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From Gulf to Plate: The Best Seafood in Clearwater Beach Florida

The Best Seafood Restaurants in Clearwater Beach

Welcome to Clearwater Beach, a picturesque coastal town known for its stunning beaches and delicious seafood. If you’re a seafood lover, you’re in for a treat as we guide you through the best seafood restaurants this beachside paradise has to offer.

From Gulf to plate, you’ll embark on a culinary journey that takes you to the best seafood in Clearwater Beach Florida. Indulge in the fresh catch of the day at these renowned seafood establishments, where every dish is a testament to the ocean’s bounty.

Whether you prefer flavorful grilled fish, succulent seafood platters, or mouthwatering shrimp dishes, Clearwater Beach has it all.

best seafood in Clearwater beach
Beautiful Clearwater Beach where the best seafood is just steps away.

Our top-notch selection of seafood restaurants encompasses a range of dining experiences, from casual beachfront eateries with breathtaking views, to elegant establishments boasting unrivaled flavors. Whatever your preferences, our guide will ensure you find the perfect spot to satisfy your seafood cravings.

Join us as we explore the treasures of Clearwater Beach, uncovering the iconic seafood destinations along the way. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable culinary adventure served with a side of breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s time to embark on a seafood journey that will leave you craving for more.

Why Clearwater Beach is Known for Its Seafood

Clearwater Beach is renowned for its seafood due to its prime location along the Gulf of Mexico. With access to the abundant marine life in the Gulf, local fishermen bring in a fresh catch every day, supplying the seafood wholesalers with the finest ingredients.

best seafood restaurants in Clearwater beach
The best seafood comes from commercial fishermen who bring their catch to the wholesalers daily. Here they are harvesting blue crabs.

The warm waters of the Gulf provide the perfect environment for an array of fish and shellfish, resulting in high-quality and delicious seafood.

The local seafood industry takes pride in its commitment to sustainability. Clearwater Beach’s seafood restaurants prioritize responsible fishing practices and support local fishermen who follow strict guidelines to maintain the health of the ocean ecosystem.

By choosing seafood restaurants on Clearwater Beach, you can enjoy your meal knowing that it has been sourced ethically and sustainably.

Clearwater Beach’s seafood scene is also influenced by its rich cultural heritage. The town has a long history of fishing, dating back to the indigenous tribes who first inhabited the area. This deep connection to the sea is reflected in the culinary traditions passed down through generations, making Clearwater Beach a haven for seafood enthusiasts.

Remember, Clearwater Beach is an island. That means there is no excuse for serving anything but the freshest and best available seafood all year long.

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What Fresh Seafood on Clearwater Beach is Commonly Served

The west coast of Florida, with Clearwater Beach being centrally located, boasts a diverse range of delicious seafood thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Here are some commonly served catches you’ll find on menus in Clearwater Beach:

  • Grouper: This firm-fleshed white fish is a popular choice for grilling, baking, and frying. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with various seasonings and sauces. Undoubtedly, the grouper sandwich is the most-served seafood dish on the island.
  • Snapper: Another
    best seafood in clearwater beach snapper
    Of course, the freshest seafood is caught by day fishermen like these snapper caught on a charter out of Clearwater Beach.
    popular white fish, snapper comes in various species, each with its own subtle flavor profile. They are commonly grilled, baked, or prepared in stews and chowders. Finding a restaurant that serves this fish whole is a special treat.
  • Mahi-mahi (Dolphin fish): This vibrant fish boasts a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a firm, flaky texture. It’s often grilled, blackened, or served in ceviche.
  • Shrimp: A staple in Florida seafood, shrimp is enjoyed in various preparations, from steamed and boiled to fried and grilled. They are also a popular ingredient in soups, salads, and pasta dishes.

If you can ever find Key West Pink Shrimp on a menu, try this species only found in south Florida. Brown and white shrimp are the common shrimp in Florida.

