ISO Great dining in St. Pete's Beach
I am visiting St. Pete's Beach at the end of the month for one week. The day we arrive is my birthday and I'm looking for somewhere to have a great meal. It doesn't have to be super upscale, I'm more looking for great seafood and a memorable meal. The place I'm staying recommended Fetishes, Cafe Luna or Carino's - any opinions?
As for the rest of the week - I'm all about the great local places, anywhere that I just can't miss?
Happy Birthday in advance! I agree that Snapper's is very good, but for a special occasion meal, it would be hard to beat The Black Palm in Pass-A-Grille. They have small plates/entrees that have an "Atlantic Rim" theme--combination of the greatest hits of many parts of South America & Caribbean. The inside of the restaurant and bar area is surprisingly chic for being on the beach, but my favorite place to be is out in the courtyard under the stars--they have live music playing most nights. Check them out at www.blackpalmrestaurant.com --it's a great place to have a glass of wine and some small plates as the sun goes down.
Thanks to everyone for the great recommendations. We were actually there for several days so we were able to try out a lot of different restaurants. I thought I'd give my feedback for what it's worth!
For my birthday, we went to Middle Grounds. It was beautifully decorated and the food was good, I was just not totally blown away by it overall. I thought the service was a bit rushed and patchy and the prices were pretty steep.
We ate at Cafe Luna. Unfortunately we were there just after opening and so we were the only two people in there. This was a bit of an atmosphere killer. Overall though the food was a notch above Middle Grounds. I noticed it got a lot more busy later on so obviously we did not pick the right time to go.
Philthy Phils - we liked this place, not a bad local beach bar. My husband did have the chicken bucket which he loved. I had an Asian salad - probably not too smart to have a salad in a greasy burger bar kind of place, and it wasn't great. As I said though, I think it was the wrong choice.
Sea Critters Cafe in Pass-a-Grille - this was awesome, very laid back, food was great, nice back deck to sit out on and enjoy the weather. Loved the grouper nuggets, cuban pressed sandwich and grouper sandwich.
Mad Fish - I think this might have been my favorite (yes, I even liked it more than it's sister restaurant Snappers). The early bird special was an unbelieveable deal. Great ambiance, service, cool decor and loved the bread with tapenade.
We really enjoyed the Black Palm in Pass-A-Grille also. Unfortunately it was pouring down raining the day we went, so no courtyard dining for us. Still, their paella was out of this world and I had a pork chop with spice rub which was delicious.
Thanks again for the recommendations - we certainly enjoyed exploring the area!
Try the best new resaturant on Treasure Island, called The Middle Grounds Grill. They have a wide variety dishes and the food is INCREDIBLE. Their complete menu is viewable online at www.middlegroundsgrill.com. I've eaten there a few times and it was GREAT. Great food, wine list, atmosphere. Ask to sit near the 400 gallon aquarium.
I agree that Fetishes is just so-so. We've gone once and won't be back again. In a word--it's dated. There are many more exciting venues to try. I have also heard good things about The Pearl and Cafe Alma. The Pearl is probably a little closer for you, if you're staying on the beach.
As to seafood, I've heard that Snapper's is good (haven't been), and the owners have opened a sister restaurant close by. I'm blanking on the name right now.
For breakfast on St. Pete Beach, I like Skidder's, which is right on Gulf across the street from hotel row. Good omlettes at reasonable prices.
About Caddy's (also on Treasure Island)--it's a great sunset-watching beach bar, and has the best Reuben sandwich in Tampa Bay, in my opinion. It's VERY laid-back--with laid-back service to match--but a great place to enjoy a view of the beach and the water and people-watch.
Snapper's is terrific. All of the seafood preparations that we have tried have been very good, but I especially recommend whatever is the special-of-the-day. Always yummy. I hadn't heard about a sister restaurant - if you think of the name, please let us know. I'd love to try it.
Skidder's has a good breakfast, but service there lately has ranged from slow to painful. I hate to spend all morning eating b-fast. I agree with the recommendation for Beverly's. Or, try one of the snack shacks located at either end of the beach (Upham and Pass-a-grill). Their breakfast sandwiches are fresh and surprisingly good, the coffee's not bad, and you're on the beach!
Cafe Luna was wonderful. Seafood was fresh and delicious- and I rarely eat seafood because I'm picky about it. It's priced moderate to high though- most seafood entrees are $24 or less, lobster, steak and lamb are $28-36. Nice ambiance, great service. I actually ate there after first stopping at Carino's to dine solo. I waited for some time and no one came to take my order, so I left and was happy to discover Cafe Luna down the street. I'm taking my Dining Out group for an event at Cafe Luna in a couple of weeks.
Also, Cafe Luna has an interesting Euro-Asian menu with Thai spring rolls, curries, thin crust pizzas and other Italian-style selections. Wine is available and there's a special sunset menu Mon-Thurs from 5-6 pm. I don't work for them, I was just impressed with my experience there after an unpleasant one at Carino's and I think everyone should check them out.
Wow! I will have to try Cafe Luna. Sounds wonderful.
I am a local, and my daughter had a very bad experience working for Carino's, although she absolutely loved the food.
Fetishes is ...ok. I've been there several times over the years. They're expensive, have a mandatory gratuity, (not mentioned on the website I notice) which sounds a warning bell in my head, and only one server and one chef - very small. But it lacked a certain charm, almost as if they knew they had you captive and would be getting that tip. Nothing bad, just not much reason to go back. I'm hoping other Chowhounds have been, and have an opinion.
If rikkikm hadn't posted so glowingly about Cafe Luna, I'd be urging you to go to the next town north, Treasure Island, and dine at the Pearl for your birthday. Excellent tapas menu as well as a full "regular" menu. Special place for me. Reservations necessary on the weekend.
Two local places that are a don't miss:
Beverly's for breakfast, on Corey Avenue at the north end of SPBeach.
The Floridian on Treasure Island for Cuban sandwiches - it's close and delicious.
Oh, and sunset cocktails at Philthy Phil's, go left at 75th and follow to the water. Sit upstairs. For more sunset/beach bar, go to Caddy's on Treasure Island. Feet in the sand, and pretty decent food.