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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.