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Oct 27, 2014

“Who do I have to put in my Will in order to pry loose the recipe for the Duck Flatbread I ate last night? I made the mistake of giving my sweetheart a taste and had to spend the rest of the meal defending my plate.”

Colleen McGrath

“Neighborhood Fun!”
5 of 5 starsTrip Advisor November 13, 2014

The Whistle Stop is in our regular rotation of restaurants. We like the casual atmosphere and tasty interpretations of new and old favorites: fried dill pickles, fried green tomatoes, duck flatbread, grassfed beef, angus beef, pulled pork, great wrap combinations, and our FAVORITE Cobb Salad. The flavors in this salad tickle the taste buds – the blue cheese, bacon, spring greens, egg, avocado and dressing of choice. We never tire of this delicious salad. I must not ignore the ice cream confections: chocolate and peanut butter sauces, cookie and brownie bits, whipped cream – oh my! (don’t let my Weight Watchers leader know I wrote this review).

The owners have always been hands on and have experimented with menu items on a continuing basis. Lots of pumpkin treats this fall. There is a bar, but numerous families with small children populate the restaurant because of its pleasant atmosphere. Most nights there is some kind of musical entertainment – not overpowering, just pleasant. Attentive service is the final requirement of a good dining experience, and the Whistle Stop has many great servers. Devonna and Danielle stand out in our experience. They are high energy gals with ready smiles and attention to details. They juggle numerous responsibilities but still manage to give their diners dedicated attention. We come back for the servers as much as the food. They make us feel like we are part of the extended family of the Whistle Stop Grill. Keep up the good work.

Lovely lunch visit
Trip AdvisorNovember 23, 2014
Best spur of the moment decision! Atmosphere was welcoming with outdoor seating, areas for the pooches ( we didn’t bring ours this day but glad to know we could), fans for the hot days. Kim was our great server. Attentive. Friendly. We had the fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and tomatoes for an appetizer. For our entree we had the crab and shrimp burger. No fillers in these cakes. My B and B steak sandwich was very good also. Will definitely be back!


“You’ve got to go to The Whistle Stop!!!”

August 21, 2014 Trip Advisor This is a place I’ve been so many times while I worked in Safety Harbor; but it’s been a while and I decided to meet my girlfriend there, have a nice lunch and tour Safety Harbor. Anyone arriving to our area should take a side trip through Safety Harbor. From Tampa International Airport; if driving over Courtney Campbell Causeway, take a right at Bayshore and drive the beautiful road with the bay on one side, beautiful homes on the other, go by the Internationally reknown Safety Harbor Spa, take a left onto Main Street and drive right over the railroad tracks to The Whistle Stop. If you find yourself on McMullen Booth Road or US 19; take Main Street right into the heart of the town. The Whistle Stop is on one side or the other of the working rail tracks. It’s the best, I tell you, the best when it comes to burgers or ice cream but I will say that everything they offer is the best 🙂 It’s what you might think, when you think of old Florida. A place by the tracks with awesome food. But that also have healthy offerings, all outdoor seating with plenty of fans and a great staff; I can’t thank Tyler enough for just letting my girlfriend and I catch up for almost an hour before we ordered anything. When we did, I must say; it was delicious. We had the blistered Shishito peppers and they were great. A hummus and veggie platter as well as their chef’s choice for that day; a thin crusted chicken pizza. So good! The menu has been expanded and in a good way; they have craft cocktails and although I haven’t stay late enough to enjoy; they offer local music and happy hours. Don’t miss a chance to visit The Whistle Stop while enjoying an artsy drive through our sleepy town of Safety Harbor, you’ll be glad you stopped to smell and see everything. Vinnie 1973

“Great Food Great Service…” July 16, 2014 Trip Advisor Rated 5 out of 5 Stars I was in Florida for four days, I actually went here twice because the food was so good. I have the steak and spinach flatbread, I brought my son back two days later so that he could try it as well. The waitresses were very very nice, and I love the outdoor seating. This place is one thing I would like to bring back from Florida with me.

“This Snowbird’s Favorite!” July 4, 2014 TripAdvisor Every year I fly to Florida to be with family. My first word’s are hello, my second words are ,when can we have lunch at Whistle Stop. Whistle Stop Grill and Safety Harbor are off the beaten track. The Grill with it’s no pretense, casual patio dining is the best place to bring the family and the little ones. The food is some of the best you will find for flavor and quality. The best sandwiches and appetizers in the entire area. I particularly love the Ahi Tuna. Be sure to try the fried green tomatoes and if you are a meat lover, the grass-fed burgers are unbeatable. You can afford to take the entire family…

“Service was “off the hook!” May 2014 I just wanted to let you all know how much we enjoyed our lunch today! We road up on our bikes from Sarasota and totally felt welcomed. The service was “off the hook”!! This is the second group I’ve brought up to the Grill and you never disappoint:). Hope to see ya soon with some new guests!!!

My Best, Diane-Road Capt. Sarasota H.O.G Chapter

LollipopKL: “A local recommended Whistle Stop. My husband wanted a burger and I wanted something other than seafood. The flatbreads are delicious!! The service was excellent and the ambiance was enjoyable. High recommend this all!!”

Marilyn Lupien B.: “This is now one of my favorite places to meet and have lunch with the gal who was my maid-of-honor, many moons ago. Love the feeling of eating outside. I would recommend the Whistle Stop to anyone. “

“Excellent surprise”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2014

I went here because a local suggested it for fried green tomatoes. I ordered a balsamic chicken flatbread that was out of this world delicious! Prices were reasonable and a full bar was available. We sat outdoors and enjoyed a beautiful day. Can’t wait to go back. “Stop by The Stop!”

Friendly atmosphere and good food…better than what you’d expect. It is open air, so keep that in mind when dining. Good local music scene keeps it entertaining. Chances are you’ll encounter me sitting at the bar Wednesday nights!

“Fun atmosphere and food.”

Sort of a casual beach bar atmosphere in Safety Harbor, with all outdoors seating under a series of fixed solid roofs. Good service and tasty casual food – like fresh grouper and marinated grilled chicken sandwiches. It is also a casual hang out in the evenings with live acoustic music

“Great service great experience”

Went to whistlestop and the experience was terrific. The service was great the food was terrific and we had a good time. I would recommend the salmon its some of the best I ever had.
Would recommend if your in the area to try it out.


Food Critic Sara Kennedy

Owned for two years by Patrick and Dawn Pendola, The Whistle Stop holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up in Safety Harbor. It was known for more than 30 years as The Frosty Harbor and retains its ice cream parlor retro charm. Some even organized a “Frosty Harbor” reunion recently to share their memories.

“It’s been here forever, like a landmark, almost,” explained Dawn Pendola. “I was happy to buy it from the original owners.”

A wildly painted fake cow stands guard over the premises, advertising great ice cream. And in fact, the Whistle Stop’s current extensive selection of frozen treats has continued what, by all accounts, was The Frosty Harbor’s long tradition of primo malts and thick shakes, fresh waffle cones and gooey sundaes.

