Landmark Restaurants in St. Pete/Clearwater
Savor the area’s best-loved culinary landmarks – they've been delighting diners for decades.
Mykonos, Tarpon Springs
Andreas Salivaras moved to the U.S. from Greece more than 60 years ago, running several other restaurants in Tarpon Springs before “coming home” to his roots at Mykonos. Although he passed away several years ago, his beloved culinary landmark within sight of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks lives on. Enjoy traditional Greek cuisine and a truly family-friendly atmosphere (meaning you're treated like family).
Don’t-Miss Menu Highlights: Start with the saganaki (flaming cheese) appetizer and move on to moussaka or lamb shank. Save room for dessert (creamy custard Galaktoboureko, anyone?).
Casa Tina, Dunedin
Casa Tina isn’t a chow-down-and-run kind of place. It’s a place to slow down, relax and savor the authentic Mexican dishes that owners Javier and Tina Avila have been offering lucky Dunedin diners for nearly 30 years. Long-time staff – sometimes including Tina – wait on tables, providing insights into the delicious items on offer. Expect an eclectic, colorful environment with Day of the Dead decor.
Can’t-Miss Menu Highlight: Try Chiles en Nogada, a specialty of the house: poblano peppers filled with picadillo and topped with pomegranate seeds and a brandy walnut cream sauce.
Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber, Clearwater Beach
Sure, modern decor and creative fusion restaurants are hot, but when you’re looking for a memorable dining experience, consider this throwback to a bygone, more glamorous era. Consider the appetizer menu at the Beachcomber, for example, which features Clams Casino and Escargot en Casserole. Move on to filet mignon or the restaurant’s famous “Back to the Farm” Fried Chicken. Drinks lean toward the traditional, too, so order a classic martini or a Harvey Wallbanger, and settle in for a relaxing evening.
Can’t-Miss Menu Highlights: You don’t have to order it (it comes with the meal), but the relish tray with cottage cheese, applesauce and corn relish is a traditional treat that locals look forward to when they visit.
Frenchy's Original Cafe, Clearwater Beach
Colorful and beachy-casual, this small restaurant owned by Michael Preston (aka “Frenchy”) has earned itself a big name – and it has spawned four offspring restaurants, including the very popular Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, right on the sands of beautiful Clearwater Beach. Any of the locations are perfect places to go for a laid-back Florida vibe, a tropical drink and Frenchy’s famous grouper sandwich.
Must-try: The grouper sandwich is Frenchy’s claim-to-fame, but the secret-recipe creamy She Crab Soup is another local favorite.
Palm Pavilion, Clearwater Beach
Originally opened as a snack concession with lockers and bath houses, Palm Pavilion was purchased in 1964 by the Hamilton family and adapted through the years. Today, its location right on the sands of Clearwater Beach and its huge wrap-around dining deck make this a local hot spot, especially around sunset. The menu is American, with an emphasis on fresh seafood.
Can’t-Miss Menu Highlights: Try the crispy fried grouper cheeks or the fish tacos with lemon crema cabbage slaw, pico de gallo and cilantro and topped with creamy chipotle sauce.
Friendly Fisherman, Madeira Beach
This place isn’t fancy, and that’s just the point. When you’re in the mood for fresh seafood in a rustic waterfront location, the Friendly Fisherman is just the ticket. It's been filling that niche since 1978, when it opened as the first restaurant at John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk. Sit outside at the Dockside Lounge, and watch seabirds, dolphins and fishing boats.
Don’t-Miss Menu Highlights: Fresh grouper is served in a variety of delicious ways. Don’t miss the corn fritters.
El Cap, St. Pete
The star of the show at this true neighborhood joint is the “World Champ” cheeseburger – a thick, juicy beef patty laden with onions, mayo, cheese, tomatoes and pickle spears. Accompanied by crispy onion rings or golden tater tots and a cold beer, it’s a deeply satisfying meal. The decor at El Cap runs to the nostalgic, with St. Pete newspaper clippings and baseball memorabilia making the place interesting to the eye as well as the palate.
Can’t-Miss Menu Highlight: The burger is the mainstay here, but you’ll also find somewhat unusual menu items such as cod fish sticks and a liverwurst sandwich.
Harvey’s Fourth Street Grill, St. Pete
Not only does this St. Pete culinary icon serve delicious grouper and steaks, it’s an entertaining place to eat, with a friendly crowd and an eclectic decor (some of which came from historic St. Pete hotels such as the Albemarle and the Vinoy). Everything is fresh at Harvey’s, and the grouper is brought in by local boats. The Sunday Brunch menu is extensive and definitely worth the trip.
Can’t-Miss Menu Items: The grouper Reuben is a deliciously fresh take on the classic. Be sure to order the broccoli bites appetizer.
Lorene’s Fish House, St. Pete
Lorene Office and her family run this locally famous fish house in St. Pete’s historically Black Deuces Live neighborhood. Known for a warm welcome and some of the best fried fish around, the unpretentious Lorene's offers landlubbers some great choices, too (the Big Boy burger and Lorene’s fried pork chop dinner come to mind).
Established in: 1994
Can’t-Miss Menu Highlights: The garlic chicken wings have folks lining up. Be sure to order sides such as the collard greens and mac-and-cheese.
Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, South Pasadena
Lovers of unadorned, good food will want to head to Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, located in the very same rustic building since 1951. Five generations later, the family is still pleasing crowds with a simple menu done well. Featured in Southern Living, The New York Times and Food Network’s popular “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” show, the restaurant serves up 2,000 pounds of fish on busy weeks. This cash-only restaurant is currently closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Don’t-Miss Menu Highlights: Why, the smoked fish, of course. Start with the smoked fish spread and saltines, then order a smoked fish dinner (salmon, mahi-mahi, mackerel or mullet) accompanied by cole slaw and the family’s German potato salad recipe.
Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, Pass-a-Grille Beach
A Pass-a-Grille landmark run by the Falkenstein family since 1977, Hurricane Seafood Restaurant (known as “the Hurricane” by locals) is one of the area's most popular restaurants for watching the sunset. Check out The Watch, on the top deck, for great views of the beach any time of day and watching storms roll in on summer afternoons. Interestingly, each floor of the restaurant offers a different menu (level two is dedicated to special events).
Don’t-Miss Menu Highlights: Order the Ultimate Fresh Grouper Dinner, or Mom's 1945 Crab Cake Melt, a favorite for three generations of Falkensteins.