Founded as Mr. D's Seafood and Hamburgers in 1969, Captain D's differentiated itself from the start by offering affordable seafood, a contrast to more traditional and expensive options at the time. Over the years, Captain D's has refined its menu to focus on fish and shellfish dishes, along with sides such as green beans, baked potatoes, and coleslaw. In the past decade, the restaurants have been revamped with a new, beach-themed decor that aligns with the culinary focus. Today, the chain boasts over 500 locations, a feat that stands testament to its popularity and enduring appeal.
Captain D's menu has evolved to cater to the diverse tastes and dietary preferences of its patrons. For example, in response to the growing demand for healthier food choices, it has introduced lighter meal options such as grilled fish. For those seeking the comfort of traditional fare, Captain D's continues to serve fried favorites such as breaded fish and butterfly-style shrimp, both beloved for their crispy, golden texture.
Having trouble deciding what to eat at Captain D's? Navigate your next restaurant visit with our list of the chain's must-try dishes and those you might consider skipping.
Also sometimes referred to as lady's fingers, okra is a green, tubular vegetable known for its nutritional content, which consists of high levels of fiber and protein. Okra is also valued for its versatility since it can be fried, grilled, or added to stews. Captain D's okra is coated in Southern-style breading and fried, which isn't the healthiest way to enjoy the vegetable since it adds extra calories and fat to the side dish.
Unfortunately, the restaurant's okra hasn't been met with a favorable reception from diners, with numerous reviewers complaining about the dish's size and the way it's served. A case in point is one unhappy customer who says that the price of the dish is way too high since it only comes with 12 little pieces of okra. "Not even half a cup," they add. Another disgruntled customer complained that their okra was served on top of mac & cheese, which they didn't even order. Yet another diner says the okra arrived at their table cold, a possible result of the slow service.
Order: Spicy Batter Dipped Fish
The Spicy Batter Dipped Fish made its debut at Captain D's in June 2022. Initially released for a limited time, it seems that the dish has enjoyed enough popularity to warrant its permanent inclusion on the menu. Offering a spicier alternative to the chain's Batter Dipped Fish, the fillets are coated in a zesty breading composed of flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Although the specific type of fish used in the dish isn't disclosed, we know the fillets are dipped in milk before breading, resulting in a lighter and crispier coating. The menu item comes with hush puppies and two side dishes.
The Spicy Batter Dipped Fish at Captain D's has enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive reception from patrons. One happy reviewer praises the dish, saying, "The spicy fish is awesome. It used to be a rub they added to the regular fish, but now the spice is mixed into the batter and it absolutely kills." Another diner agrees that the fish is tasty, however, they don't find the breading particularly spicy. "It's a good fish [...] I am getting a little kick but not that severe [...] it's not mad hot."
Order: Blackened Tilapia
Ideal for those who don't like an overly fishy flavor, tilapia is a mild-tasting fish with a slight sweetness. It's this subtle taste that allows tilapia to absorb flavors from spices and marinades, making it suitable for a wide range of recipes. True to its name, the Blackened Tilapia at Captain D's comes with a blackened seasoning composed of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder. The chain's tilapia is served over rice with breadsticks and two side dishes.
Most diners give the Blackened Tilapia at Captain D's the thumbs up, indicating that it's a must-try for seafood enthusiasts. One happy reviewer says that the chain's tilapia can't be beaten, adding, "The grilled tilapia here is the best. It was full, succulent, and very tasty. It comes with rice and you get two sides and a breadstick, super value — especially for seniors." Numerous other diners agree, describing the dish as awesome and delicious.
Avoid: Wild Caught Salmon
Just like the name suggests, Captain D's seared Wild Caught Salmon comes from oceans, lakes, or rivers rather than fish farms. Salmon caught in the wild is usually deemed more nutritious and superior in taste than salmon raised on farms. It's also generally more expensive. Although the specific origins of Captain D's salmon aren't disclosed, according to a post on the chain's Facebook page, the various outlets obtain their fish from different locations.
At just $11.99 as of January 2024, Wild Caught Salmon at Captain D's seems like a bargain — particularly since it's also served with rice, breadsticks, and two side dishes. Sadly, the dish hasn't received the best reviews, with some customers questioning the salmon's quality and preparation method. One diner recommends staying away from it, adding that their experience tells them the chain serves chum salmon.
