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Apr 21, 2010 07:52 PM

Clearwater and vicinity recs

I am looking for inexpensive to moderate dining recommendations in the Clearwater area. We will be going to various beaches in the area.

I am already planning on going to Dockside Dave's (for grouper). Where can I find a good Cuban sandwich and good seafood? We are also open to trying other types of foods. I would like to try some local cuisine.

We will probably do some picnics at the beach.

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  1. ON CB proper, you can't beat the grouper sandwich at Frenchy's (any of the four locations, although Rockaway Grill,which is right on North Beach, has the best view). For a Cuban sandwich in the CB area, your best bet is probably the Columbia on Sand Key (which is just south, over the bridge, from CB. Go at lunch time. Another good lunch option there (and my personal fave) is the soup and salad combo of their famous 1905 salad with a cup of the scrumptious garbanzo bean soup. These lunch items are moderately priced, plus you can sit on the deck if the weather's nice and enjoy great views of the Intercoastal.

    Another favorite on CB in your price range is Clear Sky Cafe on Mandalay--great for b'fast, lunch, and dinner. It's our go-to resto for breakfast in the area.

    CB is full of laid-back beach dive types of restos, most with rather mediocre food. Other than the aformentioned Frenchys, Cooters is another good bet. I think they are still doing their all you can eat snow crab on Mondays and Tuesdays, a really good deal for the money.

    If you're willing to drive a ways down Gulf Blvd, try Caddy's in Treasure Island. It's the quintessential beach bar--with picnic tables nestled on a beautiful stretch of Sunset Beach--with incredibly good smoked corned beef and Reuben sandwiches, of all things. Plant your bathing suited body at a picnic table, enjoy a sandwich with a brewsky or Rum Runner, and enjoy the people watching. Caddy's can be quite the scene.

    Finally, allllllll the way down on St. Pete Beach is my fave Cuban resto in the area, Bella Havana. I tend to crave their mojitos (which are flavorful but not too strong rumwise, which is perfect for a lightweight like me). If you are into paella or arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), theirs is definitely worth the 45-minute wait. I also love their masas de puerco (fried pork chunks) and of course their fried plantains and yucca.

    I've limited my recs to beach area restos only--let me know if you'd like some recs on the mainland. Enjoy your stay!

    I'm assuming your definition of "moderate" is under $15 an entree on average. If you're willing to go a bit beyond that price point, I definitely recommend Al & Stellason CB for awesome Italian (otherwise, at least check out their gelato); Shor in the new Hyatt; Kiku for uber-good sushi; and Guppys on Indian Rocks Beach.

    2 Replies
    1. re: laurie


      Thanks for the info. I am trying to find foods which I can not normally get in the Chicago area.

      What is the dresscode at Columbia? It looks like fine dining. They might not appreciate beachwear.

      We will be staying at Indian Rocks.

      I am looking for some inexpensive/moderately priced interesting places like Arco Iris. Tampa suggestions near Busch Garden or the zoo would also be good since we are going to visit those places.

      I would also like to know where to find this a good version of this: Devil Crab Croquettes

      Thanks for the info.


      Arco Iris Cafe
      4001 N Habana Ave, Tampa, FL 33607

      1. re: shorty68

        The nice thing about being at the beach is that even the fine dining restaurants are pretty casual.

    2. For an excellent Cuban sandwich, try the Floridian, just off Gulf Blvd in Treasure Island.

      For more local flavor, try the iconic Ted Peters' Smoked Fish. It is just across the Causeway from St Pete Beach. Their fish spread is delicious, and their smoked fish meals are huge. They have been smokin' that fish on Pasadena Ave for over 50 years!

      1. A short drive away from Clearwater is a small town named Dunedin. Kelly's on Main St. is hands down the best restaurant on that main drag. Laid Back vibe with an extensive wine & brew list. Breakfast & Dinner are my meals of choice. The French Toast special of the day is what I typically order & I usually have to restrain myself so I don't lick the plate clean.