Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hometown Favorites: My Go-To Spots in Clearwater, Florida (that aren't located on the beach!)

Whenever I tell folks that I'm a born and raised Floridian their immediate reaction is to tell me how rare that is. I suppose it makes sense. Florida is full of transplants (my hubs is one of them!) and retirees. I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. I've never known a life that wasn't 15 minutes from the beach - with the exception of the two semesters I spent at the University of Florida in the college town of Gainesville. I truly lived where others vacationed and I always took that for granted.

I'll be honest with you. It took me a while to fall in love with my own city. For the longest time I was convinced that Clearwater had nothing special about it, unless of course you were on the beach. It wasn't until I took the time to visit local spots around town that I figured out Clearwater does indeed have its own set of food and drink gems just waiting to be discovered. By reader request (thanks for the suggestions on Instagram Stories!) I want to share some of those gems with you. Whether its breakfast, a cold brew, or wings to chow on while you watch the big game - there's a spot here in Clearwater for everyone. Read on to see some of my favorite picks from the city I call home. 

Abe’s Place Tab & Grill (or as I like to call it - Mugs)
While I was growing up, Abe's was actually known as Mugs. I may be one of the few who still refers to it as Mugs to this day, but I just can't let it go. For the sake of this post though, I'll call it Abe's. Even though the name has changed, one thing hasn't: they still have the best boneless wings in town. I was raised on this stuff. The house I grew up in wasn't far from where this sports bar is located. Growing up, my family would order from Abe's at least once a week. While I always used to order the mild wings, I've graduated to ordering their nuclear spice. It has a pepper-y flavor to it that I can't get enough of. Whenever you order from Abe's, the only way you should order your fries is "underneath". Aways underneath. You'll see what I mean when you visit.

Southern Lights Brewing
Southern Lights Brewing is Clearwater's first ever nano brewery. Ben and I love popping in here on a stressful weeknight or on weekends. Fun fact: it's super close to where we live! One might assume Ben and I chose to stay in this neighborhood just for SLB. I'm a fan of their Saison, while Ben enjoys pretty much any of their IPAs. The atmosphere is super laid back and you'll love chatting with Ramy behind the bar.

Sofia's Greek Grill
I'm obsessed with Greek food and Sofia's definitely does it right. My menu favorite is their falafel pita (extra feta, tzatziki sauce, and greek dressing on the side for dipping). They also have a bomb cheese pie. If I'm not feeling a pita, I'll opt for their greek salad topped with falafel.

1933 Pub & Grill
Oh, 1933 Pub & Grill. To Ben and I it's just "Pub". We have walked to and from here a couple of times after a few adult bevvies. The first time I visited Pub  was for my cousin's birthday dinner. Since then, the hubs and I have been back for multiple date nights. I love going when the weather is nice and eating outside on their outdoor patio. They have some really cute Christmas lights strung up year-round out there. Pub has some great hot wings. While I'm not big on bone-in wings, theirs I like. Their Drifter burger is another one of my go-tos because it has a big ole slice of pineapple on it. Yum! Don't forget to get an order of seasoned fries. They have a few seasonings to choose from but I'm always like: hello, salt and vinegar! 

Lenny's Restaurant
Lenny's is known to have one of the best breakfasts in Clearwater. Believe the hype. You cannot go wrong with Lenny's Bennies (the eggs benedict selection on their menu). I sprung for the classic eggs benny when my very own Benny and I visited - but I'm convinced that any of them are just as tasty and decadent as that one was. Be prepared for a wait if you go on a weekend.

Thai food wasn't even on my radar until I joined my current job. Our office was obsessed with ordering from here and I couldn't wrap my head around it. After some peer pressure, I finally gave in and tried Pattaya's pad thai chicken mild style in case the hot was too hot. Y'all I was hooked after that. Even when I was a pescatarian, I would still order Pattaya's pad thai tofu with extra eggs and extra peanuts. I've finally worked my way up to ordering my pad thai chicken hot. Whenever Ben and I go for date night we actually split an order of their pad thai chicken. They give you SO MUCH FOOD.

Wildflower Café
Wildflower Café has breakfast that is just as cute as you'd expect. Blame it on the name of the restaurant or their food presentation, but I'm all about this little Clearwater spot. I'm not huge on sweet breakfasts - but I cannot resist their baked french toast or their belgian-style malted waffles. Both are absolutely scrumptious options. I love this spot so much that I've already written a full post on Wildflower Café here. They also serve lunch, but I've only ever been here for breakfast/brunch.

Flying with Jerome 
Admittedly this is a new breakfast favorite. Walking up to Flying with Jerome, it doesn't look like much. I'd definitely label it as a "hole in the wall'. Let me tell you, it's unlike any hole in the wall I've been to. Their ham and cheese quiche was something to blog about. The eggs inside were almost pastry-like and the pieces of ham were perfectly distributed throughout the quiche. Each bite promised savory, buttery goodness. This place was a delightful surprise for me. For the record Jerome, I'd fly with you anytime.

I hope you enjoyed this list of Clearwater places to visit! Have you been to any of these already? Which ones do you like? Which ones are you going to try? Let me know in the comments below.

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