I moved from Hillsborough to Pinellas about 5 years ago and it’s taken lots of trial and error to create this list. From seafood to pizza, my picks are budget friendly and most importantly, not healthy, vegan, gluten-free, or any of that nonsense.
Pinellas County finally got its first T-Mad in 2020. It's pretty much the only good thing to happen in 2020. I don't usually like to include chains in my lists, but Teriyaki Madness is a personal favorite. Go with the spicy chicken and upgrade to noodles! Everything is fresh. It's just off Hwy 19. Yes, it's that good. It's worth braving US-19.
But no matter what you do, don't forget the crab rangoon. Vitally important. It's my favorite thing on the menu. Sweet and salty cheesy filling... I don't even use a dipping sauce. It's perfect as is.
I'm a kid from Maine. This place is LEGIT. It's also one of the few places in Florida you'll find Maine Root soda. The blueberry soda is my all-time favorite. The only other place I've seen it in Tampa Bay is in St. Petersburg at Mazzaro's Italian Market.
You've gotta get the LOBSTER TOTS! I don't know if you can read the menu but it's "tater tots with warmed Maine lobster, cilantro lime sauce and pico de gallo." I can't say lobster tots are a big thing in Maine, but they should be.
They even have whoopie pies. Most Floridians probably don't even know what a whoopie pie is! I saw them once in Publix but they only had them for about 2 weeks. It's basically two chocolate cakes with a vanilla creamy frosting in the middle.
This place is so Florida it hurts. Their grouper nuggets are phenomenal. Island tropical vibes, open air dining. It's totally Florida.
OK, we'll get back to the countdown in a minute, but these guys technically aren't in Clearwater, but I had to give 'em a mention. Fantastic BBQ. Great for lunch!
Mmmm those ribs. BTW, make sure you get there as early as you can because when they sell out of something, it's gone. They can't just nuke some more! BBQ takes time.
There are not a lot of great places for legit Mexican food in Florida. Living in California spoiled me. This place is far from fancy but it's cheap and delicious! Nearby, Huarache Azteca is also quite good. The only other great Mexican spots I've found in Florida are Miguel's on Kennedy in Tampa and Red Mesa in St. Pete.
You probably won't spend more than $10.
OK, one last honorable mention before we get to #1. This is the most legit Philly cheesesteak spot you'll find in Florida. You can even get it "with Whiz." If you know Philly Cheesesteaks, you know how important that is. So so good. I couldn't include them in the countdown only because they're in Dunedin. But very close to Clearwater... thus the honorable mention. OK on to #1 now!
After 3 tries (I'm not a lines person), I finally tried Lenny's in Clearwater. Definitely worthy of the hype. The blueberry French toast is great. But that's not my favorite thing on their breakfast menu.
The firehouse fries may not be photogenic but they are so good. Home fries with onions, tomatoes, chopped Greek peppers and hot sauce. OK, now on to #1... part 2!
Hands down the best pizza in Florida. It's been nationally-ranked and for good reason. I'm sure all the pies are good but I stick with the same one every time. That's the Margarita with extra sauce - the only way to do it. Simple but the kind of pizza that'll make your eyes roll to the back of your head after the first bite. And second. And third.
And yes, like most top-notch pizza places, they sauce is on TOP! They didn't forget the cheese. It's in there!
How good is this pizza? The first time I went to Cristino's was a week before a New York City trip. The pizza was so good, I didn't even seek out pizza when I was in New York City that following week. Going to NYC and not eating pizza is a crime.
The gelato is pretty spectacular too. You'll get a free sample when you finish your pizza. As great as it is, I never order it. I just have that little sample size scoop because I want the leftover flavor of that pizza bouncing around my taste buds for the next few hours.
Yes, another photo of the exact same pizza ... but these were all taken on different visits. I think I have more photos stored of Cristino's pizzas than I do some family members. My family is ugly anyway.
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