One of the best ways to kick back and soak in the Florida lifestyle is with a delicious meal on the water. Tampa’s expansion over the past few years has brought a whole slew of new and outstanding restaurants to the Bay, making date night destinations plentiful but perhaps, a bit daunting. If a meal with a water view is on Your date night menu, read along to discover our Top Picks for restaurants with waterfront dining in Tampa Bay.
Waterfront Restaurants in Tampa Bay
I’ve broken this list down by casual or dressed up, and also including the best spots for families or group hangs on the water. With so many to choose from, this list includes only restaurants that are located in and around Tampa Bay, so you won’t find any in Clearwater or St. Pete Beach (since this list would never end!).
The majority of restaurants are in the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg but we couldn’t forget local favorites like Circles in Apollo Beach and Tiki Docks in Riverview.
For a Casual Date (that may include sandy feet):
5415 W Tyson, Tampa, FL 33611
My favorite spot to catch a sunset, Salt Shack on the Bay offers one of the best waterfront dining options in town. With killer views of downtown St. Pete across the bay and tasty island-inspired fare, it’s one of the few places I don’t mind waiting for a table.
Tucked away in the Westshore Marina district just south of the Gandy bridge, it’s an unassuming oasis on the water where you can “drive up or dock up”, listen to live music and watch for dolphin during dinner. Did I mention they serve fresh, locally caught seafood? Get the fish tacos.
7720 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa, FL 33607
If you want to be on the beach but still in Tampa, Whiskey Joe’s is the perfect place to grab a bite and hang out. Located on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, there’s no bad seat in the house.
Choose inside, outdoor patio, or beach bar for whatever vibe you’re going for, and stick around to play cornhole on the sand after dinner with cocktails. The private wrap-around beach has plenty of seating to relax and watch the jet skiiers show off, and there’s an outdoor stage for to live music and events.
13090 Gandy Blvd N, St. Petersburg, FL 33702
On the St. Pete side of the Gandy bridge overlooking mangroves and waterways is another tiki-inspired spot boasting local seafood and a totally chilled out vibe.
A great spot for a beachy date or for group hangs, you’ll find kids playing in the sand and splashing in the water during the day with constant boat traffic of guests coming and going. At night dj’s play music to get people dancing.
Tasty burgers, fish sandwiches and choices from the raw bar go great with any one of the cocktails on their extensive list, but get the Painkilla.
333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
I was so excited when Big Ray’s took the spot at The Sail. Famous for their amazing Grouper Sandwich (get it blackened, with the garlic parmesan fries), Big Ray’s second location is situated just outside the entrance to the Tampa Convention Center just steps from the Riverwalk.
Enjoy a cold beer and an award-winning meal with your date overlooking Davis and Harbor Islands. Add conch fritters or fish dip to round things out, and follow things up with a stroll along the Riverwalk or a ride on the Pirate Water Taxi, which has a stop at The Sail.
800 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
You absolutely can’t beat the waterfront views from Pier Tiki. Perched out at the very end and at the tip top of the St. Pete Pier, the bit of a trek to get there will reward you with panorama views: St. Pete’s vibrant cityscape on one side, and the serene blue of the bay on the other.
The cocktail list is full of tropical favorites from around the world (what’s a tiki bar without Mai Tai’s and Rum Runners?), but also has interesting and lesser-known favorites like the Florida Hemingway and Goombay Smash.
Sip on a shareable cocktail from one of the multiple lounge areas, or reserve a Tiki Hut for even more elbow room. The Bar Bites menu is short but full of goodies like the Peterburger and Grouper Sandwich, and the Black Bean Burger was seriously good.
DISCOVER MORE: 8 Great Hours in St. Pete + Ybor City
304 W 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Stone’s Throw shares the prime spot on the Riverwalk next to Urban Kai, outside of Armature Works. Completely open-air and overlooking the Hillsborough River, it’s a great spot to meet for drinks and slow down over cocktails, surrounded by nature.
Offering up some of the best people-watching in town, go for sunset on Taco Tuesday where you can splurge on multiple yummy $3 tacos, like the Bang Bang Shrimp, plus $5 drink specials. The Smash Burger and Grilled Oysters with bacon and jalapenos were a hit, plus the Dole Whip easily rivals Disney’s.
300 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Serving up laid-back vibes overlooking the docks of the St. Pete Marina for 20 years, Fresco’s is a great choice for taking in all downtown St. Pete has to offer. If you’ve been to the Pier you’ve likely passed the bustling entrance and wondered about it – next time stop.
Fresh and flavorful like the Mango Habanero Ceviche, Poke Tacos and loaded Lobster Roll are complemented by tasty cocktails and perfect key lime pie with homemade whipped cream.
10704 Palmetto St., Riverview, FL 33569
3769 50th Ave S., St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Escape to the tropical Pacific at Tiki Docks, with locations overlooking the water in Riverview and St. Pete (Skyway marina district). A relaxing spot with a fun, tiki vibe with water views overlooking the marina docks in St. Pete, or the Alafia River.
