Behind The Line: Coopertown Airboat Rides and Restaurant Fries Gator Tail and Frog Legs

Categories: Behind the Line
Jacob Katel
Does a frog's ass bump ground when it hops?
Coopertown Airboat Rides and Restaurant has stood on the Tamiami Trail (a few miles west of Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, or 11 miles west of the turnpike) since 1945. Captain Jesse Kennon the proprietor says "This is the oldest original airboat tour in the Everglades. I've been here permanently since 1981, but off and on since childhood. Our specialties here are alligator tail and frog legs, but we got burgers, dogs, breakfast and lunch.

We deep fry the gator nuggets. The meat we get fresh from Parker Island Farms just outside Sebring. They deliver us about 75 - 100 pounds a month. The frog legs come from frogs caught right here in the Everglades by different froggers we known for years, people who been livin' in the Glades their whole lives. They catch 'em early in the morning with a 4 prong gig. We used to do it ourselves, but after you hit around 30 years old you don't wanna wake up at 4 in the morning, put a flashlight on your head, catch frogs, and then go to work at 6."
Jacob Katel
Captain Jesse Kennon
Jacob Katel
Frog Meat
Jacob Katel
Gator Meat
Jacob Katel
The Menu
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First the meat is soaked in a special sauce, then it's breaded and deep fried.
Jacob Katel
Patricia Walker worked at Coopertown 13 years ago, she left to Georgia then came back to Dade and has been working at the restaurant for almost a year now. Above, she holds breaded frog meat ready for the frier.
Jacob Katel
Ready to drop.
Jacob Katel
The gator meat gets the same treatment.
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Here's the end result.
Jacob Katel
Frogs and gators have peacefully co-existed for eons, in Coopertown they do it on your plate.
Jacob Katel
Tourists soak up the old-timey flavor.
Jacob Katel
An 8 year veteran airboat tour guide.

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