Shell Shack, founded by Co-Owners and CEOs Dale and Matt, serves up a huge variety of seafood dishes including, but not limited to, fresh crab, shrimp, and crawfish. Most famously, the seafood is served "boil" style where it is marinated in a delicious blend of spices, boiled and then served with a bib and a large bowl. Pair the seafood with a delicious speciality cocktail that takes you directly to a day at the beach, and end it with a sweet bite and you will have found your new favorite restaurant.
Shell Shack was first set up when Matt brought Dale to a Crab joint. From there they decided that they wanted to start a restaurant and bring the seafood boil throughout Texas. These two have known each other for 27 years so what better pair then to start this new adventure with than together. Their restaurant started in 2013 in Dallas, TX . It began as a sports bar with only 1800 sq ft. but size was not an issue for their lines could be as long as 4 hours as people began to spread the word. Soon they began to expand and build new restaurants to bring their humbled seafood across the state. They opened their 3rd and 4th within three months of each other. And now, after opening 8 successful restaurants in Texas, they are officially going nationwide, across the country and into Florida and soon hopefully the Midwest.
Their new Clearwater location is located on 27001 US Highway 19N on the outer edge of the Westfield Mall. It is going to be open from 11am to 2 pm so its not only the perfect spot for brunch but late night drinks after work. The kitchen remains open till 1am every single day of the week. The restaurant is quite spacious with 4500 sq. ft. of airy dining area, a huge fully stocked bar and decorated with beautiful large chalk boards that display everything from the newest potential menu items, to the seasonal specials to the drinks you should order.
Shell Shack has a variety of signature cocktails that transport you straight to the feeling of the beach. Some of their favorites are the Shell Shack adult strawberry lemonade which is made with pink lemonade, the Skyy strawberry vodka, and a few other fruity ingredients that is sure to compliment your sweet tooth perfectly. For something a little more spicy, try their famous peach Moscow mule made with Deep Eddy Peach Vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. Or transport yourself to Hawaii with the Blue Hawaiian made with Rum. Blue Curacao, Coco Real and Pineapple Juice.
Most of the drinks are priced from $10.00-$12.00. However happy hour is Monday-Friday from 4-7 and even the entire day Sunday!
The Blue Rum Hawaiian
For starters, Shell Shack offers a variety of options. Their famous Gumbo is very lightly seasoned with Okra, veggies, Chicken and Sausage and served with a small scoop of rice. It was the absolute best way to start a meal and quite unique to this area in Florida. Owner Dale proudly explained that in Texas, people are very specific about how they like their Gumbo seasoned, and he would rather lightly season it and allow people to add more in until they hit the level that they would like. He personally said that he enjoys the gumbo with no rice and an extra amount of Louisiana hot sauce.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Shell Shack also offers Crab Tater Tots: crispy fried potatoes and crab mixed together and then served with a housemade Tartar sauce which is incredible!! I would take home an entire container of that sauce if I could. One menu item a little more well known down here in Florida are the Alligator tenders which are crispy and such a unique dish to try something new! This tartar sauce is also perfect for the fried crawfish tails, fried calamari and fried shrimp as fantastic little appetizers or sides to share with the entire family.
Crab Tater Tots
The appetizers are quite reasonably priced. The calamari is perfectly crispy and chewy and served with two different sauces for only $10. Buffalo wings are served for 5/$6.00 and they serve them with a variety of flavors including lemon pepper, mild, medium, hot, diablo (for those who are brave), naked (for those who just enjoy some good crispy chicken), or cajun to try even more of that famous marinade.
Fried Crispy Calamari Rings
For the main course, Shell Shack is most famous for their seafood boil. A seafood boil is a large plate that consists of a variety of different shellfish, such as crab, snow crab, king crab, crawfish, and shrimp as well as potatoes and corn and then seasoned with a marinade that took these restauranteers two and a half years to perfect!! To order, you first will pick out your seafood, then your flavor (naked, cajun, garlic, lemon pepper, kitchen sink) and then your heat level (mild, medium, hot, diablo) so you can personalize it completely to your liking! Lastly, pick your extras such as sausage, potatoes or corn. The potatoes were absolutely cooked to perfection and the mardinaded takes it to a whole new level. Before they serve it to you, the waiters and waitresses will cover you with a little plastic specialized bib. DO NOT deny the bib because this dish is a delicious, but quite messy one. And the best way to enjoy it is to go all in. All of the little detail that they have included into this restaurant is amazing including personalized crackers with a shell shack emblem and funny quotes on all of the bibs, such as "you crack me up".