  • Blue crab: These crustaceans are prized for their sweet, delicate meat. They are typically steamed or boiled and served whole or picked for use in salads, dips, and other dishes.
  • Stone crab: This seasonal delicacy (available from October to May) is known for its large claws and sweet, succulent meat. They are typically boiled or steamed and served cold with mustard sauce.
    best seafood restaurant in clearwater beach - stone crab
    Stone Crab claws are considered a local delicacy. Fresh off the boat stone crab partially cracked are they way they should be served.
  • Oysters: The Florida Panhandle offers a variety of fresh oysters, each with its own unique flavor and texture. They are enjoyed raw on the half shell, grilled, Rockefeller style, or fried. Oysters are also farmed using new aquaculture techniques.
  • Hogfish: It is rare to find FRESH hogfish on the menus of Clearwater Beach, but occasional fresh catches are worth indulging in if you see it.

These are just a few of the many delicious seafood options you can find on the west coast of Florida. Less common, but delicious other species include cobia, tilefish, tripletail and flounder. As with any fish always ask if it is FRESH local fish.

That doesn’t mean restaurants can’t fly in fresh fish from other regions, but for freshness, you should choose the locally caught varieties. Common menu items like cod, haddock and pollock, while sometimes very good, are generally frozen and not a species caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

Best Seafood Restaurants in Clearwater Beach Florida

How can we determine the best seafood in Clearwater Beach? First of all, we live here and have been residents for over 35 years. We know the restaurants and restauranteurs.

By living in and around the Clearwater Beach area, we know who regularly serves fresh local seafood at the peak of its freshness – and who doesn’t meet the standards!

The list below is not in any particular order. Each restaurant is named, the location is given and described with the restaurant’s ambiance.

  • Caretta on the Gulf at the
    best seafood in clearwater beach caretta
    Pan-seared Gulf grouper at Caretta
    Sand Pearl Resort: Located right on the beachfront, Caretta offers a casual and relaxed fine dining experience with stunning ocean views. This resort-owned restaurant is known for its fresh seafood. Their specialty is the Gulf Grouper, a local favorite that is expertly grilled and served with a side of tangy lemon butter sauce. They also serve oysters and lump crabcakes. We consider Caretta on the Gulf one of the best restaurants in Clearwater Beach. Your choice for fine dining.
  • The Bait House: Yes, it’s an old bait house! If you’re looking for a laid-back atmosphere and a fresh grouper sandwich, The Bait House is the place to be. This small waterside restaurant is right on the water with a few tables overlooking the channel. Nothing fancy here, just fresh grouper from local fishermen. Their burger is excellent also. You will find this shack on the east end of the Clearwater Marina. Your choice for the beach bum experience.
    best seafood in clearwater beach florida - the baithouse
    The Bait House is as rustic as you can get but it is as fresh as you can get when it comes to grouper.
  • The Sandbar at Opal Sands: For a tiki bar dining experience, the Sandbar is right on Clearwater Pass. Again, the iconic grouper sandwich delivers one of the best sandwiches you can find. You can get it blackened, grilled or fried while watching the boats go in and out of Clearwater Pass. This is one of our favorite hangouts! Your choice for waterfront tiki experience and the best seafood in Clearwater Beach.
The Chains and Seafood Clearwater Beach

There are several chains on Clearwater Beach including Frenchy’s, Crabby Bill’s and the Baystar Group (in the Clearwater marina) that serve seafood. While most offer seafood, the ambiance, consistent quality and freshness can vary greatly day to day.

That is not to say the chains can’t serve some acceptable seafood but most are tourist-driven menu items rather than a focus on local fresh seafood.

Two exceptions to our lack of enthusiasm for the chains:

  • One is Clear Sky Café.
    best seafood in clearwater beach florida - clear sky
    Clear Sky Cafe’s take on shrimp and grits – delicious.
    This corner restaurant near the Sand Pearl on Mandalay has mastered consistency. They also have an excellent Hogfish menu item that few other restaurants attempt. They have other locations in Pinellas County.
  • The other exception is the Salt Cracker Fish Camp in the Clearwater Marina main building. Their fresh oysters and grouper are usually very good. However, they are right next to the charter boats where you can see the fish being brought in by guests on the boats. Salt Cracker cooks their catch. The ambiance is enough to make this a good choice.

