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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
This has to be one of our favorites of all time in the Tampa Bay Area. The Colonnade has been serving up fresh seafood right across the street from Tampa Bay for decades. As I recall, the original place opened in 1935 and to this day they always draw a big crowd.
The restaurant has huge windows featuring nice views of the bay but it's the food that drives you to this place.
We've been dining here for years and a great way to start your meal is with a cup of Manhattan style conch chowder with a tangy tomato base. Conch is a large ocean snail that closely resembles a clam in flavor. You know those big shells you see in the tourist shops with the shiny pink inner shell? That's a conch. Technically you're eating a queen conch. Great stuff. Other great appetizers include fried calamari, fried green tomatoes, fried gator tail and some of the best onion rings you'll ever encounter. In fact, I can't think of a time that we didn't order onion rings to share with fellow diners to start our dinners.
The menu is heavy on fresh seafood and for me, it's hard to order anything but fresh grouper which is offered just about any way you could possibly want it prepared. They have a large menu and another one of their specialties that's absolutely sensational coconut fried shrimp. Out of this world.
Another fabulous offering here are the seafood platters. There's something for everybody's taste! However if you would prefer something from the pastures or coops, they have a nice selection of chicken and steaks.
They offer some very tempting desserts including genuine Key Lime pie. The secret to genuine Key Lime pie? Using real Key Limes grown in the Keys to start with. They're smaller than their mainland cousins and produce more juice. And "real" Key Lime pie is always yellow and not green because lime juice is yellow.
Man, I wish I lived in the Bay Area right now so I could head over to the Colonnade for dinner tonight! Even if you're vacationing on the Pinellas County side of Tampa Bay, it would be worth the drive to experience some serious Florida seafood at a place that's been a tradition for many decades.
The Colonnade is located at 3401 Bayshore Blvd. on the right side of the road just past Stovall if you're coming from downtown Tampa. They have a very well done website here along with maps. Their phone number is (813) 839-7558.