The Best “Must-Try” Clearwater Beach Restaurants

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Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

The writer was hosted on this trip.

Sometimes the best part of traveling isn’t the attractions or the hotels, it’s the food. Luckily for vacationers visiting Clearwater Beach, Florida, there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants and wineries which will have people of all ages wanting more. Whether you’re looking for a good breakfast spot, a quick lunch after a beach trip or a hearty dinner, here’s our list of the best restaurants to try in Clearwater Beach. Warning: This list will have your stomach grumbling! 

SheBuysTravel Tip: Try one of these Clearwater Beach hotels for family-friendly fun!

Sunset at Palm Pavilion. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

1. Frenchy’s 

Frenchy’s is one of the easiest places to find in Clearwater because they have 6 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!

Badfins in Clearwater, Florida
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

2. Badfins

215 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater, FL

This was easily one of the best meals we had during our 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.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Don’t miss our list of 22 Ways for Families to Have Fun in Clearwater, Florida

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.
  • Primo Grouper 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. 
  • 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!
badfins food
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

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. 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. 
marina cantina food
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

SheBuysTravel 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. 

the beach bowl at pal pavilion in clearwater florida
Beach Bowl at the Palm Pavilion. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

4. Palm Pavilion Beachside Bar & Grill

18 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. 

SheBuysTravel Tip: It was not hard to find gluten-free entrees at these restaurants.

5. 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 and their margarita pizza is a must-try.

columbia restaurant in clearwater
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

6. 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. 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.

inside the columbia restaurant.
Inside the Columbia Restaurant. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

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.
  • Grilled Grouper: Everyone recommended eating grouper during our visit to Clearwater. My husband ordered this dish and he loved the rich 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 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. 

columbia food in clearwater
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

7. 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. 

bloody mary at crabbys bar and grill in clearwater
Bloody Mary at Crabby’s Bar & Grill. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

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.
delicious breakfast in clearwater, florida
Huevos Rancheros at Crabby’s Bar & Grill. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

8. 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.

lennys breakfast in clearwater florida
Danish basket at Lenny’s. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

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. 

lennys restaurants in Clearwater
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

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. 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. 

SheBuysTravel Tip: Clearwater, Florida is a great place for a day trip if you’re visiting Tampa.

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 6 oz fresh Florida grouper sandwich served blackened, fried or grilled was delicious. 
  • Beer Battered Shrimp: This dish comes with a large portion of shrimp. 

SheBuysTravel 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!

cooters restaurant food
Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

More Florida Family Vacation Ideas

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Are these restaurants family-friendly?

A: Yes, all of the restaurants on this list are great for families with kids.

Q: Do any of these restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan options?

A: Yes, several of the restaurants on this list have vegetarian and/or vegan options available. Be sure to check their menus for specifics.

Q: Are reservations required?

A: It depends on the restaurant and the time of year. Some of the more popular restaurants may require reservations, especially during peak season. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and check.

Q: Are these restaurants expensive?

A: Prices vary depending on the restaurant and the dish, but most of these restaurants are reasonably priced. Some are more upscale and may be more expensive, while others are more casual and affordable.

Q: Do any of these restaurants have outdoor seating?

A: Yes, several of the restaurants on this list have outdoor seating with beautiful views of the beach.

Q: Can I bring my dog to any of these restaurants?

A: Unfortunately, most of the restaurants on this list do not allow dogs. However, there are a few pet-friendly restaurants in the area that you may want to check out.

5 responses

  1. 5

  2. Cork & Brew. OMG. Amazing food. Not beach food. Not over-priced food. Friendly staff. Really make you feel welcome. Love the menu. But ask if there are special foods not on the menu. Don’t miss the Tuesday special!!!!!

  3. wow—great tips. You’ll treasure memories of some of these places/pretty foods years from now. Great memories of kid-free romantic travel in my house tied to a grouper sandwich place on the water in Sanibel Island FL.

    1. We didn’t make it to Sanibel this time but that’s another beautiful location and I love collecting seashells there!

  4. 4.5

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