Hop on over to one of our great beaches and feel like a tourist in your own backyard. To help you along, here's a selective guide to dining and drinking from Clearwater Beach to Pass-a-Grille.
AGAVE 6400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-367-3448. Serving a unique style of Mexican food seen nowhere else in the Bay area — Baja and Oaxacan-influenced fare — plus a stunning array of tequilas. A bit pricey, but tasty nonetheless.
AVENUE GOURMET 338 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach, 727-498-6466. theavenuegourmet.com. Snacks, sandwiches, sweets and mouthwatering gourmet meals to enjoy there or to-go. Call for daily specials and be sure to try their scrumptious cookies.
BAVARIAN HOUSE 7115 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-363-4414. bavarianhouse.us. The place to go for authentic, homemade German cuisine. German (via Munich) owned and operated. Closed Tuesdays.
BLACK PALM 109 Eighth Ave., Pass-A-Grille, 727-360-5000, blackpalmrestaurant.com. The most sophisticated dining spot in Pass-A-Grille, offering delicious twists on traditional South American and Caribbean cuisine (try the paella with orzo, or the "ricanachos" with banana tostones and pulled brisket). The open courtyard on 8th is a lovely place to while away an evening, especially when there's a live Latin combo playing.
THE LOBSTER POT 17814 Gulf Blvd., Redington Shores, 727-391-8592, lobsterpotrestaurant.com. The final word in Redington Beach fine dining, this tried-and-true seafood spot hasn't changed much since its inception in 1978 (though ownership has). Expect impeccable service and seafood — much of it flown in fresh daily from around the world.
CAFE LUNA 6700 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-7500. cafelunabistro.com. An eclectic bistro specializing in Euro-Asian cuisine and gourmet pizzas as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.
COLUMBIA RESTAURANT SAND KEY 1241 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater, 727-596-8400, columbiarestaurant.com/clearwater. Offering the full Columbia menu with views of the Intracoastal from both the Mediterranean dining room and the outdoor deck.
THE DRUNKEN CLAM BAR AND GRILLE 46 46th Ave., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-1800, drunkenclambar.com. Surprisingly more hopping than its beachside counterparts on a Friday night. Small in size but big in entertainment: live bands and sports packages bring in locals and main landers alike.
FETISHES FINE DINING 6690 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-363-3700, fetishesrestaurant.com. An intimate, eight-table restaurant offering French/continental fare and an extensive wine list. Mentions in two issues of Bon Appetit, so they must be doing something right.
FRENCHY'S ROCKAWAY GRILL 7 Rockaway St., Clearwater Beach, 727-446-4844, frenchysonline.com. Serving fresh seafood, steaks and more right on Clearwater Beach. Parking may be hard to find and getting a table could prove to be a long wait, but worth it for the sunset view and to-die-for She Crab soup.
GATOR'S CAFE & SALOON 12754 Kingfish Drive, Treasure Island, 727-367-8951, gatorscafe.com. This sprawling party complex with its outdoor tent-covered patio(ish) area brings a cross-section of Florida sorts to its waterside digs, from bikers to college kids (it is a UF-themed bar, after all) to beautiful (scantily clad) beach babes (there's a bikini contest on Sundays). Boaters can tie up their rides to the dock and grab a bite; food and drink specials are offered throughout the day, and live cover bands play throughout the weekend, when DJs aren't spinning a mainstream dance-friendly mix.
GUPPY'S ON THE BEACH 1701 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, 727-593-2032, 3bestchefs.com/guppys. Fresh seafood, a laid-back vibe, moderate prices (especially at lunchtime) and the industry cred of owner Eugen Fuhrmann (founder of The Lobster Pot and Mystic Fish) means Guppy's is the most popular — and packed — place on the beach.
THE HURRICANE 807 Gulf Way, Pass-a-Grille, 727-360-9558, thehurricane.com. This rambling faux Victorian is a Pass-A-Grille landmark, a big draw for seafood-seeking tourists and fans of the wide-angle sunset vistas from the Hurricane Watch bar on the rooftop.
LATITUDES WATERFRONT DINING 13205 Gulf Blvd., Madeira Beach, 727-398-4103, latitudesmadbeach.com. This casual chic waterside restaurant and bar is nestled in the top of a three-story building located along the marina, in a room lined with big picture windows that offer intoxicating views of the water. All-you-can-eat daily specials, breakfast on weekends (with a Bloody Mary bar) and Major League ball on the TVs.
MADELEINA COTTAGE 357 Corey Ave, St. Pete Beach, 727-367-1727, madeleinacottage.us. A taste of British and Continental cuisine on the beach, serving up gourmet classics in an elegant setting — prepare to leave your diet at the door, though. Also renowned for its lavishly decorated ladies' restroom, a definite must-see.
MARITANA GRILLE 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach (inside the Don CeSar Beach Resort), 727-360-1881, loewshotels.com. This is about as fine dining as you can find in the beachside areas of Tampa Bay. The modern fare keeps with the restaurant's theme of New American cuisine with Mediterranean and Floribbean accents. They definitely do seafood some justice. Prepare to drop some serious dough for a night out at Maritana Grille but the experience will make it worthwhile.
MIDDLE GROUNDS GRILL 10925 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-360-4253, middlegroundsgrill.com. From the subdued elegance of the decor and the sophistication of the food (tangy ginger calamari, lemon infused crabcakes, grilled asparagus salad, wet-aged steaks), you'd never know this place used to be the much-beloved Robby's Pancake House. But check the dessert list and you'll see a homage to the restaurant's past, Robby's Famous Pancake Berry Stack. Pancakes for dessert — why not?
PJ'S OYSTER BAR AND SEAFOOD 595 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach, 727-367-3309. A low-key, fun atmosphere, complete with autographed dollar bills adorning the wall. Who needs a waterfront view to get great seafood?
SEA CRITTERS 2007 Pass-A-Grille Way, Pass-A-Grille, 727-360-3706, seacritterscafe.com. Perfectly situated for boaters who want to pull up dockside and grab some fresh seafood and a Bahama Mama. But the landlocked can enjoy it, too, eating right on the water and taking a stroll down the dock to feed the catfish.
WOODY'S WATERFRONT CAFE AND BEACH BAR 7308 Sunset Way, St. Pete Beach, 727-360-9165, woodyswaterfront.com. Great burgers and fish sandwiches and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere have made this a day-and-night destination for locals and snowbirds of all ages and stripes. It's right on the water, a Gulf inlet with a view of the southern tip of Sunset Beach and some notably ugly condos. But the water's a tonic no matter what the surrounding real estate looks like.