We’re just over six months in, but 2021 has already been a blockbuster year for new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. In St. Petersburg, many of the openings included long-stalled projects originally planned for 2020 but put on hold because of the pandemic. From new food halls to fast-casual European imports, tiki-themed cocktail lounges to modern Cuban takeout spots, here are some of the ‘burg’s buzziest restaurants.
Burnt Ends Tiki Bar
An offshoot of Dr. BBQ, this tiki-focused cocktail bar occupies the space upstairs from the St. Petersburg restaurant. The tiki theme is strong, from the rum-forward cocktail menu to the Polynesian-themed bar bites, dark red decor and thatched roof awning — not to mention the massive 8-foot moai-like statue of Dr. BBQ himself, Ray Lampe. Come for the breezy balcony seating, stay for the potent Mai Tais and linger over snacks like burnt ends bao buns and gochujang sticky ribs.
1101 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. 727-443-7227. drbbqs.com.
DalMoros Fresh Pasta To Go
Fresh pasta in a box, to-go — that’s more or less the shtick at this Central Avenue newcomer, and the first of multiple franchises planned for the U.S. from the Venice, Italy-based fast-casual eatery. The restaurant follows a familiar assembly-line format where guests pick a pasta, mix it with a sauce and throw in some extras. All the dishes are served in the restaurant’s signature paper box to-go containers, and though there are a few seats available along a narrow hallway in the rear and a table or two outside, this really is designed to be a takeout restaurant. Pro tip: Grab a slice of tiramisu on your way out the door.
653 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-851-9320. stpetersburg.dalmoros.us.
Fala Portugues? Dining at this new St. Petersburg restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ll buff up your Portuguese vocabulary. To start, you could order the pasteis de bacalhau — salted codfish fritters served with a spicy crimson dipping sauce — or the chourico a bombeiro, a snappy pork sausage that’s flambeed tableside and then left to burn until the flames die out. You could move on to the bife na pedra, a steak cooked — once again — tableside over a blazing hot stone served with garlicky chimichurri, or better yet, the polvo a lagareiro, a showstopper broiled octopus dish smothered in onions, peppers and Portuguese olive oil. To drink, you might go for a crisp and light vinho verde, and for dessert, you should spring for the pasteis de belem — silky egg custard tarts imported straight from the source. A plane ticket to Lisbon may soon be on the horizon, but in the meantime you’ve got plenty of Portuguese wonder to explore right here.
435 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 727-346-5389. fadofl.com.
Felicia Lacalle made a name for herself slinging Cuban sandwiches and creative Latin mashups at her popular fast-casual spot Hemingway’s, inside Armature Works’ Heights Public Market in Tampa. Now, her modern Cuban concept Kuba Cocina has found a new home in St. Pete Beach. The grab-and-go spot is the first of two restaurants planned this year — the second is opening inside the original Refinery space in Tampa’s Seminole Heights this fall. Fans of Lacalle’s cooking will find plenty to love, from the “Kuban” fried rice to lobster empanadas, plantain-crusted snapper sandwiches and guava-stuffed tres leches cake. Soon, there will be sangria to-go. For now, you can cool off after a long day at the beach with a mango or mamey milkshake.
7525 Blind Pass Road, St. Pete Beach. 813-255-1241. kubacocina.com.
Arguably one of 2021′s most-anticipated restaurant openings, chef Jeffrey Jew’s new Nordic- and Asian-themed spot is currently enjoying a healthy dose of buzz, and for good reason. Jew looked to his Chinese and Norwegian heritage when designing his ambitious solo venture, and diners can expect a modern aesthetic coupled with a menu that deftly fuses ingredients like Szechuan peppercorns and five spice with fennel pollen and aquavit. What was initially planned as a tiered opening starting with breakfast and lunch has given way to a dinner-only service (for now), and folks would be wise to make reservations in advance.
400 Sixth St. S, St. Petersburg. 727-265-1509. lingrrestaurant.com.
The eagerly awaited second location for popular bagel spot Pete’s General is now serving bagel sandwiches, coffee and other baked goods. The brand new Grand Central District hub, a much larger offshoot of the original, functions as the main bakery space for the burgeoning bagel-baking operation and includes a selection of all the Historic Round Lake Park flagship’s bagel sandwiches, including a few new menu items. They were recently joined by Paulina Gervasi of the local croissant popup Le Clementine Bakeshop, who will be selling a rotating selection of her popular French-inspired pastries and other treats, inducing brioche, morning buns, croissants and brownies.
2361 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. petesgeneral.com.
Sammy + Paco’s
The new bakery and cafe from the team behind Lolita’s Wine Market (and the since-shuttered Sophia’s) has brought a breath of fresh air to the ‘burg’s breakfast, brunch and lunch scene. The casual counter-service spot features creative spins on breakfast classics including an avocado toast topped with crispy prosciutto and tomato confit, a pressed egg sandwich on Cuban bread and a coconut-crusted tres leches French toast filled with guava and topped with rum-caramelized bananas. Lunchtime brings salads, sandwiches and heartier fare like a rib brisket burger topped with mojo-roasted pork, Muenster cheese, pickled red onions and chimichurri. Soon, the spot will debut a market component where guests can grab precooked dishes and drinks, including beer and wine, to-go.
2735 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 727-329-9783. facebook.com/sammyandpacos.
Chris Ciarcia’s ambitious new restaurant sits in the most unusual of places — directly above the bumping downtown grind of St. Petersburg’s 200 block of Central Avenue. Outside on the balcony, you’ve got a bird’s-eye view of the nightlife action, but inside the sleek new space it’s possible to feel worlds away. Ciarcia was the sommelier and longtime manager at nearby wine darling Annata, so it should come as no surprise that wine — and a list that features a selection just shy of 200 by the bottle and 60 by the glass — is the highlight here. Chef Christopher Stockwell (formerly of Parkshore Grill) has designed a refined New American and Italian menu with pairings in mind, featuring charcuterie boards, handmade pastas and a rotating list of daily specials, which often feature the day’s freshest catch.
241 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-827-7896. sauvignonstpete.com.
St. Petersburg natives Rob Bowen and Jason Teabout opened their globally inspired “scratch kitchen” as an homage to their travels abroad. Executive chef Susan Burdian (formerly of Strandhill Public) helped design the globe-trotting menu, and the concept largely hinges on international takes of different chicken dishes. These include a Thai-inspired Khao Soi (a coconut curry chicken noodle soup); a Peruvian roast chicken with a zingy pio pio sauce; a southwestern chicken Cobb salad; and a North African chicken tagine served with apricots, lime-mint yogurt and couscous. As the name implies, getting social at the bar here is half the fun, and a creative cocktail program provides a good excuse to linger over a drink or two.
150 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 727-202-6113. eatatsocialroost.com.