Expert Tips


Best Seafood in St. Petersburg / Clearwater

10 Top Seafood Restaurants in St. Petersburg and Clearwater

A huge component of any successful vacation is the fun of not having to cook meals and exploring area restaurants while you’re away from the daily grind. Fortunately – in addition to soft, sandy beaches, mesmerizing sunsets and lots to do - St Petersburg and Clearwater offer a host of places where you can savor delicious cuisine – and if you happen to be a seafood lover, you’re in for a special treat!

If you’re the casual type be sure to check out beach “shacks” like Frenchy’s Rockaway Grille in Clearwater, roadside stands like Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish in St Petersburg or the no-frills Neptune Grill in charming Gulfport.

For something chic and upscale, then Rusty’s Bistro in Clearwater’s classy Sheraton Sand Key Resort or Sea Salt in St Petersburg’s hip Sundial District are “musts.”

Where you go depends on whether you want to keep your toes in the sand or you prefer to dress for dinner. No matter what you decide you can count on being served the freshest “catch of the day.”



Frenchy's Rockaway Grill
Photo courtesy of Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

If you're in the mood for a laid-back beach restaurant with good food and live music, then Frenchy's Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach is the place for you. Basically, it's an open-air beachfront "joint," specializing in locally caught fish along with tried and true comfort food for non-seafood aficionados. The typically Floridian menu highlights freshly caught seafood, fish tacos, ceviche, calamari, oysters and more. Grouper is a highlight – especially the walnut encrusted grouper salad, made with spinach, arugula, cranberries, red pears, radishes and feta cheese served with maple balsamic vinaigrette. Also of special note is the lightly seasoned, creamy She Crab soup. Local artists offer live music daily, and a small dance floor allows you to "boogie" in between courses, adding to the entertaining experience. Two bars keep the frosty drinks flowing – especially the rum runners.

Recommended for Seafood because: Exceptional views, tasty food,live music, fruity drinks and fresh seafood promise the perfect dining experience!

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try the garlic crab fries and the all-you-can-eat stone crab when they're in season.

Read more about Frenchy's Rockaway Grill →

Olde Bay Cafe & Dunedin Fish Market
Photo courtesy of Olde Bay Cafe & Dunedin Fish Market

If seafood is your "thing," you've come to the right place. What was once a wooden 1930s shack on the waterfront where fishermen unloaded their daily catch "back in the day," is now the "go to" place for lovers of seafood. The food is fresh and delicious and the sunset scenario overlooking the marina isn't too shabby, either. It's also a fish market where you can pick up fresh catch to take home and cook yourself, if you prefer to do that. But while you're there, you might as well take advantage of what's prepared for you ranging from ceviche to salads, wraps, clam chowder, crab cakes and a selection of fish entrees. They'll even cook what you catch, making this restaurant choice a "no-brainer!"

Recommended for Seafood because: Not only are the fish tacos absolutely delicious, the sunset views from the waterfront dock provide the perfect backdrop for your meal.

Michelle's expert tip: Try the delicious Grouper taco, topped with cole slaw, key lime vinaigrette and avocado. You won't be sorry!

Read more about Olde Bay Cafe & Dunedin Fish Market →

Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish
Photo courtesy of Ted Peter's

The "old Florida style" roadside "shack" may not be much to look at from the outside, but this longtime St Petersburg open-air "hole in the wall" is a favorite with savvy tourists and locals alike. Seafood aficionados can treat themselves to Manhattan clam chowder and a selection of smoked mullet, mahi, mahi, mackerel and salmon. The fish spread – served with crackers and Louisiana hot sauce – is not to be missed. For landlubbers, there are burgers, hot dogs and chicken, but smoked fish is the star of this show. Fish dishes come with their homemade German potato salad – another "must" dining choice. Wine, frosty beer and soft drinks tie it all together, followed by the obligatory slice of key lime pie, of course! Dining is "al fresco" at picnic tables and service is cash only.....just like the old days!

