Shells Seafood Restaurant is a regional chain in the Tampa Bay area that has been around for years. They used to be spread all throughout Florida, but those other locations have closed over the years. The South Tampa location is still here and doing quite well.
The sign out front says ‘Shells Great Casual Seafood’ and to our surprise, that is exactly what we got on our visit. We feel that Shells competes with Red Lobster and does a much better job with just about everything.
The décor is bright and modern with a ‘no frills’ attitude that makes you feel right at home. We liked the fact that Shells doesn’t try to be something it’s not and it also shows in the friendly, attentive service.
With no wait for seating, we had our drinks quickly and our appetizers seem to fly out of the kitchen. Entrees are heavy in all things seafood, with fried and grilled options and some specialty sauces and toppings to mix things up. Our server was a great help in guiding us on our main courses and passed Jeff’s “so what’s good?” question test.
Shells Clam Chowder, cup ($3.99) – Clams, bacon and spices. The menu promises “The best clam chowder you’ll ever eat!” and “Gourmet Magazine’s been asking for our recipe since ’88”. With all that bragging, we had to try it. Well, we do have to say that this was the best clam chowder (New England style) we’ve had in Florida. This was loaded with tender clams and the bacon really added a nice salty depth. It’s not your low calorie soup and I swear I tasted some butter in there too.
After a few bites, we knew this was the winning selection (thank you server Scott!). The salmon was high quality and grilled perfectly, easily something we would order here again. The shrimp were seasoned well and cooked perfectly. The crab cake, while tasty, was probably the one item on the plate we could have passed on. The rice was a nice ‘healthier’ option for a side and it was really flavorful.
We really liked our casual dinner at Shells Seafood Restaurant. Our next visit will be all about the grilled seafood and I’m definitely going to get the salmon. Prices are very reasonable and we think it’s actually a great value to get your seafood fix. It’s not easy to find good seafood at the ‘casual’ restaurant chains and we are glad we have one right here in Tampa – Shells Great Casual Seafood.
Shells Seafood Restaurant is located at 202 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL