Make us your home page
Instagram

Restaurant review: Salty's Island Bar & Grille on Clearwater Beach shows signs of a classic beach spot

CLEARWATER

It's a shorthand of sorts. When you see 32-ounce Naked Turtle rum runner buckets, you know you are in a beach bar. It may not be toes-in-the-sand beachy, but you can be assured that there will be a one-man band warbling through Son of a Son of a Sailor, that fried shrimp will feature prominently and that many patrons will have exercised insufficient caution in sunscreen reapplication (goal: every two hours). Maybe it's just the "bucket" part, but it gets you oriented quickly.

But before you even get to the buckets, the name Salty's Island Bar & Grille is a fairly robust tipoff. There has already been a whole heap of salt in these parts (Salt Rock, Sea Salt, Grey Salt), but the apostrophe "s" speaks of board shorts and rash guards and someone uttering the sentiment "It's five o'clock somewhere" only part ironically.

The newest beach restaurant at Clearwater Beach, right across from CB's newest beach hotel, the Opal Sands, has a pedigree of sorts. Greg Powers, the CEO of parent company Beachside Hospitality Group (which runs the Salty Crab Bar & Grill in Fort Myers Beach), is also the CEO of Primecost, which oversees Crabby Bill's Clearwater Beach, Crabby's Bar & Grill and Crabby Bill's St. Cloud. (Meanwhile, the Loder family runs Crabby Bill's Indian Rocks Beach as well as Lulu's Oyster Bar and Seabreeze.) These are people who know how to do seafood-centric beach-themed restaurants where rum drinks sometimes come in startling hues.

Salty's is no exception. There is the challenge of having no parking lot, but public beach parking across the way isn't too much of a hassle if you download the payment app. In large measure, this newcomer will cater to tourists and Opal Sands guests, with a menu that offers some vacation splurges (lobster tail for $39.99 and bairdi crab, a super-sweet snow crab also known as tanner, for $29.99), but keeps things otherwise fairly reasonable.

The best bargain on the menu is the pulled chicken nachos ($10.99), a vast tray of chips, black beans, pickled jalapenos, shredded chicken and gooey cheese sauce that will sustain a fair crowd as the sun sets over the water. (From the upstairs open-air deck you can see some beach, but not much, and be prepared for some pesky bitey insects.)

Salty's menu isn't stacked with surprises, but there are a number of solid stalwarts that make for an enjoyable evening. The appetizer list leans heavily toward the deep-fryer: Fried green tomatoes ($8.99), fried zucchini fingers ($7.99) and coconut shrimp ($9.99) were all pleasant, crunchy, greaseless versions, although I would discontinue the practice of bedding everything down on undressed mixed greens that frizzle into unappetizing goo under the heat.

The best appetizer was a traditional ahi tuna poke ($11.99), the jewellike cubes soy-inflected and paired with a bit of zingy seaweed salad and a passel of wonton strips. (This same array is offered as an entree bowl bulked up with coconut rice, the tuna seared this time, $12.99.) Friendly, casual servers can guide you toward the most popular dishes: a nice swath of fresh grouper on the grouper sandwich ($13.99), which is elevated by a lime-zapped tartar sauce; the blackened mahi sandwich ($11.99) with that same sauce; and a pretty solid shrimp and grits ($16.99), royal red shrimp lending a little extra sweetness and richness to andouille sausage and creamy ground corn.

In the name of keeping my wits semi-intact, I forwent the evenings' special bucket options. Even ruling out rum drinks and all liquors that look like Windex, Salty's had plenty of imbibing options, with a respectable craft beer list and a nice little array of wines on tap. Salty's may not be revolutionizing the beach bar, but with its prime location and indoor-outdoor two-level dining space, it has introduced a new option for beach denizens in search of a whole bucket of fun.

Contact Laura Reiley at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

.

Salty's Island Bar & Grille

437 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater; (727) 216-8085; saltysisland.com

Cuisine: Beach bar

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday, until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Details: AmEx, MC, V, Disc.; full bar; reservations accepted

Prices: Appetizers $4.99-$12.99; entrees $9.99-$39.99

Rating, out of four stars:

Food: ★★ Service: ★★ Atmosphere: ★★

Overall: ★★

Restaurant review: Salty's Island Bar & Grille on Clearwater Beach shows signs of a classic beach spot 06/13/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 13, 2016 2:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24

    Events

    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23

    Events

    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others

    Stage

    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]