By Liesel Schmidt
July 19th, 2019
Fried, grilled, baked, or slurped raw from the shell, oysters are the everyman of seafood:
a blank canvas for a variety of preparations and flavorings that can make it a millionaire’s
delicacy or a beach bum’s favorite bar snack.
Regardless of its classiness – or lack thereof – oysters are a beloved part of cuisines all
over the world. Here on the Gulf Coast, we have some of the finest specimens right off
The best way to eat them is a subject of much debate, conducted, no doubt, over platters
and platters of every iteration imaginable. Tastings would ensue, followed by lively
discussions as to the pros and cons, the failings and the successes. But no final answer
could ever possibly be reached with absolute certainty, as the oyster is far too fantastic a
gift to confine it to one singular way of being relished.
Stinky’s Fish Camp
Offering its own strong points for the debate, Stinky’s Fish Camp features a plethora of
preparations, citing “all day, all ways,” and they seem to be taking it quite literally. One
can order up every conceivable version, from shooters served raw with house made
Bloody Mary mix and classics like Oysters Rockefeller, to some of the most popular
players on their oyster menu: baked oysters topped with smoked Gruyere cheese and
crispy bacon. For something with a little more of a kick, try the BBQ baked oysters.
Can’t decide on just one? Order the oyster log or the oyster platter to feast on a full
sampling of their best sellers and get a taste of something new.
“Oysters are one of my favorite foods from the sea, with their brininess, succulent flavor,
and unique texture,” said owner/Chef Jim Richard. “For me, fresh, simple ceviche is one
of the best ways to top a freshly-shucked oyster, but a traditional crispy oyster po’boy is
always great, too!”
Naturally, Stinky’s offers its own version of the widely loved sandwich, frying them up
to crisp, golden perfection and piling them onto a French roll dressed with mayo and
crisp lettuce. Whether you fancy a good shuck’n’suck or crave a hefty handheld, Stinky’s
proves that the world truly is your oyster.
AJ’s Grayton Beach
Getting in on the oyster harvest with their own impressively tasty menu of all things
schuckable, AJ’s at Grayton Beach offers them steamed, baked, and raw, sourcing them
from Texas, Louisiana, and nearby Apalachicola.
“We want our oysters to come from the very best places in the country so that they have
the best flavor,” said Don Bartley, general manager at AJ’s. “Oysters from Apalachicola
are my personal favorites and are always some of the sweetest-tasting.”
Taking a top spot in their baked offerings, the Oysters Italiano are broiled to tender
perfection and topped with a flavorful blend of Parmesan and Romano cheeses and finely
minced garlic and herbs. If you’re more in the mood for a classic, the Oysters Rockefeller
is a perennial favorite, topping freshly shucked succulence and broiling it together with
spinach, herbs, and crisp bacon bits dressed to the nines in a rich hollandaise sauce.
Naturally, no menu in the Gulf South would be worth its salt without a good showing of
fried oysters, and AJ’s fries them up fine, serving them with a side of fresh-made creamy
coleslaw and tender hushpuppies.
Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar
Harvesting some fine specimens of its own, Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar may not offer quite
as vast a menu of oysters, but what they do serve up is more than ample in flavor. Adding
some kick to their menu of shell-shucked beauties, the Bacon Cheddar Jalapeño oysters
are all one could hope, given the promise of such a triumvirate of toppings, serving them
broiled in the shell and melted to gooey golden perfection.
“All of our oyster dishes are popular, and that’s something we credit to the fact that we
use such high-quality ingredients and source our oysters from Apalachicola to ensure that
we offer our guests the best oysters,” said head of marketing Kevin Boyle.
Love a good hit of garlic? The Garlic Parmesan tops off the beloved bivalves with butter,
minced garlic, fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon to balance it
all out, baking them to meld the flavors together in harmony. If going au naturel is more
your style, Shunk Gulley’s raw oysters are not one to disappoint; though for some, their
raw and naked state might seem to be begging for a good skinny dip straight on into the
fryer. Hand-breaded and fried crispy gold, the Fried Oysters are served with a side of
French fries and coleslaw to chase away the last traces of hunger.
Whatever your fancy might be, the restaurants of South Walton have the perfect solution
to satisfy cravings for oysters, so get ready to come one, come all. Go ahead, and shuck
Stinky’s Fish Camp is located at 5960 West County Highway 30a, Santa Rosa Beach.
Open Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more
information, call 850-267-3053 or visit www.stinkysfishcamp.com .
AJ’s Grayton Beach is located at 63 Defuniak Street, Santa Rosa Beach. Open daily noon
to 2 a.m. For more information, call 850-231-4102 or visit www.ajsgrayton.com .
Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar is located at 1875 South Highway 393, Santa Rosa Beach. Open
daily 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, call 850-622-2733 or visit