The commercial fishing boats pull up to the neighboring dock as the sun sets in a blaze of gold. Entering port before dark, air boats skim through the islands that make up the Everglades watery domain. Street lights illuminate the rehabbed waterfront of Everglades City. At Camellia Street Grill, the band is prepping for an evening’s performance on the waterfront terrace. Camellia Street Grill attracts residents from around Collier County, especially Neptune, to enjoy relaxed, well prepared old Florida cuisine in updated presentations, with live music and stunning sunsets.
Businessman Barron Collier’s 1920s Everglades City was left for a ghost town several times as devastating hurricanes elevated nearby, and safer, Naples to be the seat of Collier County in the mid 1950s. Yet there’s an old Florida charm to the raised houses, the commercial fishing boats plying the waterways and the remnants of Barron Collier’s model company town. Everglades City is the northern gateway to Everglades National Park and excursions through the Ten Thousand Islands. It’s being rediscovered.
Camellia Street Grill’s decor is a cross between beach shack and found treasures. A jumble of discarded yellow and red buoys make a colorful display on the side of the parking lot. A vintage Airstream trailer is an homage to Florida’s vacation land legacy. A tangled garden of plants, herbs and flowers with small statuary and birdhouses opens onto a spacious, comfortable, partially covered outdoor seating area. With a color scheme of turquoise and flamingo pink, the design is shabby chic tiki bar.
The screened in dining area provides a mostly mosquito free space. The beach shack interior and intriguing painted palm frond art by Amy Fouchea provide a tropical atmosphere. Food is ordered at the counter in this dining area and brought to your table by the staff. The busy compact kitchen is clearly visible. Camellia Street Grill is no corporate themed enterprise. It’s the mother and daughter operation of Terri and Naiara Rementeria whose goal, no loftier than any conscientious restaurateur, is to provide top quality seafood and southern cooking.
Open for lunch and dinner, the menu is true to its south Florida location. Known for succulent sauteed alligator, with salsa, and grilled seasoned grouper fillets topping salad, these Camellia Street Grill dishes well represent Everglades regional cooking. Slow cooked pulled pork and smoked chicken had deep wood flavors. Camellia’s cole slaw was refreshing with a white wine vinegar dressing. Fried oysters were plump, she crab soup had fresh vegetables with a hint of pepper while the stone crab claws were sweet. Catfish and grits was classic crunchy fried chunks of fish with slow cooked creamy grits on the side, drizzled with salsas.
Live music in the evening is frequent in the outdoor lounge area, although in the evening mosquito repellant is advised. Yet that’s a minor inconvenience for top quality seafood and southern cooking with imagination. Camellia Street Grill is for the diner who wants to sit awhile enjoying the food, music and waterfront beauty of Florida’s Everglades.
Camellia Street Grill, 208 Camellia St, Everglades, FL 239-695-2003