If you’re anywhere near the Redneck Riviera on Florida’s panhandle, Indian Pass Raw Bar is a definite must-see! Actually, that should be must-experience. Believe me, a meal at this local institution is an experience you won’t soon forget! And it’s not just the fresh seafood that makes this place so special. It’s also the atmosphere, the history, and the people.
The restaurant was built in 1903 as the company store for the turpentine operation. What’s that? You’re not familiar with turpentining? That’s the process of tapping pine trees for their resin, or rosin. Anyway, the site turned out to be a great location. In 1929, the highway was built through the area, and it ran right in front of the store.
The store became a restaurant in the 1930s, when Gypsie McNeill began serving lunch there. She also hosted dinner parties in part of the restaurant for local affairs and celebrations.
The McNeills were also in the wholesale oyster business, shipping the famous Apalachicola oysters all over the country. When Hurricane Kate hit in November of 1985, it devastated the oyster beds in the bay. The McNeills no longer had enough oysters to stay in the wholesale business, so in 1986, the restaurant became a raw bar.
Indian Pass Raw Bar is located on a rather isolated stretch of Highway C-30. It’s only about a ten or fifteen minute drive from Port St. Joe, and it’s also close to Cape San Blas and MexicoBeach.
You won’t believe the laid-back atmosphere at this place! Come in your tank top, shorts, and flip flops, and you’ll be in good company. Get a soft drink, a beer, or a wine cooler from the cooler and find yourself a seat. When you decide what you want, signal the waitress.
You’ll have a choice of oysters – raw, steamed, or baked, and these babies are FRESH! In fact, the ones you eat will have spent the night before in the bay. You can also have steamed or stuffed shrimp, crab legs, or seafood gumbo. For the landlubbers, there are hamburgers, hotdogs, sausage dogs, corndogs, and barbecue sandwiches. Round out your meal with corn-on-the-cob, and end it with key lime pie, cheesecake, or ice cream.
When you visit this place, you don’t just enjoy some of the best seafood you’ve ever eaten. You also get a feel for what “Old Florida” was really like – before the condos, resorts, and high rises went up. It’s a totally unique experience!