Situated a few chopsticks’ length away from a nearby beach, Sushi Shoya serves Japanese fare and sushi amid ocean breezes. Inside, foliage spills from wicker baskets lining the doorway, echoing the pale green walls that envelop the eating environment in a natural tone. Guests can settle into black leather chairs at a table or sidle up to the sushi bar, where chefs slip fresh fish such as salmon, tuna, and spicy yellowtail into a variety of specialty rolls. Unlike their more secretive maki counterparts, nigiri sushi pieces covered with eel, surf clam, and smelt roe let it all hang out, much like clotheslines on vacation.
Restaurateur Bob Spoto’s culinary clubhouse, open only for dinner, procures the warmth of Chicago's neighborhood joints with a menu of steak, seafood, and wine. Enter through an archway smattered with neon blue lights and share starters of calamari bruzzi ($9.90) ornamented with pepperoncini relish, sundried tomato aioli, and several layers of holiday lights. In the back kitchens, chefs cleave robust cuts of certified Angus beef porterhouse ($27.90) and baste it in a buttery robe of maitre d’ butter before tucking onto a king-size plate. Those averse to dunking their heads in gulf shores to catch a fresh meal may instead order from Spoto’s Grill 131’s seafood selections, choosing from regional favorites such as black Florida grouper picatta, ($21.90) or classic broiled lobster tails ($34.90 for twin tails/$23.90 for single tail). When finished, cozy up in a moody booth as the attentive wait staff fills flutes with Santa Margherita champagne ($35/bottle).
As you get ready to play palate-poker with Boulevard Bistro's menu, ante-up with an appetizer of one dozen of the steamed mussels, which are simmered in a chipotle cream sauce ($8.25), or the bistro's famous lavash and bean dip ($2) with crispy flatbread. From there, circumvent light appetites with a BLT pizza ($8.95), topped with applewood-smoked bacon, fresh tomatoes, and spring greens atop garlic ginger aioli, or plow directly into hunger with a mighty bistro French dip ($8.95)—slow-roasted sirloin shaved and stuffed into an asiago ciabatta bun served au jus and with a choice of spicy potato hash, french fries, coleslaw, or smoky chipotle baked beans. The wild mushroom steak Diane ($22.95) comes accompanied by parsley garlic potatoes and a bistro or Caesar salad and will find a leggy, sensual tango partner in the Wild Horse cabernet sauvignon ($9.50 glass/$38 bottle) from Boulevard Bistro's extensive wine list. Finally, give your carnivorous comedy an appropriately happy Hollywood ending with a dessert of iced lemon pound cake ($3.95) or homemade chocolate fudge brownie ($4.95).
Like many of the best ideas, The Brown Boxer Pub & Grille was conceived after a few beers. On a frigid night in Philadelphia, a group of friends and a brown boxer, Hoot, were looking for a place to kick back, watch a game, have a couple more beers, and most of all, stay warm without having to pile into a microwave. So they did what anyone would do in their situation: first, moved to Clearwater Beach, then opened a place of their own.
They named the place after the beloved dog, and soon Hoot and his namesake were a hit. That original location has spawned two additional pubs, including one in Countryside and another in Madeira Beach. At all three, visitors sip suds and munch on finger-friendly eats, such as buffalo wings and fish tacos, or dive into full entrees, such as blackened prime rib and Cajun chicken pasta. At each Brown Boxer, live music bounces off the walls inside almost nightly, while spacious patios invite guests to bring their own pups in tribute to the place's canine co-owner.
Although evening has come for the balmy Gulf Coast waters, a three-story ocean vessel glows with all the radiance of daylight as it slices through the open seas. An evening breeze washes over the deck and onto the faces of the passengers aboard Trade Winds Cruise Lines’s 200-foot-long ship. Inside, passengers partake in Las Vegas–style casino games late into the evening.
During each five-hour midday or nighttime cruise, dealers at blackjack and poker tables shuffle cards with a magician's dexterity, and an orchestra of ringing slot machines and tumbling coins add a jolly backup track to guests’ buffet-conquering victory dances. In the dining room, stately lunches and dinners come in buffet form, sating tummies growling from hours of luck testing, and bartenders whip up sumptuous drinks to keep throats hydrated.
Behind Indian Shores Massage's seafoam green exterior is an arched entryway evoking the symmetrical domes of ancient Mughal architecture. The lobby’s decorative Buddha statues, elephant sculptures, and wall decor further heighten the Eastern aesthetic. Patty Iorio is well versed in bodywork techniques as varied as head, hand, and foot reflexology, hot stones, and Thai yoga massage. Soft music mingles with the sound of the Gulf of Mexico's nearby shoreline during services that take place in spacious private rooms, where aromatic ocean zephyrs and the occasional trident soar through billowy white curtains.