Florida is well-known for its sandy coastlines, warm sunny weather, and laid-back beach atmosphere, but it’s also known for its culinary scene.
Thanks to a perfect location right on the gulf coast, Clearwater has some of the freshest seafood in the world, and restaurants throughout the city serve up mouthwatering dishes you won’t find in many other places—many of which have been around for decades and are institutions in the city.
Whether you are looking for an easygoing beachfront grill or a more elevated dining experience, the quality of the food in Clearwater will make you want to extend your trip just to try them all. Here are some of the best restaurants in Clearwater, Florida.
1. Guppy’s on the Beach
Also located on Gulf Boulevard, Guppy’s on the Beach is a laidback, casual restaurant right on the beach (technically across the street). Not only do they offer fresh seafood (a must-have when visiting Florida), but the menu is very diverse, and you can get a variety of dishes not just limited to seafood.
One of their most popular dishes is the potato-crusted salmon, and a dish called Angels on Horseback, which are bacon-wrapped oysters. They also do classic meat cuts like strip steak and ribs. We really enjoyed the lobster mac & cheese, swordfish, and their deep-sea scallops.
Guppy’s has free valet parking and a call-ahead option which can help reduce your waiting time when you arrive. Making a reservation or calling ahead is recommended, as Guppy’s gets busy quickly, especially in the evening.
- Address: 1701 Gulf Blvd, Indian Rocks Beach
- View Menu
2. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill
One of the most famous restaurants in Clearwater is Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. When in Florida, you can’t ask for much more than a delicious grill right on the beach. The first Frenchy’s was opened in 1981 by a man from Québec, to huge success. He even purchased a fleet of fishing boats to make sure that fresh seafood was available at his restaurant every day.
The Rockaway Grill serves up delicious seafood dishes, like garlic crab fries, conch fritters, baked oysters, and peel & eat shrimp, and their grouper sandwich is a very popular menu item. They also do salads, soups, and other menu items aside from seafood. They even have a gluten-free menu! Try a blended rum runner cocktail, which is refreshing and strong.
There are beach volleyball courts in front of the seating area, so be prepared for lively surroundings. It’s one of the best Clearwater Beach bars if you ask us! If you or your kids want something sweet afterward, take your Frenchy’s receipt next door to The Cooler, which makes frozen treats like ice cream, shaved ice, and fruity acai bowls.
It is the perfect place to have lunch on the beach in Clearwater or just grab a drink and escape the Florida sun for a few minutes. If you are traveling with kids, it’s one of the best restaurants in Clearwater for kids. They have a good kid menu, not fancy, high chairs, and prices were good to let our son try some of our dishes.
- Address: 7 Rockaway St, Clearwater
- View Menu
Related: Things to do in Clearwater
3. Ocean Hai
With a motto of ‘taking dining to a new hai’, you know you’re in for something good. Ocean Hai is located inside the Wyndham Grand Hotel, and it is Clearwater’s first Asian-fusion restaurant, and each dish on the menu is expertly created using only the freshest seasonal local ingredients. They have the best sushi in Clearwater for those sushi lovers!
The menu is a refreshing blend of the flavors of Asian cuisine with the plentiful variety of seafood that Florida offers. Appetizers like crab rangoon, Mongolian meatballs, and kung pao calamari encapsulate this perfectly. They also do a very popular wagyu beef and have an extensive sushi menu. There is also a specialty chef’s tasting menu available for $95 per person.
The elegant dining room has uninterrupted views out to sea. Imagine watching the sunset while tasting the combined flavors of Asia and Florida and sipping on a glass of fine wine. It doesn’t get much better than that. If you looking for a great Clearwater restaurant for date night, head to Ocean Hai.
- Address: 100 Coronado Dr, Clearwater Beach
- View Menu
4. Palm Pavilion Restaurant & Grill
The Palm Pavilion Restaurant is located right next door to the Palm Pavilion Inn. Previously, it’s been voted as having the best grouper fish and the best live music in Clearwater— which makes a pretty great combo on a weekend evening near the beach.
