Top 10 Southern Seafood Dives
Don't Miss: the Spicy Crab Dip (you can also get a milder version). Blue crabmeat, cream cheese, and spices (served with grilled pita points) make this the ultimate appetizer. For an entrée, try the fire-grilled salmon served with yellow rice and peas and sautéed plaintains with honey butter. The pastry chef's blackberry cobbler à la mode tastes like a sweet slice of summer. Mark Stith
The Crab's Claw: 201 West Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach, NC 28512; (252) 726-8222 or www.crabsclaw.com.
Don't Miss: Oyster stew strikes a perfect balance between sweet and spicy, with kernels of corn, cream, parsley, paprika, and small, flavorful oysters. Save room for the Key lime pie, the real star here. Warner McGowin
J. B.'s Fish Camp & Seafood Restaurant: 859 Pompano Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169; (386) 427-5747 or www.jbsfishcamp.com.
Don't Miss: About the best treasure you'll find here now is flavorful pecan-crusted snapper topped with lemon butter and fresh Drunken Red-fish cooked in a white cream wine sauce. Start with an order of shrimp, grilled or fried. Sit outside on the deck, and watch as the catch is unloaded from the fleet of shrimpboats. Then you'll see why the TopWater Grill is a secret too good to keep. Les Thomas
TopWater Grill: 815 Avenue O, San Leon, TX 77539; (281) 339-1232 or www.topwatergrill.com. Directions: From I-45, take State 517 east to the blinking red light in San Leon, and go right on Ninth Street to the water.
Don't Miss: You'll notice the freshness right away as you wade through the all-you-can-eat buffet and its more than 25 seafood items. If you're not quite that hungry, try the Fresh Fried Shrimp, a small mound of sweet Georgia whites landed right off the coast. No matter what you decide, you must try a cup of their spicy crab stew (accompanying all the entrées and the buffet); it's a must-slurp. Tanner Latham
Pelican Point Restaurant: On the Sapelo River in Crescent, Georgia; (912) 832-4295 or www.pelicanpointseafood.com. Directions: From I-95, take Exit 58, and go east 4 miles. Turn left onto Johnson Road, drive 3 miles, and turn left onto Sapelo Drive. The road dead-ends into the restaurant's parking lot. If using GPS insert: 1398 Sapelo Avenue, Crescent, GA.
Don't Miss: Settle in with a cup of the She-Crab Bisque, and sail on to the Combination Po'boy heaped with fried shrimp and oysters. Tanner Latham
Blow Fly Inn: 1201 Washington Avenue, Gulfport, MS 39507; (228) 896-9812 or www.blowflyinn.com.
Florida: Boon Docks Restaurant, 14854 Bay View Circle, Panama City Beach, FL 32413; (850) 230-0005.
Maryland: Harrison's Chesapeake House, 21551 Chesapeake House Drive, Tilghman Island, MD 21671; (410) 886-2121 or www.chesapeakehouse.com.
South Carolina: Bowens Island Restaurant, 1870 Bowens Island Road, Bowens Island, SC 29412; (843) 795-2757 or www.bowensislandrestaurant.com
Virginia: One Fish-Two Fish, 2109 West Great Neck Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 496-4350 or www.onefish-twofish.com.