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The 10 Best Restaurants In Clearwater, Florida
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The 10 Best Restaurants In Clearwater, Florida

Picture of Lily Cichanowicz
Updated: 9 February 2017
Clearwater, Florida is situated on the Gulf of Mexico. Its beautiful beaches and tropical climate makes it an excellent vacation destination. Clearwater’s culinary scene offers a vast selection of seafood and classic American fare along with great ocean views. Here are ten top restaurants to try in Clearwater.
Clearwater Beach | © Mariamichelle/Pixabay
Clearwater Beach | © Mariamichelle/Pixabay
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Island Way Grill

This seafood restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine should not be missed. Indulge in some freshly caught lobster and crab legs on the outdoor patio overlooking blue waters lined with palm trees. The restaurant staff catch their own fish, which are featured under the catch of the day on the menu and can be prepared in one of six different ways. Alternatively, sit inside and check out the impressive raw fish bar, a testament to the freshness of this restaurant’s ingredients. In addition to a variety of seafood and sushi, Island Way Grill offers quintessential southern favorites like deviled eggs, blackened grilled chicken, and succulent rib-eye steaks. For vegetarians there are substantial salads featuring grilled fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to finish with the key lime pie.

Island Way Grill, 20 Island Way, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-461-6617

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Lenny’s Restaurant

If you’re in Clearwater for the classic American diner experience, head to Lenny’s Restaurant. They offer an excellent breakfast selection including menu items like eggs benedict, cinnamon rolls, fluffy pancakes, waffles covered in fruit and whipped cream, and biscuits and gravy. Each breakfast comes with a complementary basket of danishes. For lunch, try the classic cheeseburger with gloriously melted cheese, thick slices of fresh tomato and hand-cut wedge fries or the fried chicken served with greens and mashed potatoes. The interior is eclectic and full of all kinds of knickknacks and mementos. The fun restaurant management and staff may even offer you a balloon animal.

Lenny’s Restaurant, 21220 US Hwy 19 N, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-799-0402

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Cristino’s Coal Oven Pizza

Despite the name, Cristino’s Coal Oven Pizza serves a whole lot more than just pizza. You can also expect to find some top-notch seafood pasta dishes, paninis, chicken parmesan, fresh bruschetta, and even crème brûlée. Although this doesn’t take away from the quality of the pizza. Expect pies overflowing with melted mozzarella, tangy tomato sauce, ample toppings, and sprinkled with fresh basil. The outdoor patio is covered with a veranda to combat the hot Florida sun and torrential rain, making for comfortable dining outside no matter the weather.

Christino’s Coal Oven Pizza, 1101 S Ft Harrison Ave, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-443-4900

Black grouper dish at Caretta on the Gulf | © Visit St. Pete/Clearwater/Flickr
Black grouper dish at Caretta on the Gulf | © Visit St. Pete/Clearwater/Flickr
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Caretta on the Gulf

Caretta on the Gulf makes for a perfect romantic evening. Sit on the candlelit terrace overlooking the beach and watch the magnificent Florida Gulf Coast sunset. Located in the Sandpearl Resort, Caretta on the Gulf is certainly one of the most upscale restaurants in the area. Try the flatbread with tomatoes and balsamic drizzle, fish tacos, salt and pepper fries, the superb sea bass, or one of their many inventive sushi rolls. End the meal with one the Caretta’s gorgeous gourmet cakes for dessert. You can also get a yummy brunch of crispy griddlecakes with hot chocolate, or stake and eggs. The service is notoriously phenomenal as well.

Caretta on the Gulf, 500 Mandalay Ave, Clearwater Beach, FL, USA, +1 727-674-4171

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Clear Sky Café

Located only steps away from Clearwater Beach, your visit to Clear Sky Café is bound to be a hit. The extensive menu will put you in awe. Clear Sky Café has a wide selection of creative seafood dishes like salmon bruschetta, crab eggs benedict, and seafood crêpes. The variety doesn’t end with the fish and crustaceans, however. Honestly, you could come here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of your trip and eat something different but equally delicious. Try the java French toast, Thai chicken pizza, or brie BLT. Enjoy the ocean breeze on the patio and groove to the live music.

Clear Sky Café, 490 Mandalay Ave, Clearwater Beach, FL, USA, +1 727-442-3684

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Backwater’s on Sand Key

Backwater’s on Sand Key is a cozy restaurant located in an unexpected place. It is housed in the corner of a strip mall in downtown Clearwater, but once you head back to the outdoor seating area you will forget this. Have a seat overlooking the intercoastal waterway on the warmly lit wooden patio and you might even catch a glimpse of some dolphins that often play nearby. The view is really spectacular and the dining atmosphere is relaxed and casual. Go for a steak, the mahi mahi, buffalo grouper sandwich, or bacon wrapped blackened scallops. Backwater’s on Sand Key is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner at sunset.

Backwater’s on Sand Key, Shoppes On Sand Key, 1261 Gulf Blvd, Clearwater Beach, FL, USA, +1 727-517-7383

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Besa Grill

Besa Grill serves Latin-inspired dishes like corn husked mahi, duck nachos, ossobuco, fish tacos, ceviche, and chiles rellenos. It’s one of the liveliest spots in Clearwater to come for cocktails with friends. The brunch selection, which features a make-your-own bloody mary bar, is subject to particular acclaim as well. Besa Grill is all the rage with animal lovers too because they even have a dog-friendly menu! Get your furry friend a Brunch ‘Bark’ Bowl or a Chicken ‘Mutt’ Loaf. It will be a dream come true for them. You can expect to have large portions, great values, and attentive service. Be warned, it can get very busy here so we recommend making a reservation beforehand.

Besa Grill, 2542 N McMullen Booth Rd, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-400-6900

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Salt N Pepper Bistro

Salt N Pepper Bistro will make you feel like you’re stepping straight into Europe. The friendly French chef, Jean-Claude, who is behind the operation rightfully takes pride in the meals he prepares. Some of the authentic menu items include chicken porcini, Nordic smoked salmon, pasta provencale, duck breast and authentic charcuterie. For dessert, try the crêpes, mousse, crème brulee, and one of the many other pastries. The elegant interior has the ambiance of a French bistro. As soon as you see the little mustard yellow restaurant lit by street lamp, and set foot on the brick walkway it’ll seem as if you’ve be transported to a village in France.

Salt N Pepper Bistro, 1757 Clearwater Largo Rd N, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-585-3500

Florida lobster salad at Cafe Ponte | © Visit St. Pete/Clearwater/Flickr
Florida lobster salad at Cafe Ponte | © Visit St. Pete/Clearwater/Flickr
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Café Ponte

This classy restaurant is excellent for special occasions. The menu offers dishes from caviar to cheeseburgers. What unites them all is that everything is made with the highest quality ingredients available. Some other notable menu items include the avocado salad, white asparagus with a fried duck egg, and artisan cheeses. You certainly cannot go wrong with the seasonal tasting menu either. In the winter expect this six course meal to include bolognese, while in the fall you’ll likely get the chance to sample the delicious butternut squash bisque. Each dish is served with wonderful presentation. The chefs at Café Ponte beautifully blend colors and textures in tasteful arrangements. The wait staff is highly professional, and the interior is decorated to match the extravagance of the meal.

Café Ponte, 13505 Icot Blvd #214, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-538-5768

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Wildflower Café

This quaint café is lush with wildflowers. It offers up some classic dainty teatime snacks like chicken salad, sandwiches, and sweets. Some say Wildflower Café has the best coffee in town. Pair your brew with one of the beautifully homemade breakfast menu options like waffles dusted in powdered sugar, quiche lorraine, crispy bacon, French toast, the breakfast burrito, or cheese grits. Each meal is served with fresh seasonal fruits or a salad. This small-scale operation allows for the food to be fresh and made to order, and it really shows. The café itself is painted periwinkle and offers you the option to sit in the garden. The interior is lit with string lights, a lovely antique chandelier, and sunshine, which radiates in from the café’s large windows. I

Wildflower Café, 1465 S Ft Harrison Ave #105, Clearwater, FL, USA, +1 727-447-4497