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Recs for one night in St. Pete Beach, another in Tampa.

Hey folks, Orlando regular checking in. I'm spending one night in St. Petersburg Beach later on next week, in town for a conference and staying by myself in the Sirata Beach Resort on Gulf Blvd. I don't know if I'll spend that night eating alone or with acquaintances I run into at the conference, but I've been very curious about trying Ted Peters Smoked Fish. I'm a sucker for good smoked fish (although I admit I'm more familiar with lox through bagel shops and delis), and I hear they have amazing burgers too. Would this be a good place to go for dinner? Since they don't have a menu online, what are the absolute best things to order? I can't go too crazy, but I wouldn't be opposed to ordering a few things to try them all (or ideally some sort of sampler).

Also, I'll be in Tampa two nights later and hope to meet some long-distance co-workers for dinner. It would be nice to go somewhere kind of cool and unique, although ideally not expensive or "fancy." Someone mentioned knowing of a good Ethiopian restaurant, which I've never tried before but would be okay with, and I was also considering suggesting Fuego, the Brazilian rodizio restaurant in Brandon (or is it an Argentinian churrascuria)? I've heard great things about that, and it's cheaper than Texas de Brazil, which I know here in Orlando. Any other ideas?

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  1. Ted Peters is an excellent idea. Very, very casual atmosphere and cold brewskis. On smoked fish, they will usually have smoked salmon, mahi and sometimes amberjack. but to me, smoked fish in Florida means smoked mullet. Get some of the hot potato salad with it. And you might want to get some of the smoked fish spread as an appetizer. You will have a great time.

    John

    4 Replies
    1. re: RibDog

      Thought I'd mention that Ted Peters is closed on Tuesdays.

      I would like to recommend Bella Habana, a Spanish restaurant, fairly new, within easy walking distance of the Sirata. They have authentic Spanish food, and you can dine outdoors on their deck.

      We found this place by chance, haven't heard much about it, but have been a few times now, and really enjoyed the food.

      http://www.bellahabanarestaurant.com/

      1. re: joan

        It looks like I may be joined by a small group of important colleagues on Thursday night, so that Bella Habana might be perfect for us. It's a little more expensive than I would have liked for a lone-wolf dinner, but that might fit the bill for my older, more established co-workers and superiors. I'll be sure to recommend it and look cool. Then I can hit Ted Peters for lunch by myself on Friday, on my way out of town.

        EDIT: Actually, that's perfect, joan. I actually ate there about a year and a half ago on a brief trip through town, liked it, and forgot the name. It's Cuban, not Spanish, and I even mentioned to my boss that there was a good Cuban restaurant near the conference, that I'd know when I saw it. Bella Habana is the place!

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          Oops, yes, Cuban not Spanish!

          Probably won't matter to you, as it's work colleagues, but they do only serve beer and wine, no alcohol (so skip the fake Margaritas!).

          Have fun! Good choice re lunch at Ted Peters - it's much more of a lunch scene than dinner anyway.

        2. re: joan

          Good catch on TPs, Joan. Just learned that from my sister who is in town. Guess I am so used to places being closed on Monday if they are closed at all.

          John

      2. China Yuan is one of my faves. Excellent food. The fresh seafood is pricey, but regular entrees are very reasonable. Everything is served family style and is great for sharing. Be sure to order vegetables--- fresh from the farm.

        1. Ethiopian is a great idea! The place is called Queen of Sheba, and it's on Henderson between Swann and Dale Mabry. It has a nice decor, but isn't particularly fancy, and the food is getting rave reviews. It's family-run. Another possibility downtown is Spain, which, as the name suggests, serves tapas, paella, etc. in a cool atmosphere.

          I just heard about a friend's awful experience at Fuego, so while I haven't tried it, I'm biased against it at the moment.

