Grouper Sandwich Hot Spots

Jimmy Buffett may sing the praises of a cheeseburger in paradise, but everybody knows you just haven't lived until you've had a fresh grouper sandwich in the sunshine. The tender but hearty white fish is a mainstay on menus throughout the St. Pete/Clearwater area, and the number of ways to serve it is constantly growing. The most common are grilled, blackened or fried, but all of our local spots put their own twist on the dish. If you're a newbie to the juicy filet, these restaurants will give you the best base to judge all future grouper sandwiches, and if you've sampled your share of the sandwiches before, these spots will make you reconsider what you thought was a great grouper sandwich.

1 Beachside Grouper at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

No mention of grouper sandwiches would be complete without talking about Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on Clearwater Beach. The tropical beach hut, located right on the shores of USA Today's 2013 "Best Beach Town in Florida," screams paradise with its brightly hand-painted tables of red, orange, blue and yellow fish and island music playing to the beat of the open-air fans while beachgoers walk by in bathing suits and flip flops. You'll even see wakeboards propped up against stools and chairs by diners who walked up from the beach. As one of four Frenchy's restaurants in the area, the Rockaway Grill receives its fillets fresh daily from Frenchy's own fishing fleet. The grouper sandwich is usually so juicy that you may wind up ditching the bun and condiments and just eating the fish with your hands (Hey! It's on the beach, you can rinse your hands in the ocean later.)

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2 Fashionable Grouper at Guppy's on the Beach

To the south of Clearwater Beach sits a quiet neighborhood restaurant where locals dine al fresco under golden umbrellas and oak trees. Open since 1992, Guppy's on the Beach sits across the street from Indian Rocks Beach access and draws a casual crowd, albeit with shirt and shoes. The grouper sandwich done up in a beer batter at Guppy's is found alongside menu items like mushroom caps stuffed with crab meat and lobster salads. Families and fashionable singles mingle at the bar and inside tables, while many locals opt for takeout that can be brought down to the beach for a picnic.

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3 Shoes Required Grouper at the Salt Rock Grill

For diners looking to take a grouper filet to the next level, be sure to visit Salt Rock Grill. From its vantage point high atop towering limestone rocks, the restaurant overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway at Indian Shores. They have grouper chowder as an appetizer and its menu of fresh fish from the Gulf changes daily. The restaurant also offers a good amount of turf for those not fond of the surf menu.

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4 El Garoupa - Grouper Gets a Latin Makeover at The Columbia Restaurant

Experience the grouper Cuban-style at the Columbia: breaded with toasted ground Cuban bread and then grilled and topped with lemon butter, chopped parsley and egg. Pair the dish with Columbia's 1905 salad (named for the year the original restaurant opened), and you'll be properly introduced to the seasonings that make The Columbia a must.

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5 Whole-lot-a Grouper at Dockside Dave's

Sometimes, all you need is grouper. And lots of it. If that's the case, Dockside Dave's in Madeira Beach and St. Pete Beach is your destination. The no-frills diner is popular with the lunch crowd thanks to its half-pound grouper sandwich. The local mainstay is served six ways – grilled, blackened, country fried, lightly blackened on the grill, lemon-peppered or, where it all started, Dave's famous beer-battered grouper.

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6 Sunset Grouper at The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

One of the best things about beachside dining is the mix of casual and fine dining. The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, in the Pass-a-Grille neighborhood of St. Pete Beach, offers the best of both worlds at its three-story eatery overlooking the Gulf. The first floor has a takeout window and casual sit-down cafe for beachgoers looking for the fabled grouper. In addition to the traditional sandwich, there's a Grouper Reuben made New York-style and served on rye bread, as well as a tropical jerk grouper wrap, smothered in papaya, avocado, pico de gallo, red beans and rice. Come dinner, the second floor welcomes fine diners, and after dinner, everyone is invited upstairs to the rooftop deck to catch sunset.

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1 Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

City: Clearwater Beach
Category: Dining

Address
7 Rockaway St.
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

Phone: 727-446-4844

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2 Guppy's on the Beach

City: Indian Rocks Beach
Category: Dining

Address
1701 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

Phone: 727-593-2032

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3 Salt Rock Grill

City: Indian Shores
Category: Dining

Address
19325 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Shores, FL 33785

Phone: 727-593-7625

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4 Columbia Restaurant - Clearwater Beach

City: Clearwater Beach
Category: Dining

Address
1241 Gulf Blvd.
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

Phone: 727-596-8400

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5 Dockside Dave's

City: Madeira Beach
Category: Dining

Address
14701 Gulf Blvd.
Madeira Beach, FL 33708-2151

Phone: 727-392-9399

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6 The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

City: St Pete Beach
Category: Dining

Address
809 Gulf Way
St Pete Beach, FL 33706-4218

Phone: 727-360-9558

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