When the pundits talk about the best cities in Florida for foodies, they mention Miami, Tampa, and Orlando, all large cities where tourists storm a variety of attractions. Just across the bridge from Tampa, though, St. Petersburg is home to a thriving food and beverage scene that can rival any of the “big boys.”
As part-time residents of St. Pete, my husband and I have had the opportunity to check out the best St. Petersburg restaurants.
Here are eight of our favorite St. Petersburg restaurants for you to try out the next time you visit our Sunshine City.
The 8 Best St. Petersburg Restaurants
600 5th Street South | 727-369-9969
With something for everyone at any time of day, The Library brings breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch to the campus of Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Classy and upscale while comfortable and cozy, the library-inspired restaurant touts itself as a “reprieve from daily chaos.”
In addition to kale, arugula, noodle, and spinach salads, The Library offers custom salads for which you can choose a base, mix-ins, a protein, and dressing. Topping field greens, bacon, apple, and goat cheese with a light balsamic glaze will give you a salad big enough to share.
The Shaved Sirloin sandwich on a fresh, chewy ciabatta roll is full of steak and topped with roasted peppers, cheese, and The Library’s secret Peabody Sauce. The crispy onion straws add a nice crunch.
It seems as though cauliflower is on menus everywhere these days, and the Benne Cauliflower (roasted cauliflower with crispy garlic, spices, and chili sauce) appetizer at The Library will make you wonder how the vegetable can taste so good.
The Crispy Avocado Wedges, something I’ve never tried, is crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. They’re so tasty that they don’t even need the sambal ginger aioli that accompanies them.
Our next visit will be for their famous weekend brunch to try the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes topped with fresh berries, warm maple syrup, and sweet cream or the Avocado Toast. There’s something about creamy whipped avocado that sounds so inviting.
The Library is open daily with seating inside or out, and their walk-up counter offers coffee, pastries, and tea. Make sure that you “book” on over to one of the best restaurants in St. Petersburg.
10 Beach Dr. NE | (727) 209-2299
I love a good tapas restaurant, and Ceviche fills the bill.
Located a block from the bay, Ceviche offers so many dishes; over fifty hot and cold plates, so you might have a hard time choosing. Do yourself a favor and order a sangria—voted best in St. Pete—while you study the menu.
Since I don’t eat fish, I can’t suggest trying their ceviche or paella, but the tapas are another story.
Start with the Caesar salad; it’s mixed greens, cucumbers, olives, peppers, red onions, tomatoes, and feta tossed in a lemon-honey vinaigrette, and is a light way to begin your visit.
If you like spicy, try the Queso de Cabra, a baked goat cheese covered with tomato sauce. Keep your sangria handy as you’ll need it to balance the heat in this dish.
The Patatas Bravas, delicious and perfectly crisp potato chunks covered with spicy aioli, while not as hot as the queso, are just this side of being very spicy.
The Spanish Pork Ribs, dusted with smoked paprika, are simply delicious, and the Chuletas de Cordero (lamb chops) are not gamey at all. As tapas, these small plates are perfect for sharing.
Ceviche is open daily. If the weather is nice, sit on the patio so you can enjoy the view, along with some of St. Petersburg’s best food.
437 Central Ave. | (727) 898-4300
Located on Central Avenue in Downtown St. Pete, Tropez calls itself “…an entertaining neighborhood spot with an extensive menu made for sharing.” A relative newcomer to the St. Petersburg food scene, the restaurant is a nominee for the Best New Restaurant in the St. Petersburg Foodies Restaurant Awards.
Their menu, much of which is geared toward sharing, is full of plates from all around the world but with their own Tropez twist.
If you head in with a group, be sure to try the Mediterranean Sampler, a mix of hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, and cucumber raita, and my two favorites—Jamon con Dates and Patatas Bravas. Where most places stuff the dates with almonds and wrap them in bacon, Tropez stuffs with smoked almonds and bleu cheese and wraps them with Serrano ham before cooking. In addition to being less greasy than the bacon-wrapped variety, these dates offer a perfect mix of sweet and salty with a slight crunch from the almond.