Okay, so this may not be the original Whistle Stop Cafe you saw in the film by the same name, but it may as well be. For a start, even the Whistle Stop around which the touching Fannie Flagg story revolves can be readily disputed: do you mean the cafe in Juliette, Georgia, that you actually saw in the movie and which, only after the film, decided to become a cafe and call itself ‘The Original Whistle Stop Cafe’ (before the film the building hosted a progression of shops including an antique shop, a real estate office before that, and others down, the years); or do you mean the place in Alabama, called the Irondale Cafe, once owned by Ms. Flagg’s great Aunt Bess and the eatery which Fannie had in mind when she created the central location for her acclaimed book? As far as I’m concerned, our Whistle Stop is the real McCoy. Nestled beside the railroad tracks on Main Street, Safety Harbor, for many the cozy, unimposing restaurant has been known as the Whistle Stop for as long as they can remember. I understand that the cafe was first established as far back as the late forties/early fifties, and started life as an ice cream parlor and burger bar. If you sit to the rear of the restaurant today, you can see a wonderful relic of this easier, nostalgic era by way of an original 1950s outdoor table and integral seat set, which present owners Dawn and Patrick Pendola assure me will remain as long as they do. Their appreciation of the past makes me happy, and is in fact what first drew me to the Whistle Stop over a year ago … and continues to draw me. Downtown Safety Harbor, home to the whistle Stop, couldn’t be a more suitable host for the retro-contemporary restaurant which one customer described as ‘…old Florida style with modern delicious ….. The town is a living reminiscence of a bygone era – a gentler time and place where people still walk the sidewalks to get where they are going, quaint locally-owned shops line Main Street, and you can (usually quite easily) park your car in front of any store for free. The Whistle Stop Grill is every bit in keeping with this warm and personal theme. The building itself remains much the same as it was more than 50 years ago, with simple block construction, angled frontage, and sliding hatch windows. Interesting ‘relics’ and antiquities adorn the Whistle Stop’s exterior walls: a pair of painted screen doors announcing the cafe’s name; traditional chalk boards informing of coming musical treats or special menus; wooden signs, old glass bottles and enameled cast iron cookware to name a few which make you feel as though you’ve stepped back to the Old South. The ever-dynamic menu is exciting in its contemporary twist to traditional southern down-home cooking’. Southern Cooking with Kick, is what we termed it when first talking with the Whistle Stop some time ago. And southern cooking it is – on our visit we started with the homemade smoked mullet spread, which was phenomenal. While a home grown Whistle Stop recipe, it reminded me of a recipe my wife picked up from a southern fair cookbook circa 1930. The Four Season Salad’s was a treat, and a regular diner told me that served with apple, it won’t be beaten anywhere in the Bay area. Of course we would have been crazy had we not sampled the fried green tomatoes … and it has to be said that I wish I’d been in a position to stop right there. A first-timer to this dish, I could easily have made my meal out of these sharp, rich treats so perfectly representing all that southern cooking can be. Then came the fried dill pickle slices. Yes – fried pickles! Some of you may have heard of this one before … many will have not. Apparently a customer once asked for this unusual dish and Dawn Pendola acceded – adding her own touch in the process, needless to say. The result being that I’d come here just to try this one. Honestly – if you like pickles, you’ll smile. Our entrees were Lime Basil Catfish and Portobella Mushroom Wraps. I’m not super-keen on wraps, so to me the mushroom was okay (while being a top vegetarian offering) but the catfish was dynamite. In keeping with their new “r menu with table service, beer and wine license, and live music on weekends, this dish will undoubtedly help put the Whistle Stop on every Bay area diner’s map. I’m now anticipating the sequel film- Lime Basil Catfish’ and the Whistle Stop Grill. Come experience it all first hand. Today. Casual attire, good food and fine friends. What more is there to a perfect southern evening? St. Petersburg Times CHRIS SHERMAN Given the artsy impulses of this town, its easy to overlook the cow statue in front of the Whistle Stop, which is painted with Keith Haring splotches of hot pink, metro turquoise and much-too-red. Big deal the colors that grab your attention are whitewash white and general store green. You know those colors, the ones that show off an accent of Coca-Cola red so well They’re the iconic colors of tiny town commerce across the South, where sundries, hamburger joints and other country businesses operated in the shade of old oaks just outside the dust of the crossroads. ‘The Whistle Stop is from that pre-gallery, pre-condo era of Safety Harbor. If you grew up here – and plenty of people did, including Dan Brown, who plays guitar on Sunday nights and worked the fountain 40 years ago – this was Frosty Harbor. ‘For almost a half-century it was a place where teens got smug and grown-ups felt snug, refreshed by cold sodas and warm friend ships. If you didn’t you may have heard of the Whistle Stop and its fried green ‘tomatoes, as Dawn Pendola fashioned the place in homage to author Fannie Flagg. Pendola took over the old root beer stand in 1995 The fried green tomatoes are still here, as a side, fancied up with cilantro and crumbles of goat cheese, or on burgers and BLFGTs. But they’re not half of the changes Pendola and husband, Patrick, have installed. There’s a tuna caesar salad and wraps of portobello, turkey, catfish and veggie, but most of the additions show more imagination. How about crackling calamari salad with calamari flash-fried and tossed with field greens in a tangerine mustard dressing? Don’t imagine anyone tried to sell the James Dean crowd on fried squid with a frosty mug, which may be why nowadays the Whistle Stop has a wine List It’s short but at the top end, $5 buys a glass of Robert Pepi sauvignon blanc or Hess Select cabernet two of my favorite bargains. Catfish get dolled up as an entree, grilled with lime and herbs (menu says basil oil; on my visit cilantro leaves), greens and basmati rice. A veggie burger comes with aioli – garlic Mayo to you, bud. Most of the tweaking is done on the old-fashioned side. Like fried dill pickles. Yep, pickle chips in a hard cornmeal crust that packs grease and sour pickle together. You shouldn’t eat many, but one or two is fun. I Hot dogs get the slash-and-almost-burn treatment I like on the grill. Baked beans are homemade with ground beef (I’d punch them up with vinegar or hot sauce). Order a chocolate milkshake and you get whipped cream and jimmies on top. In tribute to Pendola’s Jersey roots, French fries can be ordered with chili, cheese or brown diner gravy. The gravy’s the kind that was the best part of a hot roast beef sandwich; The Whistle Stop also carries a few local goods. The fish spread mixes cream cheese and mullet smoked in town More important the hard ice cream comes from Working Cow, made less than 10 miles away. It doesn’t always work- The grilled cumin chicken breast isn’t very spicy, and the hamburgers made of a third of a pound of sirloin. But if you come here often – and you would if you could – you find your favorites, maybe a soft- serve Florida Avalanche. Stick with them for the sheer pleasure of a place that’s been part of a town for 50 years. Parents wheel toddlers by on evening walks, dieters escaping from the spa hike down Main Street little Leaguers celebrate and commiserate. Plus you get to sit under the tree waiting for nothing more exciting than a freight train. Or an indulgent owner rewarding Bowser with some dog- friendly vanilla. That’s what summer nights are for. And Safety Harbor can have them all year long.

