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.
Cody's Original Roadhouse - Bellair Bluffs
Cody's Original Roadhouse was established in the Tampa Bay area, and now has 14 restaurants in 3 states. It reminds me of a low-budget Lonestar Steakhouse, with good beef at even better prices. We arrived just before happy hour ended, so most of us ordered the two-for-one draft beers and wine. While we read over the menu, we all enjoyed some of the roasted peanuts that cover the table (and the floor). Our waitress was a flake, she just kept babbling about stupid things, kind of interrupting our meal, but also mildly entertaining.
Their special the day we visited (other than the happy hour drinks) was very inexpensive filet minon in 9 ounce or 6 ounce cuts for about $15 and $12 including bread, salad, and side dishes. That is a steal for a great cut of beef. Normal price for the large filet is $18. Even their big 24 ounce porterhouse is fairly priced at about $22.
I think almost every one of us had the filets, I had mine rare with their "grilled shrimp" for another $3. For how wonderful the steak was, the shrimp were equally awful. The menu implied they would be large, grilled shrimp; instead they were tiny fried shrimp soaked in butter.
Overall, the steaks were good, sides average, service pretty poor (not only annoying, but she also forgot some of our side dishes). Definitely a good value, despite the negatives.
Pajano's Pizza - Indian Rocks Beach
Pajano's is the perfect little local pizza joint. Steps from the beach, good food, large quantities, inexpensive, and friendly. They specialize in pizza, but their menu (.pdf) also has sandwiches, such as the house cheese steak. Pajano's offers delivery, take out, or in-house dining in their small dining room with one TV and a few bar games.
One Saturday evening we stopped in for a quick dinner. After scanning the menu that is painted on the wall above the kitchen, I decided on the special called the "Local Favorite House Steak," a Philly cheese steak which includes thin cut ribeye steak, grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, mayo, oil, vinegar, and hot peppers. This huge sandwich is only $7 and is enough for two small meals or one big dinner. With my sandwich I also had a plastic cup of beer for $1.85.
A few weeks later we decided to try Pajano's pizza. We called and ordered a large 18 inch pizza with pepperoni, onions, and mushrooms for $17, though they must charge a dollar or two for delivery since the delivery guy said we owed just over $20. The pizza was excellent, with lots of cheese and other toppings on a thin crust.
Los Mexicanos - Indian Rocks Beach
Sure, this is a long way from Mexico, but it does sit along the Gulf of Mexico. Los Mexicanos is one of the few Mexican restaurants that I have found along the Tampa-St Pete beaches. This large restaurant has a nice bar and a variety of tables and booths. The staff is mostly Hispanic, helping the authenticity factor. The menu is huge with some 25 combination dinners, plus a variety of nachos, burritos, enchiladas, and much more. They have a good variety of Mexican and domestic beers as well as tasty margaritas.
When we visited, I had a Tecate beer and the enchilada platter. The meal came with three enchiladas -- beef, chicken, and cheese. All were good, especially the beef.
Los Mexicanos is open until 10:30 p.m.
Beef O'Brady's - Largo and various other locations
Beef O'Brady's has a goofy name, and it is a chain, but it isn't too bad. We tried the one on Largo attached to Publix grocery store, but there are at least ten franchise locations throughout the Tampa area. Because of its location it made for a logical place to stop when we wanted to watch a little football, get lunch, then buy our groceries.
We arrived around 4pm as the early games were ending and the late games just gettign started. I was a bit disappointed that the majority of their TVs are small, with maybe 20 or 25 inch screens, while their two "big screen TVs" were perhaps 35 inches at best. The place needs a significant upgrade it it wants to be a competitive sports bar. They do have NFL Sunday Ticket, but that's just the bare minimum for any respectable sports bar.
On the other hand, their burgers are very good, the staff friendly and engaging, and the customers energetic, if crazy. This makes for a comfortable environment, though not quite fun or exciting. For our lunch, we had a few Yuengling beers at a dirt cheap price of $1.85 each as well as a Pepsi, which was more expensive than beer at $2.10. We also had the O'Brady burger and the black and bleu burger, both $7.70 each with your choice of several varieties of fries.
Beef O'Brady's is a growing eastern US franchise with over 250 locations in 26 states. The franchise began in Brandon, Florida, just outside of Tampa, and well over half of the locations are i Florida.
Thai-Pan Alley - Indian Rocks Beach
Good Thai food and free local delivery!
We had some pretty basic Thai meals: Shrimp in a blanket ($6) for an appetizer along with Pad Thai ($8) and Drunk Noodles ($9). Both were great, though the drunk noodles came out about 10 minutes before the pad Thai, not good customer service.
Another time we had Thai Lomen, ginger duck with Thai steamed dumplings as an appetizer.
They also serve all dishes with hotness on a 1 to 5 scale ranging from mild to devil hot. Laura had the Pad Thai at a 2 for medium, and I had the drunk noodles at a 3 for "Thai hot."
The location is just a few yards from the beach, so very convenient if you park nearby.
Red Lion British Pub - Indian Rocks Beach
I want to like the Red Lion Pub; I really do. I visited a second time, even after a horrible first experience. I like that they still use a pad of paper and a metal spike. I like that the place is always full of locals, but few tourists. I like neon lights and I like pool tables. I really like lots of TV with sports.
