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The Ultimate Guide To Apalachicola Oysters

If there’s one food you can almost always guarantee is fresh and local on St. George Island—it’s the famous Apalachicola oysters.

Harvested from the nearby Apalachicola Bay, this hidden gem along the Florida Panhandle accounts for about 90% of the state’s edible oyster population.

But where can you get ahold of these famous finger foods, and what makes them so darn good to begin with?

We’ve explore this, and much more, in our complete guide to Apalachicola Oysters.

Where is Apalachicola Bay?

The famous bay in question is located on the northwest side of Saint George Island, an easy drive if you want to see it for yourself—though you certainly don’t have to drive off the island to enjoy these succulent sea dwellers. The bay covers approximately 208 square miles of space between St. George Island and the gulf coast town of Apalachicola and was once known as ‘the oyster capital of the world

This Gulf of Mexico bay is home to over 1,100 species of plants, 308 species of birds, 186 species of fish, and 57 species mammal. It is protected under the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

Due to several environmental factors, the once-bustling oyster industry has seen a slow and steady decline, though you can still enjoy ethically and responsibly sourced oysters during your island escape; we’ve got recommendations on a few local spots below.

About Apalachicola Oysters

As noted above, the Apalachicola Bay area once accounted for 90% of Florida’s oyster population. The barrier islands off the coastline provide the perfect sanctuary for oysters, while the nutrient-rich fresh water flowing from nearby rivers help the oysters grow fat and flavorful. That’s really what these oysters are known for—their hearty size and flavorful, salty punch. The oysters take about three years to reach the full three-inch size that’s typical for harvesting.

Oyster Conservation

As mentioned, the Apalachicola oyster population has been on a slow and steady decline for the past decade, though conservation efforts enacted in 2014 have started to slow the pace of that decline. Oil spills, coastal growth, and changes to rainwater quality that filters down through Alabama and Georgia have inevitably taken their toll—but conservationists are hard at work restoring the area to its original glory.

Since then, several other initiatives have been passed to improve the water quality of the bay and to limit the total amount of oysters harvested. For example, the daily commercial harvest limit is three bags of oysters per person, while the daily recreational harvest limit is five gallons of oysters—which are both significantly lower than previous caps. Furthermore, all oyster harvest activities are closed on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and certain portions of the bay are closed year-round to support renourishment.

Apalachicola Oyster Events

Oyster enthusiasts, rejoice! There’s more than one way to get your fill of fresh, local oysters during your Gulf Coast getaway. Take a look at these exciting oyster-centric events.

Apalachicola Oyster Cook-Off

 

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This local charity event is a must for oyster enthusiasts! Entering its tenth season, the annual oyster cook-off takes place over two days at the end of January. The event features a live auction, live music and entertainment, kids’ activities, a charity 5k run, a silent auction, and just about every oyster preparation you can imagine—and a few you can’t!

The next event takes place on January 17th – 18th in Apalachicola. Visit http://www.oystercookoff.com/ for more information.

Florida Seafood Festival

 

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Tens of thousands of seafood enthusiasts flock to the historic town of Apalachicola each fall—and it’s not hard to figure out why. The Florida Seafood Festival takes place along the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shady, scenic oaks of the local Battery Park. This two-day weekend event features fun for the whole family—an oyster eating and shucking contest, oyster cooking competitions, blue crab races, live music, photo contest, seafood parade, 5k race, the blessing of the fleet, and so much more. It’s truly a memorable annual event for visitors and locals alike!

The next event takes place in November 2020. Visit https://www.floridaseafoodfestival.com/ for details and dates.

Downtown Apalachicola Oyster Roast

The Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce proudly offers several public oyster roasts each fall. Events take place from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. in downtown Apalachicola and include all-you-can-eat fresh local oysters, shrimp, blue crab, and more. Tickets are $70 while supplies last. Visit https://www.floridasforgottencoast.com/events/ for upcoming dates and events.