Recommended for Seafood because: It's not much to look at but it's a St Petersburg landmark and is popular with visitors and locals alike.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try their smoked fish spread, which is also available for "take out." It's legendary!

Read more about Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish →

St. Pete Beach
Sea Critters Cafe
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

This laid-back old Florida-style café features island-style picnic table dining tucked along the waters of historic Pass-a-Grille, on St Pete Beach. The ample menu offers something for everyone. Seafood lovers will delight in the array of freshly caught fish, along with lobster pasta, Maine lobster rolls, shrimp, crab cakes and more. They recently added "gator bites" to their menu so if you're up for something different, be sure to try them. They're breaded and served with horseradish. Frosty margaritas and other signature drinks lead the list of full bar options and refreshments. This family-owned restaurant also offers free boat dockage for diners and has been a staple on the popular Pass-a-Grill scene for many years. It's a favorite with visitors and locals alike.

Recommended for Seafood because: It isn't fancy, but you're guaranteed fresh seafood, prepared in a variety of recipes.

Michelle's expert tip: Ask for the "Seafood Boil," it's a specialty and isn't listed on the menu. You may also want to try their new "gator bites."

Read more about Sea Critters Cafe →

Island Way Grill
Photo courtesy of Island Way Grill

Stunning harbor views add to an ample menu of tasty fresh seafood choices. Sushi aficionados will rave about the huge selection of offerings, while small appetites can sample such things as crab bisque, blackened scallops, wok fried soft shell crabs, coconut shrimp and more. For something more substantial, savor freshly caught fish prepared in a variety of ways as well as crab legs, crab cakes, tuna, Florida lobster and a host of other denizens of the sea. "Fire and Ice" selections offer a blend chilled and spicy as demonstrated in the Thai high mussels, a tangy combination of spicy coconut milk, garlic and basil. A long list of wines, coffees and delicious desserts complete the satisfying experience.

Recommended for Seafood because: The setting is tropical, friendly and laid back and the seafood is freshly caught and the refreshing drinks are endless.

Michelle's expert tip: This is a "hot spot," so be sure to make reservations, or you could be in for a long wait.

Read more about Island Way Grill →

Neptune Grill
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Gulfport – one of the area's most popular neighborhoods - is home to Neptune Grill, a cozy restaurant specializing in seafood and Greek cuisine. Located across from the historic Gulfport Casino, the indoor-outdoor ambiance is causal, the décor has a definite Greek vibe and the menu is loaded with tasty options for every age and taste. Seafood appetizer choices range from calamari dusted in seasoned flour and fried, grilled octopus, smoked fish spread and crunchy fried shrimp. For something more filling, indulge in the Maryland crab cakes, grouper Mediterranean, friend scallops, stuffed flounder and more. All dishes are fresh and beautifully presented. For a sweet finale, there's baklava (of course), sea salted caramel cheesecake, key lime pie and more. There's live music on weekends.

Recommended for Seafood because: This popular eatery offers water views along with tasty food in a Mediterranean atmosphere. It's great for the whole family!

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try the Maryland crab cakes, they're the "real deal," as are the Greek selections.

Read more about Neptune Grill →

Indian Rocks Beach
Salt Rock Grill
Photo courtesy of Salt Rock Grill

Whether you arrive by land or by sea, this legendary landmark will welcome you with tasty food, refreshing drinks and scenic waterfront vistas. For seafood lovers, there's a wide range of choices which includes lobster bisque, calamari, clams, shrimp cocktails, key lime oysters, crab, mussels and daily-caught fish. For boaters, plenty of dock space is available so you can easily tie up and dine. Salt Rock Grill is conveniently located in Indian Shores overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. The ample wine list's regular slot on Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" list assures the perfect pairing for any seafood selection. For anyone with a sweet tooth, tasty options include: key lime pie, double chocolate truffle torte, crème brûlée, banana rum bread pudding cheesecake and more.

