This photo was made circa 2011. The shrimp boats are still the biggest attraction for visitors to Darien. The Gale family has been involved in shrimping these waters for generations.
The Knight family opened this seafood market in 1937. The iconic sign may be nearly as old as the business itself. Charles Knight continued the tradition and kept Colquitt County supplied with the best fresh seafood available. The market closed in 2015, after nearly 80 years in business.
Moultrie Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Steffens Restaurant has been a Kingsland and Highway 17 landmark since it first opened in 1948. Trellis Crews writes: I owned & operated Steffens Restaurant from August 23, 1989 until December 31, 2007. This is the original location which is about 4 miles from the Florida line. As a note of interest I worked there as a waitress in the late 60’s before the interstate I 95 came through & in the 80’s (a fire shut it down in the 70’s) with the previous owners Darrell & Willie Mae Dyal who purchased it from the Steffens family 23 years earlier. It retains much of the charm of the roadside diners that once thrived along the Coast Highway when it was the main route to Florida on the Eastern Seaboard.
The restaurant is almost always busy, attracting both locals and road trippers.
This a soul food-seafood restaurant. The murals are nice.
Altman’s is one of my favorite restaurants in McIntosh County and whether you’re a local or a first time visitor, you’ll feel equally welcome. Their specialty, of course, is local shrimp, but in addition to other local seafood specialties, they have some of the best fried chicken around.
That tide clock in the background isn’t for decoration; the men who bring in the shrimp eat here. That’s always a good sign.
The daily buffet is small but always has something for everyone. Their shrimp and brown gravy heaped over rice (below) may be an acquired taste for some but it’s a local favorite.
Considered by many to be one of the best seafood restaurants in Georgia*, Speed’s Kitchen is an unassuming place, impervious to aesthetics but instead completely focused on the quality of the food they serve.
They have very limited hours and they don’t take credit cards but aficionados will tell you it’s well worth the wait. For the impatient, they note on their menu that they’d rather you come back when you’re not in a rush.
Find them on Facebook or Trip Advisor for menu, location, and hours.
*- Shellman Bluff has another iconic local seafood restaurant, Hunters Cafe. We’ll visit there on our next trip.
Passing by this rather plain metal building you might not even give it any notice, but to locals, it’s a landmark. Poteet Seafood has been a leading distributor of Wild Georgia Shrimp for over 35 years. I am passionate about documenting and promoting these places because the people behind them really are a vanishing breed. Due to the prevalence of pond-raised Asian shrimp and the lower price of that product, combined with higher fuel costs, it’s harder than ever for independent fishermen to survive. Though I personally don’t buy any imported shrimp, I understand that not everyone is lucky enough to live near the coast and have easy access to the product. But by all means, please buy Wild Georgia Shrimp whenever you can. If you live far from the coast and just have to have some, you can order from Poteet’s website, linked above.
The old dock here is no longer used due to disrepair but the early-20th-century dock house [also known as the Valona Fish House] is a survivor. [As the sign clearly states, don’t trespass]. Beth Walters-Parker notes that this was Captain Hunter’s place. The Valona Shrimp Company, which operates in this area, is perhaps the oldest shrimping businesses in Georgia.
When the weather on the coast turns cooler an invitation to an oyster roast is the one most coveted by locals. Whether an impromptu affair in one’s backyard or an orchestrated event benefiting a special cause, these gatherings are central to the folklife of the coast and it’s not a recent phenomenon. The Guale people perfected the art of roasting oysters long before Europeans ever arrived.
Oyster etiquette, if such a thing exists, requires no more than an open fire, a sheet of metal (often the inverted hood of an old junk car or truck), and enough wet burlap to cover your bivalves. Beer and other adult beverages also figure mightily into the ritual.
Folks who live along the Gulf of Mexico will argue for their oysters’ superiority but they only have size on their side. It’s true that ours live in complex razor-sharp beds known as clusters and as a result don’t get as large as Gulf oysters, but what we sacrifice in size we more than make up in taste. Georgia’s oysters are more flavorful, hands down, with a sweet saltiness not found in their Gulf counterparts.
The tender at this particular roast (known as Clam Jam) benefiting Altamaha Riverkeeper at Altama Plantation was busy all evening taking shovelfuls of freshly steamed oysters from fire to table in short order.
Newcomers to oyster roasts are often put off by the shucking but there are always folks around who will help the uninitiated. Most locals have their own gloves and oyster knives. Tables with long legs that position the oysters in easy reach of the diner are essential at a large gathering like this one.
Thanks to Jen Hilburn for inviting me to Clam Jam 2017. Mike McCall and I had fun showing guests around the Altama property while waiting for supper.