On a coastal vacation, cuisine with a view is as essential to the itinerary as a day at the beach. There’s just something about shuffling through sand en route to lunch, or watching the sun set over dinner. To find great waterfront and beach dining, head to Clearwater for a range of dining choices that make even the locals feel like they’re on vacation.
Long after the table is cleared, flavors and views come together to create lasting memories. And after-dinner walks along the water help you store the experience, not the calories. Bon appetit!
Casual Beach Dining Classics
What Chicago did for pizza, Clearwater did for the grouper sandwich. You’ll hardly find an area menu without one, but locals have asserted for years that the “Frenchy’s” family of restaurants (Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, Frenchy’s Salt Water Cafe, Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe and Frenchy’s Original Cafe) spaced throughout Clearwater Beach, serves the best. They’ve also deemed the local chain a generous provider of complimentary sunsets, and with its locations’ signature proximity to the shore, you won’t find a bad seat in the house. Depending on the location, you might find live music or a beachfront bar where it’s perfectly acceptable to arrive sandy-footed and clad in swimwear.
On Pass-a-Grille Beach, pay homage to the landmark Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, where multi-levels offer panoramic Gulf views, live music and dancing in an atmosphere slightly more formal than that of sandier surfside hang-outs. Sunsets savored from the Hurricane’s rooftop deck enhance the flavor of its something-for-everyone menu. If you’re looking for beach dining in the area, the Hurricane’s a classic.
Locals also are partial to Billy’s Stone Crab Restaurant in nearby Tierra Verde. Feast on sweet scallops, Gulf Stream mahi mahi, fresh Florida flounder and stone crabs fresh from the owner’s traps. The menu is succulently simple, and the atmosphere creates a total experience for patrons. Before or after your meal, hop aboard one of the restaurant’s narrated boat tours of its surrounding waterways. Or enjoy a Full Moon Party – live music and an open-air rooftop bar all but enforce relaxation.
At Woody’s Waterfront Restaurant, a retro style, casual vibe and amazing views come together for a great time dining on the water. Located in St. Pete Beach on the blue waters of Blind Pass, Woody’s is so close to the water that you’re likely to see schools of bright fish and even playful dolphins passing by. Sit back, relax and enjoy classic seafood dishes, bar food and continental fare.
Fancy Waterfront Dining in Clearwater
With its signature style – what the owners call a blend of Pacific Rim, continental and island cuisine – Island Way Grill offers a more formal approach to waterfront dining on Clearwater Beach. (Just keep in mind that in the town named USA Today‘s “Best Beach Town in Florida” in 2013, “formal” often means tucking a Tommy Bahama shirt into a pair of walking shorts for men and sporting sundresses or capris for women. And flip-flops are de rigueur all around.) Come by boat if you wish, and sample jalapeno conch fritters and the restaurant’s coveted bamboo salmon. Island Way also offers an early dining menu and a Sunday champagne brunch that you’ll crave long after you leave. Just don’t forget to take in the view of Clearwater Harbor between bites of sushi or bananas foster.