The Snook Inn (2), Marco Island, Florida

We were joined in Marco by my cousin, Scott Griffin, and his new bride, Nora Raynor Griffin — who I guess is now a cousin. You’ve met them here and here. They arrived in the afternoon, and we all headed to the Snook Inn for dinner. Nancy and I’d had lunch there a couple of days before. Details here (great grouper sandwiches and smoked fish dip). We chose an early hour in hopes of a table outside and on the water, and our efforts were crowned with success. As at our lunch earlier in the week, there was live music during our dinner. And again, the food was great.

The most remarkable dish was the tuna nachos appetizer Nora ordered as her main course.

It was poke tuna. Poke — pronounced with two syllables for those unfamiliar with it, is a Hawaiian dish of chopped raw tuna seasoned with things like soy sauce and sesame oil or teriyaki sauce. The Snook Inn did a very good job with the seasoning — the poke was tasty — but all we could talk about was the sheer size of the serving. It was huge. We debated how many pounds of tuna graced the nachos, andScott called it bottomless tuna. The consensus was that it’s an appetizer for at least eight big hungry boys.  The tuna nachos alone are worth a trip to the Snook Inn, but bring a bunch of friends with you.

I had the blackened grouper with black beans and rice.

It also was worth the trip. Some of you may be wondering why I always seem to order blackened grouper. Here I am, writing about food, and I always seem to order the same thing. Well, it’s really good. You can’t beat Gulf of Mexico seafood. You just can’t. And grouper doesn’t seem to travel that well. But as far north as Morehead City, North Carolina, grouper usually is the fish to order. The various snappers are great, and you order the hogfish at Deep Lagoon or the yellowtail at Salute on the Beach or Calypso, but usually grouper is the fish to order. And the Snook Inn definitely is a place to order the line-caught grouper.   Why blackened? I like spicy food.

Scott ordered the broiled seafood platter, which included grouper, mahi-mahi, shrimp, scallops, and a small crab cake.

That was a whole lot of food, especially as Scott was doing his duty to help Nora with the tuna nachos. All of the seafood was fresh. Nothing on the platter was over- or under-cooked. The lemon beurre blanc was just the thing. It’s a great dish. 

Nancy ordered the mahi-mahi tacos, blackened

The tacos came with pico de gallo, cheese, lettuce, and avocado cream, And, of course, black beans and rice.  The tacos were topped with real tomatoes. Honest. Tomatoes with flavor in the winter. Just think of that for a minute. How re the tomatoes where you shop — and hop on a plane.

When we arrived for dinner, there was very good social distancing … except, not unexpectedly, at the bar itself. The bar was full, with ne’er a care for six-foot separation — or five or four or three or two or …. Really, do bars ever actually enforce six feet of separation? When you think of people sitting six feet apart at a bar, you conjure an Edward Hopper painting in which the customers are sipping shots of cheap whiskey or worse, head down and uncommunicative at ten o’clock in the morning: Dayhawks. That’s one more reason to approach bars with caution.

Our table, on the other hand, was well away from the bar and from other tables, and we were completely comfortable throughout dinner. But by the time to leave, the group at the bar had ballooned in numbers and enthusiasm, and had become a sort of mosh pit near the musician. We took a slightly circuitous route through the indoor area, where only two tables were occupied, to avoid having to hack our way through the bar crowd with nary a machete to help.

If you exercise a modicum of common sense, as all of my readers do, the Snook Inn is a perfectly safe and perfectly pleasant place to eat, what with the open air and gentle breeze off the water. It’s such an appealing setting. Indeed, the only thing better than the setting is the food. You need to give it a try.

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