The VIP Seafood Boil Platter
The boil is priced according to the Market price of each seafood currently. The prices will be displayed on the huge chalkboards all around the store however, you also have the option to call the restaurant everyday to check on a price before you come out! If you order too much, you want to bring some home for lunch tomorrow or maybe you want to save a little bit of room for dessert, the staff will personally bag the rest of your seafood back up, double bag it in another paperback so it is easily and clean to take home with you.
If you are prefer to keep your hands clean (or maybe you're on a first date), you can order the boil de-shelled and over pasta so you get all the same amazing flavors without the mess. There is a $5.00 upcharge fee per pound for this option but it could be quite worth it for the incredible flavors that the pasta can soak up from the marinade.
Fried Shrimp and Fries served with a side of Cocktail Sauce
Maybe you are not a seafood fan, or one in your company is not, do not fret for there is a variety of non-seafood options for the entire family. These include burgers, salads, wings, hushpuppies and fries. As previously discussed, the Gumbo is perfect for those who prefer the "turf" options including chicken and gumbo or a classic New England Clam Chowder for the "surf" kind of people. Both of these bowls of soup are only $6.99! There ia classic buffalo chicken sandwich with Crispy Chicken Breast Tossed in Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce© with Lettuce, Red Onion, Tomato & Pickles which is sure to outcompete all of the chicken sandwich competition right now. For a slightly healthier option, order the grilled Chicken Sandwich with chicken breast. You can also order the half pound burger with gourmet beef, toppings of your choice and of course some hand cut crispy fries.
The menu would lastly not be complete without Oysters. Fresh Gulf Oysters are served raw or fried in half and full dozens and are priced at market value.
For someone with a huge sweet tooth like mine, I would honestly come to Shell Shack just for the dessert. Two desserts especially stuck out and these were the carrot cake and the fried apple pies. The story behind the carrot cake was a heartwarming one. CEO Dale talked about one of his old staff members told him that her mom made a better carrot cake than the current one that they were serving at the time. So the owners willingly tried the new Carrot cake and immediately fell in love. From there, the mother began making carrot cake for that location, and then soon started making them for all the locations and now, she quit her previous job and since then, works full time making carrot cakes for Shell Shack...its that good!! The carrot cake is served with some of the best butterscotch gelato I have ever had. The gelato comes in chocolate hazelnut, sea salt caramel and raspberry sorbet as well.
The real star of the show however were the fried apple pies. If you remember a few years ago now when McDonald's first dropped their apple pies, the crispy crust on the outside was deep fried. Since then McDonald's decided to bake their apple pies but if you are still missing that flaky butter crust with the gooey center, look no further because Shell Shack has conquered it.
Fried Apple Pies
There are also a variety of other sweet options including Raspberry cheesecake which is a New York Style Cheesecake served with raspberry sauce and sorbet. The Ultimate Chocolate Cake is a huge slice of Chocolate mousse, ganache, and even served with chocolate hazelnut gelato.
The restaurant owners proudly described the process in which new menu items are added to the menu. Before a new dish can be launched, it must be put up on a chalkboard around the restaurant first. This mom-and-pop restaurant tactic ensures that Shell Shack gets the adequate feedback each dish must have before it can be printed onto the menu and served at every location. Soon, they are even in the works of possibly adding Lobster to their menu.
So if you live in Clearwater, visiting Clearwater for vacation or simply just looking for some good seafood be sure to check out the newest (and first Florida) Shell Shack location. It is sure to impress with its bold delicious flavors, gorgeous drinks and some of the best desserts on the west side of Florida. Follow me to stay updated on the newest Florida restaurants!! Thanks for reading!!