late lunch. It tends to be less busy at that point.