Surprisingly, seafood restaurants aren’t as common in Tampa as one might expect. Skipper’s Smokehouse (910 Skipper Rd., 813/971-0666, www.skipperssmokehouse.com, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 11 a.m.–midnight Sat., 1–11 p.m. Sun.) serves up some fine oysters and smoked fish, but for years, Oystercatchers (at the Grand Hyatt, 2900 Bayport Dr., 813/207-6816, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sun., 6–10 p.m. daily, average à la carte entrée $30) has been the go-to place for an upscale fish dinner.
For years, Oystercatchers coasted on that reputation. Recently, however, both the staid menu and the ’80s pastel interior have gotten a facelift, making a meal well worth the heart-stopping bill you’ll receive at meal’s end. Adjacent to a bird sanctuary and overlooking Tampa Bay, the spectacular sunset views are now complemented by a clean modern interior design that allows you to quickly forget that you’re in a hotel restaurant.
The menu is seasonally variable and allows for fish dishes to be prepared in a variety of ways. The waitstaff are quick to make suggestions (sometimes even advising you to forgo some of their excellent sauces in favor of the fish’s natural flavor). Of course, oysters are available, flown in fresh from Washington, Massachusetts, and elsewhere; gulf oysters are also available. They’re all $3 a pop, so choose wisely.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition