Everglade City is the Riggins of the Southeast. A town that no one would ever really want to be in except for the fact that it happens to be situated by an awesome bit of wilderness. In Riggins’ case, the Salmon River, rafting mecca; as for Everglade City, it’s perhaps the only town really in the Everglades, facing the Gulf and backed by mangrove swamps, peoples driveways lined with air boats and swamp buggies. (And Riggins and Everglade City are also both oddly charming in their very different sorts of red-neck-ness…) Aside from our adventures in the Everglades itself (I have major serious alligator fears now, I hate them more than whales.) we had some good adventures in dining too.

You feel like you have to take dumb jokesy alligator pictures in the Everglades…

Our first night we went to the good ol’ Seafood Depot, where we sat by a mob of German bikers (there are SO many Germans in South Florida, if anyone has any good theories, please share) and ordered three fish sandwiches. We asked what kind of fish it was, hoping for some hearty local mullet or something like that, only to discover we were devouring some nice Chinese fish. But pretty good, especially when alongside some excellent (albeit indecipherable) eavesdropping material and crispy sweet potato fries. Night two we went to another local favorite, the Oyster House. (We drove by the coolest place ever, Joanie’s Crab, a legit little Florida crab spot, but tragically we were a day early for crab season. More on that later.) So after a long boat tour of lots of pretty mangrove islands we wandered across the street to the Oyster House, a big funky restaurant with one waitress and a million knick-knacks, including, but certainly not limited to, a COLOSSAL stuffed ‘gator, a menagerie of stuffed horned animals, various trophies, and random ’80’s debutante portraits. For dinner we got a bunch of fishy fish stuff, but the app was the real centerpiece of the meal… gator nuggets. I tried to like ’em, I really did. It’s not like they’re bad, they’re just not …good. Imagine the texture of overcooked chicken, with a little bit of a lake water aftertaste. Even fried didn’t help much. But a necessary experience for an Everglades visitor, very necessary.

The gator nuggets, in all their glory.