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St. Pete Beach


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21 replies to this topic

#1 Willly

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 03:22 PM

My family and I are travelling down to St. Pete Beach next week for a stay at the Don Cesar. We've already booked our night at Bern's, but are looking for as many other recommendations as you folks can provide. We'd love to find some good places closer to the hotel. Also, any kitchy, touristy places with a view AND good food? Finally, with kids 12 and 6, we'll be making the trip to Busch Gardens. Any recommendation as to places in the park, or as we drive back to the hotel?

Thanks in advance!

#2 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 05:02 PM

Sculley's on the Boardwalk

Crackin' crab legs, dining dockside, and feasting on the freshest seafood around... Then of course, there's the sun on your skin, a margarita in your hand, and the breezy tunes of live music surrounding you...Your tastebuds will savor delicious entrees like Sculley's famous Pistachio Crusted Grouper, Pine-Nut Crusted Atlantic Salmon and Giant Lobster Tails. Enjoy these dishes inside or waterside...either way, our setting is sure to captivate

Sound like something you might enjoy? I would love to eat there! :biggrin:

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#3 FL Heat

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 07:53 PM

I'll put up what I can think of now. . .

Oystercatchers has good word of mouth, but I've never dined there. During the peak season, apparently it's really difficult to get in for brunch, which is supposed to be one of the best in the area. You'll be here in "off" season, so reservations shouldn't be much problem.

Right near Oystercatchers is Castaways. We've had one really great and two really miserable experiences there, so I can't recommend it. (The worst was when our reservation for 4 at 8 pm was seated at 9:00, while walk-ins were seated ahead of us. . .and then my boyfriend's steak arrived bloody rare, when ordered medium rare, and then didn't ever arrive back at the table when he sent it back. . .and my mom's seafood pasta dish had clumps of uncooked noodles. . .uck. We just won't ever go back.)

Casual Clam is a low-brow place with great prices, no view, and friendly staff. We take everyone who visits us there, but, well, we only live a few blocks away :biggrin:

If you want to make the drive to Ybor City (and it's really a cute place, if you go in the daytime--if you go at night, leave the kiddos at the hotel), try Columbia Restaurant. We've never had a bad experience there, even when in a group of 75 for a holiday party. And if you're looking for "local" flavor, the Spanish/Cuban food there is about as good as it gets. And now I feel like an idiot, I didn't realize they were at the St Pete Pier, too. Well, good, now we won't have to drive to Tampa to eat there. . .

Again, this one's kinda in my part of town, so I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Athenian Gardens was my boyfriend's first foray into Greek food (other than feta cheese) and he loved it. Very family-friendly place, and located right down the road from Ally Oops' Super Scoops(2531 4th St N, St Petersburg, FL 33704), where you're very likely to see us if it's a Friday night, since we love their ice cream :)

The restaurant reviewer in the St Pete Times is pretty laid-back, but usually accurate to our tastes & budget.

I don't know the beach area that well, but I'll do some looking tomorrow and see what else I can find and what the folks I know think about the places. We don't tend to go near the beach much. . .it's easy to take for granted when it's just a few miles away.

International Plaza/Bay Street is nice. . .it's kinda weird to think of your preferred mall as a destination, though.

Bring mosquito repellent, as the rains here have made being outside near torture if you're bare-skinned.

Diana

#4 FL Heat

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 06:34 AM

Bleh. . .keep an eye on Tropical Storm Charley and I hope hope hope he doesn't interfere with your vacation :unsure:

Diana

#5 Willly

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 01:28 PM

Diana -- I've been watching closely, and keeping my fingers crossed! Thanks for all the recs so far.

Will

#6 FL Heat

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 11:48 AM

Well, should our power go out, I hope you have a good visit and that the beach is nice & cleaned up by the time you get here!!

(I'm seeing that the airports in the area will be closed on Friday, so hopefully you're flying in after that!)

D

#7 Willly

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 02:04 PM

Supposed to be getting in mid-afternoon Sat, but that doesn't matter. Good luck to everyone down there.

#8 robyn

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 06:36 PM

Supposed to be getting in mid-afternoon Sat, but that doesn't matter.  Good luck to everyone down there.

Doesn't sound like the greatest time for a trip. I'd try to postpone it if at all possible. Robyn

P.S. I'm in Jacksonville. We had a brush with Tropical Storm Bonnie today - my father-in-law had major surgery this afternoon - and we're watching Charley very closely (good chance it will exit the peninsula around here). No way I'd come to most of Florida (especially the Tampa/St. Pete area) on Saturday.

Edited by robyn, 12 August 2004 - 06:41 PM.


#9 FL Heat

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 08:08 PM

If you're flying into Tampa/St Pete, come on down! The weather's fine, despite what we were led to believe.

It's the rest of the state that's suffering now :sad: I hope you all in the rest of Florida are doing alright.

Diana

#10 robyn

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 04:57 PM

If you're flying into Tampa/St Pete, come on down!  The weather's fine, despite what we were led to believe.

