From humble origins in Joe Weiss’ lunch counter in 1913, this now enormous, retro-feeling classic in southernmost South Beach, run by his descendants like a well-oiled machine, may no longer be the last word in seafood hereabouts. But attention must be paid, as Mrs. Loman would say. And Joe’s does deliver, for the most part. The storied stone-crab claws, served with a mustard-based dipping sauce, may or may not be your cup of brine (they’re served cold, and last time I was in I detected a whiff of the ammoniac; in any case, some folks actually prefer the king crab), but on the menu there are plenty of other marine critters, along with land-based meat and fowl. Highlights to look out for include the seafood bisque; the lobster mac and cheese; the sides of creamed spinach, slaw, and hash browns; and for dessert, one of South Florida’s better key lime pies. The vibe and certainly the decor are a mite old-school and the service usually pretty good; just keep in mind that you’ll want to budget for time as well as a hefty check, because no reservations are taken. You put your name on the list and settle in for a bit of a wait (usually shorter at lunch than dinner).
- David Paul Appell