Aug 16, 2022 - Food and Drink

Feast on fried frog legs at Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe in Ochopee

The inside of Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe.
Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

Have you worked up an appetite stomping around the Big Cypress swamp looking for giant pythons?

  • Well, you're in luck. There's one restaurant in the 725,000-acre national preserve: Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe in Ochopee, a faded throwback to old Florida that serves swamp vittles like fried frog legs, gator nuggets, and, sometimes, snake.

Slow down: If you're in a hurry, this is not the place for you. A gentleman took our order, the Swamp Basket, then just didn't come back. After about 30 minutes, when I went to check, he slapped his forehead and apologized.

  • That's when I noticed the chalkboard behind him: "If you want fast food, keep traveling 42 miles west or 66 miles east."

What they're saying: "With so much of modern Florida pallid and boring β€” lacking any appreciable sense of place β€” it is always a pleasure to visit the hinterlands and find that Joanie's is exactly as I left it," wrote famed Florida chronicler Jeff Klinkenberg in 2007. "Dimly lit, cigarette butts standing at attention in the back porch ashtrays, the possibility of encountering something reptilian on or off the plate."

  • We did notice the gator in the canal about 10 feet behind Joanie's.

If you go: You might call first to make sure they're open: (239) 695-2682.

A chalkboard inside Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe.
Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios
fried frog legs
Frog legs in a "Swamp Basket" with fried shrimp and grouper and french fries. Photo: Selene San Felice/Axios
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