Crabby Bills - Indian Rocks Beach & Clearwater
Crabby Bill's is a great local chain restaurant in the Tampa area. Rather than fine dining, enjoy your meal at one of the picnic tables. Instead of wine, enjoy a plastic cup of Yuengling lager. But what you really come here for is the seafood. Their specialty is the steamed bucket with clams oysters, crab legs, shrimp, and scallops (market price - $22.99 in January 2008). Other meals include the broiled combo plate which you can add fresh grouper to the shrimp and scallops ($16 + $3 for the grouper). A nice house dinner salad is $7. Draft beers include Yuengling and Killians and are just $2.50 each. All meals come with two sides of your choice including rice, fries, coleslaw, green beans, and others.
The food was fresh and tasty, as it should be along the shore. The service was good (though I was a little annoyed by the camera-person who takes your photo and tries to sell you a key chain). The atmosphere was what you'd imagine from a crab shack along the water.
While their original location in Indian Rocks Beach has been in operation for 30+ years, they now have other locations in the Tampa area including Clearwater, St Cloud, Tampa, St Pete, and now Kissimmee.
In 2011, Crabby Bills had a booth at the annual "Taste of Pinellas" music and food festival, held at Vinoy Park, along the water in St. Pete. We tried their awesome gator burger, which was ground up, cooked, and served on a bun with your choice of spicy sauce, sweet barbecue sauce, or blue cheese sauce. Excellent and only $5 for a big sandwich.... one of the best values at the festival!
In summer of 2012, we had an early dinner at Crabby Bills in Clearwater, and it wasn't quite as good as the IRB location. The place was packed with tourists, so we ended up at the cramped upstairs bar. It had an odd white tile suspended ceiling, not fitting for a bar. The food was OK, especially Laura's soft shell crab sandwich ($9). My crab cake sandwich was worth the money ($9) but nothing spectacular.
Frenchy's Saltwater Cafe - Clearwater Beach
Frenchy's Saltwater Cafe opened in 1989 and was the second of what is now 7 Frenchy's restaurants on Clearwater Beach. The menu includes such beach delights as Buffalo Shrimp, Conch Fritters, Specialty Caesar Salads, Fish and Chicken Platters, and their famous Grouper Reuben.
We arrived on a stormy night after a few drinks next door at Cooter's. The rain had everyone camped out st their tables, so we elbowed into the bar and ordered a few drinks while waiting for a table. Finally three seats opened at the end of the bar, then the whole place cleared out over the next 10 minutes.
We enjoyed a nice dinner, while being entertained by the bartenders and the weird locals. Frenchy's is pretty good, but they need some live music or something.
Bonefish Grill - St Pete & Bel Aire Bluffs
Bonefish Grill is a great, upscale seafood chain owned by the company that runs Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, and Roy's. Their food is fresh, never frozen, and very healthy.
We started with drinks, though I was a bit disappointed with their brief list of bottled beers. Then came the staple Italian-style bread with olive oil and herbs. For dinner I decided on the cedar plank-grilled Arctic charr; advertised as clean, buttery Charr, topped with fresh herb-crumb & chorizo, and wood-grilled and drizzled with a citrus beurre blanc sauce for $17.90. The food took much longer than expected, but the restaurant's professional apologizer came by to ask for our forgiveness. The fish was tender and very mildly flavored, but the Spanish chorizo sausage really added a different taste. We also shared key lime pie, which was not quite like the pie I had in Key West--way too sweet and bitter.
The first Bonefish opened in St Pete in the year 2000, and it has since expanded to over 100 locations in 29 states.
Cooter's - Clearwater Beach
Cooters is a fun place to grab seafood and drinks right off the shore in Clearwater Beach. We happened upon this restaurant on a rainy Friday night after a week-long drive down from Pennsylvania.
Since there was a 30 minute wait, we started off at the big square bar with some Yuengling beers, and we talked to a Canadian about his socialized health care compared to the US system. Soon we were given a table in one of the far corners of the restaurant, where our waitress from Cleveland took good care of us, despite our harassment about how bad Cleveland is.
We had a great meal: I enjoyed the blackened "captain's platter," a great assortment of shrimp, scallops, and grouper cheeks for $20. Yuengling beers were just $2.52 each, though mixed drinks were about $7.
