- Cuisine and Suggestions: Hernando Beach Tropical Grille features a diverse menu that changes with the tide. Literally, the chef changes the menu regularly based on what he can get fresh! It includes seafood, steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and more. This is where you want to be for dinner by sunset and it’s a completely casual place.
- Expect to spend: A lot less then you would think. The prices are more then fair especially considering the view and vibe. Dinner for two will run you just $20-$40 including a beer or two.
- Peaks: Food quality and the fact that you’re dining in a tiki hut with a view of the water, massive beach homes, and beautiful boats. I love the clam shack vibe of this place and boaters can pull right up to the restaurant to stop in for a meal or have their catch cooked up (chef’s time permitting). Cool right?!?
- Pits: No draft beer. There’s a lot to be said about enjoying a frosty, cold draft while looking out over the water, but they do offer a pretty big beer selection in bottles and cans as well as wine so I can’t complain too much!
If I told you I knew of a secret treasure out on Hernando Beach and I was willing to share it’s location with you what would you say? “Yes Please!” Well here it is. 4139 Shoal Line Boulevard. Plug that address into a GPS and keep your eye out for the big, beige building that is the Hernando Beach Marina because this restaurant is hidden behind the Marina’s fence. Hernando Beach Tropical Grille opened on July 4th (2013) and I’m lucky enough to know one of the chef’s, Chris Morra, who let me in on this hidden gem when it opened up, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that it pains me to let others in on it. I’d love to keep it all to myself so I won’t have to battle a crowd when it gets popular, but considering the alternative (people not knowing about it which would eventually lead to it closing down) pains me even more and the place is WELL worth a wait for a table…or even a samurai fight for one.
If your timing is right, a magnificent sunset will be the backdrop for your experience but eating at the Tropical Grille anytime of day offers a Margaritaville ambiance that is simply enjoyable. We ventured there on a recent Friday evening in search of something different to do. Approaching the ginormous tiki-hut that is Hernando Beach Tropical Grille, I immediately knew it wouldn’t disappoint. The breeze was filled with the aroma of food cooking, the sky was painted in beautiful shades of reddish-orange, and live music mixed with jovial conversation welcomed us newbies. Less than a dozen large tables are situated on a deck that extends out toward the water, beckoning for those who enjoy a little sunshine and fresh air with their meal. It was raining when we went (which made the experience all the more relaxing as the tiki-hut is so massive that we didn’t feel a drop) so we took a seat at one of the wooden tables under the shelter, opposite the long bar, which is equipped with a big screen TV and juke box. A well-known local blues musician jamming to the left and a view of the water to the right made the end of the week so much better. A large dry-erase board displayed the menu for the day with options like ribeye steak, fish tacos, haddock, and blackened gator, ranging in price from $2.95 to $10.95, with the exception of the $14.95 lobster roll (which I had to try!).
We started out with mozzarella sticks that came covered in grated cheese and served with marinara sauce, as well as coconut shrimp served with it’s own delicious sauce consisting of stone ground mustard, horseradish, and orange marmalade. They were both yummy but the kicker was the Wholebelly Ipswich Clams which are flown in fresh (as is a lot of the other seafood). Those tasty little morsels are a MUST try and did a really good job of getting our taste buds excited about the main course: Jamaican Jerk Chicken and that Lobster Roll. The chicken was perfectly grilled and topped with a fresh fruit salsa that added a spicy-sweet kick. Now, I was fully prepared for a seafood mixture consisting of a little bit of lobster meat and a whole lot of other stuff when I placed my dinner order. What I was not prepared for was the nothing-but-lobster-deliciousness that I actually got! It was a soft, buttery slice of toasted bread heaping with massive chunks of fresh Maine lobster meat. I will eat this again. And again. And again. Do you get the point? Both entrees were accompanied by coleslaw and a generous helping of steak fries. The food was top-notch…and everything, including the sauces, is prepared fresh to order so if you’re craving something special you can just ask your server and they’ll make it for you as long as they have the ingredients. The owner, Mark Peloquin, is super friendly and laid back with a strong New England accent. He plans to have live music as often as possible on the weekends and the NFL package for football season. Once I forgave him for being a Patriots fan (just kidding I don’t watch football…it’s a sin I know) he told me a bit about his past 45 years of cooking experience which includes owning eight restaurants most of which were in Massachusetts on the North Shore. Owning a little clam shack on the water has always been a dream of his…and now he’s living it! I REALLY hope this place thrives and encourage you to go give it a try because it truly is a wonderful addition to Hernando County’s restaurant options. P.S. When you order you have to tell them you want the Lawbsta Roll or they won’t understand what you’re saying.
Hernando Beach Tropical Grille
4139 Shoal Line Blvd., Hernando Beach, FL 34607
Open 4:00 until 10:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and 2:00 until 10:00 p.m. on the weekend
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