          1. I was grossly underwhelmed by my first (and last) experience at Fuego. Screaming kids, low-quality food, and atrocious service...we walked out. For Argentinean food, I like El Puerto in Ybor City. It's not fancy (is even a little hole-in-the-wallish) but their food is quite tasty, bona-fide, and reasonably priced. No full bar, I believe...but they do serve beer, South American wines, and sangria.

            http://www.elpuertogrill.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: sweet_polly

              I concur with the Fuego reviews. Not worth it. I also agree with sweet polly about El Puerto- a hidden gem. For the Brazilian churrascaria experience there's Boizoa in Tampa, which I thought was worth trying at least once and La Fogota in Gulfport- don't know if that one is any good or not. Qu of Sheba and China Yuan are also good choices.
              Not far from the Sirata in St. Pete Beach is Cafe Luna. Adorable place with great food, ambiance and service. I'm itching to re-visit- the first time I was there was on my own. Great seafood and interesting Italian and Asian choices on their menu. Cafe Luna‎ -6700 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL
              (727) 360-7500‎

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              Cafe Luna
              6700 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706

            2. I stay at the Sirata at least once a year (my wife needs beach time) and we haven't find ANY good dining within walking distance. sorry, it's beach food (so we call it). We just eat for nourishment while there. Not even the Maritanna (sp?) was good. I was really disappointed.
              If you're going to be in Tampa and want an authentic ridzio, go to Brasilia Grill on Armenia Ave. It's not glamorous but it's as authentic as can be and the ridzio is mind numbingly good. Be prepared to do nothing after dinner, you'll be too full.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Mal Carne

                Hi, Mal Carne!

                I agree that there are some pretty bad tourist traps around SPB, but there's some good food, too. Have you tried Snapper's? We have never been disappointed there. Delicious food and good service.

                1. re: debbed

                  I can second Ted Peters. It's in Pasedena Beach which is about a 20 minute drive on a good day, but worth it. STick with the mullet :)

                  Rattlefish is just on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge. It is super for seafood, drinks, and outside, on the water, dining. Also, on the St. Pete side of the Gandy is Crab House. Best crabs in Tampa Bay, imo.

                  For Japanese, try Blue Fugu at SPB. It's slightly difficult to find, but worth it. They have habachi seating and sushi seating.

                  For pricey, try The Lobster Pot on Gulf Blvd.

                    1. re: CFLagent

                      That's Crab Shack. It is very good.

                2. excellent food, practically walking distance to The Sirata: Patrick's Bayside Grill. Try the steak bruschetta...it's ridiculous.

                  if none of you are from Chicago, there's a Giordano's in Tampa, now, on Dale Mabry. Might be something a little different?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sarahew1

                    I've heard they're opening a Giordano's in Altamonte Springs, close to where I live (Orlando 'burbs). I can hold out a little bit longer and try the local one, but I hear it's fantastic.

                  2. Well, I suggested Bella Habana for dinner, but our party of six ended up right next door at Snapper's, since the conference speaker (who was in from New Jersey) really wanted seafood. I wasn't terribly hungry so I went with their "Blue Tuna" appetizer with delicious pepper-crusted seared tuna in a soy sauce glaze, decorated with wasabi, on a bed of cucumbers, lettuce, and finely-shredded radish. For a $10 appetizer, it was satisfying as a meal for one, and they prepared it very artfully.

                    I had lunch at one of the Tradewinds' many restaurants, by the way -- a small bistro-type place. I ordered a 1/2 pound burger that came with melted bleu cheese, grilled onions, and mushrooms on a crusty baguette. Not the best burger I've ever had (I asked for medium rare and it came out medium), but not bad by any means, and it had to be tastier than the bland-looking turkey subs conference guests were lined up to buy in box lunches. I still don't know if I'm going to hit Ted Peters for lunch tomorrow -- the way things are going, I'll probably end up saving it for another trip.

                    Saturday dinner remains up in the air as well. We've discussed sushi and Thai at this point, and may meet in Brandon instead of the larger Tampa area, since one of my co-workers will be just getting off work in Brandon at 7 PM.