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Dockside Restaurant

Restaurant Review: Safe Harbor offers tasty seafood — and a spectacular view

I am a longtime fan of Safe Harbor Seafood’s Mayport location although I rarely make the cross-town trek. But with the addition of a new Safe Harbor Seafood between San Pablo and Third Street, I foresee many baskets of hot, fresh seafood in my future.

We visited on a Sunday mid-afternoon, and the place was packed. Complimentary valet eases any parking woes. The line, about eight deep upon our arrival, moved quickly, and we had no problems ordering and securing a picnic table on the covered patio overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s fun to watch the various passers-by: boaters, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.

Ravenous, we ordered a pair of Parmesan spinach cakes ($5), which are easy to share and held us over until our meal arrived. These pan-fried “cakes” are simple but addicting.

There’s clam ($6) and fish chowder ($5), crab Savannah soup ($7) and a seafood gumbo ($6). We ordered the latter and were pleased by the chunks of sausage, shrimp, okra, celery, green peppers, tomatoes and white rice.

Several of Safe Harbor’s signature baskets (Mayport shrimp, haddock, basa, scallops and fresh catch of the day) are served to the preparation of your liking: blackened, fried or grilled. My grilled scallop basket ($14) was a generous portion of perfectly cooked scallops, crinkle-cut fries, two golden brown hushpuppies and a tangy, creamy chopped coleslaw. For $3 extra, I recommend ordering a side of bacon black-eyed peas, which were packed with flavor.

Feeling crazy? Go big or go home with a “Captain Walters Combo” – your choice of two or three seafood items for $16 or $20, respectively.

Our trigger fish taco feast ($14), the fresh catch of the day, was a build-it-yourself basket of corn tortillas, pico de gallo, thick crema, shredded lettuce and a datil pepper sauce. The fish was cut into chunks for easy taco assembly.

We also ordered a blackened shrimp po’ boy ($11) and were very pleased with the toasted, pliable hoagie roll loaded with seasoned shrimp, sliced tomatoes and red onion, shredded lettuce and a slightly sweet special sauce. Like the baskets, it comes complete with a duo of fried hushpuppies and crinkle-cut fries.

For those who are not into seafood, or have shellfish allergies, not to fret: There’s a black angus beef cheeseburger, southern chicken sandwich, hot dog or chicken strip basket. And those looking for lighter fare can opt for one of Safe Harbor’s three salad selections, including a seared tuna and spinach number complete with sesame ginger and cucumber wasabi dressing.

Come for the food, but stay for the view and crisp breeze. Grab a cold bucket of beers (local selections include Bold City Brewing and Intuition Ale Works), sit back and relax with your gator tail, conch fritters or deviled crab baskets – and stunning waterfront views.

Caron Streibich is an avid food-lover who will review restaurants every other week in the Dining section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.

SAFE HARBOR SEAFOOD

2510 Second Ave. N.

(904) 479-3474

Type of cuisine: Seafood.

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday.

Credit cards: All major accepted.

Bar service: Beer and wine.

Children’s menu: Yes.

Reservations accepted: No.

Price ranges: Appetizers, $3.50-$11; soups, $5-$7; salads, $6-$15; po’ boys, $11-$13; seafood baskets, $9-$14; sides, $3.

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