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Spring Training in Clearwater - need recs

Greetings Everyone -

Several of my friends and myself are heading to Clearwater for Spring training in March. We will be spending 5 days there which equals a lot of dining. We are staying at the Radisson in central Clearwater and are looking to stay in the Clearwater area for the most part. I have searched this board and with the exception of seafood restaurants, I have not seen a lot of recent posts on the Clearwater dining scene. I am looking for all types of recommendations from cheap to expensive (but not fancy) as well as all types of food. One thing I have not found are any recommendations for are steakhouses or Italian places or bar food. Thanks in advance for your help.

JeffinPA

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  1. Angelo's in Palm Harbor for pizza

    1. Some of these places are more casual than others, but you can wear jeans into any of them, though some places would prefer dressy jeans.

      Antonio's Pasta Grille on Ulmerton Road has pretty good Italian (Feather Sound area) Casual place, but good food!
      www.antoniospastagrille.com

      Cafe' Ponte, not to be confused with Ponte's Tuscan Grill on Icot Blvd. is very good. Their website doesn't seem to be up and running.

      Grillmarks-really good and a little bit of funk
      http://www.grillmarks.com

      Ponte's Tuscan Grill on McMullen Booth Road a bit north of Ruth Eckerd Hall
      No website-this place used to be called Bracci Bistro

      Bar food...Casual stuff and a bar, small outdoor deck-Tuscons Grill and Cantina also on Icot Blvd.
      www.tucsonscantina.com

      Bascom's on Ulmerton Road-this is supposed to be a really good steak. I haven't eaten there yet, but will be trying it this Saturday night
      http://www.bascoms.com

      Mexican food, I love Carmelita's. They have four locations. I go to the one off of East Bay in the same shopping center as Chili's and Office Depot.
      www.carmelitas.net

      There is also a really good place called Red Mesa for Mexican, but they are in St. Pete a bit south of Clearwater. It's worth the extra few minutes, though:
      www.redmesarestaurant.com

      A place I've heard really good things about is Tio Pepe. I haven't been there yet, so I can't attest to whether it's true or not.
      http://www.tiopeperestaurant.com

      BBQ and casual fare: Hogfish Grill
      www.hogfishgrill.com

      If you want to venture out to Clearwater Beach and area, the following are pretty good:

      Island Way Grille
      www.islandwaygrill.com

      Salt Rock Grill
      www.saltrockgrill.com

      Frenchy's for very casual stuff. They have four of them, I usually go to the Rockaway one right on the beach.
      www.frenchysonline.com

      If you all venture over the bridge to Tampa at all there are some really great threads on where to dine. One place to check out, on the water, for a casual laid back scene is Rattlefish. Lots of people just hanging out and having a beer (or two or three or four...)

      Hope this helps! Have fun!

      1. Very close to or right in downtown:
        For mexican I like Los Marachi on clevland st
        for Bar food particularly great wings, Mugs 'n Jugs on missouri www.mugsnjugs.com
        O'Keefes is also cool casual Irish place for bar food or dinner, on south Fort Harrison

        1. Well, my dear BF works for the Phillies. The players tend to frequent places around the stadium, like Lenny's (excellent for breakfast!!!) Lenny's also caters to the Phillies.

          For Mexican, we like Casa Tina's in Dunedin. Avoid Caramba's Mexican at all costs--overpriced, poor service and mediocre food.

          For pizza, Umberto's in Dunedin (on Patricia) is excellent and can't be beat Alternatively, Cafe Milano on Ft. Harrison in Downtown Clearwater is good. The guy there is a bit like the soup nazi from Seinfeld in that he doesn't like you to make changes to his pizzas. But, he is from Italy and the pizza is quite good.

          For steaks, you MUST make your way to Salt Rock Grill on Indian Rocks Beach.

          For beach vibe, check out Cooter's (food is good, service is hit and miss) on Clearwater Beach.

          For barbeque, check out the Ozona Pig in Ozona. Their BBQ is pretty good.

          For Chinese, make your way to Ivory Mandarin Bistro in Dunedin (www.ivorybistro.com) They are one of the top 100 Chinese restaurants in America. If you're really going for authentic, be sure to ask for their Chinese menu.

          Also, be sure to check out this article at
          http://www.sptimes.com/2006/12/28/Wee...

          This was written by Chris Sherman, the local food critic for the St. Pete Times. He stepped down in December, but not without first doing this list.

          Hope this helps!

          1. Here are my recs, all within about a 10-minute drive from the Radisson. I've stuck mainly to laid-back, reasonably-priced places, along with a few "slurge" joints that are worth the extra bucks.

            In the Countryside area, along McMullen Booth Road and environs, check out Laziz, some of the best Indian food in the Tampa Bay area. Their lunch buffet is a great deal, but dinner is also reasonably priced. For great Chicago-style pizza, check out Paul's Pizza in the Publix shopping center on McMullen Booth just north of Drew. It's a small, unpretentious store front that serves an amazing pizza pie.

