Our family of four was looking for a seafood place that wouldn't break the bank. We relied on trusty tripadvisor reviews and settled on Rick's Crab Trap in the middle of Fort Walton Beach. For what it's worth, I also checked out Urban Spoon, and there were some happy diners (68%) on there as well.
Rick's is easy enough to find right on Eglin Parkway, one of the main drags into town from the north. It's near some swanky shops at the Uptown Station, but the building that contains Rick's is a stark contrast to those shops. It's in an older building, looks like it should house a boat repair shop or something. Once inside, it reminds me of an old diner or dive bar. Clean, neat, but everything a little dated, a couple of the booths with torn seats, with televisions hanging on the wall.
We were a little worried. 7pm on a Saturday evening in July, and maybe 3-4 other tables were occupied, but it was very clean. We were greeted and seated quickly by a friendly hostess.
Within a minute or two, our server stopped by to take a drink order. She was very friendly, but didn't introduce herself (I had to ask for her name). Very big smile, but she seemed a little nervous. She left to get our drinks, but came back in about 5-6 minutes to announce they didn't have the wine my wife ordered. Another 5-6 minutes and she came back with the beverages.
My wife and I ordered a shrimp cocktail to split. After waiting about 20 minutes, our server stopped by to tell us there was something wrong with their boiler but the shrimp was forthcoming. Another 10 minutes or so, I flagged her down and cancelled the shrimp cocktail.
My daughter isn't a big seafood fan, so she ordered a 10 oz NY strip steak ($18). It was served with new potatoes and broccoli. My daughter subbed garlic toast for the hush puppies. Her meal was cooked to order and well prepared.
My daughter's friend ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($7 -- she apparently doesn't like seafood either). It was served with a generous portion of fries. She was very happy with her sandwich.
My wife ordered the grilled amberjack ($17). It was also served with the same potatoes & broccoli. She ordered a side of coleslaw, and was happy with the quality of her food, but not the delivery time.
I ordered the fried catfish ($15). It was served with fries and hush puppies. I was expecting more of a whole fish, but instead it was a number of strips, like chicken tenders. It was a massive amount of food and was delicious, served with a pretty standard tartar sauce, but both the catfish and the fries were lukewarm. The hush puppies were warm and tasty. I suspect it had been sitting in the window for awhile.
All in all, not a bad dinner, but the wait for food was just too long, especially with a testy hungry teen and a menopausal wife. We're glad we waited it out, but for a minute or two we seriously considered walking. We just couldn't understand what was taking so long, as there was only about 10 occupied tables at the peak of our visit.
If I had it to do over, I would not return. The prices weren't bad, but a less than thrilling experience on the last night of our otherwise glorious vacation. They don't all have to be home runs, but I expect at least a base hit. This was a walk at best. The staff was cordial and friendly, but I suspect it was their lack of experience or competence that caused the delay.
It's way off the beach (actually about a mile) but I'm not one to pay for scenery if the food is good. We passed the Old Bay Steamer on Santa Rosa Blvd on the way off Okaloosa Island to Fort Walton Beach. Looked like there was a pretty good crowd there. The reviews were good for Old Bay, but the prices are through the roof, and I saw one comment that said they used frozen food. On our way BACK from Rick's there was literally a line around the building waiting for tables, so something must be working for them. (I used this to justify why I didn't want to go there. The others in my party bought it!)
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