Visiting St. Pete Beach in July
My friend and I will be staying at the Don Cesar Beach Resort in mid-July and I'm hoping you can suggest some dining options for us. We're both from the Midwest and in our 30's so while we enjoy wine and cocktails we prefer good food over booze. We will have a rental car during our stay so transportation won't be an issue. A variety of options would be welcome - breakfast, lunch, dinner, casual, on the water, eclectic, etc. We'll probably try to eat cheaply to moderately most meals but would like to have at least one or two "nice dinners." We both enjoy seafood and most cuisines, with the exception of Indian, and are game to try things we may not usually experience in the Midwest.
Thank you in advance for your help!
It may not fit within your budget (unless you count it as one of your "nice dinners"), but I did backflips a few weeks ago at the Vinoy's Sunday brunch. I don't know if the stars were in alignment for that day only, because I searched the board and didn't find many words on it -- but I'll be darned if that brunch didn't knock my socks off. It's on the other side of the peninsula from where you're staying, but perhaps you could combine it with a leisurely stroll through downtown St. Pete if the weather is nice.
Although I found almost all of the (non-dessert) items to be above average, I was particularly blown away by the seafood spread: two varieties of raw oysters, king crab legs, snow crab claws (with the shell already off!), three different types of smoked salmon, jumbo shrimp -- I know I'm forgetting a few other items, but the quality of each one of those seafood items left me weak in the knees. I ate and ate and ate. And then ate some more. They had all of the standard breakfast items, and a carving station, which I was told was also excellent. Oh, and caviar with creme fraiche, in a gorgeous presentation, brought to the table from the kitchen (included in the price of the brunch).
The weakest link were the desserts. Or maybe it's just that everything else was so good that by comparison they were ho-hum. Either way, I will be making my way back there very soon, and although my opinion is based on only one visit, I highly recommend it, despite the high price.
Vinoy Club at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club
501 5th Ave NE, St Petersburg, FL
For some things that you may not have in the Midwest, be sure to try Ted Peters' Smoked Fish, just across the Corey Causeway in St Pete. Delicious!
Also, try a Cuban sandwich. Bella Havana in St Pete Beach is very good - the Floridian in Treasure Island is even better.
Another local favorite is the grouper sandwich at Dockside Dave's.
Some good, casual, on-the-water spots are Sea Critters Cafe, the Wharf, and Philthy Phil's.
Beverly's is excellent for breakfast.
For nicer dinners, the Maritana Grill at your hotel is hard to beat. Or try Snapper's - they are noted for their seafood, but I love their tenderloin!