Ain’t Been to Papa Joe’s? – You Ain’t Been to Apalach
From the Coastline Publication
Ask many of the “locals” and they’ll tell you that “If you ain’t been to Papa Joe’s Oyster Bar & Grill on the banks of the Apalachicola River, you ain’t been to Apalachicola”.
Why? Shucks, there’s at least a dozen reasons…
Location: Just slightly off the beaten path, there’s never a parking problem at Papa Joe’s. You sure don’t have to drive around in circles trying to find a spot. It is part of the sprawling Scipio Creek Marina complex at 301 Market Street – just a few blocks from Apalachicola’s lone blinking light on Highway 98.
View: There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a waterfront view. And the watery panorama at Papa Joe’s is ideal. Watch the resident gators on the prowl just a few feet away. And the colorful commercial seafood and recreational fishing vessels gliding along Scipio Creek and into the Apalachicola River. There’s Capt. Gibby’s “Osprey” taking visitors on an eco-venture tour! Several charter guides also operate out of this new locally owned and operated marina.
Ambiance: Your right! The “locals” don’t refer to it as ambiance. To them Papa Joe’s simply feels right. Unpretentious. No “plastic” people. Super clean but not overly “frilly”. The Tiki Tak (an old wooden boat) hanging from the ceiling. They usually congregate at “Papa’s Oyster Bar” and tell fishing tales. Slurping half-shell oysters washed down with a cool brew. Soon to savor one of their just caught fish – turned over to the experts in Papa Joe’s kitchen.
Variety: Sure. Papa Joe’s serves up some of the finest and freshest seafood this side of Sopchoppy but it also features salads, sandwiches, pasta and steak. So everyone in the group can satisfy a craving. Besides soda and cold brews you can also indulge in your favorite wines or mixed drinks.
Owned and operated by a couple of truly down-to-earth local folks (Stan and Sandy Norred) and staffed by a mighty colorful crew, Papa Joe’s features two distinctly different seating areas. The climate controlled area (no smoking) seats in the neighborhood of 60 and features the colorful oyster bar.
Watch your step as you wander on out to the screened porch area. There’s seating for at least another 60 diners (a great place for a party) and smoking is allowed. The cool breezes blow off the adjacent waters and the vessels are but an arm’s length away.
The Menu: Open 11:30 am to 10 pm, the restaurant features one of the most comprehensive menus in the region. Frankly, if you don’t find anything you love on his menu, you weren’t hungry in the first place. Let’s start with the appetizers ($6.95 to $8.95) fried oyster wraps, crab dip, crab quesadillas, fried shrimp wraps, Cajun shrimp, hot wings, crab cakes, gumbo, oyster stew, shrimp & scallop bisque, cocktail claws, steamed shrimp and calamari. If it’s a “basket” (served with fries & puppies) you prefer ($8.95 to $11.95) you can select from popcorn shrimp, crab claws, crab cakes, scallops, shrimp, soft shell crab, chicken strips, oysters or grouper. Sandwiches (oyster po boys, chicken, shrimp po boys, grouper, cheeseburger, hamburger or crab cake) are served with fries and a kosher spear. Wait a second, when in Apalach a meal should start with at least one dozen delicious, slightly salty Apalachicola Bay oysters. Do you prefer topless on the half shell or steamed? Or perhaps baked? They can be baked in no less than 12 different “flavors”. Take a look at “J” on your menu – baked oyster topped with crab meat, sherry and Monterey jack cheese.
Papa Joe's Entrees: Now we’re ready to get into some heavy-duty seafood dining. Entrées include: grouper, shrimp, oysters, popcorn shrimp, scallops, crab claws, crab cakes, soft shell crab, flounder plus stuffed founder, shrimp and grouper. Naturally a heaping seafood platter is available. Two sides (choice of coleslaw, house salad, French fries, cheese grits, potato salad, baked beans, baked potato or corn on the cob) and bread are served with the entrée. If you are a “meat & taters” kind of guy, you may choose between a USDA certified Black Angus New York Strip or rib eye. Hamburger steak is also served. As well as six unique salads. No less than a half-dozen Papa Joe pasta dishes are available: primavera (with chicken or shrimp), alfredo (chicken or shrimp) and herb & garlic (chicken or shrimp). For the youngsters 12 and under there are six different dishes (with fries) to please the semi-sophisticated palate. There you have it. Is your mouth watering yet? Right at 80 different appetizers, salads, sandwiches, sides, half-shell oysters, baskets and entrées to choose. And we still haven’t selected a dessert yet! Is it any wonder the locals say, “If you ain’t been to Papa Joe’s, you ain’t been to Apalachicola”.