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The Capital Grille
717 South

Beach Fare with Island Flair

Hula Bay Club Waterfront Bar & Grill | By Mary Scourtes

The name may be different but the emphasis is the same: cold libations, hot tidbits and sumptuous sunsets await guests at Hula Bay Club Waterfront Bar & Grill where Rattlefish restaurant once stood.

Pick the late afternoon to take maximum advantage of Hula Bay and next door’s frat house by the sea, Duke’s Retired Surfers Island Bar (named for an Olympic champion swimmer and surfer). The restaurant and watering hole share a perfect perch on the east side of Old Tampa Bay.

Weekends are their heyday, with a packed house and a party atmosphere around poolside cabanas.

“The weekend starts Friday at noon,’’ said general manager Mike Finnegan about the standing room only crowd listening to live music at Duke’s or waiting for tables at Hula Bay.

“Originally Dukes was going to be limited dining but we found everyone wanted to eat from the same menu,’’ adds Finnegan. Duke’s and Hula Bay are currently adding to their menus.

Hula Bay seats about 60 inside and many more in the outside seating area, which is covered so a summer sprinkle shouldn’t dilute your Kahanamoku Kick Mai Tai.

Guests that wait for a table on the patio will enjoy all phases of a perfect sunset, only to be upstaged by a brilliant full moon.

Hula Bay’s Florida fare includes crab cakes, boiled shrimp and smoked fish.

This isn’t the time to worry about squeezing into your bikini because the deep fryer turns out a crisp Hawaiian fish, sassy shrimp and addicting grouper nuggets. Also swimming in the fry pit are conch fritters, “twins’’ (beer-battered chicken breasts) and Duke’s chicken wings (ask for the hot hula sauce). Fried soft shell crab nestles in tasty logger bread with tomatoes, shaved lettuce and a hearty remoulade.

Duke’s burgers are thick, char-grilled rounds served on soft Hawaiian bread. The Malibu Beach is slathered with chipotle mayonnaise and avocado on ciabatta bread. Wipeout settles for blue cheese, red lava sauce and onion straws. Can’t decide? Naked Duke lets you choose from a dozen and a half add-ons.

Beach tacos resemble the fajita scene when roast pork snuggles up to beans, lettuce, rice and guacamole in a tasty soft taco. A sautéed shrimp dinner, swimming in a garlic-cheese melt, is a mess of flavor.

Half of the menu takes on Japanese fare with classic rolls, specialty rolls and nigiri sushi and sashimi. The sunset roll gets a spicy ahi tuna wrapped in shrimp while Aloha charms with smelt roe.

Hula Bay is the kind of place you get off the boat, let your hair down and have a bunch of fun.

Hula Bay Club Waterfront Bar & Grill
5210 W. Tyson Ave., Tampa

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