Clearwater Beach Florida is one of the best beaches in the United States, but it’s so much more than surf and sand. The area also boasts a number of delicious restaurants, many of which serve local seafood.
Whenever I visit a beach destination, I’m always very excited about the food – especially seafood. Clearwater Beach has plenty of delicious restaurants, so you’ll have lots to choose from if you are visiting the area.
When choosing the restaurants, be sure to look at all of the menus in advance. While some of these restaurants accept reservations, many do not. So it’s always a good idea to arrive at an “off” time when they won’t be as busy. This is especially important when the beach is crowded – like spring break.
Best Restaurants in Clearwater Beach
Frenchy’s Clearwater Beach Restaurants
If you mention that you are going to Clearwater Beach, most people will recommend Frenchy’s for lunch or dinner. This wonderful, iconic Clearwater restaurant has five separate locations and is one of the best Clearwater Beach restaurants. Four of their locations are in Clearwater Beach, while the fifth restaurant is located in nearby Dunedin FL.
The five locations of Frenchy’s offer the same delicious food, but they are all a little different. Depending on your needs, you’ll want to check the website before departing to see which location you prefer.
We love the Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill location, which is right on Clearwater Beach. It’s a nice sized restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. While waiting for a table, you can walk around outside on the sand.
Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe is the only dog-friendly location (there’s a spot on the patio where dogs are allowed). Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe offer live music at times. The original location, while delicious, is smaller and isn’t located right on the beach.
If you are planning to visit Frenchy’s, it’s important to note that they do not accept reservations. All tables are provided on a first-come, first-served schedule. I’ve waited for a table every time I’ve visited, but the process is very efficient.
As you’d expect, seafood is the highlight of the Frenchy’s menu. The most popular item is the Frenchy’s World Famous Grouper Sandwich, which comes in several varieties (Reuben, buffalo, grilled, cajun, original, and Caribbean). I’ve gotten this on almost every visit and have never been disappointed.
Another popular item is the Frenchy’s Garlic Crab fries. After seeing a picture of this impressive-looking appetizer, I couldn’t wait to order it. It definitely didn’t disappoint.
My husband and I also shared the Ahi Tuna Nachos. They were originally a special on the menu, but it looks as though they may be on the original menu now. If so, and if you like tuna, these are definitely a great option.
Families with kids who don’t love seafood may be wondering what their options are. Frenchy’s does offer some non-seafood options, like chicken tenders, burgers, and turkey and chicken sandwiches. There are also some vegetarian options, and a gluten-free menu is offered.
Drinks at Frenchy’s are also delicious. There is a menu filled with cocktails on the rocks or frozen. My favorite is Frenchy’s Rum Runner, which is refreshing and great for the warm weather.
If you visit Frenchy’s once on your trip, you’ll probably want to go again. When we visited for a few days, we went to Frenchy’s three times.
We had another delicious dinner at Crabby’s Dockside, which is located across the street from Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. It recently moved to its new location, and is part of a restaurant group that has several other locations in Florida.
Crabby’s Dockside is an impressive building with three floors. This includes a bar on the first level, regular dining on the second, and outdoor seating on the third floor. There is also some outdoor seating on the main level.
As you’d expect by the name, there are lots of crab appetizer and entrees on the menu at Crabby’s. I couldn’t help but order the Bairdi crab, which is one of their specialties. You can get the Bairdi crab legs with other entree items as well, such as grouper, ribs, shrimp, and chicken.
The menu also includes beach tacos, grouper sandwiches, and oyster rolls. There are plenty of other options for those who don’t like seafood, including filet mignon, burgers, pasta, and ribs.
Picky kids will enjoy the kids’ menu at Crabby’s. Options on the menu include things like mac and cheese, hamburgers, pasta, and chicken. More adventurous kids may want to try the grilled fish, or fried shrimp or fish.
Crabby’s is open daily for lunch and dinner. Entertainment is offered during the day on most days.
Clear Sky Cafe
One of the restaurants in Clearwater that was most highly recommended to us was the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe. While it is indeed located beachside, it isn’t on the beach. So you won’t be sitting on the sand or facing the beach during your meal. Despite that, I definitely recommend visiting the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe during your Clearwater family vacation.
The restaurant is located on the main street (Mandalay Avenue) and is very easy to find. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and boasts a bloody mary bar for breakfast on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
We visited twice for breakfast. To save money, we had brought our own breakfast bars with us to Clearwater. However, we decided to splurge on one breakfast out. We loved the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe so much that we decided to eat there again.
Breakfast entrees include pancakes, crepes, burritos, skillets, bennies, waffles, and beignets. Of course, seafood entrees are also available. There’s a kid menu, although there are plenty of breakfast items on the main menu that kids will love.
We didn’t dine there for lunch or dinner, but it was always busy. The dinner menu is huge and includes steak, seafood, flatbreads, pizza, and more. We will definitely have to try it for lunch or dinner on our next visit.
The Clear Sky Beachside Cafe has indoor and outdoor seating. Call ahead seating is offered for dinner. There are two additional restaurants owned by the same restaurant group – however, these are both located in Cleveland.
Located on Poinsettia Ave, Cooters Restaurant offers lunch, dinner, and happy hour each day. Popular entrees include the grouper sandwich, house-made she-crab soup, and the Old Bay steamer bucket.
Cooters is known for their specials – including all you can eat crab legs on Mondays and Tuesdays, and all you can eat fish and chips on Wednesdays. Gluten-free and kids’ menus are also offered. Kids’ meals are served in a take-home frisbee. Lunch specials are also offered before 4 pm.
Cooters does not accept reservations. It can definitely get crowded, especially during the all you can eat nights. So, it’s best to arrive before 6 pm if possible. Free parking is available. If you bring in clean, freshly caught fish, they will prepare it for you. This is a great option if you are going on a fishing boat trip for the day.
The Spotted Donkey Cantina
If you are looking for a break from all of the seafood, the Spotted Donkey Cantina is a good option. Located in the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa on Mandalay Avenue, the Spotted Donkey offers Mexican food.
During our visit to Clearwater, we arrived at the hotel after 7:30 pm on a Friday night. We were very hungry, so immediately after dropping off our luggage in the hotel room, we headed down to the Spotted Donkey Cantina for dinner.
The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. We were looking for some Florida sun after our arrival from Boston, so we opted for an outdoor seat. While the restaurant was busy, we only waited a short time for the table to be set. The outdoor seats are along Mandalay Avenue, not the beach, but it’s great for people watching.
The Spotted Donkey Cantina offers delicious Mexican cuisine as well as a great drinks menu. They do also offer a kids’ menu. My picky teens found plenty of options.
While I do prefer to eat seafood when I’m on a beach vacation, it is nice to have additional options.
Additional Resources: Want to read more Gulf Coast travel tips and reviews? Click to read our post with destination recommendations, ideas on what things to do, hotel reviews, and more.