Out on the Myakka River, Snook Haven is an Old Florida BBQ joint, fish shack, canoe launch, boat dock and live music venue rolled into one. And as of 2012, it’s owned and operated by the Pachota family, who are also behind the great food and fun times at Sharky’s. Here’s how to get the most out of your visit. .
Come as you like
Snook Haven is popular with tourists and locals, bikers and families, campers and fishermen, and people arrive in all sorts of vehicles—including cars, motorcycles and RVs (there’s an adjacent campsite) by land, and kayaks, jet skis and boats pulling up to the dock from the river. “I’m waiting for [someone to arrive on] a horse,” says manager Cheri Pachota.
Led by chef Eric Eastes, Snook Haven serves high-quality Southern fare and seafood. A smoker churns out brisket (smoked 13.5 hours), pork (12 hours) and ribs (3.5 hours), as well as turkey, chicken and sausage, all to be paired with a variety of homemade BBQ sauces. You’ll also find gator bites, catfish, fried green tomatoes and a slew of sides and sandwiches.
Kick up your heels
Live music is a natural at Snook Haven, and on any given day you might hear country, bluegrass, rock or, on Thursdays, even an army of banjos. You’re going to find yourself wanting to dance, a lot. Trust that instinct. If you haven’t danced in the dirt under an old oak tree, then you’re not doing Old Florida right.
Say hi to Hank
Even if you don’t spot a gator on the river (you probably will), you can come face-to-face with one in the dining room: Last year, “Hank,” a 12-foot, 1,000-pound Florida alligator, was captured (legally, in season) just a ways up the river. He’s now mounted, somewhat menacingly, overhead. And he’ll soon be joined by “Nick,” a 10-foot gator, also captured nearby, who’ll be mounted vertically for side-by-side photos.
Bring the gang
In addition to its own music festivals in the summer, Snook Haven excels as a spot for private parties, corporate retreats, family reunions and more. Some folks set out on the river in canoes while others chill with craft beers near the band. Eventually, everybody comes back together for pulled pork and deep-fried brownies. (Plus, the scenery is fantastic for photographs.)
Get on the river
Snook Haven canoe rentals (by the hour or the day) are a great way to work up an appetite with family and friends. Plus, Logan River Tours launches on site and combines historic info with unspoiled sightseeing on one of Florida’s officially designated “Wild and Scenic Rivers.” —Hannah Wallace
Snook Haven was once a port for Prohibition-era rumrunners and moonshine smugglers.
5000 E. Venice Ave.