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Florida loves its fish shacks. These rustic “hole in the wall shacks” with dead fish and fishing nets mounted on the wall are what the rest of the nation calls a dive. Florida locals know these “shacks” as home to the best fresh Florida style (usually fried) seafood in town! We have collected a list of the best Florida lifestyle fish and seafood shacks in the Tampa Bay area so you can see and taste for yourself what all the fuss is about!
Best Fish Shacks on the Beaches:
Dockside Dave’s Grill
119 Boardwalk Pl W
Madeira Beach, Florida 33708
Dockside Dave’s Grill
7141 Gulf Blvd
St. Pete Beach, Florida 33706
Both Dockside Dave’s (no dock and no water) have classic old style Florida ambiance. If you need your restaurants to look trendy and be on water, then this is not the place for you. If you love great grouper sandwiches and could care less about fast service and fancy views, you will love Dave’s. The fried grouper sandwiches are huge (1/2 pound). Try the onion rings that are almost as big as tires. The grouper nuggets are fantastic too. Most people say Dave’s is a better lunch spot than dinner. What goes best with a grouper sandwich and a beer…a nap!
Waltz Fish Shak
224 Boardwalk Place
John’s Passs Village
Madeira Beach, Florida 33708
Hours:Tue – Fri, 5pm – 10pm; Sat, noon – 10pm; Sun, Mon, closed
This restaurants menu is simple as the decor is Florida. Usually three fish items. The fish is caught fresh each day by local fishermen. They don’t even write the menu down on their chalkboard until 1 p.m. when the fishing boats come in. The three menu items are sold until they run dry. When that happens…they close down.
They serve grouper, cobia, amberjack and hog fish. The fish is served three ways: fried, blackened or grilled. Sides are usually a scoop of simple rice pilaf, a crunchy vinegar-based cabbage slaw and a thick wedge of lime. This is true Florida style food. It’s fresh, fried, slawed and cooked in a shack! Don’t forget to finish your meal off with Keylime Pie. It’s the only dessert they serve and it’s a Florida must. FYI- there are a handful of parking spaces in the back. There is a cute Jimmy Buffet style bar on the back deck is called the Hurricane Hole. This quaint Florida beach bar, where flip flops rule, is perfect for a drink before or after dinner.
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill
7 Rockaway Street
Clearwater, Florida 33767
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is one of four Frenchy’s in the Clearwater area. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is famous for anything grouper especially grouper sandwiches (they invented them). They always have fresh never frozen seafood. They have their own fishing fleet that catches just for the Frenchy’s restaurants. If Florida casual (sandals and shorts) and great grouper is on your radar scream bingo and make fast tracks to this beach restaurant! The grouper, beach sunsets and white sands of Clearwater beach make this jewel a must to eat and drink at when in Tampa Bay. Warning this Frenchy’s is popular and they usually have a waiting list for the beachside deck tables.
401 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida 33785
5100 Gulf Blvd
St. Pete Beach
Crabby Bill’s is a local chain of local fish shacks with great seafood. There are 7 Tampa Bay area locations of this large and rustic fish shack. Crabby Bill’s is a shorts and sandals kind of place with only picnic tables to eat at, clear plastic cups for your beer, sunset set views and honest Florida style seafood. If you can’t take loud, plastic, picnic tables and deep fried…you won’t like Crabby Bill’s. Try their traditional grouper sandwich or the grouper philly sandwich. They also have fried soft shell blue crab, oysters, clams or mussels. The St. Pete Beach location has a killer Tiki Bar.
Crab Shack Restaurant
11400 Gandy Blvd
St Petersburg, Florida 33702
Hours: M-Thur 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 10 p.m.
If you love stone crabs , steamed clams, alligator bites, grouper, oysters, cole slaw and hush puppies welcome to the Crab Shack. The service is average for fish shacks (shacks are not about sucking up to customers so get over it) but the seafood is 100% authentic Florida style shack cuisine. All their seafood is insanely tasty. Specials: Monday: All You Can Eat Fish Fry–$7.50 (includes FF and slaw). Tuesday: All You Can Eat Clam Strips– $7.50 (includes FF and slaw). This shack is usually packed with locals and tourists so beware there may be a wait list. Happy Hour: Mon – Sat 4-6pm.
Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill
1320 Central Avenue
By Tropicana Field
St. Peterburg, Florida 33705
Tampa Bay loves Fish Shacks so much that the Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Team made a fish and burger shack its official sports bar. World Famous Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill is nothing more than a giant shack that has killer fish, burgers and wings, of course tons of ice cold beer and TV screens everywhere. Try Ferg’s Smoked Fish Spread it’s a specialty of theirs. The spicy buffalo shrimp and the Mahi Mahi Sandwich is top notch too. Ferg’s is not a full service seafood restaurant, but it is the most famous shack in Tampa Bay. Even Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez have locked lips at Ferg’s after a great meal. Ferg’s has their own walkway and tunnel that runs right up to Tropicana Field. Rays fans know Ferg’s is the only place to eat and party on game day.
Best Tampa Fish and Seafood Shacks:
Skipper’s Smokehouse and Oyster Bar
910 Skipper Road
Tampa, Florida 33613
Skipper’s may look like a ramshackle shack in the middle of a dirt lot (no beach or water views) but it’s also a world class indoor/outdoor concert venue and a great restaurant with lots of grouper and… gators. Skipper’s is famous not only for it’s grouper, but also fried gator tail. Food and music are king here. Skipper’s has been dubbed the “the best blues bar’ in Florida.
The food focuses on Florida cuisine with tastes of the Caribbean and Louisiana; the mix is dubbed “Florribean.” In addition to award-winning grouper sandwiches Skipper’s serves Gator Chili, alligator ribs (normal ones too) and catfish.
7700 W. Courtney Campbell
Tampa” state=”Florida 33608
This is the Tampa location of Crabby Bill’s is a local chain of local fish shacks with great seafood. No fancy dress code only picnic tables, clear plastic cups for your beer, sunset set views and honest Florida style seafood. Try their traditional grouper sandwich or the grouper philly sandwich. They also have fried soft shell blue crab, oysters, clams or mussels.
The Fish House
151 Trouve Lane
Ruskin, Florida 33570
Hours: Thurs/Fri/Sat 11a-8p
This is not a house…it is a small shack in the sticks with a carport as a dinning area, but don’t be frightened the food is outstanding. All meals are deep fried (so calorie watchers beware). They have a large menu including shellfish, “house fish”, mullet to grouper, soft shell crab, dinners (with sides or grits!) and seafood sandwiches. Even chicken fingers or corn dogs for the fish unfriendly. Two other bits of information: 1) there is only outside seating 2) They do not accept credit/debit cards.
3401 Bayshore Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33629
Hours: Sunday thru Thursday 11am to 10pm. Friday and Saturday 11am to 11pm.
Although the Colonnade is not a true Florida fish shack like the others it can’t be over looked. The Colonnade has the biggest and best seafood menu in all of Tampa Bay. Although not on the gulf the Colonnade is along the bay. This restaurant is a more upscale version of the Florida lifestyle, but it still has the dead fish on the walls and burnt wood tables. The Colonnade also has stunning day and night time views of the Hillsborough Bay and downtown Tampa skyline. Can’t get much more scenic than that. They have six entrees on their “House of Grouper” menu. The fried grouper sandwich is what Florida is all about and is linebacker huge. If you prefer your fish without the bread try their Primo Grouper, it’s served either lightly fried or broiled. FYI it is a 40 and over crowd that usually comes to this restaurant cause they know good Florida style fish!
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