Every time we visit, we get the Palm Grouper sandwich, which is freshly caught right out in the Gulf. There is something about a blackened grouper sandwich in Florida, and the Palm Pavilion has one of the best.
Some of their most popular dishes include the grouper sandwich with spicy fries, the shrimp burger, and gator bites (with real alligator meat). There is a lot of variety on their menu, and you’ll also find non-seafood items like nachos, salads, beef burgers, wraps, burritos, and a taco menu with four different types of tacos. They have a kids’ menu too.
There is live music almost daily and a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico beyond. The atmosphere is lively but laid back, and combined with the great food. This is a fun place to come for all ages.
- Address: 10 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater
- View Menu
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5. The Original Crabby Bills
The Original Crabby Bills is a family-owned and operated seafood restaurant founded in 1983 and located on Sand Key in Clearwater. It’s another iconic restaurant that you’ll see on my best restaurants in Clearwater lists. Crabby Bills’ founding value is providing fresh local seafood and meat at an affordable price point, meaning you can still get a taste of the local cuisine that Florida is known for without hurting your wallet.
Crabby’s has two dining areas. The indoor dining room has individual tables and a horseshoe bar where servers and bartenders prepare drinks and shuck oysters right before your eyes. Happy hour is every day from opening until 6 pm. Outside is a dining area with a bar, where live musicians regularly play. The outdoor area is also dog-friendly, so there is no need to tie up your dog while you eat.
Some of the restaurant’s most popular menu items are the stone crab, fried shrimp, and crab cakes. The onion rings also come highly recommended. No matter what you order, you’re getting a taste of classic Clearwater culture and live music, if you’re lucky.
- Address: 401 Gulf Blvd, Indian Rocks Beach
- View Menu
6. The Columbia Restaurant
No visit to Florida is complete without visiting the Columbia Restaurant in Clearwater. It is a sister location to the Tampa Bay location of the same name, which has been around since 1905 and is the state’s oldest standing restaurant.
The restaurant is located along Gulf Boulevard on Sand Key. The two seating areas offer different levels of dining. The outdoor deck area is a bit more casual, while the indoor Mediterranean dining room is a more elegant lounge. Casual dress is fine, but sleeveless shirts are not permitted on men.
The restaurant specializes in Spanish and Cuban cuisine. They are known for their tapas and seafood dishes and are often listed as one of the best seafood restaurants in Clearwater. For some of the more popular items, try their stuffed shrimp, black bean cakes, chorizo, and paella options. There is also a kid’s menu, so you can bring your kids with you. You can’t miss their famous 1905 salad, which is prepared with the restaurant’s famous 1905 salad dressing (also available bottled for purchase).
- Address: 1241 Gulf Blvd, Clearwater
- View Menu
7. Cooters Restaurant & Bar
If fresh, catch-of-the-day seafood dishes sound good to you, then don’t miss Cooters Restaurant & Bar in Clearwater Beach. First opened in 1993, this is a fun, family-friendly restaurant still owned and operated by the founding family.
The seafood is fresh and caught daily. They do all-you-can-eat crab legs, peel & eat shrimp, oysters, and main dishes like grouper tacos, mahi-mahi sandwiches, seafood pasta, and fish and chips. There is also a kid’s menu available.
Their daily happy hour runs from 3 pm to 6 pm and offers great deals on oysters, chicken wings, and shrimp, and drink specials like $1.50 beers and $3 wines. They have one of the best happy hours in Clearwater Beach. Those prices are hard to beat!
If you are visiting during a sports event, Cooters turns into a sports bar and becomes one of the most popular places in Clearwater. Some visitors may love this extra atmosphere, but if that’s not your thing, be sure to make other arrangements in case it’s too busy.
- Address: 423 Poinsettia Ave, Clearwater Beach
- View Menu
8. Rumba Island Bar & Grill
The Rumba is a relaxed, small-beach-town-vibe grill in Clearwater, serving up authentic island dishes and fresh seafood. Rumba has its own collection of fishing boats that bring in freshly caught seafood every single day. So you know that whatever is on your plate was caught fresh, just a few miles off the shore!
