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.
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!
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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