Tucked away 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 Chef Marcus Vega's menu 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 blackened, grilled or fried, 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 Michael take care of you with his big smile and boat load of Florida charm.
The waterside entrance to Tide Tables with its outdoor carpet of crushed sea shells
The outdoor bar with tall bar stools where you can enjoy a cold beer and order from Tide Tables full menu of delicious fish and seafood
A cold beer that had seen better days but "hit the spot"
A bottle of Pinot Grigio served on ice in a big rubber boot
Our canine companion Hayley the gorgeous Golden Doodle from the next table
Tide Tables short but sensational menu
Grouper Bites with homemade tartar sauce and fresh lemon
Tide Tables famous Gumbo
Blacked Fish Tacos with coleslaw and baked beans
A 'Mainsail Basket' of Grilled Scallops with coleslaw and french fries
Combination Basket of scallops, jumbo shrimp and Mahi Mahi
'Mojo' Southern Fried Chicken with Coleslaw and french fries
Grilled Grouper with coleslaw and french fries
Moist, delicious and freshly caught that morning
Florida Pelicans waiting for their lunch of tiny little fish leaping out from the water