A fried seafood combo costs just $20 at Papa Hughie's Seafood World in Lighthouse Point. The platter comes with three fat diver scallops, three jumbo shrimp, three conch fritters made from homemade batter, and four thick wedges of local hog snapper. Each piece of seafood is lightly coated in a simple beer batter and perfectly fried until crisp and juicy. The platter also comes with some Bahamian-style peas and rice and a bowl of crunchy, creamy coleslaw. It's about as evocative of Old Florida as a platter of seafood gets.
Papa Hughie's, a relic that opened in Lighthouse Point in 1976, is all
about that Old Florida vibe. There's no pretense to its fresh seafood,
which it also sells directly from its front-of-house market. All of its
snapper, grouper, tuna, oysters, shrimp, stone crab, scallops, and
lobster are prepared as simply as possible, which often means broiled
or fried with a wedge of lemon on the side. The result is, you get to taste the seafood itself. It's a
showcase of Florida's oceanic bounty, the sort of which is becoming
rarer and rarer these days.
On a recent visit, I also sampled three large stone crab claws for less than $20, plucked
straight from the market case and cracked and served with spicy mustard
sauce. The claws dripped sweet juice as I pulled them apart, and the
meat was fresh and clean-tasting. The smoked mahi-mahi fish dip that
Papa Hughie's also makes in house is peppery and smoky, with an
addictive quality that's hard to resist -- especially when slathered on
All of it jibes with the décor, a winding hall
of dark wood and dusty rafters that looks like the barnacle-covered
hull of an old ship. Although it's far cry from a new, hip seafood joint, I'd come
back to Seafood World in a heartbeat to sample its classic take on cracked conch, slurp raw
oysters by the dozen, and eat huge fillets of local grouper broiled
with lemon, paprika, and butter. Is there anything better about Florida?
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4602 N. Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point