The Tampa Tribune The restaurant, nestled alongside the railroad tracks, is an open-air eating establishment offering walk-up window service for ice cream and table service for diners. “You get that old Florida feeling with contemporary, delicious food,” said patron-Lois Miller. “I just think it is a very special place in Safety Har- bor.” Owners Dawn and Patrick Pendola put more than $50,000 into the restaurant when they bought it 19 months ago. The improvements have made the Whistle Stop Grill a hot spot for local residents. The Main Street institution usually is packed on weekends with patrons enjoying live jazz or blues while they eat and drink $1 drafts. The Pendolas put in a deck, a canopy and picnic tables with tablecloths and umbrellas. They added nicer tables and chairs for full-service, diners, new floors, plants, food service equipment and an exterior point job. More improvements are planned, including a larger bar area and more shaded dining areas. The renovations have turned the place into a full-service restaurant with a creative menu that has expanded beyond the business’s historic hot dog-and-hamburger roots. “It used to be a place I thought of just as an ice cream shop, WHERE. 915 Main St., Safety Harbor Major credit-debit cards accepted; children’s menu (10 and younger): beer and wine served; live music Saturday and Sunday evenings, table service or walk up service available HOURS. 11 am. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday CALL- (727) 726-1956 all the time and eat. It’s a place you want to sit down and enjoy.”