When we first moved here in 2010, I would often hear older people talk about eating at the Rusty Anchor, so for a while I assumed it was too old-school for me. But it has become one of my favorite lunch spots, with the kids or without. Yes, the decor and ambiance are definitely a throwback to seafood houses of the past (the same family has owned and operated it since 1983). But go more than a few times and the waitress will bring you your favorite beverage without you saying a word. The fish and shellfish are super fresh and prepared well, and the daily specials can seriously rock. So maybe I’m a bit more old school than I thought. And I’m not the only one. I see the same diners every time we go in there … young, old, and from every walk of life.
One of the first things that got me hooked (excuse the fishing pun) was the white conch chowder. It’s served every Friday, and on Saturday if they happen to have any left. Seriously good stuff, made with a flavorful creamy base, tender chunks of potato, and lots of conch meat, cut small so that you get the flavor and not the chewiness. I enjoy ordering this soup at several restaurants in the lower Keys, but I think Rusty Anchor’s version just may be my favorite.
I love the women who serve lunch there, and the way they serve it. You don’t just get an iced tea, you get a pitcher in case you need a refill. All seafood orders come with chilled squeeze bottles of both tartar sauce and cocktail sauce so you can use as much, or as little, as you prefer. Extra napkins, “to go” boxes, and inquiries about the family are delivered without request. Food is served quickly. Maybe that is why it’s so popular with large groups of local businessmen and the staff of the Sheriff’s Office?
Rusty’s fish sandwich is served on Cuban bread with lettuce, tomato, and onion. I prefer the yellowtail snapper if they have it, fried, but you can also get your choice of the day’s catches grilled, blackened, or lemon peppered. The fish Reuben is really good, as is the Cuban mix, dressed with mustard as it should be. If they have pulled pork as a daily special, order it! One sandwich is enough for two people, easily.
Along with fresh fish and local shrimp, the dinner menu offers spiny lobster, conch steak, and fresh tuna steak seared with sesame seeds, served with wasabi and soy sauce. They cut the Delmonico steak in house. That and baby back ribs make sure that the non-seafood eaters won’t be hungry. Every Wednesday is “Prime Rib Night.” I hear it’s very popular. And kind of old school. At the Rusty Anchor, that’s a good thing.
5501 5th Ave, Stock Island
Open for lunch or dinner Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.