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Wondering where to eat in Clearwater, Florida? Here are 10 of the best restaurants to try. Included are a local pizza favorite, another known for authentic Spanish cuisine and one located right on Clearwater’s sugar-sand beach for the best sunset photos.
The writer was hosted on this trip.
The 10 Best “Must-Try” Clearwater Beach Restaurants
If I’m being honest, I love food almost as much as I love to travel. When we visit new destinations I’m always in search of the best restaurants. We enjoy making travel memories while sharing a family meal together. Food is a huge part of our family vacations. During our visit to Clearwater, Florida, we had the opportunity to enjoy several meals and to hear from the locals. We hope this guide will help you find the best restaurants in Clearwater to enjoy during your visit.
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TravelingMom Tip: Don’t miss our list of 22 Ways for Families to Have Fun in Clearwater, Florida
Frenchy’s is one of the easiest places to find in Clearwater because they have 5 unique restaurants between Clearwater Beach and Dunedin Causeway. Each location has its own style and menu. The story behind these restaurants is a part of what makes them a staple in the area. Frenchy’s (the owner who the restaurant is named after) visited Clearwater on vacation and loved the area so much that he moved there and started working in the food industry and later on opened his first Frenchy’s restaurant. Each location is very laid back and a great place to grab a cold drink and some seafood before hitting the beach!
Frenchy’s must-try dish is their famous grouper sandwich!
215 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater, FL
This was easily one of the best meals we had during our visit. First of all, if you’ve eaten at Badfins in the past you should know that they have completely rebranded with a whole new menu and it’s worth a visit. What I loved about Badfins is that it had all the right beach vibes that I look for when picking a place to eat at after a day at the beach. From the outdoor seating and friendly staff to the laid-back atmosphere and delicious menu items, this Clearwater restaurant had it ALL! It was also a favorite among the locals which is always a good sign!
TravelingMom Tip: Try one of these Clearwater Beach hotels for family-friendly fun!
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
Prepare yourself to want everything on their menu. This is one of those places you visit more than once on your vacation because you want to try more of their dishes.
We Recommend these Dishes:
- Chicharrones (appetizer): Fried to perfection pork belly chicharrones with a honey garlic sauce that was so flavorful!
- Lobstah Mac N’ Cheetos: My 12-year-old devoured this lobster mac & cheese with Cheeto-panko crust. It was seriously one of the best mac & cheese dishes that I’ve ever had!
- Primo Fish Tacos: Every vacation I’m in search of tacos and these fish tacos were the perfect lunch to top off our morning at the beach. They were topped with a Chipotle-Lime Creme that was simply delicious!
- Not So Average Nachos: My two younger kids shared these nachos and I’m so glad I did because there was enough food there to feed a couple of kids and adults. It was a crowd-pleaser!
- Loaded Shorty: My husband’s mouth was watering the moment this dish was recommended to him and it lived up to the hype. This short rib barbacoa was served on a Hawaiian bun loaded with craft beer cheese, jalapeños, crispy onion straws and topped with Da Bomb Sauce. I’m pretty sure my husband would drive from Texas to Clearwater just to enjoy this meal again!
TravelingMom Tip: If you’re into local brews, Badfins has weekly brew events including Wednesday Pint Nights and Friday Tap Takeovers. Both of which are family-friendly events. This would be a fun place to visit after the nightly sunset festival at Pier 60.
3. Marina Cantina
25 Causeway Blvd, Clearwater, FL
You must add this restaurant in Clearwater to your list! I recommend planning a visit during sunset and sitting outdoors with a view of the harbor. Marina Cantina has the largest outdoor bar in Clearwater and their rooftop deck is loaded with all of the things that made for a perfect sunset dinner. We gathered around the fire pits after sunset for a cocktail and dessert while relaxing with the kids. It was the best way to end of our day of fun in Clearwater.
