Sustainable Dining in St. Pete/Clearwater

Grouper on a dish with sauce and veggies

Fresh, locally sourced seafood – like this grouper dish at Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores – makes the most of the bounty of the Gulf.

Fresh, delicious and nutritious food is plentiful in St. Pete/Clearwater, thanks to the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay and the farming resources of Florida’s interior close by. Many area restaurants make the most of these local ingredients in sustainable ways.

Three dishes of vegan food on a speckled table

Good Intentions in St. Pete's Grand Central District serves only vegan food, which is gentle on the environment.

What makes a restaurant sustainable?

Minimizing Impact on the Environment

Sustainable restaurants minimize harm to the environment by using local, organic and responsibly sourced ingredients. They also recycle materials, limit food waste and reduce the amount of energy and water they consume.

Sourcing Food Locally

Ultimately, it comes down to the food. How local is it? Local food is fresher, and transporting goods shorter distances means less impact on the environment. How is it produced? Sustainable foods are grown or made without chemicals, artificial fertilizers, genetic engineering or antibiotics. And does it take a lot of resources – such as energy and water – to produce it? 

Focusing on Plant-Based Foods

Restaurants that serve vegetarian or vegan dishes commonly use fresh (and often organic) ingredients. And by their very nature, plant-based foods take less resources than those that are livestock-based.

Waiter carries tray of seafood and other dishes

Rumba Island Bar and Grill gets its seafood from the Baystar fleet of fishing boats.

Where can I find fresh, local seafood?

The bounty of the waters around us is a wonderful place to start. While many of our restaurants offer fresh, local seafood, several locally owned places specialize in it. 

The Baystar Restaurant Group

Seaweed Steaks, Seafood & Sushi, in Belleair Bluffs, and 11 other restaurants are part of the Baystar Restaurant Group, which has its own fleet of fishing boats, providing fresh-off-the-boat grouper, snapper and amberjack, among other species. Baystar delivers fresh fish to its restaurants each day. 

Other Baystar restaurants include Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores; Rumba Island Bar and Grill, with locations in Clearwater and St. Pete; and the Marina Cantina Tequila Bar and Grill, Bar Tiki, Salt Cracker Fish Camp and Island Way Grille, all in Clearwater Beach.

Exterior of a small, funky fish shack with one table out front

Set in John's Pass Village & Boardwalk, Walt'z Fish Shak has an ever-changing menu of fresh fish.

Ted Peters restaurant with sign and open-air dining room

At Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, the mullet and other fish has been prepared the same way for over seven decades.

Other Great Seafood Restaurant Options

Snappers in St. Pete Beach promises generous portions of fresh seafood straight from the Gulf.

At Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, a humble spot in St. Pete’s South Pasadena neighborhood, fresh-caught fish is smoked over red oak for four to six hours in a technique that has been used by the Peters family for more than 70 years.

Just a block from the water in Dunedin, Hog Island Fish Camp is a chef-owned and -operated seafood restaurant that serves fresh, local Gulf seafood.

Plan to dine early at casual Trophy Fish, on Central Ave. in St. Pete’s Grand Central District. They serve the freshest fish, caught each day, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. 

It’s clear where the fish served at Walt’z Fish Shak comes from. Set just across from the docks where fishing boats pull in, this unassuming spot in John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk in Madeira Beach has a menu that changes with the catch. 

Many other local restaurants serve fresh seafood from local captains, too. Don’t be shy – politely ask your server where their seafood is sourced from, if it’s not already stated on the menu.

Cooked stone crab claws on a plate with lettuce garnish

Stone crab claws are delicious – and sustainably harvested.

What seafood is locally caught?

Seafood is sustainable if it’s caught nearby. Here’s how to know what seafood species are harvested in and near St. Pete/Clearwater.

  • Local fish and shellfish species: Our Gulf waters abound in delicious species, including shrimp, snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, hogfish, yellowfin tuna, amberjack and mullet. 
  • Lobster: If you order Caribbean or Florida lobster, it’s most likely from the Florida Keys. Maine lobster, of course, prefers colder waters.
  • Stone crab claws: Virtually all the stone crab claws consumed in the U.S. are harvested on Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Stone crabs are caught in traps, one big, meaty claw is removed and then the crabs are released to regrow that claw, making the harvest renewable. Stone crab season runs from October 15 through May 1, so look for the delicacy on restaurant menus during that time.
  • Oysters: Although Northwest Florida around Apalachicola was once famous for its oyster fishery, you probably wouldn’t expect to find oysters on our local docks. You would have been right – until Lost Coast Oyster Co. began a sustainable oyster farm in the waters of the Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve, where Tampa Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico just south of St. Pete/Clearwater. St. Pete restaurants serving the local oysters include Barbouni, a raw bar inside Baba on Central, and Calida Kitchen and Wine. Lost Coast oysters also pop up at festivals including the St. Petersburg Seafood & Music Festival
Lamb dish with sauce and veggies on a white dish with blue border

Noble Crust in St. Pete is committed to sourcing its meats and veggies locally.

