Rod & Reel Pier on Anna Maria Island

9 Nov

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Saturday found us on the road again. This time it was a short day trip to Anna Maria Island, which is due west of Bradenton, FL. Really nice place — and a pretty well kept secret. The island is a little oasis from the hustle and bustle (if you can call it that) of the mainland. The north end of the island, just a short ride from Bradenton Beach and Coquina Beach, offers the most laid back, tucked-away vibe.

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Along North Shore Road you can find the Rod and Reel Pier (and restaurant). What a cool joint — right down our proverbial alley. Or should I say pier? Anyhow, the Rod and Reel Pier was not recommended to us … we just kind of stumbled across it while exploring this part of the world. Built in 1947, the Rod and Reel is sort of a combo diner, bar, bait shop, seafood market, motel. How’s that for multi-tasking?

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As you stroll down the long pier towards the main building, you can’t help but notice all the names and messages etched in the pier’s wooden planks. These planks have recently received a face lift. How do I know? Well, the first time I visited I was not quite sure whether I would get to my lunch before cracking a weathered plank and plunging to the Gulf waters below.  

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 The bar and bait shop are downstairs, the grill is upstairs. Great views!

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The day’s special was the Wahoo sandwich with fries and slaw for just $7.95. How could you possibly go wrong with that? It’s a good thing I acted quickly because they promptly erased the marker board and replaced Wahoo with Swordfish. Not that swordfish is a bad thing, but the Wahoo was very fresh without a hint of that kind of fishiness that most diners fear. Really good slaw, fries splashed with Crystal hot sauce, housemade tartar sauce, freshly caught fish on a Kaiser roll — what, I ask, is not to like?  

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We ate outside on the deck looking back towards shore. The kids noticed that the deck was leaning a touch, which we guessed allowed for some drainage after a heavy rain. Or maybe the place is just really old and we’re all about to join the manatees for a swim?  

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This mural of FL palms was seen right above the table where we dined  

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Our vista as we stuffed our faces with Neptune’s bounty 

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Inboards & Outboards? Funny! The kids were left scratching their heads 

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The one story bungalow with Carolina blue shutters is the original fishing resort. Hey, it’s not exactly the Ritz but it gets the job done. A hearty Rod and Reel breakfast in the morning, a couple hours angling on the pier, a fresh catch for lunch, an afternoon out on the water, a few cold ones at the Tiki Bar later that evening, and a beautiful Gulf of Mexico sunset. Top that!  

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We’re so lucky to live on the FL coast. Natural beauty simply can’t be avoided.

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