There are few places in the Upper Keys that harken back to “good times” as easily as Robbie’s Marina and the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant. For us Conchs, it’s the go-to after a long day of boating around Lower Matecumbe. For tourists, it’s a visual landmark for fun along a stretch of scenic expanses of ocean.
After Irma upended nearly every bit of the docks of the bayside restaurant, some were worried Robbie’s was cooked. Since 1976, the marina and property has been a Keys landmark. But just like a family, the staff wasted no time pitching in and repairing the entire dock facility. It took a matter of only weeks.
General Manager Cailin Reckwerdt said the push to rebuild quickly was part of a family spirit that has grown the reputation of Robbie’s over the years from a pass-through dining spot to a destination for visitors and locals alike.
“Growing up in a family-owned and -operated business has inspired me to continue what my family has successfully built, and to spread the word about Robbie’s,” said Reckwerdt. “We take pride in what we do, and work every day to make Robbie’s a fun family atmosphere that everyone can enjoy.”
Hungry Tarpon’s recent glow up fits the trend toward bigger and better. Its newly constructed Boat Bar certainly is eye-catching. The entire bar is designed to resemble a Hatteras Yacht, complete with a T-top.
If you find yourself hungry, the menu has plenty of Keys dishes. Executive Chef Ben Loftus’ crew has assembled some of the most coveted local favorites. The prices are remarkably reasonable, with the majority of the items under $20.
Their best seller, the fish tacos, are hearty and full of flavor. Three stuffed tacos come with blackened mahi mahi, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and are topped with the restaurant’s special sauce. “It’s a spicy sour mix that’s a little bit creamy,” said veteran sous chef, Hector Diaz. The tacos pair well with a side of black beans.
Another favorite, the Thai Fish Fingers, are also quick and delicious. A stack of eight “fingers” come encrusted in panko and fried with sweet chili sauce, taco sauce, and sesame seeds. Its taste certainly has a zing.
If you’re a land lover (or conscious of a shellfish allergy) try the Wagyu Beef sliders. They come topped with yummy Manchego cheese and candied tomato bacon jam.
Robbie’s Marina isn’t just the home of Hungry Tarpon Restaurant. The marina houses a fleet of several charter fishing captains plus the main boat, Capt. Michael. Visitors can also book fishing, snorkeling, and parasailing trips onsite. The marina’s most popular attraction allows guests to feed tarpon pierside, $2 for adult admission, kids enter free. Buckets of fish are just over $3.00.
The Hungry Tarpon Restaurant is located at 77522 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada. Hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Call ahead at 305-664-0535.