Top Notch Tampa Restaurants Feature Fresh-from-the-Gulf Seafood

Seafood lovers rejoice! Visitors to Tampa with a love of seafood will appreciate its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico and the abundance of seafood riches available at many local restaurants. Fresh and local fish specialties include grouper and mahi-mahi among other varieties. Many types of shellfish are also available, including shrimp, oysters, and crabs.

Whatever you are in the mood for, chances are it didn't have to far to travel before arriving at your table. To help you find the perfect spot, 10 Best has researched the local food scene and brought together a list of the top seafood restaurants to choose from.

Tampa's seafood restaurants range from the upscale to the ultra casual with many featuring stunning views of the very waters that were home to the catch of the day. Local treasures, like the Rusty Pelican, have been pleasing locals and tourists alike for decades with well-prepared dishes and great views.

If you're looking for something more sophisticated, then you can't go wrong with Oystercatchers, widely considered one of the best seafood restaurants in Tampa.



Mitchell's Fish Market

Although a national chain of restaurants, Mitchell's in Tampa has added their unique take on the fresh seafood scene in town, while still keeping reasonable prices. Located in the West Shore Plaza mall, Mitchell's specializes in seafood creations from around the country, including cedar-roasted salmon, tilapia, and Chesapeake Bay crab cakes. There is a raw bar, open kitchen, and decor that is reflective of the upscale vibe. The staff is knowledgeable and attentive always garnering high praise from their repeat customers. Mitchell's also participates in stringent testing guidelines, making sure your fish and seafood dishes are as fresh and pure as possible. Reservations are recommended.

If you're searching for a casual seafood restaurant with great views of Tampa Bay and downtown, then Taste of Boston is a perfect choice. This unpretentious eatery features authentic New England fare and boasts "the best deep fryer in the Tampa Bay area." The kitchen here offers a full array of fresh, deep fried seafood goodness including shrimp, clams, oysters and scallops as well as a wonderful New England Clam "Chowdah." Conveniently located at Ballast Point Park, the restaurant is a perfect stop for families enjoying a little fishing or cooling off at the children's water park.

South Tampa

Shells is a small Tampa chain of seafood restaurants that specialize in preparing local favorites in a comfortable, casual environment. Serving the region for over 30 years, Shells been voted best seafood restaurant for 15 of those years. You won't find anything fancy here, just fresh, high-quality seafood, and friendly and knowledgeable staff, at a price that won't break the bank. Try starting off with a cup of their famous clam chowder or spicy buffalo shrimp. For the main course, there is a good selection of daily fresh fish specials at market prices. There are also a variety of deep fried favorites and pasta offerings.

Catch Twenty Three

Catch Twenty-Three fuses Tampa's fresh seafood selection with Latin and Caribbean influences. The dishes are creative, such as Red Stripe-marinated calamari and whole yellowtail snapper. There is also a delectable sushi list. Located in the affluent neighborhood of Westchase, the restaurant decor is trendy and casual with an understated tropical vibe. there is also an expansive bar and outdoor patio area where visitors can socialize and enjoy happy hour Monday through Friday. On the weekends there is live Caribbean music on the patio. A great place to gather with your friends and family, there's something for everyone at Catch Twenty-Three.

Charley's Steak House features only the best Grade 'A' beef, aged on-site, cut fresh daily and seasoned for 30 hours before being flame-grilled over Florida citrus & oak wood. While Charley's is known more as a steak house, its huge wood-burning grill is also used to cook up some of the best seafood in town. In fact, half of the menu is devoted to fish, crab, shrimp, and lobster tail. Obviously pairing their seafood with one of their famous steaks in a Surf 'N Turf would be a guaranteed winner. With a wine list that numbers over 800 selections, you are sure to find something that pairs wonderfully with your meal.

Back before there was a paved road, Skippers Smokehouse began as a small take-out joint north of Tampa. Over the years the building has been added on to haphazardly including a dining room that is a study in Old Florida rustic. The cuisine is described as "Floribbean" and features local staples including smoked fish dip, conch fritters, and fresh oysters and clams. Their award-winning Blackened Grouper Reuben sandwich was featured on the Travel Channel's Best Sandwich in America. While you're there, enjoy a drink at the Oyster Bar, another ad hoc add-on, and outside is a unique outdoor concert venue, affectionately known to locals as the "Skipperdome."

Rocky Point
Rusty Pelican

The Rusty Pelican is a classic Tampa seafood-and-steaks place located directly on the waters of Tampa Bay. This casually elegant restaurant serves up fresh-from-the-water fare that does for the taste buds what the restaurant's panoramic views do for the eyes. The Rusty Pelican makes a memorable first impression, but what truly keeps folks coming back is the food. Try the Rocky Point Grouper topped with fresh asparagus, Beggars Salmon wrapped in phyllo and stuffed with crab or Shrimp Scampi Rustico with angel hair pasta. Even the steaks, a handful of which are prepared table-side, garner high praise! The Rusty Pelican is also a well-known event location, hosting weddings and other events for up to 300 guests.

Big Ray's Fish Camp has quickly made a name for itself preparing traditional Tampa seafood favorites. Located in South Tampa, close to Ballast Point Park, visitors wishing to taste authentic versions of local classics will not be disappointed. Chef Raymond "Nick" Cruz is as local as they come and learned to fish on the nearby Ballast Point Pier. The lightly breaded Grouper sandwich is one of the best in the city, as is their deviled crab appetizer. The tiny, yet charming restaurant boasts only 4 indoor tables with some outdoor seating and is Florida casual, meaning flip flops and shorts are welcome. The service is friendly and the prices are great.

Eddie V's is a popular upscale steak and seafood restaurant located across from Tampa's International Plaza Mall. Great for a leisurely dinner with friends, the ambiance is sophisticated while still being casual and comfortable. Start off the evening in the bar which features live jazz music every evening along with a selection of carefully crafted cocktails. The menu offers a great selection of seafood options from around the world including Chilean Sea Bass, Icelandic Cod, and of course, Florida Grouper. Steak options are equally well represented and there are several surf and turf options available as well. The service is very good and the wait staff is knowledgeable regarding the regarding menu items.

Airport Area

The first thing you notice as you enter Oystercatchers is the amazing view. This seafood restaurant, nestled among lush, tropical landscaping, takes full advantage of its location at the edge of Old Tampa Bay. Inside, the decor is bright, simple and modern, serving as the perfect backdrop for both the views and the expertly prepared food. The star of the menu is a selection of locally sourced fish served wood grilled, blackened or sauteed. Not only are the dishes inventive and fresh, they are also gathered with conservation in mind. While the food and the view will cost you, the experience cannot be beaten. Part of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Oystercatchers has cemented itself as one of the great restaurant spaces in Tampa.


Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye