Neighborhood Dining Guide: Clearwater

Hunting for a nosh near the beach? Look no further …

Tampa and St. Petersburg seem to dominate the culinary headlines, but you'll find plenty of great eats in Clearwater, too. Check out some of these great spots for beachfront dining and more.

CALI YOGURT 519 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-442-2254, Trendy, contemporary yogurt spot, perhaps mimicking the cool California vibe that informs its name. Green tea is a featured yogurt flavor.

CRISTINO’S COAL OVEN PIZZA 1101 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater, 727-443-4900, If you’re looking for speedy pizza, this pie’s for you. Cristino’s coal-fired oven cooks pizzas as quick as lightning, in just five minutes. The online ordering system allows members to view past and favorite orders. Try the salmon oreganato if you’re not in the mood for pizza, and try the award-winning homemade gelato on your way out.

DINER SIXTY WEST 2525 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, 727-437-0255, Step back in time and visit this nostalgic “classic family diner,” located near the intersection of Route 60 and U.S. 19. Bring your appetite for a more-than-a-mouthful burger and thick milkshake. Fresh fruit is offered with every breakfast plate for the health-conscious.

FRESH MARKET 25961 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater, 727-669-6111, On-the-go folks can enjoy a quality meal, courtesy of Fresh Market’s Bistro Meals to-go. Select one entrée and two sides from the items labeled “Bistro Meal,” and your meal will be packed up and ready to eat. Be sure to sample the freshly brewed coffee while you “create” your Bistro Meal.

GREEK TOWN GRILLE 1230 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-447-7800, In the heart of downtown Clearwater is this authentic Greek restaurant, owned by the Karamountzos family. Gaze at the beautifully decorated dining room with high ceilings and rich colors while you dine in. For a twist on traditional French Fries, try the Greek Fries, which are covered with feta cheese.

JUANITA’S RESTAURANT 1898 Drew St., Clearwater, 727-449-0135, Serving authentic Puerto Rican cuisine from a menu written in Spanish. The smashed green plantains (mofongo) with your choice of meat is sure to be a smashed hit. Or go a la carte and order the fried pork chunks (carne frita) entrée. Catering is available. Watch out for $5 lunch specials on the weekdays, as well as the daily special.

L’AUBERGE DES ARTISTES 635 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-596-5439, A palace of classic French cuisine with a setting to match. The waitstaff is decked out in formal attire, as is the dining room, with its richly patterned carpeting and subdued paintings. Chef and owner Christopher Poix is a seasoned veteran of the classic French cuisine scene.

O’KEEFE’S FAMILY TAVERN AND GRILL 1219 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater, 727-442-9034, Established in 1961, this Irish pub is a Clearwater institution. Even President Obama stopped in for a visit. Check out the “famous naked lady” picture, rumored to be founder Bill O’Keefe’s wife, then try the Irish puffs or seven-course Irish dinner, featuring six domestic drafts and a boiled potato.

PETE AND SHORTY’S TAVERN 2820 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, 727-799-0580, A city tavern with a small-town vibe offering a variety of comfort foods, and a full bar to wash down all that comfort. Visit on a lazy Sunday evening for the Sunday chicken dinner. Patrons can mark their territory by pinning a dollar bill on the restaurant wall.

PIEROGI GRILL AND DELI 1535 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, 727-216-3055, As the name indicates, this is Clearwater’s go-to spot for authentic Polish cuisine, with menu items from several regions of Poland. With 12 varieties of Pierogi, and favorites such as grilled Kielbasa and potato pancakes, you won’t be at a loss for items to polish off. Weekly specials are offered.

RITA’S ICE 2510 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, 727-796-7482, Come check out the interesting combination of Italian ice and frozen custard (available together or separate). The vanilla custard is so creamy and rich, it does not need a topping; it’s delicious on its own. Swirl the vanilla and orange custards together for a creamsicle-like treat.

RUMBA’S ISLAND BAR AND GRILL 1800 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, 727-446-7029, For a “beach bar” in the heart of Clearwater, look no further than the intersection of Gulf to Bay Boulevard and Keene Road. Invite a friend and enjoy a two-for-one margarita at the outdoor tiki bar and deck. Then try the island shrimp and rice bowl, or the grouper, mahi, catfish or tuna — filleted hourly.

VILLA MARIA 768 N. Belcher Road, Clearwater, 727-441-1644, This family-operated establishment specializes in generous portions of Italian cuisine. Choose from numerous specialty and gourmet white pizzas made on homemade dough, and stop by for daily lunch specials served on weekdays.

YANNY’S 1258 S. Highland Ave., Clearwater, 727-446-5797, For a belated Thanksgiving-inspired breakfast, try the cranberry pancakes. If you’re into enormous portions, your best bet is “One Pancake,” which is “the size of a Frisbee and one inch thick.” Omelets are made with farm-fresh produce and the leanest of meats. Owners Sylvia and David are so confident that you will be pleased with your meal that it’s on them if you’re dissatisfied. Serving breakfast and lunch.

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