It's the rest of the state that's suffering now  :sad:  I hope you all in the rest of Florida are doing alright.

Diana

We're in nothern St. Johns County. We were supposed to get a direct "exit" hit but were spared when Charley moved east. As of this morning - about 10% of St. Johns County at the south end was without power - 80% of Flagler county was without power - and we haven't received hardly any reports from Ormond Beach (Volusia County) which is where the exit actually took place. I saw a report that Volusia County has the highest number of households in Florida without power. I suspect there's a lot of damage down there (major - not catastrophic) - but all the reporters are in Punta Gorda. Note that as in all storms like this - we're not yet getting any reports from the barrier islands - which is where the worst damage took place (although I did see one helicopter video tonight which showed that Captiva Island is now 2 islands - there's a new channel where none existed before). I lived through Hurricane Andrew - and - based on my experience - all I can say is this is the first day of a very long very painful process for those affected by the storm. Robyn

#11 Willly

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 10:47 AM

Thanks to all for your suggestions. We flew down on Saturday (14th) morning, and aside from the the thunderstorms that afternoon, had beautiful weather.

We had a great trip. We did Sea Critters (kids loved feeding the fish), as well as Berns (good Steaks, kids loved it -- reminded them of the Haunted Mansion at DW), Philthy Phils (Good), Fergs Beach House (okay), The Pub (based on a rec from brother-in-law, food was downright bad) and Conch Republic (surprisingly okay). We didn't venture too far off Gulf Boulevard as we were usually about to collapse by the time we decided to get something to eat. We even ate lunch at the Crabby Bills in Clearwater Marina where they cooked our just-caught Spanish Mackerel for us.

Our usual dining places are a little more upscale than where we ate while down in FL, but we really enjoyed most of our meals. Everywhere we went, we had great, friendly service.

#12 Carrot Top

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 06:25 PM

I just had dinner here, at the Mangrove Grille (it supposedly won some sort of "best" award from someplace this year, and it happened to be outside the door, and I am tired of getting lost driving around. . . :biggrin: . Anyway, it was pretty decent. Got to see the sun set over the water. . the conch chowder tasted almost exactly the way I used to make it when I used to chase my own conchs down for chowder the year I lived in the Keys. . .the server admitted that all the fish offered was not *fresh* but *fresh frozen* (with a smile) so instead an enormous grilled pork chop with good seasonings and toppings and enough fresh vegetables to feed four was placed before me. The orange blossom pie was the sort of thing that one can eat in about two minutes flat no matter what. Nothing spectacular, but undemanding, good food, made by someone who knows how to cook well.

Also got a tip from the waitress that "the only place she knew" around that actually *does* serve fresh never frozen grouper is "Dockside Dave's" (whatever that is :raz: ) so if we don't end up in Ybor City tomorrow, that might be a place to try.

Edited by Carrot Top, 27 December 2006 - 08:15 PM.


#13 tautog

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 07:25 AM

Dockside Dave's is a divey place in Mad Beach. Good for a nice grouper sandwich and onion rings but not any sort of destination place. I would save it for lunch. Then again I usually just bring my fresh caught fish to a Htai place and have them cook for me.

#14 Carrot Top

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 07:50 AM

:biggrin: I was just about to head out when I saw your post, tautog.

I don't *do* destination dining anymore, having gotten tired of it some number of years ago. :laugh:

So divey Dockside Daves in (ha, ha!) "Mad Beach" (?) sounds just about right for me. :wink:

I'm not fishing this time, but do tell about this Htai place you mentioned. What did you catch last time, and where is the place? Might do it next time. . .

(P.S. Never saw a tautog in FL. . .used to catch them on City Island (NY) in a fishtrap I built out of chicken wire that I hung off the side of the boat we lived in then. . . :smile: )

#15 Carrot Top

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 07:05 PM

I did finally have lunch at Dockside Dave's. One-half pound fresh grouper sandwiches (on "weck").

I got mine batter fried. Fantastic.

A glass of wine ordered arrived in a glass the size of a usual iced tea. :biggrin:

I sat and tried to eat this enormous delicious thing and watched the people. Locals, mostly. Bellied up the bar in the other room were the serious drinkers, faces red and ready to hit the beer for the afternoon. This place could have been the inspiration for Joni Mitchell's "Barangrill". Photos of fish and people all over the walls that were coated with many layered coats of paint, rock and roll blasting from the kitchen in the back, the cooks shouting about how they'd just been slammed, the busser a thirteen year old babyfaced slightly plump girl in shorts and rumpled t-shirt, the ladies at the next table discussing who had died and who had gotten divorced and who had gotten drunk, both with bleached blond hair and thick heavy overdone black eyebrows. It was innocent, the place, a place of the beach, a reminder of seashore life, a place without pretension.

The tomato on the sandwich was one of the three best I've ever had in a restaurant (the other two being at Peter Luger's and Bradley Ogden's. . .).

On the wall was an article from "Southern Living" in 2004, placing Dockside Dave's as "one of our favorite places".

I can see why.

