123 Bayshore Way, Goodland, FL
It seems that everything that is smaller is special in South Florida. The Key deer are miniature versions of the white-tailed deer and are unique and famous because of their size. The very special deer that inhabit the Florida Keys especially around Big Pine Key and Little Torch Key generally grow to less than a yardstick at shoulder height, and when the fawns are born, they only weigh about 2 to 4 pounds.
The Key lime is a smaller version of the cultivated seedless lime we buy at the grocery store today, but the supermarket lime is only a hybrid and was created in the early 20th century. The Key lime grown in the Florida Keys was the original citrus brought back to the West Indies by Columbus on his second returning voyage, but this very special and tangy fruit was popular with sailors and came originally from Indonesia and Malaysia.
Over the dedicated decades of tradition, there are special Florida treats that just can’t be missed, and when visitors arrive today, the hopes and expectations are the same. A glimpse of the Florida flora such as palm trees and hibiscus help to complete the tropical experience, and sighting unique fauna such as the Key deer, alligators, and dolphins are only icing on cake.
For some nevertheless, there is a pursuit for more. There is always a search for that first Florida experience that we all remember from our parents taking us on vacation during childhood. Remember that first alligator spotted by dad in a hidden location, or that unforgettable culinary creation that we have always tried to replicate?
Don’t we all dream of finding that little out-of-the-way hidden restaurant on the water that only the locals know about? How about, a special, small, and intimate, waterside dining experience that smacks of old films like “Key Largo”?
Waiting at 123 Bayshore Way in Goodland, the quest for eclectic character is complete and a spice of Key lime life has been found. Marker 8 Fish Eating Grill, Steak and Seafood is a small but special local restaurant on the water hidden behind a winding drive through subtropical mangroves.
With the new year upon us and a full moon on the rise, the Culinary Adventuress and I and traveled down the mangrove track to Goodland and arrived at “Marker 8.” After emerging from the mangroves and arriving in Goodland, the Marker 8 restaurant is easily found on Goodland Bay.
With a big smile and a warm welcome, Christina greeted our group and we settled in for a dockside dining experience with exceptional service, incredible value, and a Florida Keys flair for the very freshest seafood.
With Cristina’s kind attention and suggestions, we opted to share starters. For only $6, Chef Jim Ketchum’s homemade smoked fish dip served on broadleaf lettuce with lemon and crackers is a bountiful portion of locally smoked fish, spicy seasoning and secret ingredients. Whenever docking or driving to Marker 8, guests will find this starter to be sensational. We also thoroughly enjoyed Marker 8’s Buffalo shrimp, which are served butterflied with Crystal hot sauce for $7.
Dinner at Marker 8 is not unlike dining at a restaurant or waterside Inn nestled in the Florida Keys and with Key Largo, Key limes, and Key deer, only another county away, Chef Ketchum’s Marker 8 Key Largo Grouper special is just about as special as anything in South Florida.
With a generous fresh grouper filet — Cajun-grilled — atop slices of avocado, the Key Largo Grouper at Marker 8 is the epitome of a signature entrée for a very special small and quaint out-of-the-way restaurant on the water.
Again, with Cristina’s helpful suggestions, we tried another excellent choice that was the grilled permit — a local favorite — served with a roasted red pepper sauce with black beans and rice. We also enjoyed the spicy, Mexican-style grouper with black beans and rice.
The menu at Marker 8 is certainly easy on expenses and once again offers the suggestion that small and special in South Florida has a real appeal. All the fresh grouper entrées are only $16. A char-grilled or New Orleans-style blacked rib eye steak is only $14, chicken Marsala or picatta only $14, fresh shucked and batter-dipped fried oysters only $14 and soft shell crabs only $15. All entrées include a choice of baked potato or pasta. A kids menu is available for $5 and yes, Marker 8 has delicious homemade Key lime pie for that very special dessert we all remember from childhood.
Marker 8 Fish Eating Grill, Steak and Seafood is open for breakfast from 7 until 11 a.m.; lunch is served from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.; and dinner for the winter season is now being served on the waterfront at a great dockside setting from 5 until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Daily specials and future entertainment information is available at 393-0888
A beer and wine happy hour opens on the Marker 8 docks from 3 until 6 p.m., and a happy-dog-hour is a draft beer and a hot dog for $3 every day from 3 p.m. until close.
With old Florida décor, wooden beamed ceilings, porthole windows, a tin roof and more, Marker 8 is a new age, old Florida classic that certainly proves that in South Florida, when things are small and unique, they become more special.