On another visit, was sat at the sports bar watching baseball and NASCAR racing. We had a few beers, then enjoyed Cooter's nachos before heading down the street to Frenchy's for dinner.
They also have a steal of a happy hour daily from 4pm to 6pm with 1.25 drafts, half price drink specials & 50 cent oysters, shrimp, and wings!
Sandy's Restaurant - Indian Rocks Beach
Sandy's is a friendly little diner just of the beach in Indian Rocks Beach, a few miles south of Clearwater Beach. We stopped in for breakfast on a Monday of Labor Day Weekend, and it was pretty busy with mostly locals and a few tourists. We enjoyed a good, quick breakfast of egg, ham, and cheese sandwiches on bagels, and their unique bratwust and eggs. Our meal was about $20 including coffee and juice, and we were in and out in about 45 minutes.
We had another great breakfast here on 4th of July weekend in 2011. We all had some version of eggs, breakfast meat, and toast for about $10 each including coffee and juice. I had a top-notch omelet with ham, cheese, hash browns and a light, flaky biscuit. About half of the staff on this visit seemed to be British, which is a great thing!
The Pub - Indian Shores
The Pub, located along the intracoastal waterway in Indian Shores, specializes in seafood such as grouper, salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia, oysters, crabs, shrimp and more. They also offer chicken, steaks, barbecues ribs, and even some pasta options. They also have a breakfast buffet for only $12.
In 2011, The Pub had a booth at the annual "Taste of Pinellas" music and food festival, held at Vinoy Park, along the water in St. Pete. They had a great location, very close to the stage, unfortunately, their food was average at best. We had their garlic shrimp skewers, which weren't horrible, but they were made well in advance and left to soak in the garlic sauce. They had a good flavor, but certainly not fresh. At least there were about eight shrimps, and only $4 for the skewer.
The owners of The Pub also operate Parkshore Grill, 400 Beach Seafood, and The Hangar, all located in St. Pete.
The Pie Factory - Walsingham Road, Largo
The Pie Factory & Toucan's Coffee House Cafe is a great local pie house, that has been family owned and operated since it was established in 1990. They offer Apple Pie, Apple Caramel Nut Pie, Cinnamon Apple Pie, Key Lime Supreme Pie, Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl Pie, Oreo Bash Pie, and more.
In 2011, the Pie Factory had a booth at the annual "Taste of Pinellas" music and food festival, held at Vinoy Park, along the water in St. Pete. We tried their spectacular Key Lime Pie, which we agreed, was our favorite of bout 8 dishes we tasted at the festival. $3 for a full sized slice of pie.
According to their web site, the Pie Factory's Key lime pie is the "Florida Keys finest Key Lime Pie. All hand made with real whipped cream, fresh key limes, graham cracker crust plus the secret ingredients. This pie won the 'Florida Keys Finest Key Pie' title seven years in a row! 10 inch deep dish weighs over three pounds."
Brewmaster Steakhouse - IRB - CLOSED & REOPENED!
Brewmasters closed around late 2010 and reopened as an updated, modern restaurant called Marker 34. It's still a hotel restaurant, but it must be an improvement over Brewmasters.
Once again violating my own rule on hotel restaurants, I visited the Brewmaster Steakhouse in Tampa with friends. The place wasn't bad, but it was really nothing spectacular. To make things even worse, the brewmaster name is a misnomer...they do not have microbrewed beer here.
The good is that the staff is friendly, the food reasonably priced, they have free refills of draft beers, wines, and soft drinks, and a menu with a sense of humor. They have a variety of both steak and seafood, as well as a few oddities such as sashimi and Mexican dishes. The first part of the menu is filled with little jokes like French onion soup with French onions that look just like American onions, grouper fingers and nuggets because not all groupers have fingers, and killer shrimp salad with shrimp that are extremely dangerous to catch.
Cafe Soleil - Indian Rocks Beach - CLOSED :(
Update - Cafe Soleil and its associated bar, Bar Luna, both are closed as of early 2011.
This place is known as Cafe Soleil during the day and Bar Luna at night. We stopped by the cafe in the middle of the afternoon for a late lunch. We ordered the only two sandwiches on the menu that day: the Italian and the chicken salad (each around $6). While we waited a few people wandered in for ice cream, and the bartender kept us entertained talking about life in the area, the traffic, and places to eat.
