The Hungry Tarpon at mile marker 77.5 bayside at Robbie’s Marina has served dinner for slightly more than a year and the executive chef reports brisk business as locals and tourists flock in for the eclectic offerings.
Chef Joseph Sassine said the restaurant served breakfast and lunch for decades, but began staying open for evening dining in 2009. The menu varies, with different daily specials.
“Today I have come up with a sweet potato crab fritter with Caribbean cocktail sauce,” Sassine said during a recent visit. “We specialize in local cuisine with Florida and tropical flavors and use only the freshest ingredients, including fish caught right here in these waters.”
Sassine added that diners who are familiar with his creations are welcome to order dishes not found on the menu.
The atmosphere is decidedly “Keys casual” with room for 28 diners inside, another 28 on an outside deck overlooking Lignumvitae Pass and a private room that can accommodate 15 for special occasions and small parties. Sassine said reservations are always recommended and when the private room is booked a special selection of dishes may be arranged. For reservations or information, call (305) 664-0535.
“Just call ahead and we can do anything you want,” he said.
The restaurant opens at 6:30 a.m. each day for breakfast, but has no firm closing time.
“If someone comes in and we’re about to close, we won’t turn them away. We’ll welcome them inside and feed them,” Sassine said.
Robbie’s Marina and The Hungry Tarpon are owned by Michael and Annie Reckwerdt. Annie said she is thrilled to have Sassine as the executive chef.
“You can get fish and seafood everywhere around here, but Chef Joseph does such a special job with everything he prepares. He’s a food artist,” she said. “This place is like the Keys used to be. It’s beautiful for waterside dining and real Keys food.”
A visit to Robbie’s would not be complete without feeding a few hungry tarpon at the marina behind the restaurant named for the fish with the voracious appetite.
The Hungry Tarpon also conducts cooking classes one evening a month. Sassine said they fill up weeks in advance.