It’s all the way at the end of 15th Street on the Oceanside. The road twists and turns and it’s easy to feel like you’re a little bit lost until the two-story tiki hut, located right on the harbor, comes into view.
Burdines Bar & Grill is one of those perfect places. Newcomers often feel like they’ve “discovered” it — it’s got that rustic charm — but truth be told, it’s wildly popular with locals and visitors alike.
Here are a couple things you need to know: Green chile burgers, French fries and the deep-fried Key lime pie, although the “regular” pie is pretty outstanding too.
“Show up in your bathing suit. It’s that casual,” said Brenda Duff. “Oh, and the breeze is always blowing.”
There’s a small army of ceiling fans stirring the air in the partially open dining area in the center of the second-story platform topped with palm fronds. Wide decks take up three sides of the building that overlooks one of the entrances into Boot Key Harbor. That means diners can come by boat, which is by far the best way to arrive — salty and hungry from a productive and sunny day on the water.
Although the burgers and fries are big sellers, there are also a couple of notables on the specials menu. Try the Hawaiian style tuna poke. A biggish portion of the raw fish dish (seasoned with green and red onion, and red bell pepper and sitting atop pineapple slices) arrives on a plate surrounded by fresh fried wonton chips and slices of avocado. At $16.95, it’s a good appetizer to share with friends. The sliders are also delicious and highly recommended.
The restaurant is approaching its 20th anniversary and Duff has been there almost as long.
“Has it been 20 years already?” she wondered.
Underneath the restaurant is a gas dock (no smoking!!) and a small sundry shop. It sells bait and tackle, ice, beer, soda and snacks. It’s got everything a mariner might need to stock up for the day on the water, and also a place to stop in the afternoon or evening for a meal on the way home.
“People show up on their boats all the time,” Duff said. “We find a place to put them in a slip, usually, if they are going to eat. We cater to them.”
The view and food are great, but so is the staff. Friendly and helpful and hardworking, Burdines Bar & Grill is a 20-year-old “find.”
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily except for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and a couple of weeks in September. The marina is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call them at 305-743-5317 or hail them on Channel 16.