Rumba Island Bar and Grill food.

Credit Billy Watson

We all enjoy summer vacations.  What more can be said other than you work or go to school the entire year for the opportunity to relax for a week or so.  Many opt to travel to exotic locations and some prefer to stay domestically with a trip to the closest beach.  With a week to spare last summer I decided to escape the pressures of work by taking a trip to a location heralded by many of my friends and colleagues as a fantastic alternative for relaxation, Clearwater Beach, Florida.

A plate of food from Rumba Island Bar and Grill

Photo credit – Rumba Island Bar and Grill

I have always had one mission anytime I take a trip to any beach – I search for the freshest coastal cuisine as well as eating at the restaurants celebrated by locals and well off the beaten path.  My mission brought me to Rumba Island Bar and Grill.  While not directly on the beach it is within four minutes driving time which allows this eatery to serve fresh seafood.  Rumba is particularly unique for this area.  The cuisine is primarily Caribbean which infuses various spices which is a true treat for the palette.

Rumba’s menu has something for everyone with dishes ranging from Barbados style ribs to simple appetizers like Tuna nachos.  With so many menu choices all sounding so delectable I found myself at a crossroads for choice.  I have always been a big fan of Caribbean cuisine and by recommendation from the server I opted for the Jerk Style Chicken Breast with garlic roasted mashed red potatoes and mac and cheese.  However, Chef Donald at Rumba does not simply line prep precooked dishes.  He makes everything, yes everything from scratch from the sautéed vegetable medley accompanied on top of the chicken breast to the jerk glaze served on the side.  The highest applause can be given to the creativity Chef Donald approaches in both presentation and flavor of his dish.  In order to set his skills apart from everyone else in the area, I was surprised to find blue crab meat included within my mac and cheese.  Apparently Chef Donald’s mac and cheese is so popular that it can be eaten as an entree alone in a larger portion size.

The Rumba Island Bar and Grill exterior.

Photo Credit – Rumba Island Bar and Grill

Rumba shines in both flavor and overall value for the money.  They run an early bird menu everyday of the week where you can order dinner portioned entrees that typically range in cost from $13 to $25 for $10 or less on special.  In addition to the restaurant offerings, there is a tiki bar near the front entrance that offers twelve different beers on tap as well as twenty-five bottled selections that include many well known domestics, imports and even crafts.  The tiki bar also offers a wine list and numerous Caribbean inspired cocktails.  The party never ends at Rumba as they offer a two-for-one margarita happy hour ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.  It’s easy to see this being very popular with the locals.  If you find yourself in the Clearwater area, Rumba Island Bar and Grill is more than worth a visit whether you are stopping in for a bite to eat or some drinks with some friends.

Rumba Island Bar and Grill has two locations: 1800 Gulf to Bay Bvld in Clearwater, FL and 3687 Tampa Road in Oldsmar, FL.  Both locations are open daily from 11:30am-10pm except on Friday and Saturday where closing hour is 11pm.  More information can be found on their website at www.rumbaislandgrill.com

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