St. Petersburg’s culinary scene is gaining national attention as one of USA Today’s five underrated food cities on the East Coast. While the St. Pete/Clearwater area is most often recognized for its award-winning beaches, critics are also serving up mouthwatering reviews for the area’s celebrity chef restaurants and local dining gems.
Celebrity Chef Restaurants in St. Petersburg
Celebrity chefs Michael Mina and Don Pintabona partnered to bring a new-age culinary concept to downtown St. Pete. Locale Market, with its 11 state-of-the-art kitchens and seasonal menus, was originally sketched for New York and is a go-to spot for gourmet ingredients from fresh pastas and locally sourced produce to seafood and meats. See inside Locale Market here.
Also in St. Pete, Z Grille is the product of James Beard Award nominee Zack Gross. The executive chef’s West Coast background influences the modern American menu featuring Dr. Pepper Ribs and Deviled Eggs. “Many may remember St. Pete to be a sleepy city, but there has been a movement with chef-driven restaurants that have raised the expectation level,” Gross told USA Today.
At Cassis American Brasserie, Chef Jeremy Duclut—champion of the Food Network show “Chopped”—reinvents American classics with a subtle French flair on a moderately-priced menu. Impeccable service meets a feel-good experience whether dining inside or al fresco on the terrace.
Upscale Dining & Local Eats You Should Try
Local restaurants in the St. Pete/Clearwater area serve up experiences only available on the Gulf Coast. At Zagat-rated Café Ponte, Chef/Owner Chris Ponte livens up the palates of locals and visitors with American fusion cuisine. The Mill in downtown St. Pete was voted Best New Restaurant in Florida by Florida Trend Magazine. With decadent plates and a rich, rustic atmosphere, the menu serves up everything from charcuterie boards to Pork Tomahawk.
Grand Central District has its own unique vibe different to the beach and downtown scenes. A mix of diverse and artsy eateries fill Central Avenue from The Queens Head, to Nitally’s Thai-Mex Cuisine, and URBAN Brew and BBQ—a fast casual restaurant serving up barbecue, beer and sweet treats. If that whets your appetite, follow the Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail for a taste of the area’s best brews.
In nearby Gulfport, Pia’s Trattoria presents authentic Italian dishes in a low-key storefront with al fresco dining on the outdoor patio. Elsewhere, in Ozona, take a trip to the islands at Café Ohana for healthy Hawaiian bites and a Friday night hula dance. Check out more local dining experiences here.