By Barbara Ann Kelley,

Florida loves its fish shacks. These rustic “hole in the wall shacks” with dead fish and fishing nets mounted on the wall. Locals know these “shacks” as home to the best fresh Florida style (usually fried) seafood in town!

We have collected a list of the best Florida lifestyle fish and and crab shacks in the Tampa Bay so you can see and taste what all the fuss is about!

Best Fish Shacks on the Beaches:

Dockside Dave’s Grill

7141 Gulf Blvd
St. Pete Beach, Florida 33706

Both Dockside Dave’s (no dock and no water) have classic old style Florida ambiance. If you need your restaurants to look trendy and be on water, then this is not the place for you. If you love great grouper sandwiches and could care less about fast service and fancy views, you will love Dave’s. The fried grouper sandwiches are huge (1/2 pound).  The grouper nuggets are fantastic too. What goes best with a grouper sandwich and a beer…a nap! Tip: Try the onion rings that are almost as big as tires.

Walt’z Fish Shak

224 Boardwalk Place
John’s Passs Village
Madeira Beach, Florida 33708
(727) 395-0732

Hours: Tue – Fri, 5pm – 10pm; Sat, noon – 10pm; Sun, Mon, closed

This restaurants menu is simple as the decor is Florida. Usually three fish items. The fish is caught fresh each day by local fishermen. They don’t even write the menu down on their chalkboard until 1 p.m. when the fishing boats come in. The three menu items are sold until they run dry. When that happens…they close down. Walt’z serves grouper, cobia, amberjack and hog fish. The fish is served three ways: fried, blackened or grilled. Dinning tip for Walt’z: have a before or after dinner drink at the cute Jimmy Buffet style bar in the back. This quaint beach bar is called the Hurricane Hole and is what Florida shack dinning is all about.

Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill ( Best Sunset location)

7 Rockaway Street
Clearwater, Florida 33767
(727) 446-4844

Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is one of four Frenchy’s in the Clearwater area. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is famous for anything grouper especially grouper sandwiches (they invented them). They always have fresh never frozen seafood. They have their own fishing fleet that catches just for the Frenchy’s restaurants. If Florida casual (sandals and shorts) and great grouper is on your radar scream bingo and make fast tracks to this beach restaurant! The grouper, beach sunsets and white sands of Clearwater beach make this jewel a must to eat and drink at when in Tampa Bay. Dinning tip: Frenchy’s is popular and they usually have a waiting list for the beach-side deck tables, so go early and expect a wait.

Crab Shack Restaurant

11400 Gandy Blvd
St Petersburg, Florida 33702
(727) 576-7813

Hours: M-Thur 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 10 p.m.

If you love stone crabs , steamed clams, alligator bites, grouper, oysters, cole slaw and hush puppies welcome to the Crab Shack. The service is fabulous for fish shacks (shacks are not about sucking up to customers so get over it). All their seafood is insanely tasty. Specials: Monday: All You Can Eat Fish Fry–$7.50 (includes FF and slaw). Tuesday: All You Can Eat Clam Strips– $7.50 (includes FF and slaw). Dinning tip: This shack is usually packed with locals and tourists, so beware there may be a wait list. Happy Hour: Mon – Sat 4-6pm.

Best Tampa Fish and Seafood Shacks:

Skipper’s Smokehouse and Oyster Bar

910 Skipper Road
Tampa, Florida 33613
(813) 977-6474

Skipper’s  food focuses on Florida cuisine with tastes of the Caribbean and Louisiana; the mix is dubbed “Florribean.”  They have Gator Chili, alligator ribs (normal ones too) and catfish. Skipper’s is also one of the best blues clubs in  Florida this outdoor venue is world famous. Dinning tip: Try their Grouper sandwiches. They are award winning and sinfully delicious.

Crabby Bills

7700 W. Courtney Campbell Cswy
Tampa, Florida 33608
(813) 281-5666

This is the Tampa location of Crabby Bill’s. No fancy dress code only picnic tables, clear plastic cups for your beer, sunset set views and honest Florida style seafood. You can’t go wrong with their traditional grouper sandwiches.  They also have fried soft shell blue crab, oysters, clams or mussels. Dinning tip: try their Philly grouper sandwich for a special treat!

The Fish House

151 Trouve Lane
Ruskin, Florida 33570
(813) 641-9451

Hours: Thurs/Fri/Sat 11a-8p

This is not a house…it is a small shack in the sticks with a carport as a dinning area. All meals are deep fried (so calorie counters beware). They have a large menu including shellfish, “house fish”, mullet to grouper, soft shell crab, dinners with sides or grits.  They have chicken fingers or corn dogs for children or the fish unfriendly. Dinning tip: Try their out of this world and insanely tasty fried grouper sandwich.