Nancy and I like to spend some time in Florida during the winter months. The weather’s great, but, in my experience, the barbecue situation in Florida needs work. On the other hand, you can get much better seafood in ‘most any part of Florida than here in DC, and I like to follow the Friends of the Earth motto –“eat locally, drink globally.” It’s something like that.
Lately we’ve shifted from the East Coast (Singer Island, just north of Palm Beach) to the West Coast, to Marco Island, the southernmost beach on the West Coast, cheek by jowl with the mangroves and the Everglades. The beaches on Marco are great for walking, there’s amazing shelling, and the sunsets can be spectacular. Here we are on the beach with our good friends Tom and Kit Moore, doing some sunset prep.
We purchased Stately Tanner Manor from the Moore’s, and we’re still friends. They had decided they wanted a full-size house.
Also, Marco is just a few miles from the small fishing village of Goodland, the home of Stan’s Idle Hour.
Stan’s is the stuff of legend. It’s a sprawling place perched right on the water. There’s some seldom-used indoor seating, and outdoor covered seating with a bandstand. If you toss a cracker into the water by your side, you can watch the water boil with hundreds of the fish who wait there for a snack. You can also throw in a bit of potato, some broccoli, a napkin, an IPhone, or an ex-spouse, and get the same reaction. Kidding.
There also are a score or two of picnic tables in the open air, along with a second bandstand and two more bars. These seem to be used mainly on Sunday afternoons. I haven’t been on a Sunday afternoon yet, but I understand that it’s an event — lots of people, lots of country music, lots of good food, and lots of adult beverages. Here’s part of the crowd at their post-Irma reopening in October, well before the high season:
I like the decor at Stan’s.
We’ve usually gone there in the evening, for dinner.
That’s a band in the background on the right. I remember that they were pretty good, and a group of local fans were wearing band t-shirts.
And I like the menu, with very fresh fish prepared however you like it, and prepared well. They even have wild, line-caught tilapia. Did you know there was such a thing? I assumed it all came from China or Knoxville. Really. But tilapia actually thrive among the mangroves, and they actually can be very, very good. Not grouper, but very good. Better than dolphin. Excuse me, mahi-mahi.
I like the prices at Stan’s. And I like the oysters. They aren’t quite as cold as at Hunt’s, in Panama City, up north in the Panhandle. Hunt’s is endorsed, of course, by Bryan Boudreaux, the oyster bar maven, but the oysters at Stan’s are really good.
I really like that they give you lots of horseradish so that you can mix your own cocktail sauce. I don’t use cocktail sauce with the oysters (just a couple of drops of lemon juice), but horseradish-heavy cocktail sauce is good on saltines. And it clears your sinuses.
Goodland was hit hard by Hurricane Irma, alas, and there was a lot of damage to Stan’s. By our November trip, they had bounced back enough that they were open on weekends with a limited menu.
As you can see, they’re always concerned for the safety of the customers: no shots.
The Hot Damn Duo was playing a Toby Keith cover, adjusted to “I Love Stan’s Bar.”
I wore my Alabama hat, so we were greeted with a “Roll Tide” by each person who worked there. The weather was perfect. People were arriving by boat as well as by motorcycle.
Nancy and I both had baskets with blackened grouper, fries, and cole slaw. Always order the grouper when you are in Florida. Delicious. Never order the grouper north of Raleigh.
I look forward to going back in February, when I trust they’ll have the full menu. Or at least the oysters.