A historical landmark by any standards, Joe’s Stone Crab is the rare exception in famous restaurants that lives up to its hype and actually exceeds it. Housed in a cool old building that embodies the Mediterranean style dominant in much of South Florida, the exterior belies the love affair with local produce (think citrus) with its lemon yellow and lime green touches without being tacky. Once inside, the Mediterranean influences continue, but give way to the feel of an old-school restaurant with starched white linens and a dark-suited staff, that is both semi-formal yet approachable. Make no mistake about it: despite the fact that the restaurant closes for 5 months every year, most of the staff return year after year, making this a place feel like a home where they are pleased to share a piece of it with you.
Of course, the star of the show are the stone crabs. They come to you already cracked, so the hard part is done and are served with fresh slices of lime. Delicately flavorful, the claws are no joke and you could easily make a meal on just them alone, but the rest of the menu is pretty outstanding too, especially the fried chicken. Seriously, it is out of this world and might, in fact, be the tastiest thing on the menu, and that is saying a lot. We have yet to meet a side dish there that we didn’t like, and frankly, that holds true for the entire menu.
The wine list is extensive and also features a Captain’s List in case you are looking to have a true blowout meal and there is also a full bar. Servers are knowledgeable well-versed in the beverage selections, with several pursuing additional training on their own time, so they are pleased and eager to help you navigate the lists to make the right selection(s).
The restaurant does NOT take reservations. Period. But waiting at the bar is an adventure unto itself, so if you make the trip, enjoy the show and stay for an experience that lives up to the reputation and then some.