Those are our five choices for the best seafood on Clearwater Beach. Don’t forget there are some other places to go for different reasons. Places like:

For fresh seafood, we prefer chef-driven restaurants that have a responsibility for fresh seafood, correct handling procedures and overall surroundings that culminate with a superior product.

Freshness and Sustainability of Seafood Clearwater Beach

One thing you can be sure of when dining at seafood restaurants we recommend on Clearwater Beach is the freshness of the seafood. The local fishermen deliver their catch directly to the restaurants, ensuring that you’re getting the best quality seafood available.

 The best restaurants offer seafood from the moment it’s caught to the moment it’s served on your plate, the seafood goes through minimal handling, preserving its natural flavors and textures.

The seafood restaurants on Clearwater Beach also prioritize sustainability. They work closely with local organizations and follow strict guidelines to ensure that their seafood is sourced responsibly. By supporting these establishments, you’re not only indulging in delicious seafood but also contributing to the preservation of the marine environment.

If you want the freshest seafood you ever had, try a fishing charter and have a restaurant on Clearwater Beach cook it!
For the freshest seafood on  Clearwater Beach, take a charter boat from the marina for a day trip.

Customer Reviews and Ratings

Don’t just take our word for it – the seafood restaurants on Clearwater Beach have received rave reviews from satisfied customers. The Sandbar Tiki is highly praised for its generous portions and fresh seafood, earning it a solid five-star rating on popular review platforms.

Clear Sky Cafe has been hailed for its vibrant atmosphere and innovative dishes, with many customers raving about the shrimp and grits.

The Baithouse consistently receives accolades for its waterfront ambiance (or quaintness for lack thereof) and exceptional service, making it a favorite among locals.

If you are going to visit a restaurant on Clearwater Beach, read the reviews not the stars. The number of stars doesn’t tell you if it’s a place for you and your family.

Tips for Dining at Seafood Restaurants on Clearwater Beach

When dining at seafood restaurants on Clearwater Beach, here are a few tips to enhance your experience:

  • Make a reservation if possible: Due to their popularity, these seafood establishments can get busy, especially during peak seasons. To secure a table and avoid disappointment, it’s recommended to make a reservation in advance.
  • Dress appropriately: While some seafood restaurants have a casual atmosphere, others lean more towards an upscale dining experience. Check the dress code before visiting to ensure you’re dressed appropriately.
  • Try local specialties: Clearwater Beach is known for its Gulf Grouper and other local delicacies. Don’t miss the opportunity to try these specialty dishes for an authentic culinary experience.
  • Ask for recommendations: The staff at these seafood restaurants are knowledgeable and passionate about their food. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or suggestions based on your preferences.
seafood clearwater beach - Pirate ship
If you want some family fun, Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise on Clearwater Beach is a blast. One of the attractions in Clearwater Beach.

Other Attractions and Activities in Clearwater Beach

While indulging in the best seafood on Clearwater Beach is a highlight of any visit, the town offers a wide range of other attractions and activities to enjoy.

Take a stroll along the pure white sand beaches, go kayaking or paddleboarding in the calm waters of Clearwater Bay, or embark on a dolphin-watching cruise.

Clearwater Beach is also home to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where you can learn about and interact with marine animals, including the late famous Winter the Dolphin and his friends.

Clearwater Beach is considered a family beach. To find all the tours available and family fun, look at the list here.

Best restaurant clearwater beach florida - The Sandbar
While the Sandbar Tiki Bar at Opal Sands is a favorite place for a grouper sandwich, the sunsets there are pretty good also!

Conclusion: Enjoying the Best Seafood in Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is a paradise for seafood lovers, offering a wide range of seafood restaurants that cater to every taste and preference. From casual beachfront eateries to upscale establishments, each restaurant provides a unique dining experience that showcases the freshest seafood the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.

With their commitment to sustainability and responsible fishing practices, these seafood restaurants ensure that you can enjoy your meal with a clear conscience. From signature dishes to innovative creations, the flavors and textures will leave you wanting more, while the breathtaking views of the Gulf will create lasting memories.

So, whether you’re a local or a tourist, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the best seafood restaurants in Clearwater Beach. Indulge in the ocean’s bounty and embark on a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

From Gulf to Plate, the seafood Clearwater Beach journey awaits.

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