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seeking recs for in and around Treasure Island, Florida

My wife and I will be spring breaking there in April and are interested in casual, innovative, fresh, non-chain breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare. We are esp. interested in screaming fresh seafood, baked goods, and Cuban fare, but any cuisine and price range is fine as long as it isn't super expensive. Full bar a plus. Thanks in advance. (We'll be staying about 6-7 blocks from John's Pass, if that helps.)

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  1. In Treasure Island I think the most recommended restaurant is Middle Grounds Grill, it pops up on all the threads, though I haven't dined there myself.

    1 Reply
    1. re: redfish62

      A second for Middle Grounds Grill. If you go, seriously consider their Special of the Day. It is frequently a fish not commonly available on menus around here (cobia, tilefish...), superbly fresh and creatively prepared.

      Are you wine drinkers, by chance? If so, go on Wednesday (half-price bottles of wine night!).

    2. Cuban Food-
      1. Get a Cuban sandwich for lunch from The Floridian. It's in Treasure Island and is about best around.
      2.You can never go wrong with the Colombia restaurant either at The Pier or the original in Ybor City (Tampa)

      1. Keegan's in Indian Rocks- Check out the you tube video of it on Diner's Drive-in and Dives
      2. Guppy's- Also in Indian Rocks. Little more upscale, but really great.
      For Pete's Sake, whatever you do don't go to Bubba Gumps at John's Pass.

      Always recommended- Red Mesa (Not Red Mesa Cantina, although it's good too.) It's Southwest Cuisine and consistently one of the best restaurants in St. Pete.

      One last thing- If you can drive and will have the ability to cook a bit on your own, make a drive to Bama Seafood. It has a very small retail shop but sells fresh, cheap, and very large local head-on shrimp. Don't buy some Thai shrimp from the grocery. These shrimp are fresh and excellent.

      1 Reply
      1. re: IrwinM

        Thanks, Guys. Keep 'em coming. (P.S. I avoid Bubba Gump's like the plague, no matter the location.)

        1. Lighthouse Donuts...at Gulf & 3rd., Indian Rocks Beach.

          1. Waltz Fish Shak in Johns Pass for casual seafood. Five minutes away in town is Alesia with French/Vietnameseincluding baked goods (not a huge selection but good). Gigi's for pizza. Ricky T's for breakfast. Have fun!!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: juli5122

              Sounds good. Thank you! Please let me know if you think of anything else.

              1. re: Jeff C.

                Anybody have an opinion on or know anything about the restaurant(s) at the Post Card Inn?

                1. re: Jeff C.

                  Beachwood BBQ and Burgers - We have never had their burgers, but have gone there many times for the barbecue. I especially like the pulled chicken and the brisket. The collard greens and baked beans are very good too.

            2. Good advice by all, as a TI resident my faves are:

              Bon Aire for burgers/beach atmosphere
              Waltz for fish
              Blue Fugu for sushi
              Maritana Grill for date night
              The Pearl for outstanding French/Moroccan
              VIP for dive bar & tacos
              Dockside Dave's - Madeira beach location - grouper and onion rings
              Nori Thai - good Thai
              Foxy's for wings
              Floridian for Cuban sandwich (or the better Cuban roast pork)

              Great sunsets everywhere and enjoy your stay

              11 Replies
              1. re: cflynn

                And I would sample Agave and Cafe Luna Bistro and if you want the best local hang-out try Skidders for B or D.

                  1. re: Jeff C.

                    Two other questions, and forgive my ignorance in advance: Are stone crabs currently in season? Are they even available on the Gulf coast?

                    1. re: Jeff C.

                      Hi Jeff! Another TI resident here. Yes, stone crabs are in season til May 15th, and widely available. I agree with most of the recs above, too, especially the Floridian for Cuban Sandwiches, VIP for margaritas and Tex Mex (order the top shelf margarita and plan on walking home - or you can take the "free" (meaning tip only) Jimmie's beach taxi), and Middle Grounds Grill for fancy (sit at the bar for people watching and live music). However, for pizza I'd skip Gigi's and go to Original Pizza instead. Have fun!

                      1. re: joan

                        Thank you much. Where is a good place to get those fabled crustaceans?

                        1. re: Jeff C.

                          Just back. Here's a quick report. Thanks to all.

                          Biggest disappointment: Waltz Fish Camp (Overpriced, overfried grouper)

                          Best breakfast: Beverly's La Croissett (Luscious homebaked croissants and stellar strawberry jam.)

                          Best lunch: The Floridian (Great Cuban Sandwiches and even better black beans and rice. Now if they only had a better beer selection.)

                          Best dinner: Middle Grounds Grill (Loved, loved, loved the Nut-Crusted Mango Grouper, great salads, fantastic baked goods, FULL bar!)

                          Best value: Cheeseburger and a beer at Sandbar Bill's (Bon Aire Resort)

                          Best ice cream: Scoops (esp. the salted caramel ice cream)

                          Solid but unspectacular: Red Mesa, Keegan's

                          Finally, a question: What is up with so many places serving "wine-based cocktails." Are liquor licenses really that hard to get (or expensive) in Florida?

                          1. re: Jeff C.

                            Jeff, excellent choices - so glad you digested all the ideas and acted on them!

                            As for the cocktails, there are two basic types of licenses in Florida: a beer and wine, which is cheap, easy to get, easy to insure. Full liquor, which is difficult and extremely expensive to get (several hundred thousand dollars vs under $1K for the beer and wine), and also expensive to maintain. So that is why you see the fake cocktails.


                            1. re: joan

                              Hey, thanks for the link. I didn't know about this before our visit but had an inkling that cost versus profit had something to do with it. Still, I threw up in my mouth a little when I saw the words "saki" and "margarita" used in the same sentence on one menu. That's just w-r-o-n-g, people!

                              1. re: Jeff C.

                                Yes, that is wrong, but I've had a saki bloody mary that was surprisingly tasty.

                                1. re: ssioff

                                  Makes sense...sake is a lot closer to vodka in taste than it is tequila.