There are plenty of what might be considered "seafood shacks" in Florida. And some of them are waterfront. Examples are The Seafood Shack Marina, Bar & Grill in Cortez, Port Richey's Crab Shack, and Owen's Fish Camp in Sarasota.
However, none of the above were named among Florida's best "hole-in-the-wall" restaurants by Trips to Discover in early 2023. Instead, that destination belongs to a seafood shack in Florida's panhandle, in a city that is known for its beaches and its proximity to Gulf Coast seafood.
What's So Special About Hunt's Oyster Bar?: This family-owned business is located in St. Andrews in Panama City, but it serves fresh oysters from nearby Apalachicola, which is known for them.
The seafood served at Hunt's is among the freshest available since the owners (the Abrams family) also own a seafood market serviced by fishing boats that deliver the fresh catch to the restaurant daily. Hunt's has been serving the community since 1966.
Hunt's isn't fancy - either inside or out. It looks exactly what you'd expect from an "old Florida" seafood shack, with plenty of wood paneling and nautical decor. But because of its popularity, it's often crowded, although the staff - many of whom have been around for some time - generally work tables as quickly as they can.
What Should You Order at Hunt's?: Obviously, the restaurant is known for its oysters, and the cajun baked oysters are popular because they're incredibly flavorful with cajun spices topped with cheese. The parmesan oysters are also a popular choice.
Is Hunt's Reasonably Priced?: Considering the high price of seafood today, Hunt's is arguably not prohibitively expensive. You can get a half dozen oysters for $9 and a dozen for $16. The shrimp and oyster dinner is $24.95. Grouper and scallops are $26.95, a grouper sandwich is $16.95, and key lime pie is $6.95.
What Do Reviewers Say About Hunt's?: This seafood shack has over 1,700 reviews on TripAdvisor with an average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars. I did not read anything other than rave reviews about the oysters. Many said the prices were fair and the wait was worth it because the food was that good. One person called Hunt's "the best restaurant on the Gulf." Some recommended the "hook and crook special."
One negative review focused on the fact that Hunt's did not have any items that would allow for food restrictions, and a few others complained about a lack of parking during busy times or longer wait times during peak hours.