Just 30 miles north of Tampa and about 50 miles west of Orlando, you’ll discover Pasco County’s booming food and wine scene. From award-winning restaurants to stunning water views, seafood to prime steaks, date night to family dinner, you’ll find it all in Pasco. Here are the top places to eat and drink in Pasco County.
Gill Dawg Tiki Bar & Grill
Located on the Cotee River in Port Richey, Gill Dawg Tiki Bar & Grill is the kind of restaurant where flip-flops are encouraged. The laid back, coastal vibe will instantly make you feel like you’re on vacation. Locally inspired seafood dishes, burgers, sandwiches and cold drinks are on the menu. Start with raw or steamed oysters or the peel-and-eat shrimp. A favorite, the mahi-mahi, is served blackened, grilled or fried, or as a variation on the Reuben sandwich. The old-fashioned bayou chips are excellent for snacking. Freshly fried and topped with blue cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, they’re great with one of Gill Dawg’s signature cocktails.
As its name would suggest, Gill Dawg is dog friendly. There’s a full menu for your four-legged friend, and there’s even doggie ice cream. Just make sure your pup is on a leash.
Mondays are trivia night and there’s live music on the deck several evenings a week. In addition to food and drinks, Gill Dawg rents paddlesports equipment and pontoon boats, and offers eco tours, fishing charters and sunset cruises. Gill Dawg is open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Doors close at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Steph’s Southern Soul Restaurant
If it’s southern hospitality you’re hungry for, come to Steph’s in Dade City. This local treasure serves up large portions of authentic and tasty southern cuisine. Steph’s mission is to provide fresh, healthy and nutritious southern food at reasonable prices in a clean and friendly environment. Starting with the warm greeting when you enter, you’ll feel like part of Chef Stephanie Reaves’ family. The fried chicken is a must—it’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside with meat that falls off the bone. Mouthwatering sides include macaroni and cheese, collard greens, okra and tomatoes, green beans, and sweet potato soufflé. Be sure to save room for dessert. With cakes, pies, cobblers and banana pudding on the menu, you’ll have a hard time picking just one. Steph’s Southern Soul Restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Frankie’s Raw Bar
No trip to Pasco County is complete without a taste of the local seafood. Those in the know say Frankie’s Raw Bar has some of the freshest around. The key is finding it! Frankie’s is a traveling raw bar, open on select days in two marinas. Oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster and crab are served fresh from the boat. One meal and you’ll see why it’s well worth the special trip. You can find Frankie’s Raw Bar by the Seaside Inn in Port Richey on Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Frankie’s is at the Dockside Grille by the Magnuson Hotel and Marina in New Port Richey Wednesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
An evening in downtown New Port Richey should include a stop at Sip. The intimate wine bar and restaurant is perfect for a romantic date or a girls’ night out. White or red, sparkling or sweet, there’s a wine for any taste. Sip also has craft beer on tap, and serves cider, coffee and organic fair-trade tea. Drinks are best enjoyed with one of Sip’s cheese and charcuterie boards. Each board comes with sliced baguette, olives, dried fruits, cornichons, nuts, jam and honey. It’s always rosé season on Sip’s outdoor patio, where you can take advantage of Pasco County’s year-round good weather. Or get cozy at a table inside and listen to live music. Sip is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and from 5 p.m. to Midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Brix 33 Fine Wines & Bistro, New Port Richey
Part restaurant and part wine shop, Brix 33 in New Port Richey is the place to go for a gourmet meal in a comfortable setting. The name refers to a unit of measurement used in winemaking. But no matter your level of wine knowledge, you will feel welcomed here.
On the menu are upscale dishes that pair well with a glass of white or red. There’s escargot, duck mousse paté, cheese and charcuterie to start. Entrees include bone-in pork loin chop, beef tenderloin, sea bass and crab cakes. For dessert, try the Brix chocolate terrine, served with a vanilla wine drizzle. Weekly blackboard specials feature what’s in season, so there’s always something new and delicious to try. The wine list is a tour of the world. All wines are offered by the bottle or glass, so you can pair one with each course. Go with a favorite grape, or try something new from the “Delightful Whites” or “Distinguished Reds” section. There’s also beer, cider, cocktails and after-dinner coffees. Another fun way to experience Brix 33’s wine selection is with the wine dispensing machines. It’s the adult version of being a kid in a candy store—purchase a wine card and help yourself to a tasting pour or full glass. Be sure to stop in Brix 33’s wine shop before you leave. There are approximately 300 different wines available for sale. Brix 33 opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday. They are closed on Monday.
You can’t miss Kafe Kokopelli when you drive through Dade City. It is in a 100-year-old building covered in greenery, with palms creating a tunnel-like effect on the sidewalk by the main entrance. The funky ambiance continues inside, with exposed brick walls and wooden beam ceilings, and décor that’s part American southwest, part hunting lodge. The restaurant’s name may be unfamiliar, but the logo—a kokopelli is a fertility god bent over playing a flute—likely isn’t. The menu at Kafe Kokopelli is a modern take on comfort classics, and locals say the food and service are consistently top notch. They rave about the she-crab bisque, and recommend house specialties like the local fried gator bites, prime rib dip, spicy shrimp po’ boy, chef’s scampi and the goat cheese cheese cake. Kafe Kokopelli serves lunch and dinner daily beginning at 11 a.m., and weekend brunch.
Sam’s Beach Bar
For seafood with spectacular sunset views, go to Sam’s Beach Bar in Hudson. The restaurant is directly on the gulf and has been owned and operated by the same family since 1981. It has exactly what you’d want at a waterfront spot: casual ambiance, full bar and fresh fish. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and great views from just about anywhere inside. The menu has classic bar appetizers, wings, burgers, sandwiches and more. The fried fish baskets are always a hit. Choose from oysters, shrimp, clam strips, grouper, scallops and calamari. They’re served with seasoned fries and slaw. Or try the ultimate steam bucket: crab legs, clams, mussels, shrimp, smoked sausage, corn, red skin potatoes and spices steamed in Sam’s ale broth. Sam’s Beach Bar opens at 11 a.m. daily and closes at 10 p.m.
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