The Crazy Lobster: Same elegant views, different lobster

The following article appears in the 2024 spring issue of The Food & Wine Guide for South Walton presented by 30A Food & Wine, available now on news racks around the area.

By Liesel Schmidt
April 19, 2024

SANDESTIN – While the incredible sunset views offered from their second-floor balcony may not have changed in the past 23 years, The Crazy Lobster only bears a passing resemblance to the restaurant that was originally launched as Poppy’s Seafood Factory in 2001. After 10 years under that name, the owners rebranded as Poppy’s Crazy Lobster, specializing in whole lobster and steamer buckets and offering a fun, family atmosphere.

In 2022, the new face of The Crazy Lobster emerged, updating the concept of basing the menu around whole lobster, to appeal to a more contemporary, younger crowd of guests. The result was still all lobster-based, but in fun and creative re-imagined dishes. In addition, they upgraded their bar program to feature hand-crafted cocktails, premium well brands, and an extensive wine program. To fit the new vibe, the restaurant also underwent a major renovation, giving it a more light and airy, more coastal feel.

“We wanted our restaurant’s interior and our food to be more aligned with today’s local foodies,” explained Lindsey Spalding, who co-owns The Crazy Lobster with her husband, Mark.

The Spaldings have a long history with the restaurant. In fact, Mark was the general manager and sommelier for the original Poppy’s Seafood Factory and was part of the opening team. He later took a leave of absence to devote more time to his family, and eventually, the couple entered into a partnership with the original owner, AJ “Poppy” Tusa, and took over the restaurant.

The Crazy Lobster

Recently promoted to executive chef, Jamaican-born Chef Tajay Riley has been with the restaurant for many years and brings to bear his passion for cooking and using fresh Gulf seafood, along with locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes seasonally, and daily specials highlight their unique offerings.

To set them apart from other restaurants of the same ilk, being “unique” is, in fact, one of the driving forces of their menu. Still offering such perennial favorites as simple-yet-deliciously steamed and fried seafood in all its variations, The Crazy Lobster lives up to the “crazy” in their moniker with such dishes as the Lobster Brie Melt, Lobster and Waffles, Lobster Fire Tacos and Lobster Ravioli – all of which seem to play nicely in the sandbox along with other bestsellers and signature items including the Surf and Turf, Seared Sea Scallops on a Goat Cheese Grit Cake with Poblano Butter, Steamed Seafood Platters,  Shrimp & Grits, Snapper Pontchartrain and Blackened Redfish.

In addition to the uniqueness of their menu, The Crazy Lobster is the only restaurant in the Village of Baytowne offering “white tablecloth casual fine dining service, where you can have a great meal while wearing your casual beachy attire,” said Lindsey. “When people come here, they enjoy the light, lively, coastal vibe that we’ve created. We have newly renovated bars upstairs and downstairs, balcony seating upstairs where they can watch beautiful sunsets over the bay, and a friendly, smiling staff that will make their dining experience even more unforgettable.”

The Crazy Lobster

Adding to their appeal is an award-winning wine list.

We offer generous wine pours and Mark brings his expertise and passion as one of the most knowledgeable wine sommeliers on the coast to the team,” Lindsey added. “That’s something our guests really enjoy.”

The Crazy Lobster is located at 138 Fisherman’s Cove, Miramar Beach, within the Baytowne Wharf area of Sandestin. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., reservations are accepted. For more information, call 850-351-1996 or visit crazylobsterdestin.com.