Whenever I want to pretend I’m on vacation I go to Salt Shack on The Bay. It’s the perfect place for an escape – just touristy enough to get you in the right state of mind. With a waterfront setting like this, it would be easy to let the location do the talking. And yet the food and drinks are worth a visit too. It’s easily one of the must-visit seafood restaurants in Tampa Bay.
Your next, relaxing date night awaits. Follow the railroad track past the shiny new condos going up, past Hula Bay (another local favorite) and the industrial zones and you’ll find it, tucked away exactly where you’d least expect to be whisked away.
The tasty food and atmosphere seal the deal. There are very few places I don’t mind waiting for a table, and Salt Shack is one of them. Let’s dive into what makes it so special.
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Salt Shack on the Bay
Tampa Bay Atmosphere
Walk through the front gate and you’re transported into an oasis of chill: a huge, shady courtyard dotted with palm trees awaits. Sink into one of the many lounge chairs where you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail as you wind down and wait for your table. Nautical décor abounds! A grounded boat doubles as the stage for live music on the weekends.
You can even bring your dog if you plan to sit outside. Watch for dolphin! We’ve seen them there on multiple occasions.
Salt Shack’s location has a pretty interesting history in itself. Developed on rattlesnake point, I learned that the blossoming Westshore Marina District used to be overrun by Eastern Diamondbacks! Leave it to a 1930’s Wisconsin transplant turned Florida Man to fry one up and eat it, dubbing them “SnakeSnaks.” Soon he was shipping and selling them as a delicacy in far-off swanky restaurants (add that to your Tampa Trivia arsenal).
Now, nearly 100 years later you won’t see rattlesnake on this menu, though. You will find tasty seafood (think: oysters, clams and shrimp by the pound, crab cakes, smoked fish) and island-inspired handhelds like the Jerk Burger and delicious Fish Tacos.
Salt Shack Food
Salt Shack boasts local, fresh Catch of the Day options, as well as true Bahamian staples like conch chowder, Caribbean fritters, and rice and peas as a side option (if you know, you know) to help get you on Island Time. Vegans/Vegetarians will love the Jackfruit Tacos with avocado, jicama slaw, and mango salsa.
Don’t forget the key lime pie.
Salt Shack does get crazy busy for dinner. If you want to catch the sunset on the weekend, I’d plan on getting there at least an hour to an hour and a half before the sun goes down (especially if requesting waterfront) and make an evening out of it. Otherwise, if you can, going during the week is ideal and, there’s usually no wait for lunch.
They do not take reservations.
Parking gets bad so get there early. I have had to park pretty far down along the road when the lot has been full. Not the best for wearing heels (get dropped off at the front if you’re all dolled up).
There’s a dock! Just a short walk along the water from the restaurant is a courtesy dock allowing guests to Drive Up or Dock Up after a day out on the water. Future Me (the one with a boat) appreciates this.
Things to Know Before You Go:
- There are no fully indoor seating options and therefore no true A/C. Both the main restaurant and bar areas are covered by huts and have huge fans to keep things as cool as possible.
- Parking fills up quickly. Additional parking on the street requires a bit of a walk.
- With the live music and big fans, it can get pretty loud inside. Those who are hearing-sensitive may want to opt for waterfront seating.
- Waterfront dining is available by request at one of the many picnic tables along the water.
- Bar areas have TV’s with games on
- They do not offer brunch or Happy Hour (I wish), but they do have featured cocktails.
- Salt Shack is closed Mondays, otherwise open from 11am – 11pm (10pm during the week).
Salt Shack on the Bay
5415 W Tyson Ave, Tampa, FL 33611
Phone: (813) 444-4569
All images by Zoë Joiner