With restaurants popping up all over town, Clearwater is becoming a foodie destination. On a recent trip I was able to experience some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. Here are my top 5 best bites in the city.
Shrimp and Grits
1. Hilton Clearwater Beach‘s shrimp and grits. As a northern girl, I’d had grits only once before — and didn’t care for the mushy texture. This shrimp and grits had none of the mush, but all of the savory flavor. I can’t wait for the next time I visit the South to have grits again.
2. Palm Pavilion‘s gator nibbles. These tasty little deep-fried morsels were slightly chewy — and a whole lot delicious. And yes, they did taste similar to chicken.
3. Crab cake at Rusty’s Bistro (inside the Sheraton Sand Key resort). This is no ordinary crab cake; it’s a crab feast. I ordered a dinner salad and one crab cake, and almost didn’t have enough room for dessert — which leads me to Bite #4…
4. Bananas Foster at Rusty’s Bistro. Dessert lovers can thank Mayor George Cretekos for this one — he personally made sure this sweet treat was put back on the menu at Rusty’s. Thank you, Mr. Mayor!
5. Grouper sandwich at Frenchy’s. No visit to Clearwater Beach is complete without a grouper sandwich — and this one lives up to the hype. Available fried, baked or in a reuben, the grouper is fresh and the portions are big.
Banana, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sammie
We always have bananas on hand for the kids, which means we often have spotty, over-ripe, catnip-to-the-fruitflies bananas sitting around. What to do? Banana bread? Banana muffins?
How about frozen banana sandwiches?
These treats are quick to put together and so delicious on a hot summer day! The mashed up banana takes on the taste and texture of ice cream, and what’s better than chocolate and peanut butter?
Just lay out some graham crackers (the chocolate ones are a good match for the peanut butter) and spread with a tablespoon or so of peanut butter. We use the natural stuff, which tends to thin more than the regular stuff.
Don’t be stingy with the peanut butter
.Then top with some mashed up banana.
Top with another cracker, then pop them into the freezer for an hour or so.
Frosty and delicious.
Need something family-friendly to do? You almost can’t do any better than a festival. Last night my family had an early Father’s Day dinner downtown, then wandered over to the Ann Arbor Summer Festival‘s opening night.
Linda Yohn of WEMU was making the opening announcements when we walked over, and mentioned that there were juggling lessons going on in the KidZone tent. So off we went, where my five-year-old daughter watched in awe at the volunteers (part of the Ann Arbor Juggling Arts Club) who were demonstrating their skills and teaching the kids how to juggle. My daughter and I attempted to try to juggle (it’s not as easy as it looks!), then she played with the rings-and-sticks game.
Next we headed toward the mainstage to listen to Rio and the Rockabilly Revival and sit down for a while. The kids chugged some water and then were ready to go again, and raced each other around the grassy area where other kids had gathered. We let them run out their energy for a while, then started heading back home.
We’re already planning another stop to the festival, which runs through July 8. Next time we’ll pack a picnic and plenty of blankets and bottles of water and make an evening of it.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Don’t ask my daughter; as of now, we’ve
sheltered denied her knowing that sponge.
in fact, after several days at the Nickelodeon Hotel (read more about our stay here), she’s none the wiser to the underwater creatures. She did, however, meet Dora, Diego and a couple of her favorite Wonder Pets.
As for Sponge Bob, we’ve kept her from knowing him not only because we try to limit her TV exposure, but we also try to keep things age appropriate. Of course, travel — whether it’s across town or across the country — can teach kids all kinds of thing, including those that you might not want them to know.
On the other hand, it’s also a way to expose her to new sights, sounds, tastes, cultures and adventures that you just can’t find at home — or on TV. I just wish this time it wouldn’t include that sponge.
Bouncing off the walls in the hotel corridor
So we recently stayed at a hotel. My kids love nearly everything about hotels. Elevators! A different room to sleep in! Views from the windows! But mostly, they like to run down the hallways (see photo, above).