Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eating Delicious Seafood in Charlotte Harbor

Englewood Beach
The Charlotte Harbor area of Florida - which includes Punta Gorda and several Gulf of Mexico islands and beaches- is a hidden treasure trove of beautiful scenery, great fishing and other outdoor sports, and some very good eats.

As we near summer, I am thinking of three-day weekend trips near Orlando, and Charlotte Harbor is on the list. The eateries in the area have developed their own culinary style, and the food is amazing. In downtown Punta Gorda, locals know about Peace River Seafood, a longtime seafood wholesaler and restaurant which cooks the fresh seafood catch from local fishermen daily. They may still have an "All You can Eat" crab special for $20! Rum Bay Restaurant, inside the Palm Island Resort on Palm Island, is another casual seafood-focused restaurant that gets great reviews. I feel like I am back in the Keys with menu items like Key West Conch Fritters, Fried Grouper Cheeks, and Key West Conch Chowder.

Rum Bay Restaurant
On the other end of the spectrum, The Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda is a James Beard-nominated restaurant with upscale dishes such as Roasted Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup, Pan Crusted Sea Scallops, Miso Irish Salmon, and Duck Salad. The recently-opened Opus restaurant and wine bar in downtown Punta Gorda is also getting rave reviews. I recommend the bouillabaisse, the Pan Roasted Duck Breast, and any of the fresh fish dishes. Opus also changes its specialty dessert menu every evening, so you can always go back and try something different!

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