Recommended for Seafood because: It's a local landmark with delicious cuisine, award-winning wines and serene waterfront vistas. Who could ask for more?

Michelle's expert tip: Reservations are strongly recommended. When weather permits, grab a table outside overlooking the inter-coastal waterway.

Read more about Salt Rock Grill →

Guy Harvey's RumFish Grill & Bar
Photo courtesy of Rumfish Grill

This popular restaurant tucked into Guy Harvey Outpost – a Trade Winds Resort on St. Pete Beach – offers fulfilling lunch and dinner menus. Sautéed mussels, oysters, shrimp, crispy squid and blue crab cakes provide an excellent start to your meal. Follow that up with mustard seed crusted cedar salmon, jerk swordfish, sea scallops or wood grilled yellow tuna. For something lighter, try the blackened fish tacos or grilled jerk swordfish burrito. Meat-eaters have a wide range of options too and wine-lovers will be equally pleased with the selection. An unusual backdrop to the dining experience is the 33,500-gallon aquarium, encompassing an entire wall of the restaurant, lending an authentic "undersea" feel to the dining experience.

Recommended for Seafood because: Not only is the food excellent, but the huge onsite fish tank adds an interesting dimension to the dining experience.

Michelle's expert tip: The restaurant offers a unique "Swim with the Fishes" program, allowing visitors a chance to swim in the tank and includes a behind-the-scenes tour highlighting eco-iniatives and tank management.

Read more about Guy Harvey's RumFish Grill & Bar →

Sea Salt St. Pete
Photo courtesy of Sea Salt St Pete

Located in downtown St Petersburg's hip Sundial Shopping Center, this sophisticated oyster bar, lounge, restaurant has been on the map since 2015. An expansive raw bar, freshly caught seafood crafted with high quality ingredients and presented in an appealing way are just the beginning of the memorable culinary journey you'll embark on here. Oysters, shrimp, scallops and octopus pave the way for entrees, which include fresh catch of the day along with ahi tuna, swordfish, grouper, Faroe Island salmon and more. Boasting a menu of more than 40 varieties of oysters (there's even an oyster sommelier) it's one of the largest selections in the area. Executive Chef Kenny Tufo and Chef/owner Fabrizio Aielli are constantly creating seasonal menus with daily changes.

Recommended for Seafood because: The food is excellent and Wine Spectator has recognized their wine list for the third year in a row with its "Award of Excellence."

Michelle's expert tip: Ask about their "Oyster Club," a paid membership program giving guests a passport so that they can "analyze" oyster selections, eventually receiving a $50 Sea Salt gift card when their passport is full.

Read more about Sea Salt St. Pete →

Rusty's Bistro
Photo courtesy of Sheraton Sand Key Resort

Exceptional service and tasty cuisine pave the way for a delectable dining experience in the Sheraton Sand Key Resort's premier restaurant. Executive Chef John Harris' "Cuisine of the Sun," offers the perfect blend of Caribbean-meets-Southwest palate pleasers highlighting fresh Florida produce and seafood. Kick off the experience with their signature parmesan crusted Humboldt calamari topped with a lemon butter caper sauce, or a blue crab cake, seared and stacked and topped by a smoked tomato aioli and tomato carrot ginger jus. Another signature favorite is the crab crusted snapper entrée, which comes with a tangerine butter sauce and herb citrus risotto. A full roster of wine pairings and decadent desserts provide the perfect finale.

Recommended for Seafood because: The ambiance, combined with personal service and tasty cuisine make Rusty's Bistro an absolute "must" for a fine dining experience.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try the crusted calamari topped with lemon butter. Even if you don't think you're a fan, you'll be delighted by this dish.

Read more about Rusty's Bistro →


Meet Michelle da Silva Richmond

Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations. 

She has written hundreds of articles...  More About Michelle