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Crabby Bill's alert! (Clearwater beach advice)

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This restaurant is the ultimate tourist trap! Located right on Clearwater beach, it is a convenient location, but the good stuff stops right there. A visiting relative wanted to try it, and ignorant of the crap that this place dishes out, i went along.

The stone crab claw appetizer went for an absurd $25, and for only 3 claws, it's a disgrace. Crab cakes were scattered with pieces of shell and were overly-salty. The crab cake entree went for $11, but only included 2 small cakes. The green beans (the only alternative to cole slaw) had half-cooked pieces of bacon fat in it, and tasted bland. All the rest is baked potato and french fries.

Soft-shelled crabs suffered from overly-thick batter. The Manhattan cocktails had no vermouth. The waitress was snotty and mechanical. This is 'processing of diners' at its worst. Dinner for 4 adults and 2 kids ran over $100, and we all left less than happy. The night before, 7 adults ate and drank all they wanted in Ybor City for less!!!

Stay away from this place if you find yourself on clearwater beach. Leverocks is much better, as is the Columbia on Sand Key. But if you can, just stay away from beach dining altogether. Or better yet, go to Honeymmon island (near Dunedin)--- wonderful beach, not crowded, no commercial BS. Clearwater beach is one giant tourist trap, unfriendly to locals and confusing to drive in. I'm a local, so trust me.

One more thing: I hear Crabby Bill is indeed a crab, a meanie, a real SOB.

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  1. I too am a local, and couldn't agree more. However you left out the part about seating. Sharing a mile long picnic table with smelly strangers jammed together is not my idea of fun. The tourists do love it though...
    I own a seafood market and restaurant in St. Petersburg, and although I am not here to toot my own horn, I must defend Crabby Bill's crab prices: My wholesaler and I recently discussed the incredible price increases. Jumbo lump now goes for $25 per pound TO THE WHOLESALER. That means people like me have to mark it up even further before we resell it or use it in a recipe. It is coming from Indonesia and China at that...absolutely nothing domestic available. Very sad, the state of the world seafood industry. Farm raising will soon be the only viable source, I think.

    P.S. I had heard from a longtime employee that Crabby Bill was a nice guy... who knows?

    5 Replies
    1. re: joan

      Im a resident of St. Pete. Just curious - What is the name of your reataurant/seafood store?

      1. re: allison9090

        Allison: I confess, in an earlier post to you I recommended my own restaurant...shameless, I know, but I could tell by your post that you would like it. You recommended the Italian place on 9th Ave north...I still have it on my list, you know! By the way, if you stop in, ask for me, I'd love to meet you!
        Mid Peninsula Seafood
        Market & Restaurant
        400 49th Street South
        St. Pete 328-8309

        1. re: joan

          Joan, you can totally recommend your restaurant. cause it is that good.

          1. re: ambroziak

            I mentioned this to Joan when I was at MPS last week and it was so long ago she had no recollection of the post. And, she couldn't believe it was still here are viewable. But you're right, she definitely can recommend her place with confidence.

        2. re: allison9090

          I beg to differ somewhat...I've been to Crabby Bill's several times. The Stone Crab appetizer (Jumbos) cost me 11.95...three to four claws each time. The Oysters were great and only 1.95 doz.(a half price special). I'm not big on fried seafood so I stick with steamed or raw stuff. My wife and I stuffed our faces with crabs, oysters and beer and never spent more than 50.00....Yeah its touristy...IMHO I thought Leverocks was lame and overpriced.

      2. Wow, that's a lot different than Crabby's used to be. They used to make a great fresh fried fish sandwich with fries and slaw for $2.95!(I haven't been there for a year or so.) A platter of onion rings the size of a garbage can lid piled high ran around $4, and was excellent. I've eaten at Leverock's a couple of times and always liked Crabby Bill's better (the original location up in Indian Rocks or Madeira for quality, but the St. Pete Beach one for the view, since it sits directly on the beach.) I know Bill sold out to a corporation a few years ago but is slowly reclaiming the outlets. It's a shame if it's slipping that way, although my only expectation was for a good, cheap fresh fish dinner and they always delivered.

        1. I agree the place is a tourist trap! Being a glutton for punishment, I have over the years been there seveal times. I swear it gets worse

          1. Just got back from the St. Pete Beach Crabby Bill's and I don't see any changes for the worse (we've eaten there occasionally over ten or so years.) Prices are still low, quality is not bad, location is excellent.

            I had the fresh fish sandwich ($4.95 with two sides) and a huge bowl of very spicy gumbo ($3.50.) A giant plate of onion rings is still $2.95, a 1/2 pound burger with sides for my non-seafood eating wife was $5.50, and the fresh fish of the day (several kinds) were all around $15. A dozen oysters is $4.00.

            The only disappointment: iced tea is strictly bogus from a mix.

            Everyone has their own opinion, of course, but I would still recommend Crabby Bill's in St. Pete Beach for a great view right on the Gulf, an informal atmosphere, and good and cheap fresh seafood, simply prepared without pretense. I've eaten at Leverock's and it was OK, but invariably we go back to Crabby's. It may be touristy, but most of the people we see there seem to be locals.

            1. We are from the UK, and visited Crabbys when we visited Clearwater beach. We spent $50 and thouroughly enjoyed our food. We love the USA and would just love to visit Crabbys again Just to be in Clearwater again. We would swap you for the UK anytime!!!