Another aspect that has drawn complaints is the way the fish is seared, with one reviewer saying: "Unfortunately, my salmon was extremely overcooked and the bed of rice was more like a puddle. Overall [I was] kinda disappointed but the one breadstick made me feel kinda better. It will hold me over until I get home! Salmon looked like tofu."
Order: Crispy Butterfly Shrimp
Butterfly shrimp get their name from their unique shape and preparation process. At Captain D's, these small morsels of goodness are peeled, deveined, cut partway through along the back, and then spread open. They are then coated in batter and fried until golden and crunchy. The result is unfurled shrimp that resemble the wings of a butterfly. The chain's Crispy Butterfly Shrimp offering comes with around a dozen pieces of shrimp, hush puppies, and two side dishes.
The butterfly shrimp at Captain D's has received glowing feedback from the majority of diners. One reviewer says they love the dish, elaborating, "I always drive through and get the add-on butterfly shrimp. It's delicious." Another diner mirrors this assessment, emphasizing the dish's contrasting textures. "Very flavorful, crispy, & tender!" they write. Several other patrons also praise the dish, describing it as a winner among the various menu offerings.
Order: Clam Strips
Ideal as a main or a side dish, clam strips present an interesting twist on more traditional seafood offerings. These little clam morsels are breaded and fried until golden and crispy, creating a perfect balance between a crunchy exterior and a soft, slightly chewy interior. Clam Strips at Captain D's are made with four ounces of lightly breaded deep-fried clams. The dish is served with the chain's tangy dipping sauce, which combines tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and seasoning.
Most diners have positive things to say about the chain's Clam Strips, complimenting them on their flavor and preparation. One patron describes the dish as really good, adding, "I was very impressed with the size and quality of their clam strip basket. They were fresh and delicious." Another diner echoes this sentiment, saying, "Delicious. Crispy, melt in my mouth clam strip goodness. I savored every single morsel down to the last little batter crunch." Numerous other diners praise the dish, describing it as their top pick.
Avoid: Mac & Cheese
Mac & cheese transcends cultural and generational boundaries. The widespread appeal of the beloved comfort food is evident in the diverse array of recipes that infuse it with unique ingredients and flavors. Despite the possibilities, the Mac & Cheese at Captain D's is a simple version of the dish that's made with cooked macaroni pasta and a cheddar cheese sauce. The menu item is typically served as a side for main dishes.
The Mac & Cheese hasn't been well-received by many patrons, resulting in a stream of negative feedback. One diner questions it, saying, "The mac and cheese has a weird flavor that I can't grasp but it doesn't taste right. A food inspector needs to check it out because it's a taste that I don't believe is supposed to be coming from food." Other reviewers express a similar sentiment about its appearance, describing the color as "neon" and "suspect." I think we get the picture.
Order: Loaded Potato Soup
Given its simple ingredients and comforting nature, potato soup seems to have a universal appeal. Ultra versatile, the dish can be made with just a few basic items or enhanced with a variety of additions. Aside from potatoes, the Loaded Potato Soup at Captain D's is made with milk, cream, cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and spices. It's then adorned with shredded cheese and bacon for an added burst of taste.
Most diners enjoy the Loaded Potato Soup at Captain D's. It appears the menu item disappeared for a while before being brought back, as noted by one Facebook user several years ago. "Will you be bringing this back any time soon? My local Captain D's stopped having it around this time last year and I've been craving it like CRAZY. Best potato soup in town. [...] I need it." The soup has also received other praise from reviewers, with one diner calling it "the bomb."
Simple and versatile, coleslaw transcends culinary boundaries. As such, it's not a surprise that it appears as a side on countless restaurant menus, from high-end establishments to casual diners. Captain D's is no exception. Listed alongside other side dishes such as green beans, corn, and broccoli, the chain's coleslaw is a solid add-on that has garnered praise from many diners. The dish is prepared in-house daily with shredded cabbage and carrots, topped with a sweet mayonnaise dressing.
