Located on Sand Key, a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and the intercoastal waterway, Indian Rocks Beach (IRB) is a short drive from both St. Petersburg and Tampa. Developed about 100 years ago as a weekend getaway for wealthy Tampa and inland Florida residents, Indian Rocks Beach today is home to more than 4000 residents who have managed to maintain the town’s charming character. The Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants add to that charm without fail.
While IRB is on the same road as the very popular—and crowded—St. Pete Beach (south) and Clearwater (north) beaches, Indian Rocks Beach is a less-crowded, hidden gem. Still, thousands of tourists desiring a more laid-back, nostalgic beach vacation spend their time on the dune-lined stretch of sugar-white sand, dotted with small motels rental condos, quaint cottages, and locally-owned restaurants.
Despite the fact that the town has a total area of only 1.4 square miles (.5 of which is water), there are several great places to eat at Indian Rocks Beach to satisfy everyone in the family. Whether you’re driving through IRB on your way to a larger town or staying for a relaxing vacation, check out some of our favorite restaurants.
Visiting other destinations in Florida? Check out our restaurant guides to the following cities:
The Six Best Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants
1609 Gulf Blvd. // 727-593-2032
Guppy’s On The Beach is a casual but upscale restaurant that offers good food and service to match.
We like to sit outside on the front patio so we can enjoy the fresh air; there are fans to cool the area on hot days, and heaters for the cooler winter days and nights.
Among Guppy’s many fresh seafood offerings are a seafood bowl chock full of shrimp, bay scallops, lobster, branzino, and clams, in a tomato saffron broth; bacon-wrapped, char-grilled swordfish; and grouper with a lemon-caper sauce (piccata).
If you like shrimp, I personally recommend Guppy’s Coconut Shrimp, served with honey orange yuzu marmalade. Light, crispy, and not greasy at all, the shrimp is delicious. I like both the fries and sweet potato fries, but you can also choose rice or coleslaw as an aside.
Another favorite shrimp dish is the creamy Shrimp and Grits—large shrimp over jalapeño Asiago grits, and Andouille sausage.
If you are not a fan of seafood, Guppy’s has meat (a variety of steaks and pork chops), poultry, and pasta. They also offer gluten-free options.
Tip: Go early to take advantage of Guppy’s Early Dinner Specials. Served from 4:00-5:15 pm, the dinner specials include fresh baked bread, fresh steamed vegetables, Caesar salad, and your choice of either coleslaw, brown and wild rice, French fries, or roasted garlic smashed potatoes.
For beach dining in Indian Rocks Beach, Guppy’s is no small fish. Highly recommended out of all Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants.
109 Gulf Blvd.// 727-596-0200
Founded by Calabria, Italy, native Pompeo Gallace, Villa Gallace is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Semi-formal but cozy, the restaurant sits on the water and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.
Open for dinner only, Gallace offers a great mix of dishes from different regions of Italy.
Start your meal with one of their antipasto (bruschetta, calamari friti, gnocchi gorgonzola, and more) or with one of their four soups (tortellini en brodo, minestrone, pasta fagioli, or spinach egg drop).
The pasta dinners are the heart of the menu.
Offerings include everything from lasagna and baked ziti to spaghetti carbonara and pasta primavera.
If you are adventurous, try the Linguini alla Pescatore (a mix of seafood sautéed in spicy marinara sauce) or Rigatoni Puttanesca (rigatoni, spicy marinara, fresh tomatoes, anchovies, capers, and kalamata olives).
Note: Villa Gallace offers gluten-free pasta .
You’ll find a number of chicken dishes, but the Pollo Saltimbocca is delightful.
Saltimbocca translates to “jump in the mouth,” and the restaurant’s chicken topped with sage, prosciutto, provolone, and mushrooms in a white wine demi-glace just about does that.
Villa Gallace also offers steak and veal dishes (including Veal Saltimbocca).
Of course, seafood is on the menu.
Shrimp Fra’ Diavolo and Calamari Fra’ Diavolo are favorites, but if you like seafood, try the Seafood Portabello—clams, shrimp, and scallops sautéed in tomato cream sauce and served over fettuccine.
Villa Gallace offers specials when they get fresh seafood such as rainbow trout or halibut (served Francese style with capers in a lemony white wine sauce).
Tip: They offer a nice selection of dolci (sweets), but try the Tangerine Sorbetto to cool you down on hot days (or nights).
Are you looking for a great steakhouse in Indian Rocks Beach? How about exceptional seafood in IRB. Come to Villa Gallace for both and visit one of the best Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants.
760 Gulf Blvd. // 727-517-1300
Located next to the 8th Avenue beach access in IRB, Kooky Coconut offers “eats and sweets on the beach.” This quaint “shack” offers takeout, inside dining, and dining on the beach. Yes, you read that right. They have covered beachside dining.
The menu includes everything from hotdogs and burgers to quesadillas and tacos.
The most popular choices, though, are their Cubans…and not just any Cuban, but the Tampa (Mojo-roasted pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, onions, and sauce), the Chicken (chicken, Swiss cheese, bacon, tomato, and mayo), the Reuben (corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and reuben sauce), one their own special Island Cuban (same as the Tampa but with pesto).
In the mood for something cooler?
They offer more than 25 homemade ice creams daily in addition to vanilla and chocolate soft serve. They change their flavors often according to the season.
