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I’ll let you in on an internal conflict I have as a food blogger. Do I try a new restaurant for blogging’s sake or do I go to an old, trusty favorite for a repeat meal? It can be a bit anguishing if you ask me. Sometimes a girl is just a hungry mouth and wants something guaranteed to be delicious. So while on vacation at St. Pete Beach, Florida, we decided to find a few new “favorites” and then eat the crap out of them. Afterall, we would only be there a short time; therefore, it was no time for culinary mistakes! There were two restaurants on repeat….the first being Verducci’s Pizzeria Trattoria as I’ve mentioned previously and the second was Dockside Dave’s to get our casual seafood restaurant fix.

Rated #21 of 89 restaurants in St. Pete Beach on Trip Advisor, we were confident that Dockside Dave’s was far enough up on the list to be a good choice. As Danny and I drove around trying to find a casual meal our first night there, I remembered the name of this restaurant from my brief moments of research. It was 9:00 p.m. and places would be closing soon (St. Pete Beach is more of a family destination so most things are closed by 10:00 p.m. just FYI) so we knew we had to choose fast. When we walked in and saw this baby, I knew we had chosen correctly.

Danny is mesmerized in front of the live Lobster Crane Game.

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Danny is an absolute sucker for games in which you have a joystick and try and get the crane to drop down and gather up a plush toy or candy without dropping it. He is actually quite good at it. In fact, I’ve never witnessed someone win as many crane toys. When we were dating, he mentioned that this was a talent of his and I didn’t quite believe it until he proved it to me time and time again. Our dog Daisy has not one, but two toy baskets and a big reason behind this is that Danny is quite good at battling the crane and winning.

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So a crane game in which you spend $2 for a chance to grab a live lobster and win your dinner…well, he was in game heaven! He will tell you that winning a game in which a dormant object is involved is a lot easier than one in which your target moves, even after it was securely in the crane. Needless to say, a $2 lobster dinner was not in store for us; however someone did “win” while we were there. I use “win” loosely because there is just something a little disturbing for animal lovers like myself to see a game of this sort. There is a bittersweetness to each “win” because ultimately the winning item “looses”. Sure I eat meat, but I’d rather not see the guy alive and well minutes before I chow down. I, for one, need more distance than that.

Remember, this restaurant was on repeat so I’m going to mention all of the food at once, without separating it out by day. Know that two people cannot eat all of this food in one sitting, even die-hard eaters like Danny and I.

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The Captain’s Plater was a generous helping of country fried grouper (this is the fish this place is known for!), shrimp, and scallops served with waffle fries and cole slaw. The grouper and scallops were particularly scrumptious. I couldn’t believe fried scallops could be so crunchy and salty on the outside while maintaining their sweet and tender consistency. The waffle fries were also some of the better ones we tasted.

I heard other customers discussing their tacos amongst themselves and I decided to give the blackened grouper version a try. Large flour tortillas engulfed a super generous filet of blackened grouper, guacamole, fresh salsa, cilantro sour cream, and shredded cabbage.

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I enjoyed the tacos so much that while at the Madeira Beach location, I expressed how good they were and the no-nonsense, cool as a cucumber waitress served them up as our free appetizer! Ok, I skipped a part. You see, I missed all the drama, but while I was away from the table, apparently a customer freaked out when his tacos did not come with an abundance of cilantro. The waitress pointed out that the menu said it included “cilantro sour cream” and he went bizerk screaming that he had shrimp tacos all across the U.S. and they ALL came with cilantro. Needless to say, he stormed out and boy did he make a bad choice there (but if this is any indication, I’m sure he is quite used to making bad choices). The spicy shrimp tacos were amazing (even better than the blackened grouper ones I paid for), and no cilantro is necessary, FYI! Thanks screaming patron; they were delicious.

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Monday through Thursday from 3:30 -5:30 is the early bird special. We chose the soup of the day (, salad, and garlic toast for $5.95 and the crab cake sandwich for $6.95 which was served on a soft roll with waffle fries and cole slaw. Absolutely a fantastic deal! There were tons of different vegetables in the salad and the seafood soup (although oddly pink) is a solid choice.

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Although the crab patty appeared that it was too small for the bun, this was not the case. Apparently they engineer it so that when smushed, the crab spreads out and covers the entire bun quite nicely. No bite was without crab. This sandwich just might beat a burger any day.

The featured and only dessert is a homemade key lime pie with a twist…there was an Oreo crust. My rule is that if a restaurant only has one dessert on the menu, I MUST try it. It’s a rule, no room for negotiation. People are proud of their sole and only dessert and it should be sampled and more often than not, it is worth the calories every time. The sweetness of the crust contrasted with the tartness of the pie. The Oreo crust had a kid-like nostalgia to it, but I think i’d have to say I prefer it with the traditional graham cracker crust. I think. But I must try it again to be sure 🙂

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The prices are reasonable at Dockside Dave’s so this is a great establishment to visit again and again. I’m always looking for restaurants I can go with swimsuit and coverup dress intact (while on vacation), and this is certainly acceptable here. A nice casual atmospheres with good food at good prices will always be a winner in my book. So come as you are, bring an appetite for seafood and a steady hand, and who knows, you may just “win” a lobster dinner!

Where to Go/What to Order:

Dockside Dave’s: St. Pete Beach/Madeira Beach – Florida

1. Spicy Shrimp Tacos

2. Crab Cake Sandwich

3. Captain’s Platter – amazing fried scallops and grouper!

Or try something I have yet to (but will be coming back for) their World-Renowned 1/2 lb. Fresh Grouper Sandwich. Let me know how it is, will you? I need to live vicariously.

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