If you like seafood, then you have to take the drive up to Singletons. My friends decided to take their boat out this past weekend and I managed to snag an invite. (yay!) Afterwards we were all hungry, and since the boat dock is just a few buildings down from Singletons, that was our first choice. As soon as the boat was out of the water, we darted that way. This restaurant is located in Mayport up by the ferry parking, so it can be a bit of a drive for most people.
When you first walk in, it really doesn’t look that impressive. There are cats hanging around outside, but they just ignore everyone. Inside, everything (walls, floors, ceilings, tables, benches) are a bare wood interior. The floor slants down, and if you trip, you just might tumble off into the intracoastal.
We all sat down and scanned the menu.
We all agreed on splitting the Smoked Fish Dip, Fried Pickle Chips and the Corn Nuggets. We were hungry!
Shrimp Burger? Crab Burger? Maybe that’s like a crabcake sandwich?
In that past, Adam & I have split the Combo Dinners. These are HUGE and come on a plate overflowing with fried goodness. This time we were feeling adventurous. We ordered our apps and some drinks as well.
Anne ordered a club soda and a shot of wine. It wasn’t really a shot, but that’s definitely what it looked like next to that big soda.
We all ordered our food from the waitress. As I sipped on my bottle of Killians, the conversation turned to how this location was featured on the TV show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” with Guy Fieri. This made me wonder what he actually ate here? Nothing’s really all that crazy.
We asked the waitress who informed us he tried the Minorcan Clam Chowder. We asked what that was and she said it was a place near Spain. When we asked her if that was just Manhattan Clam Chowder, she said it wasn’t, but didn’t really offer any details. Hmm.
Of course, none of us had ordered the Minorcan Clam Chowder. Several of us did order the New England Clam Chowder though. I guess we’ll have to come back!
You can watch the full “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” episode here:
Our appetizers arrived starting with the Smoked Fish Dip. We ended up short one plastic knife, and someone had to share. The dip was ok, nothing spectacular. I probably wouldn’t order this again.
The Fried Pickle Chips were thinly sliced and the breading was light. These were fairly tasty, especially with the ranch. They were exactly what I’d been hoping for.
The Corn Nuggets were melt-your-face-off hot. Painfully hot. So hot I could barely taste them. Once they cooled down, they were ok, but again, nothing fabulous. I honestly prefer the ones at Woody’s to Singletons.
They were served with powdered sugar, which I’d never had together before.Kevin, who was with us, told me made them taste like a donut. I just dipped mine in the ranch from the Pickle Chips.
The New England Clam Chowder which was pretty good. You could definitely taste the clam in the soup.
To my right, Adam ordered the Deviled Crab, hush puppies, fries and coleslaw. It was pretty good and filling. The Deviled Crab came full of crab meat. That’s one good thing about Singletons, when they say something is “stuffed crab” or “crab soup”, they don’t skimp on it! It will definitely be full of said flavor.
To my left, Kevin ordered the shrimp dinner. Pretty sure he cleaned his plate though he was offering his hush puppies up to his son. The shrimp looked really delicious. I might order this next time I’m there.
I personally was stuffed from the apps and clam chowder, so I just got a grilled cheese. I know, who goes to a fish place and orders the grilled cheese? It was good, but went un-pictured. Good thing I have to note is it didn’t taste fishy. Sometimes I’m afraid to order a non-fish item at a fish place, but this came out just right.
One unique feature of Singletons is the Boat Room. This room is jam packed with decades of hand crafted boats of all shapes and sizes.
Here’s a highlight from the article I found describing Captain Ray Singleton and the “boat room.”
Captain Ray Singleton was a restaurateur, model boat builder, oral historian, and retired shrimper. He was born and raised in Mayport, a small fishing town in north of Jacksonville.
In the 1930s, he began building scale models of the shrimp boats he had known around the Mayport area. He worked without plans or photographs to recreate the vessels which, in many cases, no longer existed. He painted his early boats, but simply gave a polyurethane coating to the later ones to bring out the natural wood grain and color. Woods he used included poplar, mahogany and cedar. He did not sell these finely crafted and highly detailed models of actual boats, but displayed them in his restaurant.
Singleton was also a chronicler of local history and shared the lore and wisdom of the Mayport fishing community with a new generation; the boat models provided a natural starting point for hours of reminiscences. Although the models were by themselves, their value was magnified with the addition of his narratives about the vessels they represent.
Visitors can still view Singleton’s boats at the family restaurant. He passed on a passion for building model boats to his son Johnny, who continues to build model boats and lighthouses.
Really amazing, impressive work.
Singleton’s never disappoints every time we go there. True, we may not like every item on the menu. There are so many choices on the menu, we know we can find something. I definitely urge you to make plans to dine there if you never have (or to dine there again if it’s been a while!)
What’s your favorite seafood restaurant in North Florida? If you’ve been to Singleton’s Seafood Shack, what’s your favorite item on the menu?