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GULFPORT/ST PETERSBURG

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love food Sep 10, 2011 08:58 AM

Hey Chowhounds. We're headed to Gulfport for a 50th Birthday gathering in Oct. We're coming in from SF, and NY. We'll be staying in Gulfport but we're willing to travel to St Pete, and local areas for some great food. The hostess prefers we not travel far. I'm in charge of the food.

We need places with a good selection of vegetarian options. The birthday girl and several others are vegetarian. There will be 15 of us.

Causal is fine. I've read some Bay Area posts already. How are:

Peg's
Pia's
are there any other places in Gulfport that you'd recommend?

How is Mazzaro's if we decided to get take out from the catering menu?
How is Cerviches? The Tapa menu has tons of vegetarian options and looks great.

Also for my own selfish interest, how is Ted Peters Smokehouse?

Any waterside restaurants you'd recommend for a cocktail or sunset. I looked at some and of course there aren't any good veggie options but it would be nice to sit by the water and have a drink and an app or two.

Markets: How is the Sat morning market in St Pete. It reopens Oct 1st

Markets: Any good healthfood/organic stores to buy some groceries and organic produce?

Any breakfast place recommendations in Gulfport?

Thanks Chowhounders. I know you'll take care of me.

KC

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  1. p
    phylrose RE: love food Sep 10, 2011 01:17 PM

    Hi love food. If you haven't been to Gulfport, you are in for a funky treat. I live there half the year and love it. I live in NYC the other half and consider myself a chowhound. There are fun restaurants in Gulfport but we often leave for meals as we love to eat more ethnic than can be found there. We have been sorely disappointed in Pia's and Pegs, though both are nice and successful local places. I hear great things about Tangelo but we haven't been there either. So, the nicest place we have found this year is Cafe Alesia on Central at 72 Street or so. It is owned by French Vietnamese people who really have created a lovely environment with very good food. We drive up to Ben Tanh on 62 Avenue North for excellent Vietnamese, better than we can get in NYC. On the way to Ben Tanh is a very extended Asian market, which we use for purchasing produce and asian goods.

    Mazzaro's is a very fun Italian market and you can pick up some really reliably decent Italian food there, great cheeses and olives, things like that. After Eataly, it's just ok. But for St pete it is great.

    We buy our organic produce at the St Pete Farmer's Market and try to never miss it on Saturdays. Worden Farms has some of the best organic produce we have ever had and there are now several other farms there. It has changed from just a fun market to a place for serious produce addicts. Otherwise, we do buy produce at Stan's Produce on Central at 57 Street or Publix. Health food we buy at Whole Foods in Sarasota or Tampa, though there is decent local place, we find it expensive and not enough variety for our taste.

    We have not eaten at Ted's, sorry. we hear great things but we just haven't gone there--and we don't care for smoked mullet, which we did have from there.

    We buy great fish and crab and lobster at Savon Seafood on 49th Street, really good stuff and very good fish meals at Mid Peninsula Market, a down home unpretentious place with an emphasis on fresh and inexpensive fish.

    Our Gulfport friends love O'Maddy's. If you want a drink with the locals, go there and you get your view and a nice, friendly ambiance. The food is reliably good, I hear.

    We make great breakfasts at home so we don't go out for it, but that Cafe Alesia has breakfast, too, and I bet it is good.

    Enjoy your visit.

    3 Replies
    1. re: phylrose
      l
      love food RE: phylrose Sep 11, 2011 10:25 PM

      I'm ready for a funky good time. I hear what you are saying about authentic. I live in SF so I know what real mexican should taste like. I'm originally from LI so I know what Italian should taste like as well. Peg's "looks" fun and Pia's "sounds" wonderful but... It sounds like you've both been disappointed by both restaurants at times. Maybe it's changing chefs?

      Alesia looks and sounds wonderful and you both have given it glowing recommendations. Thank you so much for the food shopping rec's. St Pete Farmer's Market sounds like the spot. And O'Maddy's for a view. Alesia's breakfasts looks incredible for breakfast.

      1. re: phylrose
        u
        uptownnow RE: phylrose Oct 18, 2011 04:12 PM

        Hi phylrose - My wife and new baby and I just bought a place in Gulfport and will be splitting our time between Gulfport and NYC (Hell's Kitchen). Saw your posts here and they are spot on! Agree that there is better Vietnamese here than in NYC. Would love to talk more re: the NYC/Gulfport foodie life – if you would like to chat email me at jwitte(at)amend.org. Have you tried the new produce stand next to Smikin' J's on Gulfport Blvd? Very nice guys with a lot of organic and local produce and excellent prices.

        Yours truly,

        Jeffrey

        PS, One thing I've had to start doing here is learn to bake my own bread! And I think I'll have to have people send down cheese. Major gap here seems to be a decent Thai place... my fantasy is to get one of the chefs from WonDee Siam in NYC and open a real Thai place here. You never know...

        1. re: uptownnow
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          pie girl RE: uptownnow Dec 2, 2011 01:45 PM

          Hi Uptownnow - if you'd like good Thai, there are 2 places in St Pete Beach, less than 10 moins from Gulfport, that are quite good. For Cheapy/Casual Thai, try Nori Thai on Blind Pass Rd. For more upscale (and I would say higher quality) try Basil Leaf on Gulf Blvd.

      2. j
        juli5122 RE: love food Sep 11, 2011 05:53 PM

        Phyl Rose did great but I thought I would fill in with my two cents :) .

        Peg's and Pias are both fine, it has been hit or miss for me, I have had good meals and so/so. Never bad though and service has always been great. ( I know sounds like I am damning with faint praise but it is what it is)

        I agree with Mazarros, I like Publix and shop at the one in South Pasadena. For health Food there is Earth Origins Market on 6651 CENTRAL AVE.

        Gulport has their own market on Tuesdays, of course not as big as The Saturday Morning Market but still has a nice selection.

        Tangelos is good I love their pork cubans in fact one of my favorites in town.
        Habana Cafe is also right down the street, I like their drunken shrimp and salads

        Ceviches is yummy but sort of a scenester place, so it is always crowded. Around the corner is a place called Mezze 119 which is a vegetarian tapas place. I haven't been but I have been hearing good things about it. And if your down town there is also lots of fun places to eat and drink on Beach Drive and enjoy the view.

        Love Alesia eat there all the time.

        Ted Peters is an institution , great burgers and smoked fish. I like the smoked mahi or salmon myself I find mullet can be fishy ( I know it is supposed to be) Great german potato salad and ice cold root beer are also specialt

        For pizza in South Pasadena it has to be Gigi's

        Also for Stellas in Gulfport is good for breakfast. And Beverly's in St. Pete Beach. Have a great time. Juli

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        Habana Cafe
        5404 Gulfport Blvd S, Gulfport, FL 33707

        11 Replies
        1. re: juli5122
          l
          love food RE: juli5122 Sep 11, 2011 10:38 PM

          Hi Juli, Thanks for your two cents. At Tangelos and Habana I'm worried about the vegetarian options. We'll have 4 plus vegetarians dining with us.... so Meze 119 looks good and I'm hoping they can handle a 15 person crowd. Alesia still looks and sounds lovely for breakfast as well as dinner.

          Thanks for the heads up about the scenesters at Ceviches.... but you say the food is yummy. So that's a good thing. I've never seen so many tapas on one menu. I also see that it is a local chain.

          Thanks for the tip about what to have at Ted's. So you eat the smoke fish straight up there? Not on a bagel or bread? That's what it looks like people are doing in the DDD video.

          -----
          Habana Cafe
          5404 Gulfport Blvd S, Gulfport, FL 33707

          1. re: love food
            meatn3 RE: love food Sep 14, 2011 08:09 AM

            The smoked fish comes with sliced (white iirc) bread, tomato and onion. Sides are German potato salad and cole slaw. Hot sauce is available.

            I always get the mullet although folks who didn't grow up with mullet seem to favor the slamon and mackerel. Even though the fish is smoked it is much moister than smoked white fish or the smoked salmon used for bagels. The server will ask if you need pointers - there are tricks to maneuvering the bones.

            This is really a good place for what little of "old Florida" is still in the area. If you are there early enough you can often overhear great fishing stories from the commercial fishermen who have lunch after dropping off their catch.

            IIRC they don't take credit and are closed either Mon. or Tues.

            Be prepared to be a kitty magnet for the rest of the day...

            1. re: meatn3
              l
              love food RE: meatn3 Sep 14, 2011 08:41 AM

              Sounds delicious

              1. re: meatn3
                j
                juli5122 RE: meatn3 Sep 15, 2011 07:04 PM

                You are right about the mullet, it is an acquired taste. We used to catch them off the dock as a kid and I didn't like them then either. I think I just like a milder flavor, my husband on the other hand agrees with you. ;)

                1. re: juli5122
                  t
                  triff RE: juli5122 Sep 15, 2011 07:13 PM

                  If anyone has gone to the former Gulf Beaches Elementary School's Mullet Festival in St. Pete Beach, the fish was cooked on old bedsprings and some of the best we have ever had! A little smoky, not fishy and quite tender. Too bad the school closed.

                  1. re: triff
                    j
                    juli5122 RE: triff Sep 15, 2011 07:58 PM

                    Everytime I drive by I think it is a shame, I totally forgot about that, it has been a while. They used to do a fish fry too during a lent I think.

              2. re: love food
                t
                TampaAurora RE: love food Sep 14, 2011 06:23 PM

                Meze 119 is small and having 15 people may take up a large portion of the room, so I would recommend calling ahead. I enjoyed the food, especially the mint lemonade and the couscous dish.

                I enjoy Ceviche's and they have a downstairs/around the corner bar which is not nearly as crowded as upstairs. Not to be confused with Pincho y Pincho.

                1. re: TampaAurora
                  l
                  love food RE: TampaAurora Sep 14, 2011 11:27 PM

                  Que es Pincho y Pincho vs Cerviche?

                  1. re: love food
                    r
                    RibDog RE: love food Sep 15, 2011 12:50 PM

                    Pincho y Pincho is a tapas bar also but more like the ones I have experienced in Spain. It is on the street level of the same bldg. as the Ceviche in downtown St. Pete. They have a more items on their tapas menu than what Ceviche has plus they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner while Ceviche is open for lunch and dinner. Personally, I prefer Pincho y Pincho as I like the more casual atmosphere.

                    On a different note, go with the mullet at Ted Peters. Mullet is old style Florida.

                    1. re: RibDog
                      l
                      love food RE: RibDog Sep 15, 2011 01:20 PM

                      Does anyone have Pincho y Pincho's website? When I google Pincho y Pincho I'm bounced to the Cerviche's site and phone number. Is it the same owners? I'm confused.

                      Quoted from above: "I enjoy Ceviche's and they have a downstairs/around the corner bar which is not nearly as crowded as upstairs. Not to be confused with Pincho y Pincho."

                      Okay RibDog Mullet it is!

                      1. re: love food
                        r
                        RibDog RE: love food Sep 15, 2011 06:58 PM

                        Yes, Pincho y Pincho is owned by the same owners as Ceviche.

            2. j
              juli5122 RE: love food Sep 12, 2011 07:37 AM

              They serve the fish with a slice of bread and lettuce and tomato if i remember correctly. It has been a while.

              1. l
                love food RE: love food Sep 14, 2011 10:03 AM

                Where do we get an Ice Cream Cake? The Birthday Girl requested one. I don't see any Ben and Jerry's in the area. Are there any good Ice Shops?

                2 Replies
                1. re: love food
                  t
                  triff RE: love food Sep 15, 2011 09:10 AM

                  Perhaps your best bet would be Coldstone Creamery. There is one in St. Pete on 4th Street North, and one in Pinellas Park.

                  1. re: triff
                    l
                    love food RE: triff Sep 15, 2011 11:21 AM

                    Thanks for the Ice Cream tip. Coldstone should be fine

                2. j
                  jeepster40 RE: love food Sep 14, 2011 11:23 AM

                  Hi love food. I absolutely love Gulfport and many of the restaurants located there. Regarding Pia's, it is one of my favorites places for Italian food in St Pete and have had numerous wonderful meals there. However, the last two visits have been just so-so. Mother's Day was one. The other time was the weekend after Gulfport restaurants were selected as finalist in the Rand McNally Best of the Road. My thoughts are they were just swamped and couldn't keep up.

                  Good places for vegetarians selections: Nori Thai on St Pete Beach, and The Green Chili Bistro or Indian Grill in downtown St. Pete. We eat at Nori Thai often, my children love the Pad Thai, and my favorites are the Spicy Basil Beef, Namsod with pork, and T9 Pad-Nam-Prik-Pao with ground chicken. The two indian restaurants are both excellent and offer a wide variety of vegetarian dishes.

                  Places to watch the sunset with an icy drink: number one in my book is the pool deck at the Don Cesar. Great pina coladas and incredible views of the sunset. I would recommend the snack shack on 8th street on the beach in Pass-a-Grille for a cold beer at sunset. From there you could walk to the Black Palm restaurant, a Spanish tapas restaurant.
                  Enjoy your vacation here.

                  -----
                  Black Palm Restaurant
                  109 8th Ave, St Pete Beach, FL 33706

                  Nori Thai Restaurant
                  7612 Blind Pass Rd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jeepster40
                    l
                    love food RE: jeepster40 Sep 14, 2011 11:36 PM

                    I was wondering how Pia's got rated one of the top 3 Italian restaurants in the area several years ago from what others have said here. Sometimes in a vacation town there is a high turnover of staff from year to year as well.

                    Thanks for the Thai, Indian and seaside recs.

                  2. t
                    TRRichardson RE: love food Sep 16, 2011 08:32 AM

                    In Gulfport- Backfin Blue is exceptional. Downtown St. Pete Gratzzi's (2nd Av S & 2nd St) has wonderful Italian, with many vegetarian options. The BadaBing (flaming with vodka) is great either as a shared very cheesy appetizer or as a too-rich entree. Everything along Beach Drive is very good, with lovely views of the waterfront and parks. Ceviche / Pincho same owners / same kitchen. We prefer Pincho to sit outside where it is quieter, but the front porch at Ceviche's is nice, too. Cassis is good French/ American Cafe. Excellent Bakery. ParkShore Grill is pricey for dinner, so I prefer lunch. 400 Beach Drive Seafood is excellent and has an amazing (and reasonably priced) Sunday Brunch buffet. Go to the Vinoy Hotel - gorgeous 1920's Boom Time palace. The food there is good-- it's won several awards. The Bar Menu is nice. (Try the Silk Onion Soup!) Al Fresco's is good to eat outside. Mazarro's is incredible. They have a noisy, dusty lunch area adjacent to 22nd Av N. Ichiban on 9th St N (near 20th Av N) has the best sushi. Numerous very good Thai places around town. Nori Thai is a favorite out at the beach. Siam Garden (9th ST / 34th Av N) is another. YES to the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Pete -- lovely near the water. Great vendors - buy the birthday gifts there! For Greek (her the Greek salad has a scoop of potato salad - filling veg option) - Go to Athenian Gardens on 22nd Av N (about 70th St / across from Tyrone Mall). Seafood is always a good bet here. I don't care for mullet. But 400 Beach, Keegan's, 4th St Seafood (at 10th Av N) are all very good... and it's Florida, so Seafood is cheap.

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                    Backfin Blue Cafe
                    2913 Beach Blvd S, Gulfport, FL 33707

                    Ichiban
                    5555 N Davis Hwy Ste I, Pensacola, FL 32503

                    Athenian Gardens
                    9047 Dr Martin Luther King Jr St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33702

                    Nori Thai Restaurant
                    7612 Blind Pass Rd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TRRichardson
                      j
                      juli5122 RE: TRRichardson Sep 17, 2011 04:30 PM

                      We had the grilled octopus at Athenian Gardens the other day. It was great. That is a good call for veg option. Really good eggplant wraps.

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                      Athenian Gardens
                      9047 Dr Martin Luther King Jr St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33702

                    2. l
                      love food RE: love food Oct 2, 2011 12:15 AM

                      Hey you all,

                      Headed to Florida this week. We decided on Meze for the main B-Day dinner. Does anyone have any recommendations on what to order there? I'd really love to go to Alesia's but I don't think there are enough veggie options there.

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