Where to find Apalachicola Oysters

If you’re still jonesing for a taste of the Florida Panhandle’s famous oysters, fret not. Though they aren’t quite as prevalent as they once were, you can still find Apalachicola Oysters on menus along the Gulf Coast, especially right around St. George Island. Oyster boats bring in fresh stocks almost daily, so you can be sure your meal is truly from sea to table.

Here are a few restaurants and bars that stock locally sourced oysters:

Paddy’s Raw Bar

 

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Address: 240 3rd St E, St George Island, FL 32328

Phone: (850) 927-2299

Hours: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m., Daily

Website: https://www.paddysrawbar.com/

A casual hole-in-the-wall bar with friendly staff and live music daily, Paddy’s is ‘the’ oyster bar on Saint George Island for fresh Apalachicola Oysters. Enjoy them in eight different preparations or create your own oyster concoction. Pair a plate of oysters with an ice-cold beer and you’ve got the perfect post-beach snack.

Blue Parrot Ocean Front Cafe

 

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Address: 68 E Gorrie Dr, St George Island, FL 32328

Phone: (850) 927-2987

Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Daily

Website: http://www.blueparrotsgi.com/

If you’re seeking a beachside bar to shuck fresh Apalachicola Bay oysters, Blue Parrot Cafe is the place to be. Enjoy your pick of raw or baked oyster plates, an oyster po’boy, or fried oyster platter complete with generous island sides.

Up the Creek Raw Bar

 

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Address: 313 Water St, Apalachicola, FL 32320

Phone: (850) 653-2525

Hours: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m., Daily

Website: https://www.upthecreekrawbar.com/

Located just a short drive north of St. George Island, Up The Creek is the perfect spot for an elevated, waterfront happy hour or dinner. True to its name, this raw bar serves some of the best raw oysters on the half shell in town—though baked preparations are also available. Enjoy a half or full dozen of pure Apalachicola oysters in one of their eight eight signature preparations.

Hole in the Wall Seafood

Address: 23 Ave D, Apalachicola, FL 32320

Phone: (850) 653-3222

Hours: 11:30 a.m., Tuesday – Saturday; Closed, Sunday – Monday

True to its name, Hole in the Wall Seafood provides simple, fresh seafood in an unrefined atmosphere. The simple bar menu offers Apalachicola oysters by the dozen in six preparations, including raw, steamed, and Rockefeller. Patrons can also enjoy a fried oyster platter and a fried oyster sandwich.

Apalachicola Seafood Grill

 

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Address: 100 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320

Phone: (850) 653-9510

Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday – Saturday; Closed, Sunday

Website: http://www.apalachicolaseafoodgrill.com/

Lovers of fried oysters will feel right at home at Apalachicola Seafood Grill. This local favorite specializes in hearty steaks and seafood, and fried fish of all varieties is one of their staples. Nosh on fried oysters as an app, enjoy a crispy fried oyster sandwich or take home the full plate with a fried oyster basket.

St. George Island Area Seafood Markets

Whether you’re looking to host an oyster roast or just enjoy a few fresh ones with an ice-cold beer from the comfort of your vacation rental—don’t worry. There are several seafood markets near Saint George that offer fresh oysters daily—while supplies last.

13 Mile Seafood Market, Lynn’s Quality Oysters, and Oyster Boss are your best bet for fresh, sustainably sourced oysters.

Best Ways to Eat Oysters

Many visitors are traditionalists and enjoy the oysters raw or steamed. However, if you prefer a more creative take on this seaside classic, rest assured that St. George Island restaurants offer plenty of creative interpretations. You can find everything from oyster cakes, a play on traditional crab cakes, oyster omelettes, oyster stews and soups, oyster po’boys, oyster tacos, and much more at area eateries. Check out our top recommendations above and call in advance for any specific requests.

There you have it—out comprehensive beginner’s guide to Apalachicola oysters.

Are you ready to pack your shucker and grab a bucket of these succulent sea treats? If so, this dream could soon be a reality. Peruse our generous selection of St. George Island vacation rentals, and pencil in an oyster roast for your dream island getaway!