Turns out a bear was also anxious to eat at Joanie’s Blue Crab Café just before I got there last week. The screen door had been shredded, and some of the furniture on the patio had been disturbed. Hey the crab cakes are just that good!
If you drive east on Highway 41 to Miami, I’m sure you’ve seen Joanie’s. It’s pretty much the only restaurant for the entire 100-mile stretch of The Everglades between Naples and Miami. There also used to be a gas station associated with Joanie’s, which is technically located in the town of Ochopee. Neither exist anymore except for the littlest post office in America which is still open at the side of the highway and a scattering of houses. So when Joanie’s proclaims to serve the “Best gator in town!” that’s a pretty fair statement.
Joanie’s is a very funky, very fun restaurant with loads of old photos and memorabilia lining the walls and virtually every inch of free surface. There’s a good amount of Everglades attitude going on too. A blackboard reads, “If you want fast food keep travelling 42 miles west or 66 miles east. Happy Trails, ya’ll.” Frankly, if you’re here at Joanie’s in the middle of the Everglades what could possibly be rushing you anyway? Sit down at one of the wooden booths, listen to some live music and enjoy their homemade crab cakes with fries and some really good hush puppies.
It’s definitely worth a stop or even a special trip to Joanie’s for an Old Florida experience. The menu is full of Florida food like gator, blue crab, frog legs and shrimp, and the less adventurous can find the basic burger or chicken too. During the summer though, the menu is extremely limited, especially during the week. Weekends are a little better and the live music is probably on too. For hours, menu and entertainment it’s a very very good idea to call Joanie’s first to check what’s going on. They are only open for lunch from about 11-5 and are closed on Wednesdays in the summer.
Joanie’s Blue Crab Café
39395 Hwy 41
Ochopee, Fl 34141
Crab Cake sandwich with French fries and Cole Slaw or Salad $15.99
Hush Puppies $14.99
Fresh Peel and Eat Shrimp ½ lb. $11.99
Key Lime Pie $4.99