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Singleton's Seafood Shack

4728 Ocean St., Mayport, FL - (904) 246-4442
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/18/2012 1:58:00 PM
If ever the Encyclopedia of Roadfood gets written and it needs a perfect example of a Florida seafood shack, Singleton's would fill the bill. It is bigger than most – a sprawling dining room, deck, kitchen and museum annex – but its colorful shackitude is beyond reproach. It is a deliciously déclassé nautical wreck with low ceiling, listing wooden floors, bare wood tables and hard benches. Everything is served in Styrofoam. Utensils are plastic. No-nonsense waitresses reward good customers with such appellations as hon, babe, and dear. And the cuisine is a north coast primer. Yes, there are burgers and barbecue and slaw dogs on the menu, but they are immaterial. What matters is nut-sweet shrimp that fairly burst with flavor, briny oysters sheathed in fragile crust, devil crab that is moist and seasoned with eye-opening panache.

There is a southern accent to most plates of local seafood. Every meal comes with a pair of hushpuppies clad in a red gold crust that surrounds insides that are as moist as cake. The day I dined, the vegetable du jour was collard greens: limp leaves that are vaguely sweet, as earthy tasting as tobacco and yet deliriously healthful. I also had a good bowl of Minorcan clam chowder, a specialty from down St. Augustine way, in which datil peppers provide a nice buzz to soup that is loaded with flavorful clams.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Collard Greens
Clam Chowder
Three Item Combo
Banana Cream Pie
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For those who cannot decide, Singleton's menu offers a three-item combo for $19.95. This one is shrimp, oysters, and a deviled crab. Shrimp is the best of the three and judging by what everybody else was eating, the #1 dish at Singleton's. The Styrofoam platter also holds French fries, a pair of hushpuppies, collard greens (vegetable of the day), tartar sauce and cocktail sauce.
"For those who cannot decide, Singleton's menu offers a three-item combo for $19.95. This one is shrimp, oysters, and a deviled crab. Shrimp is the best of the three and judging by what everybody else was eating, the #1 dish at Singleton's. The Styrofoam platter also holds French fries, a pair of hushpuppies, collard greens (vegetable of the day), tartar sauce and cocktail sauce."
Michael Stern





Excellent collard greens! Verdant, porky, profound. While good and spicy on their own, I couldn't help but avail myself of a few of the hot sauces supplied on the table to perk them up even further.
"Excellent collard greens! Verdant, porky, profound. While good and spicy on their own, I couldn't help but avail myself of a few of the hot sauces supplied on the table to perk them up even further."
Michael Stern


The one down note at Singleton's was banana cream pie. Although the waitress promised it would be refreshing, it was not. I found it pretty gummy, and the blobs of ersatz whippo on top didn't help.
"The one down note at Singleton's was banana cream pie. Although the waitress promised it would be refreshing, it was not. I found it pretty gummy, and the blobs of ersatz whippo on top didn't help."
Michael Stern


Florida's east coast is serious shrimp country. When one of Singleton's pink crescents snaps between your teeth and spurts sweet juices, you understand the local passion.
"Florida's east coast is serious shrimp country. When one of Singleton's pink crescents snaps between your teeth and spurts sweet juices, you understand the local passion."
Michael Stern


Curated in a, shall we say, unfussy manner, Singleton's boat museum annex is filled with handsome wooden models as well as an assortment of chairs.
"Curated in a, shall we say, unfussy manner, Singleton's boat museum annex is filled with handsome wooden models as well as an assortment of chairs."
Michael Stern


I love museums that directly reveal the passions of their curator. Mr. Singleton, a motorboat man, here assembled three outboard motors. Lacking a museum catalog, I have to assume that these represent steps in the progress of motorboating.
"I love museums that directly reveal the passions of their curator. Mr. Singleton, a motorboat man, here assembled three outboard motors. Lacking a museum catalog, I have to assume that these represent steps in the progress of motorboating."
Michael Stern


Just yards from the terminal of the St. Johns River Ferry, Singleton's is not for the fastidious epicure. But it is a destination for north coast devotees of sleeves-up seafood served in casual abundance.
"Just yards from the terminal of the St. Johns River Ferry, Singleton's is not for the fastidious epicure. But it is a destination for north coast devotees of sleeves-up seafood served in casual abundance."
Michael Stern


Taken from Jaxport Ferry on the St. Johns River.
"Taken from Jaxport Ferry on the St. Johns River."
Eric Johnson


Although meals are ultra-casual and relatively inexpensive (seafood-wise), Singleton's affords a million-dollar view. This picture was taken from the screened-in dining room that perches right over the water.
"Although meals are ultra-casual and relatively inexpensive (seafood-wise), Singleton's affords a million-dollar view. This picture was taken from the screened-in dining room that perches right over the water."
Michael Stern


Just because the service is unsophisticated and the china made of Styrofoam doesn't mean the Minorcan clam chowder isn't elegant.
"Just because the service is unsophisticated and the china made of Styrofoam doesn't mean the Minorcan clam chowder isn't elegant."
Michael Stern


Fried Shrimp and mahi mahi.
"Fried Shrimp and mahi mahi."
Eric Males



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