When visiting St. Pete/Clearwater, be sure to come with a healthy appetite. The area's dining destinations have top chefs at the helm and top-notch dishes inspired by ingredients and cooking approaches the world over. It's no wonder these eateries get repeat visits from both locals and visitors - the ingredients couldn't be more fresh or the preparations more creative. And the decor and settings are riveting too. Everything you set your sights on will make you want to come back.
Columbia Restaurant, Clearwater Beach
Family owned and operated for more than 100 years, the Columbia has earned acclaim for its old-world charm and award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway in Sand Key in Clearwater Beach, the original location is Ybor City in Tampa.
Vibe: Casual atmosphere with wide-open water views from inside and from the outdoor deck.
Must-try dish: Spanish Bean Soup with garbanzo beans and chorizo sausage.
Mykonos Restaurant, Tarpon Springs
At Mykonos Restaurant, treat your taste buds to authentic Greek delicacies such as Soutzoukakia (ground beef and Greek herbs, charbroiled on a skewer), Taramosalata (fresh caviar spread) and patatokeftedes (pan-fried Greek potato patties).
Vibe: Ultra-friendly - you'll feel like you're among family here.
Must-try dish: Gyro plate.
Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, South Pasadena
Featuring smoked mullet and other Florida fish cooked in a red oak smoker, this Ted Peters is practically an institution. The cooks here go through approximately 3 million pounds of fish each year.
Vibe: Pure dive-y, picnic charm.
Must-try: a Famous Smoked Fish Dinner - salmon or Mahi-Mahi.
Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, Pass-a-Grille Beach
This is one of the area's most popular restaurants to watch the sunset. Check out "Stormy's," the open-air bar on the top deck of the Hurricane, for a great view of the beach any time of day.
Vibe: Casual, beachy and festive.
Must try: Mom's 1945 Crab Cake.
Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, Clearwater Beach
This is the place to go for Frenchy’s famous classic grouper sandwich, paired with spectacular beach views of the "Best Beach Town in Florida" as chosen by USA Today readers in 2013. Sip a tropical cocktail, and feel the island vibe as local musicians set the mood with live music.
Vibe: Fun and high-energy.
Must-try: She Crab soup.
Island Way Grill, Clearwater
Island Way Grill puts the spotlight on fresh, local and delicious fish. Its menu tells a story of cultures coming together, blending the flavors of continental, Pacific Rim and Island cuisine and adding a pan-Asian flair.
Vibe: Warm and tropical. Must-try: The shellfish tower.
Marchand's Bar and Grill, St. Petersburg
Located in the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, the grand dame of downtown St. Pete, Marchand’s serves up tasty, modern delights to match its elegant setting. Its Market Style Sunday brunch is a local favorite.
Vibe: Upscale and elegant.
Must-try: The Cuban Benedict.
Guppy's on the Beach, Indian Rocks Beach
Both locals and visitors find themselves drawn to the views and atmosphere of Guppy’s on the Beach. The chef’s daily specials are always delectable, and the regular menu boasts a winning variety of fresh seafood, signature sandwiches and tempting steaks.
Vibe: Modern and Comfy.
Must-try: Guppy's Seafood Bowl.
Friendly Fisherman, Madeira Beach
As the oldest original seafood establishment in the legendary Madeira Beach fishing haven of John’s Pass Village, Friendly Fisherman is the perfect place to mix some great views and satisfying seafood into your day of shopping and sightseeing.
Vibe: rustic and laid-back.
Must try: The corn fritters.