CL Big Game Guide: Clearwater Beach

There's a reason why this is prime territory for spring break-ers — would you believe it's the beach? A beautiful, wide expanse of white sandy beach, perfect for volleyball or less strenuous pursuits. But there are some fine dining destinations here, too — some of the best restaurants in the area, in fact. And this brief list shows only a few of your options. If you don't make it all the way to Clearwater, you could stop along the way at Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores, one of three stellar establishments in the Prichard mini-empire, or grab what's reputed to be Tampa Bay's best grouper sandwich at Dockside Dave's in Madeira Beach.

1. 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.

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

3. 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. (Clearwater Beach is Frenchy's central; the town boasts three other branches of the restaurant, a famous purveyor of fresh grouper. Check frenchysonline.com for addresses.)

4. Kiku Japanese Fine Dining. 483 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727-461-2633, clearwaterbeachkiku.cp,

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

6. 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.

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

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