In addition to the sprawling 26 acres of parks, playgrounds and plazas, a collection of new restaurants appears poised to make the new St. Pete Pier not just a recreational hot spot but a Tampa Bay dining destination. From a Florida-themed good-times restaurant to grab-and-go cafes with picnic amenities and drinks to-go, a fine-dining anchor and a tiki-themed rooftop lounge, here’s what to know about the pier’s new food and dining options.
Note: Restaurants in Florida are currently required to adhere to 50 percent capacity limits, and tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart both indoors and outdoors. Specifically in Pinellas County, restaurant and bar staff must wear a face covering while on duty and while serving food or beverage, or having customer contact. Customers can remove their face coverings while dining or consuming a beverage when seated and social distancing.
Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille
What: A large, casual sports bar and restaurant from Florida author Randy Wayne White.
Where: The southern end of the pier’s overlook, directly on the seawall.
What to expect: The 10,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space is named for the protagonist of White’s crime series about a marine biologist living on Sanibel Island. With seating for about 350 people, it’s the fourth location for the Florida-based chain, which also has locations in Captiva Island, Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach.
The restaurant’s decor imbues a sports bar-meets-Florida fishing camp vibe, and the layout is similar to the Sanibel Island flagship, with a long wraparound covered patio and retractable garage doors that open up to the water. A lower outdoor patio with chairs and tables with umbrellas sits right on the seawall. Inside, the restaurant is anchored by two bars and outfitted with dark and light wood accents, fishing accoutrements and several large televisions.
On the menu: A seafood-heavy list of dishes inspired by Florida and the flavors of the Caribbean includes pan-fried crab cakes with jicama slaw and key lime butter sauce, and a snapper served in a banana leaf with chili puree and lime juice. Rum is the poison of choice here, and mojitos the main vehicle; the menu includes several takes on the drink with flavors ranging from pineapple to coconut, passion fruit to mango. Other rum-centric creations include the Doc’s Cure, made with creme of coconut and black rum, pineapple, orange juice and nutmeg; and the Barbados Punch featuring Mount Gay rum, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and a floater of black rum topped with a cherry.
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Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.
What: A fine-dining restaurant from the Birchwood proprietor Chuck Prather.
Where: At the end of the pier, on the middle deck.
What to expect: The nautical-inspired restaurant sits at the very tip of the pier and features breathtaking views of Tampa Bay. The location provided the inspiration for the restaurant’s name, a nod to the water-resistant hardwood often used in the manufacturing of boats. It’s impossible to miss the reference, from the lacquered lake boat hull that does double duty as a host stand to the boats hanging from the ceiling throughout the main dining room, all replicas of vessels dating back to the 1940s. The main dining room is outfitted with plush dark teal armchairs and a driftwood centerpiece. The restaurant, which seats roughly 180 people, features a separate back bar overlooking the water, outside seating and a long communal dining table facing an open kitchen.
On the menu: Lee Aquino, the executive chef at the Birchwood’s Birch & Vine, helms the kitchen at Teak as well as Prather’s other two concepts at the pier, Pier Teaki and Driftwood Cafe. Though Teak is arguably the most upscale of the pier’s dining concepts, the menu’s pricing is varied, with several shared plates and entrees hovering around the $20 mark.
“We wanted to make sure it was affordable,” Prather said. He described the menu as heavily inspired by Florida and the Southeast.
Dishes include teak-spiced fish spread with plantain chips, citrus-tinged mahi tacos, a roasted Florida yard bird with jezebel sauce and a pan-roasted grouper with citrus herb risotto and a mandarin citrus sauce.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
What: A Polynesian-inspired rooftop tiki bar and restaurant
Where: Above Teak, at the westernmost end of the pier.
What to expect: Like Teak, the massive rooftop deck space overlooks Tampa Bay and features two bars — one facing Tampa and the other facing downtown St. Petersburg. At full capacity, the space can accommodate 400 people, though with the current social distancing guidelines that figure will be significantly smaller to start.
Pitched as a modern tiki bar, the deck space is outfitted with fire pits and tiki torches, several tiki huts and tiki-themed accoutrements ranging from a 15-foot tiki god to 20 tiki totems, all sourced from local design firm Creative Arts and the St. Petersburg-based Tiki-Mondo.
On the menu: A rum-focused cocktail selection features twists on tiki classics like mai tais, rum runners and zombies. A list of frozen libations includes boozy frozen lemonade, strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas. A selection of beers and wines on tap are also served. Drink-friendly snacks include popcorn coconut shrimp, buffalo chicken wings, mahi ceviche with plantain chips and watermelon, and a barbecue chicken flatbread with chimichurri.
Hours: 10 a.m.-midnight Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
What: A casual grab-and-go cafe concept from Chuck Prather.
Where: At the far end of the pier, underneath Teak.
What to expect: The small grab-and-go coffee shop sits directly under Teak near the main fishing dock and features a selection of breakfast and lunch items available all day. Guests can either grab a seat at one of the tables outside the cafe or take their food and drinks to-go and spread out in one of the nearby grassy areas overlooking the bay.
On the menu: The menu here is focused on casual cafe fare and espresso drinks from Counter Culture Coffee, smoothies, ice cream, milkshakes and shaved ice. Croissant sandwiches, avocado toasts and pastries are served for breakfast. Lunch and all-day dishes include sandwiches, salads, pizzas and charcuterie picnic platters.
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Spa Beach Bistro
What: A casual bar and cafe with a focus on lighter fare and pizza.
Where: Next to the splash pad and Spa Beach.
What to expect: The casual, grab-and-go outdoor cafe in Pier Plaza overlooks the splash pad and is steps away from the pier’s beach. The pavilion features shaded tables and chairs where guests can sit and eat while the kids play.
On the menu: The pizzas take a design-your-own assembly line format where guests can pick a number of toppings and sauces before the pies get tossed in the oven and cooked. The adjoining bar features wine and beer on tap and guests are welcome to take their drinks to-go.
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.