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Feb 12, 2014 06:31 PM

Best place to eat Downtown St. Pete


I am going to St. Pete in a few weeks for my best friend's bachelorette trip. We are staying at the Ponce De Leon Boutique hotel at 95 Central Ave, St Petersburg, FL 33701.

I would love some advice on the best restaurants in that area. I am open to good breakfast/brunch, good lunch and good dinner places. Preferably nothing too expensive and definitely no chains!

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Well, in the first floor of your hotel is Ceviche's which is known for their tapas.

    A good lunch spot is just up the road on Central Ave. and is called La V. It is an excellent little Vietnamese spot. A little further up Central is an excellent Latin place called Bodega.

    Places for dinner could be either Bella Brava(Italian) and Moon Under Water(English Pub). Both have excellent outdoor seating if the weather is nice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RibDog

      +1 for Ceviche.

      As much as I love Ceviche's tapas, I sometime order one of their entree-size dishes, specifically their paella negra and their zarzuela. The first is a lobster and mixed seafood preparation using black rice created by using squid ink. (The squid ink does more than color the dish; the ink itself has a wonderful briny flavor that goes well with seafood.) The second is a seafood stew I first discovered in a now long-gone restaurant in Puerto Rico. Ceviche's version is the real deal mixing generous amounts of lobster, mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp in a saffron tomato sauce. (For reasons that pass understanding, the zarzuela is listed under the dessert selections on the web menu.)

      I'm in Sarasota and our branch of Ceviche is closed, caught up in building permits or some such bureaucratic nonsense. Otherwise, I'd eat at Ceviche once a week.

    2. It seems the hottest new restaurant downtown is Il Ritorno. I've heard some good things.

      Certainly the head chef has great training.

      "He studied culinary arts at Johnson and Wales in Colorado, opened Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Colorado, worked at Michelin Star restaurant The Modern in New York City, Scarpetta in Miami and Boca in Tampa. He also traveled through Europe training under some of the best chefs in the world before making his return home to open Il Ritorno, located at 449 Central Ave."

      Perhaps more on the expensive end, but figured I would throw this one out there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Little T.

        Escaping the frigid NE, we're visiting down here and ate at Il Ritorno last night. The layout of the space is a little odd (they're working on it) but the food and service were exceptional. We hit the menu pretty hard and everything hit the right notes. Standouts were a short rib pasta dish, beet salad, a caprese, a sea bass and a deconstructed tiramisu. Pretty extensive wine list and, for me, a nice beer selection including a few from Goose Island. Our hosts, who have lived here for 2 years, said it was the best meal they've had in St. Pete. The chef knows what he's doing. The menu is supposed to change this week.

      2. Try Z Grille, 104 Second Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Phone: (727) 822-9600. St. Pete's address system is confusing, but trust me, Z Grille is near where you are staying.

        Try it for lunch. Specifically, try the Dr. Pepper Ribs appetizer--the best ribs I have ever had. They are marinated in Dr. Pepper and spices and then deep-fried, creating an incredible amount of carmelization. (The deep frying does not change the nature of the ribs, except to make them better. There is no breading. It is just that this unusual way of cooking them makes one perceive that they are the most slow roasted ribs on earth!)

        Also, try the deviled eggs appetizer, which is a mixture of the usual deviled yolks, cream, and unusual flavorings mixed into the yolk mixture. They are like nothing you have ever had before and utterly delicious.

        The owner and one of the chefs there has been nominated repeatedly for "Best Chef--Southeast" by the James Beard Foundation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gfr1111

          Z-Grille is great. If you go, get the $22 cheeseburger. You will NOT be sorry!

        2. Have Sunday Brunch at the Vinoy Resort. It is well known for their Sunday brunches. Last time I wen I paid about $25.00 per person.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Wandawoman

            Brunch price went to $38.00+++. Children $12.00++ Under Five complimentary.

          2. A must do is to have a cocktail upstairs overlooking the bay at The Canopy (upstairs over the Birchwood, 340 Beach Drive NE). View is outstanding, do this on your first night to get an overview of the downtown area. Pricey but THE place to see and be seen.

            My favorite dining place downtown is Bella Brava. Sit outside if it's cool enough, people watch and enjoy their Italian flavors. Prices are pretty good too. Il Ritorno is also good, but more of a gourmet place. I also enjoy Cassis.

            For budget bachelorette fun, go to Acropolis, 515 Central Avenue, for great prices, and loads of OPA!!! Greek fun, belly dancing, throwing the napkins etc.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joan

              Ha! Just realized I took the trouble to respond to post more than a year old. Joke's on me!!!