50 top spots on the waterfront

Fifty restaurants and bars with a view of the water. Vote for your favorite here.

click to enlarge PARK YOUR CADDY: Beachfront casual at Caddy's on the Beach. - Marina Williams
Marina Williams
PARK YOUR CADDY: Beachfront casual at Caddy's on the Beach.

One of the odder contradictions about Tampa Bay is that, for all the water that surrounds us, there don't seem to be all that many eating and drinking establishments with tasty waterfront views. Emphasize seem: As the list below reflects, there are plenty such places. But, since they might be a few blocks off the main drag (like Caddy's), or tucked up inside a hotel (like the posh new 725 South at the Westin on Harbour Island) or situated in a place where a water view seems highly unlikely (like Cajun Café on the Bayou — next to the Wagon Wheel Flea Market!?), it's clear: You just have to know where to look.

Is your favorite on our list of 50? Do you have some to add? Go to blurbex.com and vote for Best Waterfront Restaurant or Bar — either by checking off one of the names on the ballot, or by adding your own selection. Think of it as your first chance to fire a salvo in this fall's 2008 Best of the Bay battle. Because what's better than a Best of the Bay winner that's actually on the Bay (or the Gulf, the Hillsborough or the Intracoastal)?

Armani's. Top-shelf Italian cuisine with a top-flight view of airport and bay. Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa, 813-207-6800, grandtampabay.hyatt.com.

Beachcomber Grill/ Sea Porch Café. Casual seaside charms at the Don CeSar, aka Big Pink. Don CeSar Beach Resort, 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-1881, doncesar.com.

Billy's Stone Crab. A seafood standby on the way to Ft. DeSoto. 1 Colony Road. Tierra Verde, 727-866-2115, billysstonecrab.com.

The Brass Monkey. Climb up the spiral staircase to the outdoor balcony for a broad vista of St. Pete Beach. 709 Gulf Way, Ste. 200, St. Pete Beach, 727-367-7620, thebrassmonkey.net.

Cabana Grill & Bar Restaurant. A Sand Key spot affiliated with the Belleview Biltmore Resort. 1590 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater Beach, 727-595-1807, CabanaGrill.com.

Caddy's on the Beach. Sunset Beach's quintessential beach bar. And you can bring a beer right out on the sand — legally. 9000 W. Gulf Blvd., Sunset Beach, 727-360-4993, caddysonthebeach.com.

Café Dufrain. Imaginative cuisine, with a nice view of the Tampa skyline from Harbour Island. 707 Harbour Post Drive, Tampa, 813.275.9701, cafedufrain.com.

Cajun Café on the Bayou. Yes, it's actually on the bayou (Cross Bayou), with good Nawlins food and a friendly vibe. 8101 Park Blvd, Pinellas Park, 727-546-6732, cajuncafeonthebayou.olm.net.

Captain Al's Waterfront Grill and Bar. Touristy but scenic on The Pier's first floor. The Pier, 800 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-898-5800, captainalsrestaurant.com.

Caretta on the Gulf. An elegant new addition to Clearwater's beachfront fare. Sandpearl Resort, 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727-441-2425, sandpearl.com.

Cha Cha Coconuts. Fun atop The Pier, where you might occasionally have to deal with enterprising seagulls. The Pier, 800 Second Ave. N.E., Ste. 5001, St. Petersburg, 727-822-6655.

Circles Bar & Grill. Pull up to the boat slip, drop anchor and chow down. 1212 Apollo Beach Blvd., Apollo Beach, 813-641-3275.

The Colonnade Restaurant. A genteel view of boulevard and bay (more the former than the latter, but hey, it's Tampa). 3401 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa, 813-839-7558, thenade.com.

Columbia Restaurant. Not as fancy as the Ybor City location, but the view from the Pier in St. Pete is nicer. 800 Second Ave. N.E., The Pier, St. Petersburg, 727-822-8000, columbiarestaurant.com.

Crabby Bill's. Casual favorite on St. Pete Beach. 5100 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-8858, crabbybills.com.

Crazy Conch Café. White-tablecloth charm with a sweeping Tierra Verde view. 1110 Pinellas Bayway, #206, Tierra Verde, 727-865-0633, crazyconch.com.

Domain Food & Spirits. Formerly HT Kane's, now under promising new ownership and still with a great view of the volleyball and bay across the street. 5501 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport, 727-347-1928.

Fish Tales Seafood House. Tucked away in South St. Pete, a good place for seafood (and for imagining you own a boat). Harborage Marina, 1500 Second St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-821-3474.

Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. A favorite Frenchy's outpost on a splendid stretch of white-sand beach. Seven Rockaway St., Clearwater Beach, 727-446-4844, frenchysonline.com.

Fresco's Waterfront Bistro. Ideally situated on the approach to the Pier, with fine marina views. 300 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-894-4429, frescosrestaurant.com.

Friendly Fisherman. Venerable waterfront institution in John's Pass Village. 150 John's Pass Boardwalk, Madeira Beach, 727-393-8230.

Gator's Café & Saloon. The URL says it all: Ya gotta go to Gator's. 12754 Kingfish Drive, Treasure Island, 727-367-8951, yagottagotogators.com.

