TJ's Seafood Shack

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TJs Gumbo

Here's what you need to know about TJ's Seafood Shack: gumbo.

TJ's is a fast-casual restaurant (order at the counter, take a seat) on the east side of town, with locations in Oviedo and on East Colonial Drive, which is the one I visited. It's in a Publix-anchored strip mall and occupies a corner space, with shacked-out decor.

TJs Mahi

The menu is a Top 40 list of fish camp favorites, such as catfish, crab cakes, fried oysters and such. A special the day that I visited was the mahi mahi, which I ordered blackened, even though I knew that would be a mistake. There wasn't anything wrong with the fish itself, in fact it was a perfectly fine fillet. But like too many places, the "blackened" fish meant little more than some blackening seasonings added to the fish. I should have had it grilled. Still, like I said, it was a good piece of fish, accompanied by a thimble of slaw, rice topped with black beans and some nicely fried hush puppies.

The appropriately named Yumbo Gumbo did not disappoint in the least. It was a well seasoned bowl of rouxy darkness with big chunks of spicy andouille sausage and chicken, though, oddly enough given that this is a seafood shack, no seafood. None was needed. Some fluffly bits of rice were sprinkled on top, and a few saltine crackers, which I chose to ignore, sat nearby. I'd gladly return to TJ's just for another bowl.

The staff made the visit extra pleasant, from the friendly and welcoming greeting I received when I first walked in to the prompt delivery of my food. And with most entrees on the menu priced below 10 bucks, TJ's makes for a cheap date.

TJ's Seafood Shack is at 12231 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-250-4191.