Note: This article doesn't include restaurants on the St. Pete Pier, which we highly recommend all of them.
Restaurateurs George and Debbie Sayegh (owners of Bodega) long dreamed of celebrating their families’ Lebanese and Greek heritage in a restaurant. You can find that dream-come-true in St. Pete’s historic Kenwood neighborhood. Dine on the covered patio, then check out Baba’s bakery after your meal. Try This: Order several “mezze” (small plates) to share or go big with the grilled lamb chops or whole roasted fish.
A Beach Drive favorite with shaded sidewalk seating, BellaBrava has won a host of awards including “Best Downtown St. Pete Restaurant” and “Best Italian Restaurant.” In addition to tables, there’s some cozy couch seating where you can enjoy a drink outdoors. After your meal, walk across the street to take a photo under the giant banyan trees near the Museum of Fine Arts. Try This: The Pasta Brava lives up to its name with wood-grilled chicken, fresh pappardelle pasta, cotto ham, roasted mushrooms and asiago cream.
Ah, the glory of the Cuban sandwich, piled high with lechon (pork), swiss cheese and pickles, then pressed to toasted perfection! Find it (and a lot of other delicious Cuban offerings, including veggie options) at Bodega on Central Ave. or at their Seminole Heights restaurant. Try This: Not in the mood for a sandwich? Ask for the Pollo Plato (pictured above), with chicken, rice, beans and maduros.
Stop by for a cerveza, a friendly smile and some of the tastiest tacos you’ve ever had at one of three St. Pete locations. Even better: tacos are ordered individually, meaning you can mix-and-match to sample more things! Try This: The Brussels Sprout Taco (when available) is 100 percent amazing. The Pescado (made with fried fish and a fresh pineapple salsa) and the Carnitas can hold their own in the taco world, too.
A sidewalk cafe on Beach Drive that’s the perfect place to watch the world stroll by, Cassis is also known for its excellent service. Did we mention the wonderful fact that Cassis serves brunch every day from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.? That alone would be enough to earn our vote, but you’ll find plenty to enjoy on the lunch and dinner menus, too. Try This: The braised escargot in a red wine persillade sauce is a winner.
You can enjoy a relaxing, Old Florida atmosphere and a bit of history at this quaint, circa 1931 St. Pete restaurant with its expansive garden dining area. Look for the candy-pink building with the striped pink-and-green awnings at 22nd Avenue South and Third Street. Try This: Along with American menu items such as their signature “Chattaburger” and Original Chicken Basket, The Chattaway has a surprising offering: British Afternoon Tea served by Lady Chattaway. (Editor's note: the restaurant is cash-only but there's an ATM on site; please call 48 hours in advance for afternoon tea.)
Two St. Pete locations (1st Ave. N. in downtown and 4th St. N.) offer plenty of open-air seating and some of the best Mexican food in town. Sample favorites such as Jibarito (fried green plantains with shredded roast pork) and Palomilla (a thin-cut steak topped with caramelized onions). Try This: It’s possible (but extremely unwise) to leave without ordering the churros for dessert.
Florida dining just got more fun with the addition of this St. Pete newcomer, focusing on (you guessed it) fresh seafood. The menu changes daily, according to what’s biting, and you can have your fish prepared one of three ways (citrus rub, blackened or salt/pepper/garlic). They suggest you “come early and hungry,” as there are no reservations. Try This: Sample the smoked fish spread made with fresh local mahi as an appetizer. (Editor's note: Trophy Fish is pictured in the large photo at the top of this page.)