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St. Pete Eats: Toucan's

The first night we were in the St. Pete/ Clearwater area, Landon and I wanted to eat at a quintessential little beach place. We wanted to eat outside since the weather was gorgeous, and we wanted to be near the beach so we could watch the sunset.

Seeing as how we were on one long, skinny island, we figured that we shouldn't have too much of a problem fulfilling our requirements.

We'd heard great things about Frenchy's Rockaway, so we headed there first. It had an hour wait (on a random Wednesday night at 6:30--I don't know what was going on there), so we figured we could just walk down Mandalay Avenue and find something there.

We hadn't gone but a block or two when we saw some tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. After a quick check of the menu, we decided to plop down and settle in.

Clearwater Beach Restaurants

And that is the heart-wrenching story for the ages as to how we chose Toucan's for our first night in St. Petersburg (well, we were really in Clearwater at that point, but I'm not going to split hairs).

Our snap decision to eat there ended up being a great one. Our table was right on the sidewalk, so we could do plenty of people watching, and we had a straight shot across the road to the beach. Perfection!

Clearwater Beach, Florida
The view from our table

Our waitress was pretty good, though I don't think she was the sharpest tool in the shed. When she asked where we were from, we said, "Charleston."

To which she replied, "I couldn't live there. I've never seen snow."

"We're from Charleston, South Carolina, not Charleston, West Virginia," I told her.

"Yeah," she said. "Don't you get a lot of snow there?" she replied.

Huh. I thought it was pretty common knowledge that good old Chucktown was 1) on the ocean, 2) very hot and humid most of the year, and 3) not that much further north than Florida. We are known for hurricanes, not snowstorms.

I had no clue how to deal with her assumptions about geography, so Landon and I let it go.

Other than that weird exchange, she was great, even asking if we wanted extra sauces to dip everything in. (Our answer: yes. Always yes. Dips make the world go 'round.) She was also super apologetic about a mix-up in the food delivery--one of the new bus boys tried to give me a shrimp sandwich, which is a SUPER no-no since I'm hideously allergic to shellfish. Luckily, she intervened just as he was trying to set down the plates, and she quickly got our actual food to us.

Landon ordered the Formaggio Burger ($9.50), which had three cheeses on it: cheddar, havarti, and monterey jack. It also came with bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Landon had the choice of fries or chips, or he could upgrade to onion rings: he chose the fries.

Formaggio Burger

I ordered the Buffalo chicken wrap ($11.95), which is one of my all time favorite things to eat ever. I love trying different restaurants' take on it: some are hotter than others, some add blue cheese.

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

The Toucan's version was an absolute classic. The sauce was spicy, but still flavorful, and the wrap had ranch mixed into it rather than on the side (don't worry, I dipped the entire wrap in more ranch for extra deliciousness). It also came with lettuce inside the wrap; I would have preferred if it also included tomatoes inside (which I love almost as much as I do ranch dressing), but the wrap was great even without them.

I upgraded my side to the onion rings, which was a great decision. The rings had this delicious, puffy, slightly sweet batter on them; the batter complemented the onion flavor without overwhelming it. The batter didn't slide off the onions when I bit into the whole thing, which really won me over. I hate eating bites full of batter while the onion slithers out everywhere.

Landon and I both dipped our sides in the Toucan sauce, which we tried on the recommendation of our waitress. It was great, and if you ever find yourself eating here, you have to give it a try. It was a honey mustard based sauce, and it went well on our fries, onion rings, and on Landon's burger.

Toucan Sauce

The atmosphere was great and exactly what we were looking for. I thought it might have been too loud because the main road into Clearwater was right there, but that wasn't a problem at all. Landon and I were able to talk at a normal tone without any trouble hearing one another.

Inside the restaurant, a band was setting up but we didn't stick around to see them, as they didn't go on until 10, and we were tired/ old.

However, we didn't miss out on dinner entertainment, as we were serenaded by a street performer on the other side of Mandalay Avenue. Bless this poor man's heart--he wanted to sing, but he was awful! Half of the time, Landon and I had to wait until the chorus to figure out what he was singing--we couldn't tell by the tune, so we had to listen for words and phrases we recognized! He wasn't being obnoxious or anything, and it in no way detracted from our meal.

Our entertainment for the evening (in the top right hand corner)

The whole experience made us feel as if we were on vacation for real: the sunset, the al fresco dining, the "entertainment" (though it hurts me a little to call it that). Plus, we were wearing our vacation hats, which only made the experience better.

If we ever found ourselves back in Clearwater, I wouldn't hesitate to head back to Toucan's for a quick lunch or dinner.

Toucan's is located at 431 Mandalay Avenue in Clearwater Beach.