The bartender was also the cook, so she ducked back behind the partition to prepare our sandwiches every now and then. After about 15 minutes she brought out our meals; two great sandwiches with an ice cream sundae dish full of delicious potato salad. We ate every bit on our plates, then had ice cream cones. Our total bill for two sandwiches and two cones was about $20.
CASH ONLY!!!! No credit cards are accepted.
P.J.'s Oyster Bar: Quick great seafood
The décor here is standard beach seafood, but one clear distinction in ambience stands out---walls of dollar bills. A decades-old tradition for this family-run restaurant is a chance for guests to have a dollar bill stapled to the wall, often with a message or date scrawled in marker pen. Periodically, the bills are harvested and donated to a local children's hospital. The food is reliable as well, whether it is seafood, such as Florida lobster tail, or sandwiches, burgers or pasta. One item is the "Wacky Jack Combos" selections from a list that includes fried clam strips, crab cakes, oysters, shrimp, grouper, scallops, mahi, amberjack and cod. For non-seafood diners, the menu includes chicken breast (blackened, broiled or grilled) and New York strip.
Favorite Dish: Fresh oysters on the half shell and hot wings.
- Family Travel
JD's Restaurant & Lounge: friendly, family atmosphere
Down to earth, family oriented gulf coast establishment. They make you feel like your at home on the gulf.
Casual Florida dining pair it with
live entertainment ...with exceptional local artists performing
at our piano bar and on the back patio, you can be assured
that our food won't be the only thing you'll be talking about
after you leave.
Favorite Dish: Liver and onions, mashed potatoes & gravy, the endless salad bowl.
- Family Travel
Keegan's Sea Food Grill: Keegan’s uses the freshest local products
A casual spot that has built a loyal local following over 25 years by offering seafood that goes beyond grouper sandwiches — though they have those too — with charbroiled octopus, gumbo, she-crab soup and blackened gator tail. Regulars know to check the specials on the blackboard. Featured in an episode of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, it's hard to say it fits any of those descriptions, so don't let the strip mall location fool you.
Favorite Dish: Blackened Grouper Sandwich and Seafood Gumbo.
- Family Travel
Crabby Bill's: so-so seafood
We waited in line for about one hour. Food was so-so. Not best food but not worst food. Decor is a mix of sports bar, typical sea decor, and dinner. Lots of people so it is very loud and noisy inside. Not very memorable experience for us.
China Gate Restaurant - Largo
China Gate is located in Largo, maybe 10 minutes from the town of Indian Rocks Beach. It is the closest good Chinese food to the beach, so we seem to get take out from here quite a bit. The food in pretty much standard American Chinese cuisine, the quantities large, and it is ready pretty quickly. I've eaten several dishes from here including Mongolian beef, mu shu pork, barbecued ribs, various soups, and fried rice. All have been solid dishes that we filled up on.
Pittsburgh Pete's - Seminole
I've tried variations on the Pittsburgh Primanti's sandwich in various restaurants in a few cities around the Eastern US and have always been disappointed. Often the coleslaw doesn't compare, and the bread is wrong. Pittsburgh Pete's has the closest approximation of the original Primanti's sandwich I have found yet, in their Pittsburgh Pile Up sandwich.
Pittsburgh Pete's is a small Pittsburgh sports bar in a shopping plaza in Seminole, between Tampa and the beaches. The sign out front features a huge Primanti's sandwich, and as soon as you enter the front door, you are inundated with black and gold, as well as memorabilia from the Penguins, Pirates, and Steelers. We arrived on a day the Steelers were off, and their game was on the TV.
As soon as we sat down, we ordered two IC Light beers in the old-fashioned stubby bottles. I knew what I wanted, and quickly ordered the Pittsburgh Pile Up with cheese steak, just like I get every time at Primanti's! The sandwich was slow to arrive, but it was worth the wait. The bread was almost perfect, the coleslaw similar in taste, the fries like I'd expected, and piles of meat just falling off the sandwich. It was delicious and authentic, and the service was very good as well. The sandwiches are $9 each and IC Light beers are about $3.
The bar gets NFL Sunday ticket, and has one large-screen TV and five smaller TVs, so it might be a good place to watch the game. The place is small, but it could probably seat about 50 inside at the 8 tables plus 10 bar stools. They also have two or three small tables outside.
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