Tucked away on the southeast end of Cortez bridge in the historic fishing village of Cortez, is Tide Tables Restaurant & Marina at marker 48. Opened in 2014 by co-owners Karen Bell from A.P Bell Fish House & Star Fish Trading Company and Bobby and Gwen Woodson who were involved with the Seafood Shack, Tide Tables is full of old Florida charm, from the crushed-shell parking area to the open-air tiki bar and picnic tables overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, boat docks and fleet of watchful pelicans. In late 2013, Woodson and Bell were approached by the nearby trailer park's owners, who also own the land where the restaurant sits. "They knew it was a little piece of gold sitting here," Gwen said, adding that the trailer park owners were familiar with Woodson and Bell's backgrounds, so the fit was perfect.
Seated at the bar on a perfect sunny afternoon, we chose from the menu’s selection of fresh fish and seafood "that's so fresh it's barely stopped swimming." Starting with a basket of Grouper Bites served with tartar sauce and rémoulade, and a bottle of Pinot Grigio served on ice in a big rubber boot, dining at Tide Tables is causal and friendly with remarkably good food. The fresh Gulf Grouper, served fried, blackened or grilled, arrives on the docks of A.P. Bell each morning, and comes with homemade coleslaw and a choice of french fries or baked beans; the large 'Mainsail Basket' of Sea Scallops are plump and perfectly cooked; the Blackened Fish Tacos are topped with coleslaw, cheddar jack cheese and sesame ginger sauce; and the homemade Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo is not to be missed. Arrive by boat or car, but get there early on a sunny day and let Jesse take care of you with a wink, a smile and a boat load of Florida charm.
Arriving at Tide Tables by boat with docks available for lunch guests
A well fed pelican keeping watch for wayward fish
The outdoor Tiki Bar and picnic tables
The Tide tables menu features fresh fish, seafood and lots of Florida fare
Our server preparing our wine "bucket"
A rubber boot "wine bucket" filled with ice and a bottle of Pinot Grigio!
The cold glass of chilled Pinot Grigio launched our lunch
Bags of water with a penny hang from the curling of the Tiki-Bar to ward off flies that are repelled with the prism the water makes in the sun...or so Jesse says
Two tiny tasting bowls of Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
A basket of Grouper Bites with tartar sauce
A full bowl of Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Traditional Oyster Crackers for the Gumbo
Grilled Grouper served on lettuce with tartar sauce, coleslaw and carrot raisin salad
Three Blackened Fish Tacos served with cheddar jack cheese, sesame ginger sauce,
coleslaw and crisp french fries
Blackened Fish Tacos with a splash of Tide Tables homemade 'Category 5' hot sauce
A 'Mainsail Basket' of large Sea Scallops served on a bed of lettuce with coleslaw,
tartar sauce, french fries and a wedge of lemon
A couple dining at one of Tide Tables varnished picnic tables but there's additional seating available overlooking the water or at the bar
After a great lunch we headed along the dock to our friends Linda and Collins boat,
for a languid ride home along the Intercoastal to Longboat Key