Expert Tips


Best Waterfront Dining in St. Petersburg / Clearwater

Top Spots for Waterfront Dining in St Pete/Clearwater

Ever since the dawn of civilization, dining has become a social ritual as well as a basic life necessity and where to dine when you don't feel like cooking is always a matter of debate.

Fortunately, because of its location, St Petersburg and Clearwater offer many restaurants where you not only can get good food, drinks and entertainment, you can also be treated to sweeping waterfront vistas.

If you like to dress up and indulge in an elegant dining experience, you should visit Spinner’s Revolving Bistro atop the Grand Plaza Hotel on St. Pete Beach or the Columbia Restaurant on Sand Key. For a more laid back, casual atmosphere try Sea Critters Café, Sea Hags Bar and Grill or Woody’s Waterfront.

If you'd prefer a place where you can dig your toes in the sand in between soaking in the tranquil Gulf, you'll find plenty of other options, too.

No matter where you go you can find tasty food, frosty drinks and breath-taking sunsets along these shimmering shores. 


St. Petersburg
The Getaway
Photo courtesy of VSPC

A fairly recent addition to the local scene, The Getaway opened its Tiki huts in 2014 in a quiet hideaway bordering the Weeden Island Preserve. Casual, al fresco dining (some of it on the beach) features lunch and dinner options which include – among other things – burgers, tacos, salads, nachos, wraps and quesadillas. A variety of baskets offer chicken wings, oysters and clam strips, served with Island slaw. Brunch, served on weekends from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., showcases a variety of eggs, omelets, waffles, coconut French toast and more. Oyster shooters, Mimosas and a variety of Bloody Mary's add some "zip" to the experience.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It's a slice of Paradise, tucked off the beaten path offering tasty food and beautiful vistas.

Michelle's expert tip: For dessert, be sure to try the key lime pie in a jar or key lime sponge cake. You won't be sorry!

Read more about The Getaway →

Sea Hags Bar and Grill
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Casual, waterfront marina dining is the name of the game at the family-friendly Sea Hags and whether you arrive by car or by boat (boat slips are provided) you'll be happy that you decided to dine here. The varied menu offers a wide variety of appetizers, homemade soups, fresh salads, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches – everything you would need for a casual dining experience. Gourmet quesadillas feature roasted pork, sautéed chicken fajitas, grilled Portobello mushrooms and more. Grouper, steak, shrimp, chicken and ahi tuna are featured entrées. Dine indoors or out. Sports fans will delight the many TVs - indoors and out – so you can keep track of your favorite games. Popular local musical entertainment groups perform on weekends.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It offers good food, entertainment and is a family-friendly place with a view of the marina.

Michelle's expert tip: On weekends, Sea Hags is rocking so be sure to arrive early if you want a table.

Read more about Sea Hags Bar and Grill →

St. Pete Beach
Woody's Waterfront
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Pizza, wraps, fresh seafood, sandwiches, burgers, salads and an ample menu of other treats highlight the dining experience at Woody's Waterfront. Tucked along Blind Pass with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, this family-friendly, laid-back, 50s-style restaurant is a very popular with locals and savvy visitors. First established in 1945 as a bait house for local fishermen, Woody's has morphed into a colorful pit stop for anyone in search of good food and drinks – at reasonable prices – and live entertainment, Wednesday – Sunday. Menu offerings are abundant, but the Buffalo wings are legendary. All day Sunday and Monday they feature half price "Happy Hour."

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It's a local landmark and very family friendly. Thursday through Saturday, kids can catch Mark the Balloon Guy and watch him craft his creations.

Michelle's expert tip: This is a cash-only establishment. No credit or debit cards are accepted, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Read more about Woody's Waterfront →

St. Pete Beach
Billy's Stone Crab
Photo courtesy of VSPC

Since 1972, Billy's Stone Crab Restaurant - has been garnering acclaim for its laid-back, rustic Key West vibe as well as the reasonably-priced menu boasting a wide range of fresh seafood, which includes its signature stone crab as well as shrimp, oysters and lobster, along with a variety of fish and steak. Its location on the natural harbor, Hurricane Hole adds a special dimension to the dining experience. At lunchtime, Florida natives and tourists alike clamor for light bites such as several burger options as well as a variety of sandwiches, tacos and seafood platters. The evening menu offers hardier fare including pasta dishes, seafood, chicken, steak and more.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It's been around since 1972 and has won many awards and offers sweeping views along with tasty cuisine.

Michelle's expert tip: For light entertainment, head up to the third floor for live music to go along with some stunning views.

Read more about Billy's Stone Crab →

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

This laid back, island-styled café set along the waterfront in historic Pass-a-Grille sets the stage for a tasty Florida dining experience. Menu favorites include a wide variety of fish selections as well as crab cakes, delicious lobster rolls and lobster pasta. If seafood doesn't appeal to you, other menu options include chicken, steaks, freshly made sandwiches, tasty pulled pork and delicious chicken quesadillas. Frosty margaritas and a variety of signature drinks highlight an ample list of bar drinks and other refreshments. For diners with boats, a free boat dockage allows diners to hop ashore and grab a quick bite – at no extra cost for "parking" their boat.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It's been a longtime favorite with locals and visitors alike because of its varied menu and reasonable prices.

