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Whitey's Fish Camp

2032 County Road 220, Orange Park, FL - (904) 269-4198
Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on 11/18/2010 8:25:00 PM
Do you really love catfish? Do you enjoy working for your dinner? If so, Whitey's Fish Camp is the place to try fried catfish that has not been farm raised. These beauties are caught wild, then fried up whole (but headless and skinless), and brought to you until you tell your waitress to stop. The catfish are on the small side, so you'll have to pick and nibble your way through them. It's worth the effort, however, for the cornmeal crust is highly seasoned with a wicked crunch, and the meat is creamy-textured, and it's fun discovering all the hiding places for the edible parts. Our waitress Tara asked if we prefer them large or small, informing us that many of her customers like them as small as possible, so they can be eaten bones and all. We chose to leave the bones.

With the catfish comes heavily seasoned fries, good coleslaw, and some of the best hush puppies we had in Florida - fluffy white, onion-laced, and tender-textured. Part way through our pitcher of Bud, Tara rushed out with a bag of ice to drop in the beer. Nice, thoughtful touch. All manner of other local water creatures are available to eat, including the ubiquitous (in Florida these days) alligator tail, local frogs legs, and turtle. There's even something called soft-shell turtle (in season), and we have a hard time imagining how that would be prepared. Boned and filleted catfish are also available, in or out of sandwiches.

Whitey's is really a fish camp, rather than a fish-camp-themed restaurant. You can purchase bait, rent a boat, and catch your own, and there's an RV park on the grounds. The restaurant has an outdoor covered deck in back, along the water, and it's here we recommend you dine. The area around Whitey's is no longer a remote wilderness. You'll pass by shopping centers and country clubs and senior housing developments on your way here. Don't be concerned by that - Whitey's is still a taste of old-school Florida.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
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For under $20, Whitey's keeps delivering catfish to your table until you've had enough. These crusty, moist-meat lovelies are accompanied by cheese-rich au gratin potatoes and hushpuppies with just a hint of onion sweetness.
"For under $20, Whitey's keeps delivering catfish to your table until you've had enough. These crusty, moist-meat lovelies are accompanied by cheese-rich au gratin potatoes and hushpuppies with just a hint of onion sweetness."
Michael Stern





This half-eaten cat' suggests just how easy it is to hoist meat off the skeleton.
"This half-eaten cat' suggests just how easy it is to hoist meat off the skeleton."
Michael Stern


Listed on the menu as a soup, this red beans and rice turns canned beans into a fresh, cajun/gazpacho hybrid with chunks of smoked sausage.  Highly recommended.
"Listed on the menu as a soup, this red beans and rice turns canned beans into a fresh, cajun/gazpacho hybrid with chunks of smoked sausage. Highly recommended."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Pineapple slaw is sweet and happy.
"Pineapple slaw is sweet and happy."
Michael Stern


Fish camp nappery and condiments: paper towels, ketchup, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce.
"Fish camp nappery and condiments: paper towels, ketchup, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce."
Michael Stern


The large automobile parking lot is supplemented by plenty of boat berths for customers who arrive by water.
"The large automobile parking lot is supplemented by plenty of boat berths for customers who arrive by water."
Michael Stern


Whitey's catfish are fried up whole and deliver super-fresh meat enrobed in a crunchy cornmeal crust.
"Whitey's catfish are fried up whole and deliver super-fresh meat enrobed in a crunchy cornmeal crust."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The key lime pie strikes a nice balance between sweet and tart.
"The key lime pie strikes a nice balance between sweet and tart. "
Cliff Strutz


Whitey's supplies just about everything an angler needs to catch his own.
"Whitey's supplies just about everything an angler needs to catch his own."
Michael Stern


Fresh caught catfish indeed!
"Fresh caught catfish indeed!"
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Here's where you want to sit if the weather cooperates.
"Here's where you want to sit if the weather cooperates."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The indoor dining rooms are adorned with fisherman bric-a-brac, including these colorful fishing lures.
"The indoor dining rooms are adorned with fisherman bric-a-brac, including these colorful fishing lures."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Whitey's is right on the water, of course - it's a fish camp.
"Whitey's is right on the water, of course - it's a fish camp."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Whitey's is located by the side of Swimming Pen Creek, off Doctors Lake, which is off of the St. John's river.
"Whitey's is located by the side of Swimming Pen Creek, off Doctors Lake, which is off of the St. John's river."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle



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