One thing that I happen to love and very few restaurants in Missouri have on the menu, is alligator tail. Several times while we had been in Ocala and were looking up places to go, Gator’s Dockside came up every time we Googled ‘seafood near me’ so we finally decided to give it a shot and calm down our cravings for gator tail.
When we entered the restaurant we were greeted by a very large stuffed alligator and some arcade type machines which seemed fun. And in typical sports bar fashion there were lots and LOTS of giant televisions. Neither of us are sports fans unless you count my love for horse racing, so the televisions weren’t a big deal for us, but if that is your thing you won’t be disappointed.
Our server was outstanding. He was really nice and seemed like a genuinely happy person which always makes for a better dining experience. He also had an electronic ordering device that sent our requests right to the kitchen which we have not seen used yet anywhere so that was cool. Not to mention it also got our food out to our table quicker.
We ordered the gator tail bites as an appetizer that came with “Gator Sauce” and James ordered a gyro salad and I ordered a Reuben sandwich with plantains as my side instead of french fries. It definitely was not a seafood restaurant, so I guess it’s true what they say you can’t believe everything you read on the internet! 😂 They did have some seafood choices, but they seemed to specialize in wings and ribs.
The appetizer of the gator bites were really good. The “Gator Sauce” tasted suspiciously just like honey mustard so if you don’t like honey mustard you might want to ask for something else. It did go surprisingly well with the fried bites. I was expecting something along the lines of a chipotle ranch style sauce, but I actually liked it.
James’ gyro salad was pretty good. It was a little light on the meat but otherwise was pretty tasty with fresh ingredients and the meat it did have was delicious. He said he would order it again. My Reuben…was fairly disappointing. The corned beef was cut way too thick and the sandwich itself was super duper soggy somehow even though it had barely any sauerkraut on it. It just overall was fairly flavorless and I am big on texture so didn’t love how the entire bottom half appeared to have been submerged in liquid before serving. I also wasn’t a fan of how the plantains were served. They had them on their sides menu so I assumed they would be like the plantain chips that I have had everywhere else, but they were whole small plantains fried and super sweet. They would have been great as a desert but didn’t work for me as a side.
We also were very uncomfortable with how close their seating was during this pandemic. During our meal another table was seated next to us and to be honest we were beyond shocked they sat another table so close to us, especially since the restaurant itself was fairly empty. The servers and staff were all wearing masks I will say that, but otherwise their social distancing protocol wasn’t one that made me super comfortable to be a patron. Sorry Gator’s! We will be back eventually and give them another try but there are so many other places that are respecting the guidelines that we would like to revisit first.
I do want to add that if drinks are your thing they had some pretty amazing drink specials. I caught a glance at a couple of the margaritas they were serving and they looked pretty good and judging by the refills our server was bringing to a couple a few tables over, they tasted good too!
Remember, that everything that I write about is coming from my own personal opinion and personal preferences. Maybe you like your Reuben with thick cut corned beef. Maybe you like whole fried plantains. I just write what I personally think about it that’s all.
All in all it was a decent experience. Our server was such a treasure that he kind of made up for the slightly disappointing food. I had to be reminded by my other and much better half that it IS a sports bar even though we thought it was a seafood place going in, and that for a sports bar it was actually pretty good.