At Iguanas Seafood Restaurant
We have been visiting (and eating great food on) Saint Simons Island, Georgia, for over twenty years. Most of that food has been consumed in the village. And for many of the past fourteen or so years, we walked right past the colorful awnings and outdoor patio of Iguanas Seafood Restaurant.
That was a mistake.
About five years ago, every place was crowded as is often the case when we noticed some open tables at Iguanas, so we decided to give them a try.
That was not a mistake.
We were seated promptly by one of the friendly hosts and told of the daily specials. It turns out one of the daily lunch specials is almost always available, the fried shrimp platter. My wife loves fried shrimp, so she and our table mates all ordered that. My wife's other favorite is their crab cake sandwich, Blue-lump crab with just enough filler and seasonings on a bun with lettuce and tomato. I ordered the lunch special but substituted oysters, which are available seasonally.
That was not a mistake, but it could have been.
I don't mean there was anything wrong with the oysters. They were obviously fresh; you could taste the brine in the plump juicy oysters fried up hot and crispy. No, the mistake would have been if my wife could finish her massive plate of oysters and I didn't get to try one.
It turns out, the shrimp, like almost all of their seafood, is sourced and harvested locally. These are wild shrimp, not pond-raised, and you can taste the difference. We are not alone in that assessment as the readers of Elegant Island Magazine have voted Iguanas best shrimp for the last seven years.
The restaurant also became one of our main go-to places during the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did they have the roomy outdoor patio, but inside, the already widely spaced tables were staggered, and everyone masked up. It's one of the very few places on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, where we felt safe dining in rather than taking out. This was great as fried food has to be eaten while it is fresh and hot.
The fried seafood platters come with various sides, but we always go with the standard fries and coleslaw. Unlike many other places, Iguanas understands that french fries need to be served hot and crispy, not dished up out of a warming pan for convenience. I'm not usually a fan of coleslaw, but the salad at Iguanas is obviously freshly made with just a hint of mayonnaise dressing, not the gloppy mess you typically get.
For a sauce on the side, it's a tough choice. Their cocktail sauce has just the right amount of horseradish. I usually order extra, so I have enough for my seafood and use it as a dip for the fries. Much better than ketchup. The tartar sauce is pretty standard, but again, made fresh on site. The pleasant surprise is their homemade remoulade sauce. If I opt for the fried fish sandwich, this is my only condiment.
There is one major problem at Iguanas I have to address here. The portions are enormous. Usually, this wouldn't be a problem for someone with my appetite, but there is one added bonus at Iguanas on Saint Simons Island. After your meal, you are encouraged to help yourself to their soft-serve station. It's the standard machine with vanilla on one side, chocolate on the other, and a mix in the middle. But they have a variety of toppings and three hot sauces to turn it into a sundae. And while they have the standard cake cones, they also entice you with large salad bowls.
That is a mistake I always make.
If you are on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, and looking for some fresh, hot, fried seafood and good friendly service, you can't go wrong at Iguanas Seafood Restaurant in the Village.