The Peppermint Candy is a holiday favorite, and the Buccaneer Chip (red and white vanilla ice cream swirled with chocolate and studded with chocolate chips) pays homage to the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
You can choose any ice cream for your sundae, banana split, float, or affogato (an Italian sweet, it is traditionally vanilla ice cream covered with a shot of espresso).
Tip: While you wait for your food, browse Kooky Coconut’s shell shop, the only one on IRB.
For that laid-back bar on the beach feeling, this is one of the best Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants.
2300 Gulf Blvd. // 727-593-0277
If you want a taste of France while visiting Indian Rocks Beach, Café de Paris is the Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants to go to. The owners, Xavier and Valerie, operated a bakery in Mouleydier, France, before moving to IRB in 2003 to bring an authentic French bakery to the area.
In addition to a variety of delicious pastries, the Café offers a variety of salads, quiches, and sandwiches. Served hot pressed or cold, the sandwiches include Le Parisian (ham, butter, gherkins) and Prosciutto di Parma (prosciutto, butter, gherkins, and lettuce). My favorite, though, is the Croque Monsieur (ham and Swiss covered with béchamel sauce and toasted in the oven). Add an egg to make a Croque Madame.
I love crepes, and Café de Paris offers both sweet and savory versions.
From the classic Crepe Suzette (sugar and Grand Marnier) to the subtle Lemon crepe, the sweet crepes will take you back to Paris.
There are a number of savory crepes, made with buckwheat, that includes everything from mushroom and bacon (mushrooms, bacon, provolone, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomato in a béchamel sauce) to goat cheese and honey (goat cheese, honey, oregano, and sun-dried tomato).
More substantial, the savory crepes come with a choice of oatmeal, salad, or soup.
The Café makes everything fresh daily, so offerings change due to seasonal availability of ingredients. They use no preservatives.
Tip: The Café offers speciality items (birthday cakes, wedding cakes, bûche de noel). Contact them for more information.
For a taste of Paris in the deep south, check out this great place amongst all other Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants.
1519 Gulf Blvd. // 727-596-2477
Keegan’s has been in Indian Rocks Beach since 1985 and is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
The unique menu of this casual eatery caught the attention of the Food Network, and Guy Fieri featured Keegan’s on an episode Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
What, you may be wondering, were the items that Guy Fieri found surprising? While Keegan’s offers a blackened grouper sandwich three ways (grilled, fried, or buffalo style), Guy loved the octopus, the most popular item on the menu.
Rob of Keegan’s told me that they also offer the octopus three ways—charbroiled, baked, or fried. I’m not a fan of octopus, but Rob told me that theirs has a meaty texture and a delicate unique taste and that it is “so tender it practically melts in your mouth.” Guy had the charbroiled version, so that’s the kind most people order.
Heavy on fresh seafood offerings, Keegan’s extensive menu includes she-crab soup (another favorite that is creamy and full of crab), conch, crab cakes, and peel-n-eat shrimp in addition to the fish offerings.
If you’re adventurous, try the Louisiana Bayou blackened gator tail.
If seafood (or gator) is not your favorite, Keegan’s has you covered with entrees that feature chicken (blackened, grilled, or jerk), beef (burgers or steaks), and pork (schnitzel or marsala).
Pasta dishes can include shrimp, clams, or mussels.
Tip: Keegan’s vegetarian offerings include Linguini Primavera and black bean burgers.
With one of the more unique menus of all the Indian Rocks Beach restaurants, Keegan’s is a must-try.
Technically in Largo, Ippolito’s Italian Deli is just over the bridge from Indian Rocks Beach and is a great place to pick up something for a day at the beach or a dinner at home afterward.
Ippolito’s also has a market stocked with imported Italian ingredients and foods, and a restaurant offering homemade classic Italian dishes.
You can order cold subs like the Calabrese (capicola, pepperoni, provolone), Julius Caesar (ham, turkey, Swiss cheese), or Leaning Tower of Pisa (turkey, pastry, provolone, or Swiss cheese).
Hot subs include eggplant or chicken parmigiana, meatball, and sausage and peppers, a staple of many Italian kitchens.
If you want to pick up meals to heat at home or your vacation rental, Ippolito’s is one of those Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants that offers everything from stuffed shells and manicotti to chicken marsala and chicken piccata.
Since I’m the only one in the family who eats eggplant, I like that I can buy great eggplant parmigiana at Ippolito’s and bring it home to bake and enjoy while my husband enjoys lasagna or a sub.
Both the subs and meal portions are good-sized and reasonably priced. You can also find a nice selection of lettuce, pasta, potato, and macaroni salads.
I do like the fact that you can order many of Ippolito’s pastries, Tiramisu as an example, as a single serving or whole. He also sells assorted cookies by the pound.
My favorite, another throwback to my childhood, is the almond paste cookies.
Crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, they remind me of the ones my mother and grandmother used to make.
Tip: Ippolito’s also does catering. You can peruse the menu and get more info on their website.
One thing I have found that all of these Indian Rocks Beach Restaurants have in common is good service and a friendly atmosphere which is, I believe, a characteristic of Indian Rocks Beach restaurants in general. Good food and good people keep us going back for more.
Christine Cutler is a writer, photographer, editor, guide, teacher, traveler, Ohio native, Nevada resident, and world citizen. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and crazy Welsh Terrier, but she can’t sit still very long. In addition to maintaining her own websites Cold Pasta and Red Wine and Christine Cutler, she is executive editor of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine and teaches special grammar and writing classes for UNLV.