But…where to eat? There were several restaurants to choose from, with many of them rated rather well on Trip Advisor. We love good clam chowder and I noted that one place touted the quality of its award winning chowder!
Cedar Key really is an isolated remnant of old Florida. The town itself is located 3 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. This was our goal for lunch…Tony’s Seafood Restaurant. It’s in the old historic downtown section of Cedar Key. The restaurant is housed in a building that dates back to the 1880’s. Tony has only been in operation here since 2005, but he has built quite a reputation…
The interior of Tony’s Seafood Restaurant is very basic…simple to the point of lacking any décor. The dining area will only seat 54 patrons at a time…
While we were at Tony’s at lunch time, the restaurant also serves dinner beginning at 5 PM. That menu includes all of the sandwiches, the chowder and the basic appetizers…but it also has “The Tony’s Platter” with fresh fish, sea scallops, Cedar Key farm-raised clams, fried and steamed shrimp and Gulf blue crabs. Other dinner items include the Sonora Seafood Fiesta; Fried, Blackened or Steamed Seafood Dinners; Chicken or Shrimp Alfredo; a Newport Dinner Salad, and; Tony’s Cajun Seafood Medley.
So this is what Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, (as well as Tony himself), is famous for... Clam Chowder!! Tony won the title of World Champion in the Great Chowder Cook-Off, not just once, not twice, but rather three (3) times! With his 3rd consecutive win in June of 2011, Tony and his secret recipe were retired to the Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall of Fame.
Laurie and I each had a bowl of Tony’s chowder… ($7.99) It was a bit pricy but it was the best bowl of clam chowder that either of us have ever had! Superlatives such as excellent, luscious and terrific come to mind. This chowder is packed full of flavor, lots of clam as well…complex and still ‘just’ pure comfort food!
Laurie knew she wouldn’t be very hungry after a bowl of chowder, so she’d ordered the combo…chowder and a basic grilled cheese sandwich. ($10.99) The sandwich was OK but it was a bit anti-climatic in comparison to the chowder!
Other luncheon items include a Fried Oyster Sandwich, Hamburgers, a Fried Fish Sandwich, Fried Seafood Combo and a Garden Salad with Shrimp Skewer.
On the other hand, I can’t say that my sandwich was anti-climatic or just ‘OK’. My Fried Shrimp Sandwich easily ranked #1 out of all the non-burger sandwiches I ate on this trip…and I must say that it ranked in the top 5 non-burger sandwiches that I’ve ever had. ($8.49) Fresh shrimp with the right breading…fried perfectly on a toasted bun…it would be hard to beat! (Laurie tasted the sandwich and confirmed my judgment…and she wanted to trade sandwiches with me) The cole slaw was just a little bland for my taste, but it was creamy and it complemented the fried shrimp.
Well…so far, so good! What the heck...let’s try a bit of dessert! We shared this piece of Key Lime Pie. It was very good indeed, with toasted coconut baked into the top crust! Yummy!
This restaurant is a winner in our book! What Tony’s lacked in dining ambience, it made up for in the quality of the food. It will require a return visit…and ordering from the dinner menu to fully evaluate or appreciate the complete restaurant. But, one thing for sure…the clam chowder alone will draw us back to Cedar Key!
Tony’s Seafood Restaurant is located at the corner of Florida Rte. 24 and 2nd Street in Cedar Key. The address is 597 2nd Street. Phone: 352-543-0022. Tony’s website is www.tonyschowder.com. Note: Tony will ship his world championship clam chowder anywhere in the continental USA. A gallon of chowder costs $49.99 plus shipping.
To check out a variety of reviews about Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, (and the chowder), just go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34126-d624407-Reviews-Tony_s_Seafood_Restaurant-Cedar_Key_Florida.html.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing lunch with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave