Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Oct 8, 2010 02:45 PM

Restaurants in St. Pete

WTF is happening to them all?
I just did a check for giggles and it seems that 1/2 of them are closed.
Ponderosa closed (gross)
Durango closed
Long Horn closed
Sam Seltzer closed
Beef O Brady's closed ( might be a location in pasco still open)

this was a UBER quick check on places to grab a quick cheap steak, is the only thing left Outback?

Sadly I'm thinking if I try other "types" of foods, OTHER than pizza, I'm going to find the same thing.
I drive up 4th and 9th and rt19 all the time and I see nothing but places closing, seems like 2 a day.

Are we down to fast food and poor chains as our only places to eat?

I have tried to find a GOOD Chinese place in St. Pete and to date NONE! Marbo was good but closed I liked the stir fry while you waited option to the all you can eat, was great you got to pick what you wanted put it in a bowl and hand it to the guy and he would cook it right there for you.

95% of the Chinese I find is NY style which, no offense, SUCKS!! I know of two places that I ordered beef sishuan twice from and BOTH place BOTH times gave me different things.
most of them just throw crap together and call it whatever you ordered. GROSS and RUDE.
I'm used to what you get at P.F. changs (though I have never been there) the description that is.
shredded beef and Julianne celery, carrots and green peppers, in a spicy sauce. And half the sauces taste like southern gravy... YUK. YES I have been to ABC seafood nice and good food very traditional. but I'll looking for the "local carry-out" type. NOTHING even comes close.

It's seems that being a foodie in St. Pete is a waste of time, might as well join a cooking club.

I'm looking for a place to take 3-4 friends that are coming down this winter and they are NOT rich so we need REASONABLE places (IE Berns is a NO!!) (I can't afford to fed the planet either).

Seems like I'll be cooking flesh on the grill.. and making tacos and stir fry at home.

St. Pete has gotten so SAD in the last 3-4 years anywhere that is anything has closed

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Two nights ago I dined at Ceviche, and I thought the tapas were pretty decent. The prices are not out of line, though tapas like dim sum always carry the risk of running hog wild. If you think that is a real possibility, go there on a Tuesday, when they have an extensive $4 tapas menu. Even if you do run hog wild, at that price point you should not need a federal bailout.

    12 Replies
    1. re: erikschwarz

      Sadly I have been there. I will NEVER return the service was some of the worst I have ever encountered. Food was mid-land at best. And to take 4-5 guys to place like that (we are all over 6' and 220, would cost a small fortune easy $500 tab) appetizers all night is not what I'm looking for.
      the atmosphere there isn't very good either but the decor is about the only thing nice. Now I have heard they are hit or miss on the food.. I must have been there on a MISS... but the service alone killed it.

      half my friends would beat the wait staff to get thier orders I would have to bail them all out of jail :)

      1. re: ghod

        Given your bad experience there, you probably will never darken the door of Ceviche again - and I might not either since I can get superior tapas in both New Orleans and Washington DC, my two home bases - but I shall put up a mild defense of the place. Our waiter worked hard to feed the14 of us, and our table on the porch was a pleasant perch. If your crew did the $4 tapas on Tuesday, you would have to take down 125 dishes to hit the $500 mark. I am on the far side of 220 myself and no slouch as a gourmand, but no way could I keep that pace. Maybe Takeru Kobayoshi could. On the other hand, if tackling small plates all night is not your idea of a good time, why bother at any price? Is Moon Under Water any good? I have lived in India and love its various cuisines, including the Hobson-Jobson dishes of the Raj.

        Moon Under Water
        332 Beach Dr NE, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

        1. re: erikschwarz

          My original home base is Washington DC as well.. but I moved here 5 years ago.. to my taste buds horror. I was not referring to the food bill as the only part to reach $500 add in drinks, even if just beer and sangria. And your right but only on Tuesday. (All you can eat wings for $10-11 at. Quaker Steak & Lube on Tuesday.) Which is where I might TREAT a bunch of beer swilling PIGS, like the ones I used to hang with in my glory days. This is a reunion of sorts with some sports guys I played with.

          Remember the bill is MORE than just food.

          But your right, 10's of small plates would not be right anyway... but the service is SO bad we would have to go out to dinner after to actually EAT!.. the service is THAT BAD there. Maybe you got lucky but from the 10's or reviewers I have seen not just here but on other boards and reference maps etc... the service has been terrible at best.

          It took MORE than an hour for me to get my order the first and only time I went and it came out WRONG, and 40 minutes to fix it. ZERO chance of a return visit.

          Quaker Steak & Lube
          10400 49th St N, Clearwater, FL 33762

          1. re: ghod

            Aha! I am a DC native and wear my Ben's Chili Bowl t-shirt with pride. Jaleo and several other DC tapas joints have it all over Ceviche, I must say, and since you brought up sangria, I have to admit theirs is lousy. Now how about Moon Under Water? Probably not for your beer-swilling piggy friends with reconstructed knees, but how about for your refined cosmopolitan aunt who eats curries by the gallon and drinks half a dozen pink gins at a sitting? My suspicion is that MUW has a great concept but disappointing delivery. Interested in your opinion...

            Moon Under Water
            332 Beach Dr NE, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

            1. re: erikschwarz

              As far as Moon Under Water . . . Ehh, it's OK. I can't recall ever leaving there dissatisfied. The food is good but nothing out of this world spectacular. It is more of a British type tavern than Indian fare. Their curry is pretty good (very spicy if I recall correctly). If you want Indian food, there are other places to go.

              That said, it is a nice location and sitting out on the deck or patio is quite pleasant. I think your Aunt would be happy.

              Moon Under Water
              332 Beach Dr NE, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

            2. re: ghod

              has anyone tried the hurricane bar and grill at pass-a-grille? they used to be known for their grouper sandwich; pub food; not finbe dining but right on the beach and al fresco option puts it up there for me as a fun place to take friends...

                1. re: betsydiver

                  I tried it a few years back figuring Chowhounds were just being snobby. The food was a touch above lousy and I learned to trust the boards - when EVERYONE says it's bad, it's the truth and not being stuck up. The food tasted freezer burnt and was poorly executed. I like pub food and generally am not a fine dining gal, so if it was just that I'd have gone back. We need great food with a great view at a great price and this place just wasn't it for me.

                  1. re: TampaAurora

                    That's a tough trifecta in the bay area- great food, great view, great price. Typically you can only pick two out of three.

                    1. re: askdrtodd

                      Depends on what the bartender looks like ;-)

            3. re: ghod

              ghod- agreed, ceviche went to crap when they franchised and the original owner sold it in order to open Smoke. They changed the menu, the waitstaff, everything. dumbed it down as much as possible, while jacking up the prices.

            4. re: erikschwarz

              I had a Cuban press sandwich there and my wife had picadillo. Both were very strange and not at all in the "Tampa" style. I always consider Valencia Gardens the gold standard for picadillo and the Columbia or Havana Village the same for a Cuban sandwich with classic Tampa Cuban bread (pan.) My sandwich was on some kind of "baked elsewhere" focaccia done on a pannini style press and the picdillo spicing was so far off I have no idea what they used. We don't plan to go back.

              Valencia Garden Restaurant
              811 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606

            5. I'm not sure why you are fighting the culinary headwinds here. This is not the land of great chinese food, so why bitch about what isn't here and bitch about what is?
              If you don't like the tapas format at Ceviche, don't go. I and others like it plenty.
              For steaks you have to go high for a good one, and if you go low you will just bitch some more.
              How about trying what Florida does best, right under your nose? FISH. Fresh grouper sandwich at Mid Peninsula Seafood is $9 and can't be beat. Cracked conch appetizer, nicely tenderized and seasoned and hard to find anywhere, is $8.
              My other recent find in St Pete is Rosies, for Ipswich whole belly clams. She does New Bedford scallops and lobster rolls, also. Nice cold draft beer and good conversation. I'm eagerly awaiting stone crab season in 7 days.
              You are obviously frustrated for barking up the wrong trees.

              Mid Peninsula Seafood
              400 49th St S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33707

              3 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Wow, Mid Pen and Rosies sound great! When I return to St Pete for the World Series I'll go to both. Come on Rays, how about a miracle?

                1. re: erikschwarz

                  Two miracles accomplished, a few to go!

                2. re: Veggo

                  Man, now I am hungry for fried clams! Have to get to Rosie's (or somewhere w/ fried clams) this weekend!!

                3. It may not be cheap but have you been to Texas Cattle Company? How about Cody's?


                  Also, has anyone been to the little steak place on 62nd where Amelita's used to be?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Little T.

                    DING!!! Cody's sounds like a place... think I'll head over there NOW :) and try some onion rings watch some football and see what the place is like might be ok

                    I owe ya a beer :) opps doesn't open till 3:30 oh well

                    1. re: ghod

                      i didn't like Cody' AT ALL. we went once and never went back. and i found the onion rings totally inedible. that sauce they serve on the side was really offensive. but what do i know? i'm a NY girl who can't stand florida chinese, it's nowhere near as good as home.

                  2. I tried Cafe Alma in downtown St. Pete for the first time last night, and thought it was quite nice. They had a $25 prix fixe dinner menu that included a tapas dish, a soup or salad, and a huge entree. I got duck quesadillas, a house salad and the Alma Trio (which included a small skewer of jumbo shrimp and scallops - 2 each; a really nicely done small sirloin steak - 6 oz. or so, I'd guess; and a large crab cake...all served with mashed potatoes and veggie). My better half started with crispy shrimp (about a dozen small, fried shrimp on Asian slaw), the house salad, and a huge trough of very nice paella. It all came with a lovely basket of hot bread. We could not finish it all. Oh, there was small cheesecake that came with for dessert.

                    St. Pete Brasserie also has a nice deal between 5 and 7 every afternoon. $5 appetizers and half-off your bar tab (in the bar area only, but they have a big flat-screen TV in there and college football was airing when I was there a couple of Saturdays ago). I don't know if the appetizer food is big enough for large, hungry men (no chicken wings or anything like that...the fare is pretty European, with European portions), but I thought it was a great deal (especially with half-off even on wines by the glass).

                    I used to hang out at Harvey's 4th Street Grill back in the day...waaayyyy, back (mid-90's). I remember the food being "large", pretty well done for "bar food", and reasonably priced. Have you tried that? I haven't been in years, but it still seems to get decent online reviews. Now that I mention it, anyone been there lately? My taste buds were perpetually boozy and much simpler then...I wonder if it's still tasty for what it is.

                    Harvey's 4th Street Grill
                    3121 4th St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33704

                    Cafe Alma
                    260 1st Ave S Ste 100, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: sweet_polly

                      I agree that Ceviches service is terrible and that although the food, if you like small plates, is decent, the whole meal, both times I've been there, sucked because of the service.

                      Moon under water...I really want to like this place but I just think the food is blaaahhh borrring.

                      We had wonderful food at Red Mesa Cantina, downtown, a few weeks back. Great patio setting, Margaritas, Guacamole and their skirt steak and fish tacos were awesome.

                      I agree that there really isn't any decent Chinese around...we go up to Ivory Mandarin Bistro in Dunedin for good Chinese-Peking Duck rocks!!

                      However, there are quite a lot of good Thai/Sushi places around...Osaka on Madeira Beach and Ban Thai too.