Their menu has an extensive list of seafood dishes, like grouper, hogfish, shrimp and prawns, seabass, salmon, lobster, and scallops — all prepared either whole or in dishes like sandwiches, rice bowls, sandwiches, or bite-sized appetizers.
Their happy hour is the best in Clearwater, with all-day, everyday deals on sangria, margaritas, and beer pitchers. Don’t miss the Tiki Bar on your way into the restaurant, where refreshing fruity cocktails and classic drinks can be ordered.
There is live music every Friday through Sunday, starting from 6 pm, right on the deck of the Tiki Bar. A perfect atmosphere in the warm summer weather with a cocktail in your hand.
- Address: 1800 Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater
- View Menu
Related: Where to find the Clearest Water in Florida
3. Lenny’s Restaurant
If you’re looking for the best breakfast in Clearwater, you found it. Lenny’s Restaurant was first established in 1958 and today is still one of the most popular breakfast restaurants in Clearwater.
They are well known for their pastry basket, which is piled high with Danishes, cinnamon buns, and other sweet baked goods that pair perfectly with a cup of hot coffee. Anything leftover is free to take home with you.
Their extensive menu has lots of choices, so it’s easy to find something you’ll like. You might even have a hard time making a decision. They do hoagies and deli sandwiches, sweet classics like fluffy pancakes and French toast, eggs Benedict and omelets, and toasted bagels with all kinds of toppings.
For adults looking for a cheeky morning drink, try a mimosa, a Bloody Mary, or their Irish coffee if you prefer something hot. If a standard cup of Joe is more to your liking, their regular drip coffee comes with free bottomless refills.
- Address: 21220 US Hwy 19 N, Clearwater
- View Menu
Nearby: Top Restaurants in St. Petersburg, FL
10. Island Way Grill
Last on our list of the best restaurants in Clearwater is the Island Way Grill. Located just down the street from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, they specialize in fresh-caught, local seafood. It’s also one of the best spots for brunch in Clearwater.
Every day, Island Way’s fleet of fishing boats catches fresh snapper, grouper, Mahi, and more and brings them into the restaurant kitchens to be seared at their oak and citrus-fired open pit, and turned into delicious menu items like blackened grilled snapper or grouper, scallop crusted sea bass, bacon-wrapped scallops, and sautéed lobster tails.
Their Sunday brunch is very popular (reservations are recommended). They offer the usual suspects, like a full breakfast with eggs, french toast, waffles, and similar dishes, but the Island Way brunch also has seafood dishes like baked scallops, halibut, and shrimp skewers. Not your typical late-morning meal, but why not try something a little different?
This is a must-visit when coming to Clearwater.
- Address: 20 Island Way, Clearwater
- View Menu
11. Yellow Banks Groves – Bonus stop for ice cream!
If you’re looking for something small, snacky, and refreshing, Yellow Banks Groves is the perfect place to find it, especially on a hot day. Yellow Banks Grove is an orange juicery, first established in 1951. This is the very location where different varieties of oranges are harvested and juiced, and even shipped all over the country.
The retail front is where you’ll find all the tasty treats. They offer fresh-squeezed, natural orange juice without additives or sugars, but also sweet treats like taffy, hard candies, and spreads like marmalade and jellies. They also have an assortment of citrus-flavored baked goods, the most popular being their key lime pie. But their best seller by far is the homemade orange ice cream, which is refreshing and citrusy, perfect for hot days.
Many of the souvenirs and packable treats you find in their shop can be shipped, so if you were hoping to take a few things home, you could have them sent ahead instead of having to make room in your bags.
- Address: 14423 Walsingham Rd
Friday 13th of January 2023
Love the Island Way Grill!!
Thursday 16th of June 2022
Hey Hannah! Love the list and we definitely love many of these Clearwater restaurants and always love to support local! If you haven’t given our restaurant a try yet we’d love to invite you in for breakfast or lunch at Sunset Grill!
Thursday 22nd of September 2022
Thanks for the invite. We will have to come and check you out next time we are in Clearwater! Feel free to email us.