The only real criterion when buying fish is that it must be fresh. If you want fresh in Florida, that means right off the fisherman's boat and onto your plate.
Sure, you can buy oceanic creatures from just about any commercial chain grocery store in the area. But why do that to yourself when buying from a local fish market is so much better?
Whether you’re fasting with fish for a holiday or just want a fresh piece of tail, we've got the official guide to find the choicest fishmongers in these parts with this list of the best fresh seafood markets in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
10. The Fish Peddler
2805 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-491-1441; thefishpeddler.com.
This Fort Lauderdale market offers a bright, welcoming interior filled with colorful nautical décor and a staff that's equally friendly and colorful. In addition to a large selection of fresh seafood, the store features a number of rubs, sauces, spices, and other specialty goods, from gourmet vinegars to cedar wood planks for grilling your catch of choice. Locals and repeat customers can't stop raving about the fresh-fried shrimp and housemade scampi butter. The homemade Key lime pie is definitely the perfect, not-too-sweet ending to a meal.
9. Finster Murphy's
1497 SE 17 St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-765-3461; finstermurphys.com.
Finster Murphy's in Fort Lauderdale isn't just a market offering a premium selection of fish and seafood. It also serves a number of seafood dishes prepared daily, which you can take out or chow down at one of a handful of tables. Favorites include the large selection of seafood salads, from conch and shrimp to salmon and tuna. The crab cakes and salmon burgers are some of the best around. The staff can cook those for you too, everything from grilled and fried to blackened and sautéed. Now, that's a fish market worth visiting any day.
8. Fish Depot
1022 N. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach; 561-375-8363.
Fish Depot in Boynton Beach is such a unique building; you can't miss it. The bright, sky blue stucco facade houses a great assortment of fresh whole fish caught locally and packed in large ice bins for you to see and smell for yourself. There's also plenty of other seafood, including fresh-caught local lobsters and shellfish delivered daily. The customer service is stellar, and it's rumored the crab cakes and fish dip in the prepared food section are some of the best around. If they've run out at the market, you can always stop by the family's new restaurant located down the road. The Twisted Fish menu serves up all the market's in-house products too, from the fish tacos to the fresh catch of the day.
7. Captain Mike's Seafood
4501 SW 44 Ave., Dania Beach; 954-791-2955; captainmikesfreshfish.com.
Don't get confused: The sign out front says Two Bills Seafood, but this Fort Lauderdale seafood market still goes by Captain Mike's, and it's still one of the best places to go if you're looking for locally caught seafood — or something other than your typical ocean-caught fare. Here's the place to go the next time you're in the mood for specialty items like gator, eel, sepia, boudin, frog legs, seaweed, squid ink, snail, or finnan haddie (cold-smoked haddock from Scotland). Of course, the market also has a large selection of fresh and frozen items as well as live Maine lobsters, blue and golden crabs, and crawdads. Want to make your own conch fritters? There's a homemade batter in the refrigerated section ready to go. But it's Mike's hot to-go buckets, including their "famous" four-pound bucket of garlic crab, that make picking up a fresh-cooked meal easiest.
6. Old Dixie Seafood
7000 N. Dixie Hwy., Boca Raton; 561-988-0866; olddixieseafood.com.
Located on a desolate strip of Dixie Highway in north Boca Raton, don't let this old-style shop fool you. Despite its small, retro digs, the market has been around for just over two decades and was named the "Best of Boca" in the 2008 issue of Boca magazine. Accolades aside, Old Dixie truly has been among the best seafood markets in South Florida since brothers Larry and Kerry Siemsen first opened the market in 1995. Since that time, Old Dixie has continually offered nearby residents a wide variety of fresh and frozen seafood sourced globally. The place is well-known for its jalapeño spices and smoked fish spread. It also has one of the best mustard dipping sauces around, perfect for all variety of seafood, although pairs best with Florida stone crab.
5. Seafood World
4602 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point; 954-942-0740; seafood-world.com.