The Patatas Bravas seemed to be roasted, not fried, and the spicy tomato aioli sauce is not overly spicy.
When we went for brunch, we shared both the Eggs Benedict and the Organic Field Greens salad. Candied walnuts, goat cheese, and dried cranberries accompany the field greens, all tossed with a delicious pumpkin seed walnut vinaigrette.
The guests at the neighboring table enjoyed Nutella and Bacon Stuffed French Toast (with caramelized bananas) and Baklava Pancakes—buttermilk-walnut pancakes topped with pistachio streusel, whipped honey ricotta, and mint-infused maple syrup. I’d order either in a heartbeat.
Tropez has outdoor seating, and they offer numerous specials throughout the week. If you are looking for a global twist in your food, Tropez is one of the best places to eat in St. Petersburg. They are closed on Mondays.
662 Central Avenue | 727-290-6211
Also located on Central Avenue in Downtown St. Pete, Maple Street Biscuit Company offers breakfast and lunch comfort foods in an unpretentious setting. Their namesake biscuits, made daily from all-natural ingredients, are light, flaky, and delicious.
Try their signature Squawking Goat, a biscuit sandwich topped with fried chicken, a fried goat cheese medallion, and homemade pepper jelly. I suggest having the jelly on the side, so your sandwich isn’t swimming in it.
The Chicken Club—fried chicken, bacon, lettuce, and tomato—and the Five-and-Dime—the club but with cheese and a fried egg topping it—both come with your choice of dressing.
The biscuits and gravy come with a choice of either their homemade sausage gravy or shiitake mushroom gravy, both of which have a bit of a kick. With any of their biscuits or bowls, you can add a side. Try the Three Layer Cake, a hash-brown cake with Gouda cheese and topped with gravy and a fried egg.
None of this is diet food, but if you are trying to be calorie conscious, order one of their salads. My favorite is the Grazer, a combination of spinach, goat cheese, and strawberries with your choice of dressing. You can add a protein to any salad for an extra charge.
You’ll order at the counter, and instead of giving you a number, they’ll ask a question of the day (Who is your favorite fictional character?). They’ll call out your answer (Minnie Mouse) when your food is ready.
Maple Street Biscuit Company is open only for breakfast and lunch, and hours vary by location. If you are looking for a downtown St. Petersburg restaurant, head to the Maple Street Biscuit for some amazing comfort food.
2909 22nd Avenue N | 727-321-2400
Drive up to Mazzaro’s Italian Market, and you might think you’re in Sicily.
As a g0-to place for everything Italian, Mazzaro’s offers fresh-baked bread and pastries, fresh meat and produce, cheese, handmade pasta, beer, wine, gourmet coffee, and more. But, stuck in the middle of the large market are their deli and coffee bar.
In addition to daily entrees, the deli offers twenty-seven different sandwiches, both hot and cold. Try the Hot (both in temperature and taste) Italian that features ham, pepperoni, salami, provolone, banana peppers, and lettuce on their own bread.
The other sandwiches that caught my attention were the Meatballs With Sauce and Provolone, the Eggplant Parmesan, and the Italian Roasted Pork.
Mazzaro’s also has a hot sandwich of the week, a panini of the day, and plenty of cold salads all at a reasonable price. Once you choose something to eat, head to their outdoor tables to enjoy your food.
Better yet, stop at the bakery to pick up a cannoli, eclair, biscotti. or mini-pie as a sweet ending for your meal.
Mazzaro’s is open Monday through Saturday. It does get crowded, so plan your visit accordingly. For a taste of Italy, this is one of the best restaurants in St. Petersburg.
199 Central Avenue | 727-565-4064
When it comes to pizza, I’m a bit of a snob. I like the crust to be thin but not see-through, chewy but not gummy, and flavorful, not bland. The sauce should taste more of tomato than garlic, and there should be enough of it and the toppings to enhance the crust. Oak & Stone ticks all the boxes.
Oak & Stone offers fifteen custom-craft pizzas that include everything from the Classic topped with sauce, cheese, and basil to the All The Way topped with sauce, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, black olives, mozzarella, and Parmesan. They take a classic pepperoni pizza up a notch by topping it with both crispy and diced pepperoni.
