13 Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail

Finding the best grouper sandwiches in Florida is one of our favorite US Gulf Coast travel quests.

After visiting hundreds of US Gulf Coast restaurants, seafood markets, food trucks, and craft breweries, we are thrilled to reveal the most iconic and coastal-worthy dishes for the inaugural Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail.

We have personally ordered, paid for, and eaten all of the mentioned grouper menu items and attest they are indeed the restaurants with the best grouper in Florida. We will update our Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail listings when we find other deserving places (let us know your favorite choice for best grouper in Florida).

When you are looking for the “best grouper sandwich near me,” take advice from someone who has been there and can provide an honest take on the topic.

perhaps the best grouper sandwich in Florida
is this the best grouper sandwich in Florida?

13 Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida: Gulf Coast Grouper Trail

Our entries for best grouper sandwiches in Florida are listed alphabetically and we encourage you to visit them all and rank them yourself. Let us know your favorite places for grouper in Florida, whether or not they are on this list.

Congratulations to the following outstanding Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail stops, listed alphabetically. They serve the best grouper sandwiches in Florida along with other incredible seafood dishes. When you visit, mentioned you found them through McCool Travel.

  1. Beach Waves Grill (Indian Rocks Beach)
  2. Charm City Seafood (Bartow)
  3. 4th Street Shrimp Store (St. Pete)
  4. Havana Cafe (Chokoloskee)
  5. Leebe Fish (Marco Island)
  6. Little Bar Restaurant (Goodland)
  7. The Rod and Reel Pier (Anna Maria Island)
  8. Seabreeze Island Grill and Bar (Redington Shores)
  9. Snook Inn (Marco Island)
  10. Star Fish (Cortez)
  11. Tide Tables (Cortez)
  12. Ugly Grouper (Anna Maria Island)
  13. The Waterfront Restaurant (Anna Maria Island)

Try all these 13 Gulf Coast restaurants and decide which prepares the best grouper in Florida.

1. Beach Waves Grill, Indian Rocks Beach

outstanding blackened grouper sandwich at Beach Waves Grill IRB
try one of the best grouper sandwiches in Florida at Beach Waves Grill IRB

On prior visits to Indian Rocks Beach, we ate at the Thai restaurant at this location a few times. On our latest trip, we tried Beach Waves Grill and their blackened grouper sandwich knocked my socks off (even though I was not wearing any). We also had their blackened grouper platter, which comes with corn and black beans & rice.

Sit outside and order a $2 draft beer, a cup of the tasty crab and corn chowder, and their fresh and hearty blackened grouper sandwich (and/or grouper platter). Follow that up with a slice of pretty good key lime pie.

See also our favorite 8 Great Indian Rocks Beach Restaurant and Things to Do in Indian Rocks Beach.

2. Charm City Seafood, Bartow

blackened grouper sandwich at Charm City Seafood
blackened grouper sandwich at Charm City Seafood

When driving from Orlando to the Florida Gulf Coast or after visiting the magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Central Florida, a fantastic lunch stop is Charm City Seafood in Bartow. This Chesapeake Bay-themed seafood restaurant—Charm City is Baltimore’s nickname—features crab cakes and many other crab menu items, including a soft-shell crab po’ boy. Their superb Florida grouper sandwich is topped with lettuce, tomato, and a Chesapeake-style sauce and accompanied with cole slaw and chips made in house.

See our favorite Fun Things to Do in Central Florida.

3. 4th Street Shrimp Store, St. Pete

4th Street Shrimp Store in St. Pete FL
4th Street Shrimp Store in St. Pete FL

In a historic building on a busy St. Petersburg street is another surprising place to find one of Florida’s best grouper sandwiches. It was a surprise but that is what we do, find those hidden gems for you!

After visiting nearby sunken Gardens or the phenomenal St. Petersburg art museums, head to the funky 4th Street Shrimp Store for shrimp (of course) and other fresh seafood offerings—including their magnificent blackened grouper sandwich. The grouper filet spilled over the bun, giving them an excellent bun coverage rating (bun coverage being a term conjured up while I posted several of these grouper sandwiches on my Facebook page).

best grouper sandwich in Florida: 4th Street Shrimp Store
grouper sandwich 4th Street Shrimp Store, St Pete FL

4. Havana Cafe, Chokoloskee

Havana Cafe in Chokloskee FL
Havana Cafe in Chokloskee FL

Growing up in South Florida, I am a sucker for authentic Cuban food. And no place is more Cuban than Havana Cafe in Chokoloskee, located south of Everglades City off Tamiami Trail and near Ochopee. P.S. getting to Chokoloskee via Tamiami Trail is one of the Great Scenic Drives in South Florida.

When I asked our server what seafood was fresh and she pointed to the boat 50 feet away and said grouper came off it two hours earlier, I knew I had to delay the Comida Cubano for another time and another place. While the Havana Cafe’s sublime blackened grouper is available as a sandwich, I opted for the platter in order to pair it with plantains and Cuban black beans and rice.

This blackened grouper at Havana Cafe was probably the freshest, moistest, and tastiest I have ever had. Cannot wait to go back to Havana Cafe.

blackened grouper at Havana Cafe, Chokoloskee
blackened grouper at Havana Cafe in Chokoloskee

See also our 8 Great Places To Eat in Naples Florida

5. Leebe Fish Restaurant and Seafood Market, Marco Island

some of the best grouper in Florida at Leebe Fish, Marco Island
blackened grouper at Leebe Fish on Marco Island

Knowing I was on a quest to find the best grouper sandwiches in Florida, several Facebook friends mentioned Leebe Fish in Marco Island as their favorite. When one person mentions a place, it gets my attention. When several people do, I must go!

Well, I declare Leebe Fish as one of the top baker’s dozen places for best grouper in Florida. Good enough? Oh yeah, I also recently went there twice in one week if that will help convince you. Their fries are really good but I preferred the black beans and rice with the platter. Also their grouper sandwich has cheese on the bottom bun so my tip is to request they skip the cheese.

US Gulf Coast Travel tip: bring cash to Leebe Fish because they do not accept credit cards. And their key lime pie is really good.

6. Little Bar Restaurant, Goodland

Just.a few miles from the hustle and bustle of Marco Island and on the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands portion of the Florida Everglades is the tiny fishing village of Goodland Florida. At Little Bar Restaurant, they say the best food, friendliest people, and greatest entertainment appear where the land meets the water, where you can go no further. In places like Cape Cod, Key West, and Goodland Florida.

Our linner experience at Little Bar was nestled in between the lunch rush and the early evening entertainment but the blackened grouper was exceptional. As you can see, the bun coverage was well over 100% and our waterfront table was more than ample entertainment.

grouper at Little Bar Restaurant in Goodland FL
grouper at Little Bar in Goodland FL

See also our 33+ Fun Things to Do in the Everglades

7. The Rod and Reel Pier, Anna Maria Island

Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria Island FL
Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria Island FL

We at US Gulf Coast LOVE waterfront restaurants in Florida. The Rod and Reel Pier restaurant at the northeast end of Anna Maria Island has an even better setting—OVER the water. In peak season there can be a long wait and people head to the first level bar or hang out on the pier until their name is called. US Gulf Coast Travel tip: check in 3-4pm for best results and shortest waits.

The blackened grouper at Rod and Reel Pier is very good, made to taste even better with the wonderful water view. Ask about other fresh seafood; we had fried oysters on our last visit. Enjoy $1.50 draft beers or $4.75 wine glasses while waiting for a table or your food, or people watching the pier walkers or fishermen (one caught a fascinating bat fish last visit).

grouper sandwich at Rod and Reel Pier in AMI
grouper sandwich at Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria Island FL

See also our favorite Anna Maria Island Florida Restaurants

8. Seabreeze Island Grill and Bar, Redington Shores

One of our favorite go-to US Gulf Coast places is Seabreeze Island Grill in Redington Shores. Located on the intracoastal, just south of The Narrows, SeaBreeze offers amazing views (ask for outside seats), excellent drinks ($5 margaritas), and superb seafood. Plantains at SeaBreeze are amazing and is our favorite side item with our blackened grouper sandwich.

blackened grouper at SeaBreeze in Redington Shores FL
SeaBreeze in Redington Shores FL

9. Snook Inn, Marco Island

grouper sandwich at Snook Inn Marco Island
grouper sandwich at Snook Inn Marco Island

We passed the Snook Inn entrance a couple of times, while on the way to LeeBe, but did not go until after our friends at Naples Florida Travel Guide suggested it. And yeah we are so glad we did. Snook Inn serves a magnificent blackened grouper sandwich.

Because of their enviable waterfront location, there is usually a long wait for an outside table. Put your name on the list, grab a drink from the tiki bar, and enjoy the views from the upstairs landing. The tasty and more than ample blackened grouper sandwich comes with fries or beans & rice but we asked for plantains and our server said no problem. Always ask! And every meal at Snook Inn comes with a salad bar trip and do it because those veggies are important.

10. Star Fish, Cortez

Star Fish in Cortez may have the best grouper sandwich in Florida
blackened grouper at Star Fish Company in Cortez Florida

If you like throwback hidden gems, head to the Old Florida fishing village of Cortez and Star Fish Company. Parking is often hard to find but this trek is worth it. Trust me. The front of Star Fish is a seafood market but you want to walk around the back, turn left at the fishing boats (and pelicans) and join the line.

There is always a line at Star Fish but magnificent things are worth the wait. And here you will savor perhaps the best blackened grouper sandwich in Florida. Certainly the setting is amazing. The fish chowder, oysters, and key lime pie are really good and people love their stone crab claws (although I have not had them).

US Gulf Coast Travel tip: bring cash to Star Fish because they do not accept credit cards.