Don’t forget that they have brunch on the weekends which includes bottomless mimosas, margaritas and Bloody Marys. The ambiance also makes it a perfect date night location!
We Recommend these Dishes:
- Blackrose (cocktail): This is easily the best adult beverage we had on our trip to Clearwater. It’s a drink made with milagro resposado, fresh lime juice, blackberry, fresh rosemary and ginger beer.
- Trio of Empanadas (appetizers): My family really enjoys good empanadas and I loved the variety of short rib, chicken and carnitas empanadas that come with this dish and the chimichurri sauce was exceptionally good!
- Beef Barbacoa Quesadillas: If you’re feeling like a Mexican-inspired dish, they have a variety of quesadillas and tacos and the braised short rib quesadillas with bbq’d onions and jalapeños was a hit!
- Mojo Tuna: If you’re a fan of seared ahi tuna this is a dish you must try! The combination of ahi tuna, chorizo, potatoes, cherry tomatoes with a chile rosa glaze was perfection!
- Tequila Salmon: Sign me up for all the fresh seafood dishes. This char-grilled salmon seared with zucchini, corn salsa with a mojo tequila glaze was delicious. It came with a side of sweet potato mash.
TravelingMom Tip: The kid’s menu dishes have large portions and would have easily been enough food for my 12-year-old who normally orders off the main menu.
4. Palm Pavilion Beachside Bar & Grill
10 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater, FL
A beachfront dinner is a must when on a beach vacation! The Palm Pavilion is a popular restaurant in Clearwater. During our visit, it was filled with families and large groups enjoying a meal together. We walked down and took some incredible beach and sunset photos while waiting to be seated.
My husband ordered their Beach Bowl with salmon which our entire table voted the best dish of the night. You can order it with any meat or seafood topping. They have many other dishes from classic burgers to any seafood dish you can imagine including crab legs!
TravelingMom Tip: It was not hard to find gluten-free entrees at these restaurants.
5. Columbia Restaurant Sand Key
1241 Gulf Blvd, Clearwater, FL
Looking for a fine dining option in Clearwater? Look no further than the Columbia restaurant. This was the first meal we enjoyed when arriving in Clearwater and it set the bar high for the rest of our visit. This is one of those places that once you walk in you’re fully immersed in the culture and history of this Spanish gem! The authentic Spanish dishes were superb and my husband said they had the best rice he’s ever eaten in his whole life!
The fresh bread that they brought out for the table was so flaky and delicious, I had to hold myself back from filling up on just bread! They do have a different menu for lunch and dinner, these recommended dishes were ordered from their dinner menu.
We Recommend these Dishes:
- Sangria: Order the pitcher of sangria! They make it fresh at your table and it was refreshing and delicious. We loved it so much that we bought a pitcher and sangria mix as a souvenir on our way out.
- Stuffed Shrimp “Jesse Gonzalez”: This dish was so amazing that I didn’t want to share it with anyone in my family. The jumbo-sized shrimp were stuffed with crabmeat and baked with lemon butter. It came served with yellow rice and fresh veggies. I would return and order this dish over and over again!
- Grouper “Jimmy”: Everyone recommended eating grouper during our visit to Clearwater. My husband ordered this dish and he loved the rich in flavors! This grilled grouper is topped with fresh blue crab meat and drizzled with lemon butter sauce and served with yellow rice and asparagus.
Our kids all ordered the kid’s steak which they loved and the kid’s steak was the same price as the chicken fingers so it’s a great deal! The kid’s menu also has a Cuban sandwich which I think would be a great meal for adventurous eaters.
TravelingMom Tip: They offer complimentary parking and I recommend it because they share a parking lot with several other businesses and during lunch and dinner finding a parking spot can be a challenge.
