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Local places to eat in Clearwater Beach, Tampa, St. Pete and more

Get your nosh on in the Sunshine State this summer. By Erin Feitsma, Times Total Media Correspondent
Could it be ... chocolate o'clock? Whether you're sharing a dessert, a four-course meal, enjoying an IPA on the beach or an epic weekend brunch, the culinary variety in this state is mind-boggling.
Could it be ... chocolate o'clock? Whether you're sharing a dessert, a four-course meal, enjoying an IPA on the beach or an epic weekend brunch, the culinary variety in this state is mind-boggling. [ Shutterstock ]
Published May 27|Updated Jun. 1

What better place for fresh eats than Florida? We’ve compiled a list of delectable dining options from Italian bazaar to friendly dog bar, and everything in between. We hope you have an appetite, because these outstanding eateries will keep you coming back all summer long.

Indian Shores

For an eclectic vibe, don’t sleep on cozy beachside café Indian Shores Coffee. The coffeehouse is the brainchild of Greg Bauman, who also owns St. Petersburg’s Black Crow Coffee. Indian Shores has a similar bohemian vibe but at a slightly sleepier pace; the screen patio is the perfect place to sip cold brew while doodling in a notebook. Indian Shores also offers open mic nights, organic coffee and baked goods made in-house. Vegan and gluten-free options abound. facebook.com/IndianShoresCoffee

For fresh and scrumptious French cuisine, take a short drive over to Café de Paris Bakery on Indian Rocks Beach. Owner Xavier De Marchi first opened a bakery in southwest France before relocating to Florida, where his family-run café has brought baguettes to the beaches since 2003. Enjoy croissants, crépes and quiches (not to mention pumpkin soup), and don’t miss Café de Paris’ selection of baked goods, including delectable pastries and richly flavored custom cakes. Arrive early to secure seating; expect lines. cafedeparisbakery.com

St. Petersburg

If you’re searching for specialty Italian cuisine, look no further than the ever-popular Mazzaro’s Italian Market. Mazzaro’s has been serving the St. Petersburg community since the ‘90s, and offers a rich selection of Italian fare, from baked cod piccata to house-made gelato and so much more. mazzarosmarket.com

Right next door is Casa di Mazzaro, which sells kitchenware and over five dozen different flavors of loose-leaf tea, among other specialty products. Play chef and brush up on your culinary skills with the shop’s hands-on cooking classes and live demonstrations. casadimazzaro.com

For Italian food with a twist, grab a slice at Noble Crust. Winner of the Times’ Best of the Best award for brunch fare, there’s no better place to enjoy strawberry cheesecake French toast, zesty lemon ricotta pancakes or a Noble sangria. Noble Crust has locations in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Wesley Chapel, and infuses its Italian cuisine with Southern ingredients for maximum flavor. Besides top-notch pizza, other don’t-miss dishes include shrimp and grits, skillet garlic knots and Southern-fried chicken. noble-crust.com

Canine lovers will adore the playful paw-sibilities at The Dog Bar in St. Petersburg, a sports bar with indoor and outdoor dog parks that gives people and pups alike a place to relax. Enjoy doggone good food trucks, a full bar, game room and regular events. Fluffy will love socializing with other doggies while you enjoy draft beer, cocktails or cold-brew coffee. No dog? No problem. Patrons without four-legged friends are welcome to enjoy the space as well. For more information on membership and entry requirements for your pup, visit dogbarstpete.com.

It’s all about flavor at The Floribbean, a St. Petersburg-based restaurant that wows with its Caribbean-fusion cuisine. Chow down on one of The Floribbean’s signature combination bowls, such as the Island Umami or Sweet Heat Havana, or mix things up and build your own. Vegetarians and vegans also have options aplenty here. thefloribbean.com

If you’re looking for a restaurant with that old-Florida feel, look no further than The Chattaway. This local eatery is family-owned and operated and has served the St. Petersburg community in several different forms over its 90-year tenure. The restaurant offers al fresco dining, live music, top-rated burgers (it’s the Original Cheese Chattaburger for us) and even, yes, a koi pond. For those who fancy a tea party, make a reservation to enjoy afternoon tea in the restaurant’s English Tea Room. thechattaway.com

Tampa

Refresh your tastebuds and explore new perspectives with Tampa’s edison: food+drink lab, an award-winning gastropub that re-imagines familiar foods from a fresh, modern angle. Chef Jeannie Pierola is a five-time James Beard semifinalist who brings her flair of creativity to the restaurant’s inventive dishes, including artisan cocktails, confit pork belly Wellington and sweet corn sugar-crusted butter cake. Bon appétit! edison-tampa.com

