DC chowhound needs Safety Harbor/Clearwater recs
The inlaws have roped me into spending 5 days at the Safety Harbor Spa in June. Tennis, golf, and massages aren't my thing, and the inhouse restaurant doesn't sound impressive. So I'm looking for local cuisine (cuban sandwiches, seafood, stone crabs, etc), informal dining, with kids and without, preferrably within a halfhour drive of the spa. Not really interested in Italian or Chinese.
Also, is the Lincoln Heights Bistro still any good?
As far as restaurants go in the Safety Harbor area, our favorites are as follows:
GREEN SPRINGS (DOWNTOWN SAFETY HARBOR AREA)
CELLO'S CHARHOUSE (DOWNTOWN SAFETY HARBOR AREA)
BRADY'S BACKYARD (DOWNTOWN SAFETY HARBOR AREA)
BAN THAI (ENTERPRISE & MCMULLEN BOOTH RD)
JOHNNY'S ITALIAN GRILL (ON 590 BETWEEN MCMULLEN & 19)
I am a big fan of the little food joints in Safety Harbor and nearby.
Just tried Brady's Backyard Grill World Famous BBQ about an hour ago. It was really, really good. Perfect tender pulled pork sandwich with 2 BBZ sauces; one kinda thick and rich and sweet, and the other kinda garlicy sweet. Really great and nice little picnic tables type decor. It is 2 blocks from the Spa
Also love the Whistle Stop which is just great for funky, outdoor southern style food. Hard to describe the Queeseen, but it is just funky. It is on the other side of downtown, 9 blocks west of the spa; a 10 minute walk. Live entertaniment
Ban Thai is nearby, but not walking distance. Excellent Thai andn sushi.
Also a big fan of Jack Willies, in nearby Oldsmar. Good seafood and sandwiches and outdoor water(mudhole)front tiki bar with live music.
There is also a VERY DWNHOME BBQ place in Oldsmar, on St. Pete Drive, called Georgia Boys BBQ. Too good to even think about, if you like VERY DOWNHOME southern Q.
For a FANCEE experience, try HAPA restaurant also in Oldsmar. The reviews have been outstanding. Kind of a six-tables type place.
Lincoln Heights is very good; hours are Wed- Sat, lunch + dinner. If you're calorie concious, don't go there - but if you're looking for delicious southern-style food, you will be in LOVE. The service is very friendly yet low-maintenance (which I personally like).
Ban Thai is worth a try- love their sushi and soups. Clean and a surprising pretty interior despite being located in an unassuming strip mall. The Italian Ice place two doors down serves a huge selection of flavored ices as well as gelato.
If you go to Whistle Stop- try their black beans and rice with their homemade salsa mixed in. Oh and fried dill pickles dunked in ketchup taste JUST like a Happy Meal - if that's your thing, it's kinda fun.
The Paradise has a good breakfast. Simple but inexpensive.
Brady's - probably some of the most delicious ribs I have ever tasted.
You are right-on that the food at the spa is nothing to write home about. Save your $$ and enjoy it at some of the many local great eateries.
Just this past week I tried Green Springs Cafe (on N. 4th, right off Main) and enjoyed it a lot. It's in a funked-out cottage filled with local art for sale, and the food is great. I much enjoyed their grits with shrimp and sausage. I have also heard good things about Whistle Stop and Lincoln Heights Bistro, and plan to check out both during the next month or so.
For an extraordinary meal, make reservations at Hapa in Oldsmar, on Tampa Road. It's about a 10 - 15 minute drive from the spa. Check out my post from last month about our meal there. It is GREAT!
Skip the restaurant in the hotel unless you are really after spa food with carefully measured calories, etc., food is just OK, and it feels weird eating lunch beside people wearing bathrobes.
Lincoln Heights Bistro still excellent. Call them re hours, they are not open every day for lunch and dinner.
Green Street is quite good and the decor is a hoot.
Whistle Stop took a dive on grouper sandwiches recently, but ice cream is excellent.
Almost right across from the spa is Shelley's Deli. Not sure their Cubans are authentic, not trying to start a war on that subject, but they are REALLY tasty. This will look like a deli counter in a gas station strip area, don't be deceived, worth the stop.
Agree on Bahn Thai, have posted about that place a few times.
Greek food is a big deal here, Louis Pappas Market Cafe is pretty good, 2560 McMullen-Booth Road, at Enterprise.
Definitely try Athens Cafe in downtown Safety Harbor. Their breakfasts and lunches are not only delicious, but CHEAP! Jumbo omelets, for about $5. And don't miss their Chicken Souvlaki and Greek Salad--absolutely divine! They are only open at breakfast and lunch. Athens Restaurant
226 Main Street, Safety Harbor, FL 34695
Also, Safety Harbor has a farmer's market on Saturdays where you can find local foodstuffs.
In Clearwater, Mystic Fish is a MUST try but reservations are advisable--I've never had a bad meal there.
There's a place in Dunedin, called Umberto's--it's Italian. Their food is fabulous. Umberto's of Long Island 150 Patricia Ave Dunedin, FL 34698-8103
For mexican, don't miss Poblano's!! Poblano's Mexican Grill & Bar 2451 McMullen Booth Road Suite FG Clearwater, FL 33759. (727) 796-7080 Their mexican food can't be beat.
Hope this helps!
The farmer's market is now on Thursday mornings (such a bummer for us who have to go to work during the week)
Just had a black and blue fish sandwich for lunch today (blackened tilapia with melted crumbles of blue cheese) at the Whistle Stop. Quite good.
I do agree the Cuban at Shelley's across the street are really tasty. I can see people staying at the Spa a little nervousgoing in there. My suggestion is go buy the sandwich and go sit by the water by the pier on the side of the spa.
In Safety Harbor, you can try:
Whistle Stop, for good and different diner food, outside, with entertainment and good icecream, right on Main Street
BanThai is excellent local Thai, in Northwood area.
For pub food,like burgers and wings, no place better than the Varsity Club at US 19 and Sunset Point road, about 10 minutes from the Spa.
In nearby Oldsmar, about 10 minutes from the Spa, is Jack Willies which has good fish and outdoor entertainment.