            For Italian, I like Bellini's in downtown Dunedin. It's on the pricey side, but I think you get what you pay for. Plus, Downtown Dunedin is worth a visit in its own right. Also in Downtown Dunedin, Kelly's for Just About Anything is a funky, eclectic joint with good food at reasonable prices.

            Safety Harbor (take Sunset Point Road east from U.S. 19 to get to their Main Street) also has some gems, and downtown Safety Harbor is also worth a visit in its own right. I recently tried Green Springs Cafe, an artsy little place in a cheerful old cottage with some creative menu offerings. I have not yet tried Whistle Stop or Lincoln Heights Bistro, but I've heard good things about both.

            In Clearwater, The Mirage on Gulf-to-Bay (by Belcher) serves a Persian-style Mediterranean buffet for both lunch and dinner that is fresh, delish, and a great value. They also have an a la carte menu. Check out the belly dancer on Fridays and Saturdays. I used to frequent Hogfish Grill on Gulf-to-Bay, but had a very disappointing experience last time I was there. It's morphing into a Caribbean-style place and is being re-named Rumba, although I think the sign still says Hogfish. I plan to try it out again once it get through its apparent growning pains, but caveat emptor for now.

            If you want a fantastic "splurge" feast, make reservations at Hapa, on Tampa Road in Oldsmar. This is Hawaiian Fusion with a French accent offered by a husband-wife team that is way better than Roys, in my opinion. Plan to drop around $75 per head if you do more than an entree.

            If you want REALLY good Mexican (and I don't mean Tex-Mex) and aren't put off by a divey-looking joint, take Drew west of Keene to La Cabana del Tio for incredible, freshly-made tortillas, sopes, and tacos al pastor (seasoned pork) and bistec con nopales (steak with cactus). The St. Pete Times recently reviewed this fabulous little spot, and the owner told me last weekend (yeah, I frequent the joint) that his business since has grown from a mainly Mexican customer base to about 50% Anglo, with many new repeat customers.

            On Clearwater Beach, Island Way Grill is your best bet for great fare in a beautiful setting on the water. I would list this second on a "splurge" list.

            For breakfast, I wholeheartedly second the recommendation for Lenny's. Kelly's in Dunedin also serves a nice breakfast, as does Benedicts, at Alt 19 and the Dunedin Causeway.

            Hope that helps!

            1. Thanks to everyone who has posted so far. This is exactly the information I was hoping for....what a fantastic forum. I am really looking forward to my first spring training trip......it's gonna be the Phillies year. I already had circled several places mentioned here. I am glad to get them vaildated. I am not leaving until March 8 in case anyone else has anything to add. I will be sure to post a full report after I return. I am definitely hoping to get to the Salt Rock Grill or the Island Way Grill along with a pilgrimage to Lenny's. I will be armed with a restaurant list along with a pen and ball for autographs. Thanks again.

              JEFF

              1. LOL We'll all be out looking for the guy with baseballs! Have a great first spring training. Will look forward to reading your reviews!

                Laurie-thanks for writing about Hapa. I'd read about it in the paper and was wondering if we should go over the bridge to try it!

                2 Replies
                1. re: HeatherFL

                  Heather, I also wrote a separate, more detailed post about our experience at Hapa around the end of January. Feel free to look that one up. Let me know what you think when you try it!

                  1. re: laurie

                    Thanks, Laurie! I'll look for it and report back. =)

                2. Make sure to make reservations for Salt Rock and Island Way--it's easy to get shut out if you call the day of or day before. Also, you need to get to Lenny's by about 8:15 on the weekends or else you will wait forever and a day.

                  1. This Italian restaurant is fantastic, I eat there every time I visit Clearwater. No menu, the owner or his wife comes by your table and shows you the ingredients he has for the day on a little cart and then he gives you some ideas on how he could prepare the food for you. It's killer.

                    La Trattoria da Gaetano
                    2152 Main St.
                    Dunedin, FL 34698
                    (772) 733-5664

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: landguy

                      No menu? Wow, that's an interesting concept, I've never heard of a place doing that. Does it work out well?

                      1. re: landguy

                        The food was good but it was a little disconcerting having to decide how you wanted your dish prepared. It's been a few years since we were there. I don't recall the chef making suggestions. We asked what they specialized in and could only get the response "We do everything." Perhaps after a few visits, you would get comfortable with the concept.

                      2. Here's an article on it:

                        http://ae.tbo.com/index.cfm?fuseactio...

                        What's the atmosphere like? Can you go casual? I'd love to try this place!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: HeatherFL

                          I just noticed it the other night. In tucked into a corner of the same shopping center where Ivory Mandarin Cafe is located. I'll check it out soon and report back.