Equal parts restaurant and fish market, Seafood World in Lighthouse Point looks every bit of its 1976 vintage — and that's not a bad thing. The seafood market greets you first, and a display case by the front door highlights the day's fresh catch. To the right, glistening fillets of local hog snapper, dolphin, and grouper are set over packed ice; to the left sit oysters, stone crab, shrimp in various sizes, and prepared seafood salads available by the pound. Further back, winding corridors decked floor to ceiling in dark wood give the impression of dining in the galley of an old fishing boat. Here, in addition to the simply prepared seafood dishes, the restaurant stuffs fillets of dolphin and snapper with crab meat and lobster sauce, prepares pan-seared swordfish Livornese, and does huge portions of pasta with clams and white wine sauce or shrimp fra diabolo. Sure, you might have come to buy fresh fish to take home, but you might also end up staying to have the cooks at Seafood World prepare it for you.
4. Captain Clay and Sons Fish Market
308 NE Fourth St., Delray Beach; 561-266-2068; captainclayandsonsfishmarket.com.
This small, locally beloved establishment in Delray Beach specializes in small-town charm and service. It's all thanks to the owners, the Clay family, a family operation that has been fishing South Florida waters for many years. The real Captain Clay is a Florida native and U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain Clay Brand, an avid fisherman and gourmet cook to boot. Brand, who also has his commercial fishing license, has been catching and preparing fish for most of his life and offers his customers the same service he'll give family and friends. That's why, on any given day at his market, most of the fish you'll find was caught locally from his own boat.
3. Pop's Fish Market
131 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach; 954-427-1331; popsfishmarket.com.
Pop's Fish Market in Deerfield Beach is a favorite for nearby residents who love everything about the place, from the reasonable prices and amazing selection, to the sparkling-clean interior and helpful, friendly staff. The market, founded in 1957, is owned and operated by John and Sandra Adeimy, who purchased the business nearly 15 years ago and today run it along with their five kids. In the past several years, the family expanded the business by adding eat-in and to-go menu items, everything from fish sandwiches, fish and chips, and blackened tuna tacos to homemade apple pie. They also doubled the retail space to offer a large variety of fresh seafood (although it still looks almost the same as the original with its '50s-decorated interior and original sign out front). The market even has its own personal dive team and fisherman for sourcing local fresh catches, while out of area fish are delivered three times a week.
2. Cod & Capers Seafood
1201 U.S. 1 N. Palm Beach; 561-622-0963; codandcapers.com.
This North Palm Beach seafood market and restaurant has been owned and operated by Florida fisherman Steve Gyland for more than two decades. In that time, the business has grown considerably, and today offers one of the largest seafood selections around — both in Florida, or anywhere else for that matter — covering local and farmed fish sourced from only the best. Take the organic salmon from Ireland, where (unlike in the U.S.) farmed seafood can carry an organic label. Curious about other catches? Information about where Gyland purchases each fish is available for customers to view anytime. The market also has its own eat-in restaurant, an added bonus where customers can order from a menu of prepared food or made-to-order eats. There's a few of Gyland's family secret recipes on there too, including his Blue Bird potato salad, a banana-pepper-spiked version from the Blue Bird Cafe on Kit Island in the Bahamas.
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1. Triar Seafood
2046 McKinley St., Hollywood; 954-921-1113; triarseafood.com.
For over 20 years, Triar Seafood in Hollywood has been a go-to for fresh fish. The market has even been featured in the Miami Herald, the New York Times, and Gourmet for its stellar service and product. If you're thinking of going, just be sure to call Triar before heading to their warehouse. The fresh catches of the day changes frequently — there are often more than 60 — and it's best to place an order ahead of time. Then head over to pick it up; the store is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on Friday. If you're in the mood for seafood, they often have a vast selection, from uber-fresh red mullet, barramundi, and bronzini to strawberry grouper, turbot, or even Tasmanian steelhead. There's no retail "market" really, so you might have to wait a few minutes for your order if you don't call ahead (and wear sneakers if you want to go in the back to check out what's available). It's all worth the wait, though. Aside from having one of the most impressive seafood selections you'll ever lay eyes on, there's also a good selection of high-end products like caviar and tobiko, the flying fish roe you see on sushi.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.