              Crabby Bill's Seafood
              5100 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706

              12 Replies
              1. re: simonm121

                Crabby Bills is our favorite restaurant to go to for seafood. It seems to be well liked by others too based on the line to get in every time we have gone. They have updated the menu from the last time we were in and everthing we had was very good. {mahi tacos, boomer shrimp, crab ravioli, dungeness crab, grouper and a few bowls of red gumbo} A neighbor of ours who has lived in the Clearwater area for years recomended Crabby's to us when we told him we were going to Shells. We are happy he did.

                1. re: offshore3

                  I could see it being a step up from Shells

                    1. re: rhnault

                      Meow!! :-)
                      Sorry, offshore, you're entitled to your opinion, but you won't find many like-minded people here.

                      1. re: Miss E

                        Yeah seriously, Crappy Bills is one of the few places I've walked out of. The only thing that keeps that place open is the weekend drink-a-thon frat parties they host. Everyone I know that's eaten there was underwhelmed or flat out hated it.

                  1. re: simonm121

                    Always good to dredge up something written a decade ago and comment on it, eh?

                    1. re: UptownKevin

                      when i moved to Florida from NY 4 years ago, my friends told me to steer clear of Crabby Bill's. Some friends were visiting from PA and insisted on going since the person at the desk at their resort recommended it. I was not a happy camper but went along with the crowd. No one, not even the kids with us, liked the food. And of course, since we were in FLORIDA, where I live, i got the evil eye from everyone. "Why didn't you tell us??" i tried, i tried. And fried pickles? no, no, no, no. Things on the menu sounded good, but it all fell short. Every single item Awful fried crap. Some things never change.

                      1. re: UptownKevin

                        Kev, normally I wouldn't participate, but it's pretty sad when a restaurant can suck balls for a decade straight.

                        1. re: askdrtodd

                          And still have people standing in line for their bad food. WTF?? Only in Florida. lol

                            1. re: sweet_polly

                              seriously. probably has to do with us being a tourist trap.

                        2. I'm only a "local" during january to march each year. I too have found the Clearwater Gul Blvd 'Beachwalk' location of Crabby Bills to be a failure as far as quality of food, menu, and service are concerned. I don't know about the location on Causeway Blvd in Clearwater.

                          However, the Indian Rocks location on Gulf Blvd has been OK in comparison. I buy their 48 ounce can of N Eng Clam Chowder next door in their fresh seafood shop. Also, especially neat is the open air bar area (when it's warm enough) and the breakfasts are pretty good on Saturday and Sunday mornings when the "soccer" crowd gathers around to watch English Premier League soccer games. Am I the only one who would like a not-so-cold English ale? Oh well, Amber Bock is the closest at the place.

                          For fresh fish lunches at reasonable prices I go to Mid Peninsula Seafood 400 49th st south in St. Pete (south of Central Ave) - not cloth tablecloth country, but good fresh seafood. Mid Pen is closed on Sundays, I believe. Never met "Crabby" or the owner of Mid Pen and don't know if either are "crabby" but their crab is OK. For casual "smoked" I go to Ted Peter's in South Pasadena, just south of Gulfport Blvd.

                          Mid Peninsula Seafood
                          400 49th St S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33707

                          Crabby Bill's Seafood
                          404 Gulf Blvd, Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: jayinlargo

                            The owner of Crabby's lived up to his name when he totally insulted an out of town guest of ours that had jokingly remarked Crabby looked JUST like the guy on the bottle of sauce they were selling at his store. Crabby said to my hubby and his unsuspecting friend,"Just where did you two @$$****s come from???
                            On the other hand, I have known the owners of Mid-Peninsula Seafood for over 20 years (our kids went to school together and hubby and I had a restaurant at that time), and have found them to be some of the nicest people we have met in the biz, with terrific food consistently served.

                            1. re: jayinlargo

                              After checking everything I could find on CH regarding fish taco/sandwiches in the Clearwater area, I took your advice, jayinlargo, and went to Mid Peninsula Seafood. I had a nice conversation with Joan, who, like me, is from Philadelphia. I had an amberjack (grilled) sandwich, some cole slaw and an XX..Fish was obviously fresh and cooked perfectly. I doubt that I'll drive there from my vacation spot in Orlando just for the sandwich, but if I'm in the area for any reason, I'm definitely going back. For sure I'll be there next year during Spring Training. Thanks for the tip!

                              Mid Peninsula Seafood
                              400 49th St S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33707

                              1. re: RAGHOUND

                                Joan is awesome and I love it when someone bumps a 11 year old Andy Huse thread. Glad you had good food.

                                1. re: rhnault

                                  For the benefit of a non-native, who is Andy Huse (other than the OP of this thread)?

                                  1. re: RAGHOUND

                                    Just funny because the thread is so old. Google Andy ;-)

                                    1. re: rhnault

                                      I'm just a guy who has been on these boards a long time. I remember when you could hear crickets, but i wrote anyway.

                                      we should really start new threads instead of bringing back ancient history. but in this case, it doesn't sound like the restaurant has changed much.

                                  2. re: rhnault

                                    I've never been to Mid Peninsula.... Sounds like fun--- ASAP....

                              2. I just got the word from my brother-in-law about the lousiness of the tourist trap that is Crabby Bill's in Clearwater. In 2012, it seems odd to reply to a thread started in 2000, but I notice a fair number of replies over the years. So, the brother-in-law warned me that the prices are outrageous, the portions small, and the food not great. I travel to Clearwater from time to time, have never tried the place, but now I am sure there are better places to break bread next time I am over that way.

                                1. On a side note, the Crabby Bills in Tarpon Springs has closed to be replaced by the Ballyhoo; whichi was its previous incarnation...