Go for Happy Hour which is every day from 3-6pm, or on Wednesdays for deals on fresh oysters. The Hula Hula Burger has pineapple relish and teriyaki glaze to make your mouth water, and the banana bread ice cream sandwich was heaven on a plate.
610 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Serving up a premium rum selection and Caribbean flavors right in the middle of the St. Pete Pier, Doc Ford’s is a great, casual destination spot – especially after walking all the way back from the end of The Pier.
Their Lime Panko Crusted Fish Sandwich was voted best fish sandwich in St. Pete so you know it’s good. Choose between flavorful entrees like the Banana Leaf Snapper and Jerk Tostados as you overlook the dock and boats listening to live music and indulge in a rum flight.
6226 Ohio Ave, Gibsonton, FL 33534
A great neighborhood spot to kick back and hang out for a while, The Rivers Edge has a totally relaxed feel and tons of outdoor seating right on the water. It has indoor and outdoor bars, a pool room, live music and events every weekend, and even a separate waterfront picnic area (covered) for private parties and events.
The menu has all your “bar food” favorites like jalapeno poppers and fried okra, as well as fresh seafood options like oysters, peel and eat shrimp, stuffed crabs and their famous clam strips.
1212 Apollo Beach Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Do you want sand under your feet? Check. Beautiful boats to ogle at? Check. Multiple outdoor bar areas, plus live music? Check. Did I mention you can dock up after a day on the water?
Circles is a local favorite in the Apollo Beach/Riverview area offering a totally laid-back vibe overlooking the marina docks. They have plenty of different seating options to enjoy water views and serve up tasty locally-caught fish and seafood.
1500 2nd St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
If you’re on a boat near St. Pete stop for a meal and drinks at The Big Catch, located next to the Harborage Marina. A local favorite and diamond in the rough, it’s tucked away on a waterway south of the downtown airport and is known for amazing peel & eat shrimp.
It’s got a warm and welcoming atmosphere to make you feel right at home, and with multiple bar areas, live music and that Old Florida rustic feel, it just may be your new regular spot.
For a Dressed-Up Date
2900 Bayport Dr., Tampa, FL 33607
Your next picture-perfect date is nestled in the mangroves outside the Grand Hyatt on Rocky Point. Oyster Catchers features arguably the best sunset view, plus top notch, freshly-caught seafood dishes and a raw bar selection to make your mouth water. Waygu tartare, anyone?
Known for delicious Sunday brunch for over 30 years, enjoy fresh, local ingredients and creative dishes like the Orange Sriracha Shrimp. Sip on a perfectly paired glass of wine from the terrace at sunset. If the weather isn’t ideal, unwind in the airy, modern dining room with panoramic windows. The Pan Seared Scallops and Burrata Salad are especially delectable.
505 Water Street, Tampa, FL 33602
Located within the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street is Anchor and Brine. Ideal for a stop along the Riverwalk, relax on the terrace overlooking the water and savor beautifully presented dishes imagined by award-winning Chef, Richard Sandoval.
This is a great spot to celebrate special occasions. Build your own Seafood Tower for two, four or six, choose from any one of the perfectly executed staples on the menu and finish dinner with a Praline Old Fashioned, made with walnut bitters and just the right touch of butter pecan syrup and for a delectable spin on the drink.
5210 W Tyson Ave, Tampa, FL 33611
On the same road as Salt Shack, but with a totally different waterfront view and vibe is Hula Bay. This Hawaiian surfer-themed spot is best known for delectable sushi and a really yummy Sunday brunch serving Hawaiian comfort food.
Nestled alongside Tampa’s Port 32 with tables overlooking the Westshore Marina to the south, Hula Bay offers live music 4 days a week, a pool area and bar (available for reservation), and Happy Hour during the week from 3-7pm. Get the rum-soaked banana bread for dessert.
601 S Harbour Island Blvd. #107. Tampa, FL 33602
For a trendy and tasty waterfront meal take your date to American Social on Harbor Island and ask to sit on the water. Kick back and relax at the outdoor bar and lounge, or live it up with the scene at the bustling main bar.
Daily specials (Taco Tuesday!), Happy Hour and late-night menus (they’re open ‘til 2am on Friday & Saturdays) are filled with fun twists on classics like their Guava Pork Belly Tacos and the Crispy Truffleshroom Burger. Go for brunch on the weekend, sit outside on the terrace overlooking the water and get the Cinnamon French Toast Crunch.
2425 N Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607
Serving up “old-time Florida” feel for almost 50 years, The Rusty Pelican is a long-standing local favorite (and may have hosted your high school prom party if you’re a local).
Located on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, choose from hand-cut steaks, fresh bites from the raw bar, or specialty fish dishes like the Miso Marinated Mahi and you’ll be sure to leave full and happy. Enjoy the perfect date night dinner with the Rusty Pelican Board for Two featuring a whole local crispy snapper, lobster and shrimp risotto, a 12oz NY strip steak plus their “50/50” mashed potatoes, which are yum.