Which restaurants serve local produce and meats?

Naked Farmer

Only a restaurant unabashed about its pursuit of fresh food would be named Naked Farmer. The small Florida chain’s St. Pete/Clearwater location is on Central Ave. in downtown St. Pete. Its grass-fed beef is supplied by the Providence Cattle Co. of Tampa. Although Naked Farmer is set in the city, that doesn’t mean it has to go far for much of its fresh produce, because it sources much of it from Brick Street Farms, an indoor urban hydroponic garden only two miles away. Naked Farmer, which is on a first-name basis with the folks on its farms, also reduces waste by using minimal packaging that’s mostly compostable.

Noble Crust

A small, St. Pete-based group of restaurants, Noble Crust has big ambitions. In addition to its Noble Crust restaurant on 4th Street North in St. Pete, it has plans to open a new restaurant in the city, Noble Tavern Off the Farm, in 2023. With its own source of fresh, local produce, Fat Beet Farm, the three Tampa Bay-area Noble Crust locations serve what the company calls Deep South Italian cuisine – a fusion of Italian dishes made with locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Fat Beet Farm, in Tampa, has vegetable gardens, chickens and bees as well as a biodigester that turns kitchen scraps and crop waste into fertilizer. All of the water it uses come from rainwater, which it stores in tanks that can hold up to 35,000 gallons. 

Sol St. Pete

A family-owned, local restaurant, Sol St. Pete specializes in scratch-made, healing and easy-to-digest food made with pasture-raised or wild-caught protein, fresh herbs, locally sourced produce, progressive wines, craft beers, sea salt, healthy fats and unrefined oils. None of its ingredients are GMO, and they are organic when possible. Its kitchen and menu are free of gluten, peanuts, soy and refined sugar as well as being lactose-intolerance-friendly. Sol uses only whole-food ingredients without preservatives. Nothing on its menu is processed or artificial. Sol’s main sources, some of which are noted right on its menu, include 15th Street Farm, slightly more than a mile away; Brick Street Farms; Frog Song Organics in Hawthorne; Cactus Hat Mushrooms in Tampa; Adieu Glu bakery in St. Pete; Vine Importers in Bradenton; Providence Cattle Co., and Gulf Coast Seafood in Gulfport.

Brick Street Farms

Brick Street Farms puts shipping containers on a downtown lot and customizes them with high-tech lights, climate controls and sensors and a supply of nutrient-rich water to create hydroponic gardens that supply nearby restaurants with the freshest possible greens and herbs. Brick Street Farms won the Retailer prize in the inaugural St. Petersburg Sustainable Leadership Awards, presented in 2022 by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and the Environmental Defense Fund in St. Pete. It supplies produce to many restaurants within 50 miles, including the Cafe Clementine bake shop in the Museum of Fine Arts, Cafe Gala at The Dalí Museum, 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, Teak on the St. Pete Pier, Allelo, il Ritorno, Lingr, the Bier Boutique, Paul’s Landing at the Vinoy, Baba on Central, The Twisted Indian, Bandit Coffee Co., Bin6South, Buya Ramen, Copper Shaker, Pineapple Espresso, GypsySouls Coffee House’s locations in St. Pete and Indian Rocks Beach, the Treasure Island Beach Resort and The Tides Seafood & Market in Safety Harbor and its restaurant there.

Providence Cattle Company

The cattle at Providence Cattle Company are grass-fed and raised without any antibiotics, and they’re born, raised, processed and distributed in Florida. Its cattle are raised at Double C Bar Ranch in Kenansville, south of Orlando. St. Pete/Clearwater restaurants serving Providence beef are: 3 Daughters Brewing, Bandit Coffee Co., and La DeJa Vu Café-Bistro-Restaurant, all in St. Pete; Caracara Asian Tapas, Tacos & Bar in Dunedin; The Tides Seafood & Market in Safety Harbor; and Three Brothers Pizza in Palm Harbor.

Baskets of organic peppers for sale at the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market

Local farmers markets, including the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market, are great sources of locally grown produce, much of it organic.

Where can I buy fresh veggies and other organic, local produce?

Shop at the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market and other local farmers markets – they’re great places to get fresh, organic produce.