Green Iguana Bar & Grill. A big joint made of weathered wood that overlooks Tampa Bay. 8790 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg, 727-209-1234, greeniguana.com.

Green Iguana Bar & Grill. The tiki area is perched above a pond (and, somewhat undermining the romance, the restaurant's right near the Veterans Expressway). 9202 Anderson Road., Tampa, 813-288-9076, greeniguana.com.

Harry's Beach Bar/ Compass Grille/ Rum Runners. A range of beachside offerings at the Sirata resort. Sirata Beach Resort, 5300 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-363-5100, sirata.com/restaurants-bars.

The Hurricane. Fabled multilevel beach bar, looks out over Pass-a-Grille Beach. 807 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach, 727-360-9558, thehurricane.com.

The Hut Bar and Grill. Located under the big tiki hut in John's Pass Village; lots of live music. 190 Boardwalk Place East, Madeira Beach, 727-393-7749, thehutbarandgrill.com.

Island Way Grill. Sunset views over the Mandalay Bay Lagoon and a menu emphasizing fresh fish from well-known restaurateur Tom Prichard. 20 Island Way, Clearwater Beach, 727-461-6617, islandwaygrill.com.

Jackson's Bistro. Downtown water view and downtown scenemakers. Wyndham Harbour Island, 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa, 813-277-0112, jacksonsbistro.com.

Jimmy B's Beach Bar. Calls itself "the hottest wet spot on the beach." Nuff said. Beachcomber Resort Hotel, 6200 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-367-1902, beachcomberflorida.com/jimmy-bs-beach-bar.

Ka'Tiki. A folk music Mecca across the way from Caddy's on Sunset Beach. 8803 W. Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-360-2272, katikisunsetbeach.com.

O'Maddy's Bar & Grille. Maybe the liveliest corner in Gulfport, but with a very relaxing view. 5405 Shore Blvd., Gulfport, 727-323-8643, omaddys.us.

Oystercatchers. The Hyatt's other view-master, where you'll likely to see some of the eponymous seabirds diving for dinner in the bay. Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa, 813-207-6800, grandtampabay.hyatt.com.

Palm Pavilion Grill & Bar. A prime spot for before, during and after the beach. 10 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater Beach, 727-446-2642, palmpavilion.com.

Parkshore Grill. Not right on the water, but the view from the patio gets the best of downtown's shoreline. 300 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, 727.896.WINE (9463) or 727.896.DINE (3463), parkshoregrill.com.

Philthy Phil's Waterfront Bar & Grill. A sports bar on the beach, an offshoot of Ferg's. 678 75th Ave., St. Pete Beach, 727-367-9977, philthyphilsbarandgrill.com.

The Pub Waterfront Restaurant & Lounge. An Indian Shores institution offering the four D's (dining, docks, drinks, dancing). 20025 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-595-3172, thepubwaterfrontrestaurant.com.

Rick's on the River. A hallowed beach bar on the Hillsborough River, sand and all. 2305 N. Willow Ave., Tampa, 813-251-3010, ricksontheriver.com.

Ricky T's Beach Bar. Classic Florida beach bar — in a HoJo's. Howard Johnson's, 6110 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-4575, rickytsbeachbar.com.

The Rusty Pelican. A long-time landmark (and banquet spot) on Old Tampa Bay. 2425 North Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, 813-281-1943, therustypelicanrestaurant.com/tampa.

Salt Rock Grill. Tom Prichard's popular spot is several restaurants in one, from high-end steaks and seafood to dockside casual. 19325 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-593-7625, saltrockgrill.com.

Sea Critters Café. Outside deck and boat dock, full bar and menu, on the Intracoastal. 2007 Pass-A-Grille Way, St. Pete Beach, 727-360-3706, seacritterscafe.com.

725 South Bistro. Elegant spot overlooking Channel/ Davis Islands from the Westin Tampa Harbour Island Hotel. 725 South Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa, (813) 229-5000, starwoodhotels.com/westin.

Shephard's. Big classic beach bar and par-tay spot. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, 727-442-5107, shepherds.com.

Sloppy Joe's. Hemingway theme, Key West feel, a fine Gulf view. Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-367-1600, sloppyjoesonthebeach.com.

Swigwam Beach Bar. A miniature haven unprepossessingly located behind a Travelodge and decorated with license plates from all over. 6300 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-367-2711, swigwam.com.

The Undertow. Cold drinks, hot people — and volleyball — right on St. Pete Beach. 3828 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-368-9000.

The Wharf Seafood Restaurant and Bar. The other side of St. Pete Beach, on the intracoastal waterway. 2001 Pass-A-Grille Way, St. Pete Beach, 727-367-9469, wharfrestaurant.org.

The Water Witch. Sweet new place from the owners of Pia's, across the street from the beach and the bay. 5519 Shore Blvd., Gulfport, 727-346-2444.

Woody's Waterfront Café and Beach Bar. A beloved Florida waterside bar, unassuming and off the beaten boulevard. 7308 Sunset Way, St. Pete Beach, 727-360-9165, woodyswaterfront.com.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]