1810 North Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Grilling up delicious oysters and such on a 10’ diameter grill, Ulele is so good it deserves a spot on this list even though it’s technically not waterfront. Steps away from the Riverwalk, you’ll still get a beautiful sunset view with the Hillsborough River in the background and plenty of people watching from Armature Works nearby.
Dishes are creative and “Native-Inspired” pulling inspiration from Native American and native Florida fare. You’ll see comfort food like the Gulf Gouda Grouper, Root Vegetable Succotash and Water Works Meatloaf and, don’t be surprised to see more than one kind of gator on the menu. With a really nice wine list (and dessert menu!) to pair from, Ulele’s got you covered for a well-rounded and memorable date night.
700 Harbour Post Dr., Tampa, FL 33602
Watervue Grill is a total hidden gem. Overlooking downtown Tampa on Harbor Island you can expect delicious fresh Florida seafood in an open and inviting space. A great spot for Happy Hour, which extends to Saturday and offers half-price drinks (what!), the food menu is seasonally rotating and locally sourced as much as possible.
Choose from craft cocktails on tap or a local craft beer from the list but whatever you do, be sure to get the mussels.
707 Harbour Post Dr., Tampa, FL 33602
Take a seat overlooking Amalie Arena from Harbor Island in downtown Tampa inside Café Dufrain. Off the beaten path, it’s an award-winning and family-owned waterfront restaurant offering modern American seasonal cuisine. With a diverse wine and craft beer menu your taste buds will surely leave satisfied.
Weekly specials delight but you can’t go wrong with the char-grilled wagyu burger or cornmeal crusted scallops (with cheddar polenta, green beans and green tomato jam). Technically across the street from the waterfront, but it’s so close it counts.
A Tampa staple for over 25 years, Jackson’s Bistro has been serving up delicious sushi, seafood, and more with top-notch views of Tampa’s downtown waterways. Besides its prime location, Jackson’s is also known for having stellar weekend brunch.
Sit back and take in the vibrant water traffic around downtown with a martini. Indulge with your date and get the Cold Tower, featuring a dozen raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, seaweed salad, and a 6 oz chilled lobster tail. There’s no late-night dancing anymore but AmSo is right next door for after-dinner drinks, and downtown is just a quick Uber away.
801 Water St., Tampa, FL 33602
The second location of the famous Columbia Restaurant which has been an Ybor City staple since 1905, The Columbia Cafe is a delicious option right off the Riverwalk. Waterfront dining is completely open-air but fully covered and surprisingly breezy (with lots of fans because, Florida). An indoor dining room is available as well.
Located right by Amalie Arena and Sparkman Wharf, so there’s always something going on nearby. The menu is limited compared to the original restaurant (no paella, unfortunately) but still has most of the favorites including their Original “1905” Salad®, Ropa Vieja and Picadillo “Criollo”.
For Famillies or Group Hangs:
Spa Beach Bistro, St. Pete Pier
501 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
With so much going on at the St. Pete Pier you might not even notice that you’re almost surrounded by sparkling water views. Serving up stone fired pizzas and fresh squeezed lemonade (with a whole vegan section on the menu), Spa Beach Bistro at the base of the Pier, is the spot to come and spend the evening soaking in a sunset perusing local vendors and listening to live music.
The ultimate casual date or hangout spot, this outdoor café is a perfect place to bring the kiddos or the pup for some waterfront dining.
Sparkman Wharf, Channelside
615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602
Channelside has blown up over the last couple of years and the best place to go experience its vibrant, new nightlife is Sparkman Wharf. A collection of counter-service restaurants and chill spots provide ample photo ops for the ‘gram: restaurants are made from repurposed shipping containers.
It’s got a central bar and a huge, pet-friendly yard that hosts regular activities like yoga on the lawn and live music. It’s also just off a TECO streetcar stop (which makes a fun excursion in itself), a Cross Bay Ferry stop, and overlooks the cruise ship docks so there’s always traffic to take in to feel like a part of the action.
Besides its primo location it’s got some seriously good eats to tempt you further: Noble Rice, sister restaurant to Michelin-starred Koya recently opened.
Armature Works, Downtown
1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
What used to be a TECO streetcar warehouse, Armature Works was quickly embraced by families, young professionals and students alike. It really does have it all: a food hall with a great selection of flavors and feels as well as outstanding full-service restaurants, multiple bars, and plenty of places to hang out and lounge with groups indoors and outdoors.
Did I mention it’s just steps from the Riverwalk? With countless monthly events geared towards every age group, there’s always something going on at Armature Works.
Bonus Idea – Crump’s Landing
11210 W Halls River Rd, Homosassa, FL 34448
If you find yourself on a day trip to Crystal River or nearby then put Crump’s Landing on your list. It is the ultimate waterfront restaurant in the area. Live music, a playground for kids, and every single table is outdoors, with most overlooking the river. It is Florida life at it’s best!
Want to road trip?
Check out Waterfront Restaurants in Orlando