Chef Nick Cruz says his homage to his late fisherman grandfather Raymond offers “A+ food in C-minus real estate.”
Big Ray’s Fish Camp has become a tradition in Tampa, Florida, ever since it opened in 2014, while generating nationwide acclaim for its world-class preparation of fresh local seafood served from a no-frills cinderblock fry shack.
The signature blackened grouper sandwich is the star of the sea, as this reporter can attest.
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The locally caught fish is seasoned heavily, seared until blackened and served with housemade tartar sauce, lettuce, onion and tomato on a bun.
Sounds simple. But the flavor of each cool, fresh ingredient pops amid the blackened spice bomb of the thick fish filet.
“To us, every element has value,” Cruz told Fox News Digital.
“We’re chopping pickles every day for the tartar sauce. We want the freshest lettuce, tomato and onion.”
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“We put a lot of love into it.”
The grouper Buffalo nuggets are equally craveworthy, with the traditional wing sauce packing punch in the place of the Cajun seasoning on the sandwich.
The most buzz-worthy bite at Big Ray’s Fish Camp is its lobster tail corn dog.
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Lobster tails are split, powdered with flour, bathed in corn meal batter and “deep-fried to perfection,” said Cruz.
The lobster tail corn dog, he said, “really put us on the map.”
The original Big Ray’s Fish Camp, in the Ballast Point neighborhood, lives up to its name.
Guests eat outdoors at communal picnic tables.
Cruz opened a second Big Ray’s with a more upscale vibe but with the same food, on the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa.
“The original place has soul,” said Cruz.
“We just want to provide the neighborhood with the best grouper sandwiches and freshest po’boys we can make.”
The downtown location thrives on a “city that is literally buzzing right now.”
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