Wrangling snakes requires mental alertness and nourishment. Before learning the proper ways to round up pythons last month, I fed my body a Florida Everglades lunch at Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe. For years, when driving along Tamiami Trail between Naples and Miami I’ve passed this restaurant but have never stopped. Sure, I’ve been curious as to what’s cooking in that kitchen but I’ve always been a little scared to stop in. Yes, I, Solo Travel Girl, still get nervous/scared about doing some things alone and this has been one of them. But, I sucked up my fear, because basically, this is just about the only food in town, and popped in for lunch. My regret is I waited so long to visit!
My server Lisa was a doll greeting me with a big smile and warm welcome. My meal of choice at Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe was the Swamp Combo which consisted of two fried frog legs (the meatiest frog legs I’ve ever had), gator nuggets (tender gator meat with a crispy coating), crab cake (more crab than filling, as crab cakes should be), Indian fry bread (not really a fan, seemed a bit dry and crunchy), Joanie’s famous salsa (which is unlike anything I’ve ever eaten – it had squash and swamp cabbage in it and no tomatoes) and coleslaw. Indeed, this was an ideal Everglades lunch.
Since I had already consumed my cholesterol intake for the weekend with that meal, I decided to continue the gluttony and dug into a slice of make-your-cheeks-pucker key lime pie which was so refreshingly cold it was almost frozen.
Inside Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe is a trip! Postcards are tacked on the walls and wooden ceiling beams and fun signs and vintage artifacts which you’d probably find in grandma’s attic are mounted on the walls. I’m not sure how to describe the “art” dangling from the wood beams, other than it looks like someone at the restaurant passes the time with plastic bottles, paint and whatever random objects they can find during craft hour. Musicians play for diners beginning in the early afternoon.
I thought the prices were a little high, but then again, you’re in the middle of nowhere and it’s worth every penny for the friendliness of the staff and ambiance. The restaurant’s posted hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday – Tuesday, however, I was told they may close earlier depending on how business levels. Your best bet is to give them a call.
Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe
39395 Tamiami Trail W.
Ochopee, Fla. 34141