There must be something in the water. Just north of Safety Harbor’s Main Street on the block between Fourth and Fifth avenues, there’s a proliferation of bungalows churning out good food. The five-star Pizzeria Gregario is just around the corner from Green Springs Bistro and Parts of Paris. And on the western edge of the block, a hypnotizing path of tiki torches invites you in.
Marker 39 is named for an old diminutive concrete pillar just outside the door next to a pink flamingo. There, amidst the ferns, concrete rises from the earth and “1939” is clearly embedded in the rough facade. Tiny rocks of white, gray and amber peek through the textured surface near the tip like fossils in an archeological dig.
It’s here that chef-owner Justin Murphy, a disciple of Florida cuisine titan and visionary Norman Van Aken, brings his Floribbean fusion. Among the tropical foliage and canopy-covered deck, he reinterprets classics through a Caribbean-Latino-Asian lens, creating “ingredient-driven, seasonal menus that contain bold textures and dramatic flavors,” according to the restaurant’s website, with a commitment to local, organic products.
The starters shine. Crisp cornmeal-crusted gulf oysters sit atop a pasilla pepper-sweet corn relish that provides a nice contrast of flavors. Add the brightness of citrus-dressed greens and creamy heat of roasted poblano remoulade, and an exciting symphony of tastes plays on your tongue.