Next up, don’t miss the historic Columbia, the oldest restaurant in Florida. Columbia Restaurant has been serving up traditional Spanish cuisine in the Sunshine State since 1905, beginning with its flagship location in Ybor. There are also Columbia Restaurants in Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach and near Orlando, so wherever summer takes you, you can’t miss it. Make sure to add the Columbia’s Original “1905″ Salad® to your plate when dining, and if you find yourself at the Ybor location, walk next door to the Columbia Restaurant Gift Store, which offers beautiful Spanish pottery, specialty food items and more. columbiarestaurant.com

For classic Southern cuisine with an upscale vibe, you can’t beat the award-winning, mouth-watering fare of Tampa’s 7th + Grove. The combination restaurant/lounge space is a welcomingly luxe affair with plush, pink seating that also doubles as an event venue. The menu is packed with comfort food and cocktails, featuring catchily named items like Welcome to Atlanta (peach bourbon or watermelon barbecue glazed wings) and Hit Different (Southern-fried donuts with cream cheese icing). 7thandgrove.com/ybor-location

Tarpon Springs

If your mouth waters for Mediterranean dishes, Tarpon Springs is the town for you. Here you will find an absolute abundance of top-notch Greek eateries, starting with the pastry haven of Hellas Bakery & Restaurant, located only steps away from the beloved Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. After loading up on baklava and Greek-style cannoli, your next stop is another traditional Greek eatery, Mykonos, which one reviewer said, “may[EF1] be the best restaurant in the world.” Don’t mind if we do! For other kinds of cuisine, Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill is a great option, serving up seafood, jambalaya and burgers. Or for breakfast bites, the place to go is Rodie’s Restaurant & Pancake House. Try brunch faves like Belgian waffles or strawberry banana French toast. Rodie’s also has a location in Clearwater. www.ctsfl.us

Clearwater Beach

If you’re dining by Clearwater Beach, you can’t miss Frenchy’s. Originally debuting on the coastal restaurant scene in 1981, Frenchy’s has since expanded to include numerous offshoot locations and a retro-style motel. We recommend snagging a seat at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, the largest location in the Frenchy’s family, to try the fan-favorite She Crab soup or grouper sandwich. frenchysonline.com

If it’s sushi you’re after, hop on over to Sushi Tu. This lesser-known and must-try restaurant makes delicious sushi bowls and rolls in an intimate dining setting, and customers are raving. sushitu.com

Anna Maria Island

For an atmosphere reminiscent of old Florida, grab a seat at the historic, award-winning Waterfront Restaurant, located on the tropical oasis of Anna Maria Island. The popular eatery and craft bar, housed inside a charming cottage, partners with local fishermen to bring specialty ingredients to its menu, ensuring patrons enjoy the freshest food possible. The restaurant offers an abundance of gluten-free options and is the perfect place to sit porch-side while reveling in craft cocktails and to-die-for dishes like shrimp and grits, lobster bisque or the grouper cake sandwich. thewaterfrontrestaurant.net

The Waterfront Restaurant is also within walking distance of the Anna Maria City Pier, where you can visit a gift shop and take in exquisite views. Arrive early to secure parking. annamariaisland.com/anna-maria-city-pier

Head next door and enjoy an ice cream cone (or two … or three) at Two Scoops, a top-rated ice cream parlor and café that serves up nearly three dozen homemade flavors of deliciousness (we recommend the Trashcan or Blueberry Pie varieties). If you’re strolling over to grab a meal instead, you’ll enjoy a myriad of tasty options, including Two Scoops’ chili dogs, a fan favorite. The ice cream parlor has been in business for over 15 years and wows with its sugary desserts and beachside digs. What could say summer more than relaxing by the water with a scoop and the sunshine? twoscoopsami.com

Longboat Key

Food fanatics can’t miss Longboat Key’s The Old Salty Dog, a seaside restaurant by way of a British pub. The unique restaurant offers go-to seafood dishes (coconut shrimp and steamed mussels) with a hint of English-inspired eats (fish ‘n’ chips). The restaurant, which has sister locations in Siesta Key and Venice Island, is known for its namesake Salty Dog dish, a fried hot dog slathered in batter, as seen on the show “Man v. Food.” theoldsaltydog.com

Only a hop and a skip away is the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, sure to delight attendees of all ages with its resident sea life. mote.org

Decadent dishes abound at the sleek and sumptuous French fine-dining experience that is Maison Blanche. At the helm is Chef José Martinez, a James Beard semifinalist and Michelin star-awarded talent who brings his expertise to gourmet dishes like roasted octopus, Mediterranean sea bass, beef short ribs and more.

Also a staple in Longboat Key is the Euphemia Haye Restaurant & The Haye Loft, an intimate restaurant rich with foliage that’s served up luxurious dishes to locals for over four decades. The establishment’s formal dining space offers fresh and high-quality menu items like roasted duckling or snails Leslie. For a more casual ambience, climb on up to the restaurant’s Haye Loft (featuring a highly lauded Dessert Room) for a laidback, lounge-worthy dining experience. euphemiahaye.com

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