Now the negatives. The TVs were showing pseudo sports like rugby and soccer despite a big college football game with two top-25 teams battling it out. During my first visit the bartender was an ass (but this visit they were better). Maybe worst of all, the food is well below average.
I had the fried fish and chips, and it was overcooked, dried out and chewy. A big serving of bad food is still bad food. The fries were OK at least.
PJ's Oyster Bar - Indian Rocks Beach
PJ's has lots of neon, dollar bills stapled to walls, humorous signs, and a diverse menu that covers the gamut from seafood to wings and burgers. The restaurant is very casual, with paper towel rolls hung over each table, wait staff in shorts, and drinks in plastic cups, about right for the beach. The food was pretty plain I thought--certainly there are better options in IRB.
We arrived on a Sunday night around 8pm and were seated in the corner near the busy kitchen; the wait staff running back and forth all the time is pretty distracting. For some reason we decided to start our meal with their hot buffalo wings--they were tasty, but kind of dry and they culd have used more sauce. The two of us then ordered grouper sandwiches, one blackened with fries and one broiled with cole slaw, along with two lemonades in the aforementioned plastic cups. My sandwich was pretty bland and lacking taste, but Laura said hers was good. The fries and fresh veggies were the best part of the meal.
The grouper sandwich is pretty inexpensive at about $8. Other items on the menu can run $20 or more, pretty much comparable to other local restaurants.
IRB Sushi - Indian Rocks Beach
IRB Sushi is right next to and owned by Crabby Bill's seafood restaurant. This is newer spot, and a good restaurant to fill a niche in the local restaurant scene. Sure it is easy to find seafood here, but there is not much raw seafood!
Inside the restaurant is a huge open area with lots of blacks and reds. They even have two tables, each seating six, that are semi-private with walls on the front and back. We sat at the large 15-seat sushi bar for our dinner.
I started with the Singapore beer called Tiger ($3.50) and Laura had a Kirin ($3.25) before moving on to the IRB pina colada with Japanese saki instead of rum. For our meals we started with edamame ($4), then we selected four rolls: tuna spicy roll ($6), dynamite roll ($7), unaku roll ($6), and the Tampa roll ($8). The sushi was pretty good and fresh; the Tampa roll was the most unique item, as it was filled with fried grouper. My biggest problem was their lack of a system to track who ordered what; it seemed like we were distracted every five minutes as they walked by asking us if we ordered this meal or that.
Guppy's Seafood Restuarant - Indian Rocks Beach
This was a very pleasant surprise within easy walking distance of the e house where we stayed in Indian Rocks Beach. In fact, they only reason why we chose Guppy's was because it's the closest restaurant to our house, it turned out to be one of the nicest places around.
They had a 30-minute wait when we arrived around 8pm, so we quickly grabbed the last little high-top table near the bar along with a couple of beers. As we walked back to the bar, we were amazed at how huge the interior is here, much bigger than you'd expect from the outside. After around 30 minutes our buzzer went off and the hostess showed us to a small table for two that was tucked behind the hostess stand in what looked like a coat closet. Besides the table in the coat closet, the only problem was that we had three in our party, so the hostess offered to pull a third chair up to the tiny table. We politely decline and sat back down to wait some more.
Finally around 9pm we were seated to a comfortably sized table outside on the popular front patio. I had the grilled black grouper (around $22) while one of my companions had the lobster ravioli ($18). The meal was great, and the service was very good. My only problem was the 15 percent gratuity included in the bill for us. The waitress graciously explained that was because of cheap Canadians coming down to Florida.
Kooky Coconut - Indian Rocks Beach
The Kooky Coconut is a great local place for quick ice cream, breakfast all day, and slow but unique Cuban sandwiches along the coastline of Indian Rocks Beach.
We stopped in looking for a quick dinner, because this is one of the very few sandwich places in Indian Rocks Beach. We parked in their compact rear lot (free for customers, $3 an hour for beach goers!), and entered via the outdoor seating area through the back door. The inside is kind of tacky, but just enough to still be comfortable, with umbrellas, beach chairs, and beach-themed paintings on the floor, walls, and ceiling.
The menu is pretty simple with a variety of "Cuban" sandwiches, breakfast items, other simple dishes, and ice cream. They also sell a few little souvenirs such as sea shells.
We ordered two of their Cubans: a regular Tampa Cuban and the Tropical Cuban, for about $7 each. The sandwiches come in 5 inch, 9 inch, and 12 inch lengths, and the the 9 inch was about perfect for each of us for dinner.
The Lobster Pot - Redington Shores
As the name implies, the Lobster Pot specializes in lobster, with both Maine and South African lobster served various way from boiled tails to lobster cakes, lobster thermidor, lobster Americaine, and of course whole boiled or steamed lobsters. During my visit, whole lobsters were around $45 for 1.5 pounds, while some of the specials such as South African lobster tail with red snapper was about $30. They also offer Alaskan king crab legs, shrimp, scallops, oysters, mussels, grouper, sole, salmon, as well as pasta, lamb, veal, chicken, and steak.
Favorite Dish: Lobster of course!
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