11. Tide Tables, Cortez

amazing blackened grouper sandwich
incredible blackened grouper sandwich at Tide Tables Restaurant in Cortez FL

A nearby option to Star Fish (above) is Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina also in Cortez. Although Tide Tables has sit-down table service and accepts credit cards, it also has that Old Florida feel—with a waterfront setting on Sarasota Bay, a tiki bar, and incredible fresh seafood. We met our friends from Food, Fun, and Faraway Places at Tide Tables and between the four of us, we ordered FIVE grouper dishes (three grouper sandwiches, grouper tacos, and grouper dip).

12. Ugly Grouper, Anna Maria Island

perhaps the best grouper sandwich in Florida
blackened grouper sandwich at Ugly Grouper

As the only entry on our Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail with “grouper” in its name, Ugly Grouper on Anna Maria Island is a must visit for some of the best grouper in Florida. US Gulf Coast Travel note: this is the only place we have been to with its own Grouper menu section. How exciting is that?

And their grouper selections are humongous. On our last visit, we ordered a blackened grouper sandwich (naturally) and a grouper platter. We each took enough home to make a second meal. US Gulf Coast Travel tip: the mango habanero sauce for the grouper platter is amazing. Ask for extra!

Make sure you take a selfie or group pic with the ugly grouper statue. It is one of the most instagrammable spots in Anna Maria Island.

Ugly Grouper statue in AMI
Ugly Grouper statue in Anna Maria Island Florida

13. The Waterfront Restaurant, Anna Maria Island

phenomenal blackened grouper sandwich
blackened grouper sandwich at The Waterfront Restaurant AMI

Lucky number 13 might be the best grouper sandwich in Florida. I know I said that several times before but the blackened grouper sandwich at The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island is astounding. The phenomenal blackened grouper sandwich is likely the thickest I have ever had and it was perfectly cooked throughout. Not sure how they do it but I would trust Chef Billy with any menu item. But I also cannot imagine ordering anything but one of the (if not the) best grouper sandwiches in Florida (or anywhere).

Plus they are located in one of the six original Anna Maria Island houses so explore the inside before you leave. But, also make sure you sit outside if it is not too cold (that one day of the year) or raining.

US Gulf Coast Travel note: another restaurant in an original AMI house is The Porch Restaurant and they serve a really good blackened grouper sandwich—how about we call them #14? A big bonus is that The Porch offers Brussels sprouts and asparagus as sides. Because real vegetables are so welcome after all those fries and chips.

See also our favorite Things to Do in Anna Maria Island Florida

More Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida and Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail Additions

Was your favorite grouper sandwich in Florida or restaurant included here? Which places would you add to the Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail? Check back as we intend to add more and update this list often.

How much does grouper cost?

Market price is a common listing on menus because grouper prices vary according to season, demand, and other factors. Typically, grouper dishes cost more than comparable sized dishes of mahi mahi and other fish. BUT, grouper is so much tastier and is always our first preference along the Florida Gulf Coast. Interestingly, hogfish is a little more expensive than grouper but we do not prefer it as much. How about you?

Should I order Grouper Sandwich, Grouper Tacos, or Grouper Platter?

Although this article focuses on the best grouper sandwiches, there is much more to life (#SaltLife) than grouper sandwiches. We love grouper in almost every form and preparation style.

Ask your server about the size of the grouper filet. Sometimes it is the same in a grouper sandwich and grouper platter. Sometimes the grouper platter portion is larger. Some places will have a junior portion, regular portion, senior portion, or other names for different sizes of grouper servings.

A grouper platter (or grouper dinner plate) usually comes with a side or two. Some grouper sandwiches and grouper tacos have only cole slaw or even no side. Sides are usually chips or fries and some times cole slaw. We love places with heartier sides, especially plantains.

Some Florida restaurants even serve a grouper reuben sandwich but we have not tried one yet—honestly do not want to (we usually do not even want any sauce, just blackened please).

Is any Gulf Coast fish fresher than grouper?

Ask your server if the grouper is fresh. Some servers will even know if the fresh grouper is red grouper or black grouper or other. If snapper or hogfish or another local catch is fresh that day, order it instead of grouper. Our philosophy is to order whatever the server or chef recommends as fresh, rather than sticking to our preconceived notion.

Learn more about grouper here.

Blackened grouper versus Grilled grouper

Most of these Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail restaurants serve blackened grouper, grilled grouper, or friend grouper. Fried is our least favorite but it might be your preference. No problems, mon, go for it. Blackened grouper is our preference and we love the variety of prep styles. Even if blackened is not listed as a menu choice, we will ask.

For tips and recommendations about US Gulf Coast road trips see Ultimate US Coastal Scenic Drives Resource Guide and for the absolute top US Gulf Coast restaurants 34+ Best US Gulf Coast Restaurants and Chefs.

See also our other food trails: US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail: 12 Sensational Places to Enjoy Gulf Seafood and US Gulf Coast Dessert Trail: 9 Divine Places to Savor Gulf Sweet Treats

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Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida

13 Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail was originally published on McCool Travel.

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