May 22, 2007, I went back to Sharky’s. I’ve been several times before. I’ve never cared for Sharky’s in the past, but it seems everyone who visits Panama City wants to visit the iconic beach club. Sharky’s is located on Front Beach Road, and most of their seating is outside, with a beautiful view of the Gulf. The atmosphere and dress is casual. You can walk in off the beach, or come in through the lobby.
Overall, the food tasted okay. The overriding problem with the food was that it was not hot. It was easy to figure out that the food had been sitting in the kitchen for a while. I can’t say if that is the fault of the wait staff, or the cooks.
The prices were reasonable, relative to other restaurants. Most of the entrees were in the fifteen dollar range, the burgers, and kids’ meals were less expensive than most other restaurants. The total bill for 9 people was around $100, which I found completely reasonable.
The best dish was grilled Mahi Mahi with a sweet potato-ette. It was the smallest sweet potato I’ve ever seen, but nonetheless, the diner said her meal was delicious. I tried the Mahi, as it is the only fish I care for. It was a little strong for my taste. One reason I like Mahi is because it is so mild it hardly tastes like fish at all. This Mahi was “fishy.” I guess you can’t hold that against a fish.
The Oysters Rockefeller weren’t hot either, but I’m told they were tasty. If you like oysters, these are baked with spinach, butter, and cheese, and are served on the half-shell.
The land lovers among us had a cheeseburger and a chicken sandwich. They were both very tasty, just not hot. They were served with cold fries. The cheeseburger was specifically ordered with cheese and mustard only. The waiter verified that statement making sure I didn’t want any lettuce or tomato. I assured him I wanted mustard and cheese only. I removed the lettuce and tomato when the cheeseburger came. It was good, but their failure to cook to order explained the pickle and tomato I saw tossed out on the beach.
The chicken used in the Chicken Caesar Salad was overcooked. It was hard and dry. The gentleman who ordered the Caesar Salad ended up stopping by Wendy’s for a burger later.
The kids enjoyed the restaurant. While you wait, the kids can play on a wooden ship and playground on the beach. They liked their chicken fingers and popcorn shrimp. They didn’t even care that their fries were cold.
We were at Sharky’s in Panama City prior to Memorial Day weekend, so they weren’t especially busy. I think they were understaffed because everyone was scurrying around like they were bustling with business, but they weren’t. I know the general manager was in the kitchen helping the cooks “get caught up.” I couldn’t quite figure out how they fell behind. The restaurant seats 350, but there were approximately 50 people there.
We waited approximately 20 minutes, which perplexed me once we were escorted in the restaurant, because there were a number of empty tables. When we were seated, I had a view of the Gulf, but the people facing me had a view of discarded wicker furniture, ply wood, and other odds and ends.
A couple of disturbing things are worth noting. A yellow Tom cat roamed the restaurant. It reminded me of a trip to Mexico many years ago where dingos roamed in and out of a restaurant. In retrospect, the thought of the cat churns my stomach. I tried not to think too much about it while we were eating.
The other thing is that despite being incredibly hospitable, the wait staff was incredibly inept. Dirty salad plates remained on the table when the food was brought. Some glasses, i.e. plastic cups, were refilled, while others were left empty. One of our diners got up and found the sweet tea after the waiter finally refilled his glass with unsweetened tea.
The waiter’s service consisted of running past, asking, “Doin’ okay?” He didn’t wait for an answer, so we had to snag him the next time he came by. That was a little bizarre.
Sharky’s is a hot spot in Panama City. During the summer season the average wait time is an hour to about an hour and a half. Sharkey’s serves between one thousand and fifteen hundred people a night, in season. Obviously people like the food, the prices, the atmosphere, or all of the above. The owner’s brother owns Hammerhead Fred’s which is becoming a popular spot, as well.
I’ve never cared for Sharky’s. The prices are reasonable, but the food has never been good. I never suggest it, and I can’t honestly recommend it. There are too many other great places to eat at Panama City Beach.