It’s oyster season, friends! We understand that when a craving hits you, there is no time to dally, so we’ve compiled our favorite places to get an oyster fix in Polk County during your Central Florida vacation.
Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House, Lake Alfred
As the name implies, if there’s one thing you know for sure you’ll find at Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House, it’s oysters…and locals. LOTS of locals!
Their oysters: Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House receives oyster shipments on Tuesdays and Fridays. Louisiana and Texas oysters are what they predominantly carry due to shortages of Apalachicola oysters in recent years. Larger select oysters are used to fill fried orders, because oyster meat is delicate and more substance is needed for a nice end product when frying. You of course can order your oysters raw, steamed or chargrilled. Chargrilled oysters are served on the half shell and are basted with a secret house sauce, and are then topped with either garlic and parmesan, or pepper jack and bacon.
Stumbled on Gary's online whilst looking for a place to dine. Can safely say best choice locally for seafood. Oysters absolutely A1, fresh flavorsome, great location, great staff and owners working the bar, laid back relaxed joint. Going back.
Atmosphere: There’s nothing fussy about Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House. Character and history line the walls of this established seafood house in Lake Alfred and they have TV’s for sporting events, coveted bar seating, and dining room seating.
Insider tip: Arrive early and snag a seat at the bar (The only place you can order your oysters by the bucket) and see them shucked right in front of you!
Address: 660 E Alfred St, Lake Alfred, FL 33850
Phone: 863- 956-5055
Harry’s Old Place, Winter Haven
The focus is put on fresh fare at Harry’s Old Place. They serve a diverse array of seafood and dishes with Florida flare in a quaint restaurant with an eclectic collection of nautical décor. A visit to Harry’s Old Place, near LEGOLAND Florida Resort, is an experience – a tasty experience.
Their oysters: They get a small order in each day and serve them fried, steamed or baked.
Address: 3751 Cypress Gardens Rd, Winter Haven, FL 33884
Cherry Pocket Steak and Seafood Shak, Lake Wales
This historic Lake Wales seafood restaurant has been serving locals and drawing visitors to its waterfront property since the 1940s, and it gets better and better every year.
Their oysters: Cherry Pocket Steak and Seafood Shak receives oyster shipments on Tuesdays and Fridays from Louisiana. You can order them raw, steamed or fried.
Atmosphere: Lakefront, cozy and quirky with indoor and outdoor seating. Despite renovations, the establishment still bears an Old Florida charm that only gets better with time. One of its most unique characteristics (and there are lots of them) is on the outdoor lakefront deck where they have a “houseboat bar,” talking parrot and “barn” – a building that houses dart boards, a PAC-MAN game and a pool table. The barn can be rented out for a large party or celebration.
Insider tip: Save room for dessert! Their tasty treats are baked lovingly by owner, Elsie Eten.
Address: 3100 Canal Rd, Lake Wales, FL 33898
Phone: 863- 439-2031
Harborside Restaurant, Winter Haven
You don’t have to travel all the way to the beach to enjoy a waterfront dining experience – Harborside Restaurant on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes is just what you need! They even have a spacious dock you can boat right up to.
Their oysters: They get shipments in 2-3 times per week. Most often they carry 3 varieties at a time and the lineup changes throughout the week. Their most popular varieties are: Cedar Key, Maryland, Blue Point, Ameripure and Apalachicola.
Atmosphere: The theme is modern nautical, featuring rustic tiles, brushed copper and gray walls inside the restaurant, and if that doesn’t put you in the mood for seafood, the outdoor patio surely will. Sit outside on the deck and enjoy the iconic Florida sunshine and breathtaking views of Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes.
Address: 2435 7th St SW, Winter Haven, FL 33880
Crazy Fish Bar & Grill, Lake Wales
Fresh, never frozen award-winning fare served in a super-friendly and eclectic atmosphere. It’s kind of like Key West, only in Lake Wales…and it’s Emeril Lagasse approved!
Their oysters: They receive shipments in daily, mostly from Louisiana. You can order them raw, steamed, or Oysters Rockefeller.
Atmosphere: Crazy Fish Bar & Grill is eclectic and very "classic Florida seafood shack" with fun bright colors that make you feel like you’re on the Florida coast. If you’re one for a traditional dining room with not so traditional décor like hand painted swordfish and marlin, they’ve got that. Maybe you want a seat at the bar so you can watch your favorite sports team; they’ve got that, too. If you want to feast in the temperate Central Florida weather, you should check out their deck and patio area or lawn lounge where you’ll find a fire pit and “Key West Cool” bus as a larger than life lawn ornament.
About Emeril Lagasse: Crazy Fish Bar & Grill was featured on Florida Seafood Shacks, an episode of Emeril’s Florida on The Cooking Channel.
Address: 802 Henry St, Lake Wales, FL 33853
Fish City Grill, Lakeland
Their oysters: They receive orders on Tuesdays and Fridays from areas that include Apalachicola, Maryland, Texas, Louisiana and Connecticut. Order them raw, on the half shell, Rockefeller, po’boy, black and blue, chargrilled and their specialty: oyster nachos (oysters on nachos carefully topped with fresh pico de gallo and chipotle mayo).
Easygoing chain restaurant dishing up Southern-style seafood such as signature oyster nachos.
Atmosphere: Laid back with indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant is near the roundabout at Lakeside Village Shopping Center, which is convenient if you like to take a stroll and window shop after a meal.
Insider tip: Their house margarita is delish!
Address: Lakeside Village, 1485 Town Center Dr. D112, Lakeland, FL 33803
Buy and DIY Oysters
Lakeland Seafood, Lakeland
A hidden gem. When you walk through the doors of this traditional seafood market, you’ll think to yourself, “this place has it all!” Indeed, if it’s in season and available, then they’ve probably got it at Lakeland Seafood. You’ll find everything from fish, shrimp, crabs and crawfish, to clams, mussels, oysters…and more!
Their oysters: They receive shipments at least twice a week of varieties from Florida, Texas and Louisiana.
Called yesterday looking for fresh tuna for sushi, they expected a fresh loin in later and would call me when it arrived. They actually called. It was so fresh, my wife from Japan declared it "uishi" (delicious), it was so fresh it was silken, barely had to chew it.
Address: 320 W Memorial Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33815