You would imagine that South Florida would have a wealth of options for waterfront dining. We have miles of waterfront. Yet here are surprisingly few restaurants directly on the water.
Fortunately there is Black Point Marina in Cutler Bay, a mere seven miles south of Pinecrest—about the same distance as downtown Miami—with its Ocean Grill.
When I first drove into the large and mostly empty parking lot I thought I was in the wrong place. But as I drove closer, I was relieved to see that the Grill was open and bustling with patrons. The bar was full of what seemed to be regulars: Sun kissed boaters and fishermen sipping cold beers and munching smoked fish dip and tortilla chips. Luckily, I got the last table on the waterfront deck.
My table overlooked lush mangroves and a few boats docked for the night. The sun was reflecting on the calm water and beginning to set, the sky taking on a pink hue. It was very Key West—there was a live band playing Hotel California and that wonderful smell of the sea. My server explained that this is one of the few remaining spots where you can still see saltwater crocodiles. To help diners spot marine life as the sun goes down there are underwater lights along the deck. I only spotted a few mullets and tarpon, but manatees, alligators, and dolphins are known to make regular appearances.
The menu is straightforward Florida renditions of American fish and burger staples. I started off with cracked conch; it was a perfectly battered hunk of pillowy mollusk fried to a golden crisp. It arrived piping hot, hissing when I squeezed lemon on it.
Snapper, Cobia, Grouper, Tilefish, Hogfish—with so many options, I didn’t know what to order. My served raved about the grilled hogfish special and I accepted his recommendation. The fish was prepared simply with key lime butter and served over rice with sautéed vegetables. It just about melted in my mouth, as really fresh seafood should. I closed with a slice of their custardy key lime pie. Tart and tasty, it is made daily on premise and quickly sells out. Don’t even try to ask for the recipe; they won’t give it.
Black Point Ocean Grill’s roster features live music Wednesday to Sunday. There is also a daily happy hour (3 to 6 pm) for everything behind the bar, along with discounted appetizers ($4!) like blackened shrimp, eggplant bruschetta and tuna poke.
Black Point is pleasantly uncomplicated, with friendly servers and laid-back patrons in khaki shorts and fishing-themed T-shirts. This is vintage Florida.