If you want something a little different, try the Popeye, a classic pizza topped with spinach, roasted red peppers, ricotta, and prosciutto.
For something very different, order the Mac ’n Cheese, beer-cheese covered crust topped with cavatappi pasta, bacon, caramelized onions, and a cheddar cheese blend.
Oak & Stone encourages guests to build their own pies, too. Start with the basic crust and mozzarella, you can choose your sauce (red, garlic, herbed oil) and add any number of toppings that include everything from a variety of cheeses, vegetables, and proteins.
For beer lovers, Oak & Stone features a self-serve brew wall where you can choose from more than twenty-five brews you pour by the ounce. Get your RFID bracelet from your server (restrictions apply), cruise the 40+ selections on the brew wall, and pour.
Open daily, Oak & Stone has a $9 pizza, salad, and soft drink special, daily happy hour from 2-6 pm ($2 off pizzas and 25% off the beer wall), and Ladies’ Night. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available. If your tastes run to pizza and beer, then Oak & Stone is a must-visit St. Petersburg restaurant.
101 1st St SE | 727-321-8855
When weekends arrive, we head down to the Saturday Morning Market at the Al Lang Stadium parking lot downtown.
In addition to the produce, food, craft, and artisan booths, area restaurants, including Habana Cafe, and food trucks serve a variety of fresh, ready-to-eat meals.
While the market location can’t offer everything on the restaurant’s menu, what they do offer is some of the best Cuban food I’ve ever had.
The Pork Sandwich, full of slow-roasted pork covered with grilled onions and mojo sauce on Cuban bread melts in your mouth.
Try the Cuban Sandwich—sweet ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard pressed on Cuban bread—or a side of black beans, spiced just right. The mojo sauce adds a lot of heat, so if you use it, use it sparingly.
I can’t wait to go to their brick and mortar location (5402 Gulfport Blvd. S) to try the Arroz con Pollo a la Chorrera (chicken cooked with Valencia rice in beer and wine) and their award-winning cheesecake flan. For a Latin flair, this is one of the best restaurants in St. Petersburg.
190 37th Ave N | 727.898.8226
My son and daughter-in-law eat fresh and love to go out for brunch, so it follows that they took me to Ciccio for my birthday. Almost hidden on the corner of a large, shopping plaza, the restaurant offers bowls, tacos, wraps, munchies, and pizzas that will appeal to almost all tastes at any hour of the day.
The Power Avocado—scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach, smashed avocado, and melted cheddar cheese on grilled sourdough—was light yet filling. I do think, however, that it needed a touch of protein to add a bit more flavor; perhaps crumbled bacon or grilled ham would infuse enough flavor.
If you want a kick of heat, try the Tex-Mex Bowl. Black beans, tomato, cheese, guacamole, chipotle sour cream, and crispy jalapeño slices top scrambled eggs. If you aren’t in the mood for the bowl, try the Border Wrap, which has the same basic ingredients and chorizo in a wrap.
The Cali Bowl is a cooler option; with scrambled eggs, grilled chicken, crumbled bacon, and Swiss cheese, the Cali has a crown of homemade guacamole. The California Club, accompanied by honey mustard dressing, is the wrap version of the Cali Bowl.
The next time I visit Ciccio Cali, I’m not going to eat for two days so I can try the San Fran Pretzel French Toast. As light as it may be, a sweet cream-cheese stuffed pretzel that is battered with egg, fried, and topped with whipped cream and strawberries has to have more calories than I need.
Ciccio Cali is open daily and has both indoor and outdoor seating. There are other locations in the Tampa Bay area, but make sure to visit this St. Petersburg restaurant.
Which of these St. Petersburg restaurants do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
Christine Cutler is a writer, photographer, editor, guide, teacher, traveler, Ohio native, Nevada resident, and world citizen. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and crazy Welsh Terrier, but she can’t sit still very long. In addition to maintaining her own websites Cold Pasta and Red Wine and Christine Cutler, she is executive editor of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine and teaches special grammar and writing classes for UNLV.
Chris is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), Travel Massive, TravMedia, Phi Kappa Phi, and Nonfiction Authors Association.