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Updated: 03/14/2014 08:06:12AM

Tortuga’s, where fresh makes the difference

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Hearty conch chowder.

Blackened cubera snapper and a salad.

Fried fresh oysters with two dipping sauces.

By Jay and Silent Bob

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The term seafood covers a pretty broad spectrum: Fish, shrimp, oysters and anything else that lives in the water. There’s really only one thing that all these foods have in common: The fresher, the better. A lot of restaurants seem to forget that key fact, but we just discovered a tiny place in Punta Gorda that treats it like a law. In most seafood joints, “catch of the day” is code for “whatever we got the cheapest.” Not here.

Tortuga’s Seafood Restaurant is completely unimpressive from the outside, tucked away in a nondescript strip mall on U.S. 41. But as we were taught in Sunday school, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The lunch menu had our mouths watering quickly. Jay had recently had a very poor experience with fried oysters at another local eatery and was eager to replace that memory with a better one, so he immediately gravitated toward that. Bob was having a tougher time of it — salmon? flounder? Everything looked too good to decide. Fortunately, a conversation with Denise, our very friendly server revealed that the kitchen had gotten a fresh batch of cubera snapper just a few minutes before. That settled that — blackened cubera, please. Their fresh fish is also available fried or grilled, and you can have it as a sandwich or standalone. Bob’s always watching his figure, so he decided to skip the bread.

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