6. Crabby’s Bar & Grill
333 S. Gulfview Blvd. Clearwater Beach, FL
We woke up and headed to Crabby’s Bar & Grill for breakfast one stunning morning. I was thrilled to see that they offered both indoor and outdoor seating. This restaurant is located in the heart of Clearwater and is very popular! The atmosphere at Crabby’s is perfect for starting or ending your beach day because it’s super relaxed and fun! It’s one of our recommended spots for a delicious breakfast!
We Recommend these Dishes:
- Huevos Rancheros: I’d be perfectly happy if I could wake up to this dish every day! It includes crispy tortillas, black beans, pico de Gallo, cheese, fresh eggs and ranchero sauce!
- Belgian Waffles: Beach vacations with waffles are just the best thing ever! My kids all enjoyed the waffles and even tried to take some to the beach with them.
- Bloody Marys: The locals recommend enjoy a delicious Bloody Mary with Crabby’s burritos and 3 egg omelets!
7. Lenny’s Restaurant
21220 US Hwy 19 N, Clearwater, FL
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. On our way out of Clearwater, we stopped at Lenny’s. The best way to describe this restaurant is to picture a quirky breakfast diner filled with locals. I knew when we walked in that we were in for a treat!
We Recommend these Dishes:
- Hearty Country Style Breakfast: I have a hard time picking one favorite breakfast item so I enjoy ordering a dish that comes with them ALL! The breakfast comes with two farm fresh eggs and your choice of meat and side dish. I had eggs, bacon, home fries and french toast. The home fries can come topped with grilled onions and I highly recommend you order them that way!
- Outrageous Omelets: They have a large selection of omelets to choose from. My husband ordered their garden omelet which was large and delicious!
All country breakfast and omelet meals come with Lenny’s famous complimentary danish basket. These are delicious and you take the ones you don’t eat home! The kid’s pancake breakfast was adorable and HUGE! My two younger kids could easily have split it.
8. Gondolier Pizza
674 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater, FL
Ordering takeout pizza is a common occurrence during our family vacations. Sometimes we just like to enjoy a quiet night in watching movies. This doesn’t mean that we have to settle for mediocre pizza. If you do a search for the best Italian pizza in Clearwater you’ll find Gondolier Pizza at the top of the list. It came highly recommended with their margarita pizza being a must-try.
9. Rumba Island Bar & Grill
1800 Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL
Looking for some live music and a restaurant with a Caribbean vibe? The Rumba Island Bar & Grill would be a great choice. Their large outdoor patio and authentic island cuisine have earned them rave reviews. They have a new location coming to St. Petersburg, FL soon. Happy hour is all day every day which also makes this a fun eatery! This is another place to visit if you’re looking for a place to relax with a group of friends or family.
TravelingMom Tip: Clearwater, Florida is a great place for a day trip if you’re visiting Tampa.
423 Poinsettia Avenue Clearwater Beach, FL
This was a fun stop after we had spent the day exploring Clearwater with the kids. This is a family-owned business that prides itself on being a family-friendly restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. In fact, Cooters has been awarded the “Best Family Dining in Clearwater” award. You’ll get a taste of “real Florida” cuisine when you visit.
We loved the casual atmosphere and we were impressed by the history behind what started this restaurant in 1993. The name Cooters was inspired by the North American Turtle known as a Cooter Turtle. Cooters proudly supports the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in its efforts to rescue and rehabilitate turtles. Our family was happy to support such an incredible local restaurant that’s working hard to make a difference.
We Recommend these Dishes:
- Hot Crabby Shrimp Dip (appetizer): This dip was addicting! I could have finished the entire thing myself but everyone in my family (including the kids) loved it! It’s a must when you visit.
- Super Grouper Sandwich: A 6oz fresh Florida grouper sandwich served blackened, fried or grilled was delicious!
- Beer Battered Shrimp: This dish comes with a large portion of shrimp.
TravelingMom Tip: The kid’s meals were served on a Frisbee that the kids could take home. We used them later that evening on the beach. Such a fun souvenir!
What’s your favorite Clearwater restaurant? Leave a comment!