                      St. Pete could use a few, new, fresh places but I'll take the beach and a grouper sandwich any day over a cold climate with more authentic eateries..Maybe that's why all of our vacations seem to be centered around eating :)

                      Ban Thai Restaurant
                      5374 W Village Dr, Tampa, FL 33624

                      Red Mesa Cantina
                      128 3rd St, Saint Petersburg, FL

                      Ivory Mandarin Bistro
                      2192 Main St, Dunedin, FL 34698

                      1. re: coloradosmom

                        New and fresh may be sometime in the future for us. This area is one of the worst hit economies in America. I am grateful for those restos that have been able to hang in, and I support them. I may have been a little curt with the IP from DC, where rich lobbyists, attorneys, consultants and politicians in the Beltway pig out at the government trough by day and feast at i Ricchi by night. We don't have that here, and it's not a fair basis for comparison.
                        And the expectation of good chinese food where there are no chinese people is tilting at windmills. I lament the limited Italian restos and Jewish delis also.
                        The Ceviche restaurant in Sarasota may be run much better than the one in St. Pete. I think their menus are identical. I have not had a bad experience but I have only eaten at the Sarasota location.
                        I think the Columbia restaurants are very consistent, I have eaten at several of them.
                        We have good chow around, just not every kind. And some of what we do have is better than anywhere else.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Veggo, off topic, but regarding Jewish food: do you know about Jo-El's, near Mazzaro's in St. Pete? Many folks have raved about their Kosher food.
                          Jo-El's Specialty Foods
                          (727) 321-3847
                          2619 23rd Ave N
                          St Petersburg, FL 33713

                          1. re: joan

                            Joan- I believe TampaAurora might be familiar with Jo-El's, that's their neck of the woods and they eat kosher too. TA?

                            1. re: askdrtodd

                              I wish I was more familiar with Jo-el's but I've really only been a few times over the last few years.They do have great service and a great selection of foods for this area. Their butcher and deli counter aim to please.
                              I get picked on for it, but honestly, I pick up my kosher needs at local markets when needed since I don't keep strictly kosher. I don't eat treyf like pork and shellfish but I do eat non-kosher slaughtered meats and eat in non-kosher settings while doing my best to avoid what I know. I stop in when my kippered salmon fix needs tending to and when I need to get hostess gifts. My last visit was last Pesach. When I want "Jewish" foods, I make them at home. My family is Ashkenazi, but I cook some Sephardi too.

                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                I wasn't picking! I just knew if anyone was a good candidate to know where to get quality kosher food in St Pete, it'd be you :)

                            2. re: joan

                              Thanks, I could use a chopped liver fix. Datz' gets mixed reviews so I haven't crossed the bridge for it yet. Your opinions of it?

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Only been to Datz' once. Loved the staff and the store layout and the whole concept. Food was pretty good. (I got a pastrami sandwich.) Others here have been quite often. Parking is (was?)awful, but that does not slow me down at all.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  i enjoy the chopped liver at lucky dill, there's one in st pete and one in palm harbor. on rye, with a slice of onion. and a dr brown's diet black cherry :)

                                  1. re: Manderley

                                    I need to try them again, I only went to the Palm harbor location once and really enjoyed myself.

                                    1. re: TampaAurora

                                      i've only had the chopped liver....over and over and over and over....but also love their macaroon cookies....mmmmm yeah. my ex loved their burgers, but he wasn't exactly a "foodie" by any means.

                                  2. re: Veggo

                                    I thought Datz was well above average for the price structure when I was there a couple of weeks ago...and I also liked the relaxed scene and the downstairs market. I'm not that much of a sandwich-lover so I didn't order one, but the "Regional Favorites" entrees, soups and cheese/charcuterie platter we tried all made for a very nice dinner experience.

                                    And what's not to love about an amazingly moist and perfect slab of Red Velvet Cake that's bigger than your head? A piece of cake like that can really soothe the hormonal beast, guys. ;) lol

                                    1. re: sweet_polly

                                      Now that slice of cake is just ridiculous. =)

                                      1. re: sweet_polly

                                        I agree, deserts/pastries are a category that Datz really does quite well in. I give credit to the owners for tracking down all the foodie-esque goodies.

                                      2. re: Veggo

                                        I still don't care for Datz. Well-meaning but inept service, spotty execution from the kitchen, and an incoherent concept put me off every time, and I DO keep trying b/c so many people love it. But I have never had a problem-free meal there. Went for lunch on Thursday of last week, and ordered a Charlie Chedda, which is grilled tuna on rye. I asked for country bread instead of rye. It arrived not grilled, on rye. Sent it back politely, waiter was great, brought it back on the country bread but still not grilled. I gave up and ate it, mainly b/c the homemade chips are still crack-dilly-icious. But I may stop trying to like this place soon.

                                  3. re: coloradosmom

                                    Since you mention driving out to Ivory Mandarin Bistro in Dunedin, can I ask what's your take on T.C. Choy's in south Tampa? I find their dim sum awesome.

                                    Tc Choy's Asian Bistro
                                    301 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

                                    1. re: elsiecat

                                      I really dig TC Choy's dim sum, to me it's some of the better in Tampa, and reasonably priced for being on South Howard. Chopstix out by USF was also great.

                                      1441 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL

                                2. I kind of have to agree with Veggo on this...this area has such great seafood (at more affordable prices than really good steak), why not give it a shot? My favorite bargain right now is Middle Grounds Grill's Monday night wine tasting dinner--4 courses of organic or local seafood/meat/veggies paired with 4 glasses of wine for only $25. Last week when I was there we started with oysters rockefeller, grilled calamari and pesto grilled shrimp paired with a nice white, then a grilled peach and blue cheese salad (with hot bread) and yet another white then local grouper wrapped in pancetta served with veggies and potatoes paired with a nice light red (sorry on the lack of detail, it's been a week for heaven's sake!). Finally we had a nice rum pastry dessert with chocolate and another red wine...hard to beat that kind of value for really delicious (and sustainable) food.

                                  Middle Grounds Grill
                                  10925 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL 33706

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: laboheme

                                    Dying to try this place, laboheme...thanks for the mini-review (sounds amazing)...although I DO expect a more detailed description after only four glasses of wine. lol I think I'll ask the spousal for a room at the beach and reservations at Middle Grounds for my birthday in a couple of months. :)

                                    1. re: sweet_polly

                                      We went to Middle Grounds for my husband's birthday in August and it was really really good. He had wahoo Oscar which was a beautiful filet topped with a tempura soft shell crab and the usual Oscar accompaniments. The fish was just beautiful and perfectly cooked.

                                        1. re: Manderley

                                          That cinches it for me, it's on my "must" list, and the food sounds imaginative.
                                          3 days 'til stone crabs!

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            They make most of their desserts in house as well and are not shy about telling you which ones are not. When we were there I had a yummy individual sized pineapple upside down cake. It tasted great and looked charming.

                                            1. re: rhnault

                                              Are they sized for the individual individual?

                                              The wife's gonna be in Argentina for a month, starting next month, and I think we'll go to Middle Grounds for a nice dinner out before she leaves...
                                              I keep hearing good things...

                                              1. re: Mild Bill

                                                Yes, it was sized for one person. Not one of those trendy shot glass deals either. Just an individual fresh baked cake.

                                      1. re: sweet_polly

                                        LOL wasn't the 4 glasses of wine that got me, it was the 7 days between dining and writing! Hope that you get the chance to try it--it's really good. Enjoy!

                                        1. re: laboheme

                                          OK OK OK. I got to pipe into this thread about middle grounds.. I read a few mths ago that this was a nice place for drinks on patio with music. Now I hear this yummy chower delio going on Monday's .. We are travelling in a few weeks as I sadly turn 40 and wanted to get out of Toronto and hug palmtrees.. If my spouse and I were to order this set menu can children still attend ? As we will have kids in tow well mannered in the culinary chow. lol. Or is this a adults only seating?

                                          1. re: palmtree38

                                            I think well behaved children would be welcome and accomodated. They do have a large bar area and when we were there a talented woman singing and playing acoustic guitar. You may want to skip the lounge part with the kids and make a reservation and head straight for the dining room. Send them an email or give them a call to confirm.