Despite numerous diners who say that the slaw at Captain D's doesn't look like the one depicted in the chain's photos, the side dish has received overwhelmingly positive online feedback. One TripAdvisor reviewer describes it as one of the best they have ever had at a fast-food restaurant. Yet another diner says they always get a double coleslaw instead of ordering fries. Additionally, several other customers refer to the side dish's fresh and tasty flavor.
Avoid: Baked Potato And Loaded Baked Potato
Baked potatoes make the perfect canvas for a variety of toppings, which means they can be customized to suit most palates and dietary preferences. Perhaps this is why in addition to standard baked potatoes, Captain D's also offers loaded baked potatoes. The chain's standard version of the side dish is topped with butter and sour cream. Meanwhile, the Loaded Baked Potato is served with bacon, cheese, sour cream, butter, and chives.
Unfortunately, the majority of diners have expressed dissatisfaction with the chain's baked potatoes, with many complaining about the way the side is prepared. More specifically, numerous reviewers reproach the chain for serving burnt baked potatoes. "Worst baked potato ever. It's brown," one diner writes, referring to the interior. Other customers note that their baked potato was served cold, with one reviewer saying: "[It] must've been left over from the day before." Yet others complain that the chain mixed up their order, serving them the standard baked potato instead of the loaded version of the side dish.
Order: Giant Fish Sandwich
The Giant Fish Sandwich seems to be one of the most popular menu items at Captain D's. While this might be due to its size — the dish features two batter-coated fish fillets in an oversized bun — most diners seem to also enjoy the sandwich's flavor. The white fish sandwich is completed with a layer of crisp lettuce and a zesty tartar sauce made with mayonnaise, relish, and seasoning. The Giant Fish Sandwich is sold as a combo with one side dish and a drink.
Diners at Captain's D aren't just taken by the flavor of the Giant Fish Sandwich, they also commend its excellent value for money. For instance, one reviewer comments that the sandwich is very reasonably priced, adding, "[The chain's] new line of fish sandwiches are the best I've had to date!!!" Another impressed diner calls the sandwich wonderful, elaborating, "Perfectly seasoned and crispy outside and delicious inside. [...] Very filling and I'm on DoorDash now ordering another. I highly recommend the fish sandwich!!"
Order: Chicken Tenders
While chicken may be a somewhat unusual dish for a restaurant that specializes in seafood, Captain D's offers poultry as a land alternative for those who prefer chicken to fish and shellfish. The chain's Chicken Tenders are strips of boneless and skinless breast meat coated in breading and fried until golden. The four pieces of chicken come with hush puppies, two side dishes, and honey mustard for dipping.
The Chicken Tenders at Captain D's have earned rave reviews from diners, with one customer commenting that despite being a seafood restaurant, Captain D's chicken tenders are delicious. Lukefoods, who reviewed the establishment's chicken nuggets and tenders for TikTok, agrees with this assessment. "[They are] hand-breaded epicness. The seasoning is completely on point, [it's] crispy golden perfection. This is legendary. [...] I am absolutely in love with them," he proclaims. Several other diners also say they enjoy the chicken dish, describing it as delicious and their favorite.
Avoid: Hand-Breaded Catfish
Catfish is known for its mild, sweet flavor and firm, moist flesh. The fish is particularly popular in Southern cuisine, embodying the gastronomic heritage and flavors of the region. Following the Southern culinary tradition, Captain D's serves its catfish coated in a breading that becomes crispy when fried. The main is served with hush puppies and two side dishes.
While the Hand-Breaded Catfish at Captain D's sounds great on paper, it has been a flop with diners. One major issue is the size of the fillet. One diner says the catfish "leaves much to be desired," explaining, "I ordered the three-piece fried catfish dinner, thinking I would have enough for a couple of meals. You can't imagine my surprise when I opened the take-out container to find three little nuggets!" Another reviewer agrees with this assessment, saying that the catfish fillets weren't just small but also overcooked. Perhaps the most damning feedback comes from a customer who says the catfish they ordered was rancid. "I got home and took a bite of the fish and immediately spat it out," they write.
To bring you a roundup of the best dishes at Captain D's and the menu items to steer clear of, we have examined customer feedback on popular platforms such as DoorDash, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.
Read the original article on Mashed.