I walked slowly out, sated from the big fat crunchy flaky moist grouper and the wine that I could not finish unless I wanted to fall off my chair.

It was good. :smile:

#16 Carrot Top

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 07:18 PM

And one more good dive-y place to add: up the road a piece on Indian Rocks Beach there is a place called "Crabby Bill's". Naturally I was attracted by the name. :raz:

Picnic tables in one area, booths in another, a bar of course too. Everyone in this place looks like an escapee from the Mod Squad, the original Mod Squad. Rather wonderful.

A very good and interesting oyster stew was offered. Oysters cooked perfectly not a hint of a split second over or under done. The stew was buttery and had bits of onion and celery, and (unusual) chunks of browned roast potatoes in it, which were surprisingly good and fitting.

Stone crab claws were good sized. I ordered them chilled and they were delicious, served with two sauces.

Here, they know what you mean if you order a "short beer". :smile:

Almost forgot to add: The music played is Motown - and nothing goes better with oyster stew than Al Green's "Let's Get Together". :biggrin:

Edited by Carrot Top, 31 December 2006 - 07:25 PM.


#17 tautog

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 08:22 AM

I meant Thai, mispelled. The area has a wealth of decent Thai and Vietnamese places that were very happy to trade fresh fish for meals. I usually go to the one that is on the Clearwater side of the bridge to Madiera Beach, not far from Dave's. They do a great sweet and sour fillet, not gloppy and definitely sour, also steamed fish. Not sure if any of that is actually on the menu. We catch grouper, snapper, porgies and Amberjack. As for Crabby Bill's, I have only been to the branch in Madiera Beach and they had good smoked fish, but we also used to do business with them in providing fresh grouper and snapper. However I don't think that is legal anymore do to regulations.

#18 Carrot Top

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 02:20 PM

I meant Thai, mispelled. 

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Ah. :cool: For a minute there I thought you were talking about some unknown tribe thing. Just this year, as a matter of fact, I learned (from a cookbook of all things!) there is a tribe in Burma called the Karen, which of course is my name - so now I am always on the lookout for interesting tribes that might pop up. :raz:

The other two places I know I'll try next time are (sigh) Snappers which of course though it does not look frou frou from the outside, it does have cute little lettuces and raspberries plunked everywhere with reductions of this and that palletted onto food mimicking architecture as much as possible given the availability of trained kitchen staff. . . It was too crowded the night I stopped there - people were mooing around outside the front door looking much like the cows that wait at the gate to go to back to the barn for feeding in some pastures round here. An hour's wait on a weeknight. Ouch.

The other place I want to try is Ted Peter's Smoked Fish. That looked like a really cool and funky place. It smelled good, too, driving by.

#19 jess mebane

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 08:15 AM

I used to live in Clearwater and commute (ha!) to St. Pete for work. Ted Peter's is great for the smoked fish. There was also a great Italian date night place on one of the causeways back thru Indian Rocks, I believe.
Mangrove Grill was good the last time we were there, and the staff could not have been more accomodating, even tho we were probably next to last through the door.
If you'd like to wend your way down to Clearwater beach from St. Pete, a person can do no better than Frenchy's (not surfside, but around the way from the last surf shop before Carlouel). Their blackened grouper sandwich is achingly fresh and while you wait for that, have the smoked fish dip with a large pitcher of red sangria. This concoction is hand-muddlemashed for you by one of the sassy gals behind the bar, and well worth the abuse! One of their chef's makes a hot sauce (Fisher's Fire, perhaps?) that really jazzes up the smoked fish.

#20 kathryn sossen

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 12:06 PM

i grew up in St. Pete. Ted Peters is a local landmark- good smoked fish and great but simple burgers. I haven't been back in a few years- glad to here it's still there. Don't forget to take home some of the fish spread. :wub: Fun on a sunny day with an ice cold beer. :wub:
ksoss

#21 Susansea2003

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 04:36 PM

Seattleite heading out to St. Pete's Beach near the end of March. Bumping this up to see if there are any updates about good places to eat. In particular, we're looking for seafood, for Florida-style cooking, and for casual (i.e. 3 kids age 8 and under). Good seafood markets, too - we'll have a kitchen where we're staying.

Thanks.

Susan

#22 Peter the eater

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 06:02 PM

Seattleite heading out to St. Pete's Beach near the end of March.  Bumping this up to see if there are any updates about good places to eat.  In particular, we're looking for seafood, for Florida-style cooking, and for casual (i.e. 3 kids age 8 and under).  Good seafood markets, too - we'll have a kitchen where we're staying.

Thanks.

Susan

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I drove through St. Pete's yesterday, it was very hot. I had a week of food exploration but I was a bit farther down in the Sarasota area. The fish market highlights for me were: blue crabs (pricey but worth it), stone crabs (sweet regenerating claws), grouper (becoming rare), shrimp (buy from the boat for major savings), mullet (always good) and conch (still looking for a home recipe). I'll add that alligator is nice but I don't know where you would buy it. Lets wait for the real Floridians native or otherwise to weigh in.
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