A great vacation location requires some good places to eat out and Cedar Key has many. Our favorite two were Tony’s and Kona Joe’s.
Tony’s Seafood Restaurant opened its doors in June of 2005 on the small island city of Cedar Key, three miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. Featuring fresh gulf seafood, Tony’s 54-seat eatery in the historic downtown area of Cedar Key first introduced its famous clam chowder after being open just one month.Chef Eric, Tony’s founder and owner, created the amazing recipe right in Tony’s tiny little kitchen while working on a variety of other new dishes.
Folks constantly try to guess the ingredients and frequently request the recipe. The secret formula is not available and only Chef Eric knows it’s true identity. Even Bon Appetite magazine’s request for the recipe was politely rejected back in 2007. Many chowder lovers asked Tony’s to consider taking it to the Great Chowder Cook-off held in June each year in Newport, Rhode Island. On Saturday June 6, 2009 Tony’s Cedar Key Clam Chowder won the 28th Annual Great Chowder Cook-off and claimed the title, Clam Chowder World Champion. We went back three times during our two week stay. It was that good.
Our other favorite spot was Kona Joe’s. Gregarious super friendly Joe shares his story, “Having lived in South Florida for many years, we were getting tired of the crowds and the traffic. We were looking for a place where we could get away from it all and relax in a quiet and beautiful setting. We found our paradise in Cedar Key, a small fishing village located on an island in Levy County on the nature coast. Here, we have plenty of nature and water and beautiful sunrises and sunsets...once we found this place, we did not want to leave.
There was only one thing missing: a coffee shop! So we decided to relocate to Cedar Key and open a coffee shop and eatery where folks can get a quick bite to eat without putting a hole in the pocket.” Less than a block from our cottage we had lunch or breakfast on the deck several times and it was all very good. Or as Mrs. T. described the chicken salad sandwich “fantastic.”
Another option across the street from our cottage was a fish and fruit market. We bought "cooked blue crab" and several varieties of fresh caught fish whose names escape me right now but all good. Nope we didn't starve at all.