Locally caught seafood, beautiful views and 455 years of history is the charm of MayPort Village. Established on May 1, 1562, it is one of America’s oldest port towns. The famous A1A highway is the only way through this small fishing settlement leading to Florida’s St. Johns River Ferry, in operation since 1948, landing you on Fort George Island, FL.
The ferry boat Jean Ribault (named for the founder of MayPort) is located next door to Singleton’s Seafood Shack. Opened in 1969 by Capt. Ray and Ann Singleton who fed the locals and shrimpers their meals in a small shack that has grown addition after addition and now leads out on to the St Johns River.
Capt. Ray was a 9th generation of Minorcan, indentured European workers brought to Florida in 1768 to clear the mangroves and settle the area. So with a touch of Italian, Greece and British in his blood and using local fishing knowledge he created his famous seafood Minorcan Chowder, an instant hit and now a staple on the menu.
This sleepy old fishing village is home for the Singleton’s, who still serve up fresh seafood with a daily dose of river vessel watching, now ran by son Dean Singleton. They keep the old ways and believe the fishing shack is more than a restaurant, it’s a museum and a piece of history for everyone to enjoy.
Back in 2010 Food Networks Diners, Drive ins and Dives with host Guy Fieri enjoyed their visit and raved about the historical find. Out of those three choices, it’s certainly the “dive” restaurant, but others have referred to Singleton’s as a rustic old fish camp. Some just call it a historical lunch break. Tourists, Military and locals delight in a variety of fresh local dishes served up picnic style while dining along side the St. Johns River. It’s the welcoming picnic tables and styrofoam plates that keep this seafood royal humble.
The raw oysters served on this day were from Louisiana and the rest of our seafood dishes were caught local with southern sides of collard greens, black beans and thick French fries. Their hush puppies are everything I love about cornbread, served up in little bites of deep fried nuggets.
The shrimp and crab burgers are a must try for a fresh seafood alternative to a hamburger. Enjoying a late afternoon with a couple of their fresh starters is nice way to pair one of their specialty drinks like – steamed crab legs, smoked fish dip and Minorcan Mixer creating blended flavors of smoky, salty and a refreshing light fruit taste lingering on your palate. Order up the grilled scallops and a couple of Mayport Mutiny Margaritas for a beautiful sunset dockside.
They offer six of their specialty drinks for just $7 daily. Their menu has so many great seafood choices you will need more than one visit. Making sure your hungry enough to enjoy it all is not easy to do, but they will box it up to go for you.
We enjoyed walking some of our meal off in the restaurant admiring the walls. The décor of the shack is old nautical, newspaper clippings and the boat museum is full of charming wooden boat models that Capt. Ray built himself. You can see in these boats the time and love he put into each one.
The Singleton Seafood Shack may not have marble floors or flashy prices awaiting you, but they do have hometown friendliness and fresh seafood for you to enjoy with your views.
Remember at Singleton’s Not to bother the cats – Do not feed the birds – Pay for your drinks and meals. Enjoy the views and the hospitality served up “Free” daily.