Michelle's expert tip: If you go around sunset, you'll get to a unique treat as you can watch the abundance of catfish that appear around that time.

Read more about Sea Critters Cafe →

Hurricane Seafood Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

What started in 1977 as a small family beach bar built on the site of a 1912 bath house offering a modest 10-item menu, has blossomed into a popular dining experience, drawing not only locals, but visitors from around the globe. Started by the Falkenstein family from Baltimore who brought neighborhood favorites to their new venture, the Hurricane has since morphed into three stories - including a top floor boasting 360 - degree views - and two distinct dining venues. Lunch and dinner are served on the ground floor - the original Hurricane - geared more to families. Options range from light bites, sandwiches, soups and salads to hardier seafood platters, pasta and more. Level two offers an "upscale" dinner experience with tasty treats such as gator bites, lobster ravioli, snow crab, the popular "Mom's 1945 crab cakes," and a host of other favorites.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: It's a longtime favorite with locals and visitors alike because the food is good and the view is outstanding.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try their specialty, the fresh Gulf Black Grouper, fried, blackened or grilled. Also, "Mom's 1945 Crab Cakes Melt," "back home" Baltimore recipe prepared daily.

Read more about Hurricane Seafood Restaurant →

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

This popular restaurant is the largest in a chain started by Quebec-born Michael Preston who earned the nickname "Frenchy" when he moved to the US as a child with his family. Frenchy's Rockaway Grill features open-air beachfront dining with mesmerizing sunsets accompanying an ample "Floridian" menu highlighting freshly caught seafood, fish tacos, burgers, sandwiches, soups and more. Of special note is the lightly seasoned, creamy She Crab soup. Everything grouper – whether baked and stuffed or in a sandwich, are favorites. 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 Waterfront Dining because: Frenchy's Rockaway has been pleasing locals and visitors alike since 1991 with good food, ambiance and entertainment.

Michelle's expert tip: Try the garlic crab fries and the all-you-can-eat stone crabs when they're in season.

Read more about Frenchy's Rockaway Grill →

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

This legendary beach landmark is a class act, combining tasty food, refreshing drinks and a dreamy ambiance. Seafood lovers will enjoy the wide range of selections which includes – among other things – lobster bisque, shrimp cocktails, key lime oysters, crab, mussels and daily-caught seafood. For landlubbers, their legendary hand cut USDA prime choice grade beef are sure to please the palate. Decadent desserts boast a variety of sweet options such as: crème brûlée, cheese cake, double chocolate truffle torte, banana rum bread pudding and more. An abundant raw bar and fully-stocked wine cellar are added perks. For boaters, plenty of dock space awaits! Salt Rock Grill is located in Indian Shores overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. Daily early-bird options are featured from 4 – 5 p.m.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The food is good, the scenery is beautiful - and it's a favorite with locals and visitors alike.

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 →

This traditional Spanish restaurant is a branch of a long-standing local chain dating back to 1905, which is still operated by the family's fourth and fifth generations. Dine inside and take in a sweeping view of the picturesque intercoastal waterway while savoring traditional Spanish-inspired cuisine. Gazpacho or black bean soup are a great way to start your meal, followed by a selection of salads, tapas, stuffed piquillo peppers, chicken croquettes and other favorites. Hardier dishes and fresh seafood are always available, while chilled cervezas, mojitos, margaritas, daiquiris and tangy sangrias are perfect accompaniments. For dessert, indulge in churros, mango mousse cake, white chocolate bread pudding and more.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: This award-winning popular,family-owned chain has been around since 1905 and is legendary for its food, ambiance and service.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try their award-winning, "1905 salad," a menu staple since the restaurant first opened. The Tango Mango cocktail is another favorite.

Read more about Columbia Restaurant - SandKey →

Spinners Revolving Bistro
Photo courtesy of Grand Plaza Hotel

For fine dining with a 360-degree view, head to the Grand Plaza Hotel's 12th floor Spinner's Revolving Bistro. The slowly revolving lounge and bistro takes about 90 minutes to do its circular tour - long enough to enjoy your meal in a semi-formal, yet casual atmosphere. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the lunch menu highlights lighter fare such as tacos, wraps, sandwiches and salads. Dinner is a celebration of fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, chicken and signature pasta dishes. An ample wine and beer list are noteworthy. Designer martinis, specialty drinks – frozen and non-frozen – add to the experience.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The view from the 12th floor is an added "perk" to complement tasty cuisine and fine dining.

Michelle's expert tip: If you go at sunset you'll have the perfect perch from which to view Mother Nature's colorful display.

Read more about Spinners Revolving 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