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Pinellas Park guide: An international food tour, from dim sum to hot pot

Whether you’re craving tacos or Turkish delights, flavors from around the globe can be found in these eateries and grocery stores.
 
Budae Jjigae - Kimchi soup with vegetables, pork, spam and ramen, with Korean side dishes at Dooriban, 600 66th St N. in St. Petersburg.
Budae Jjigae - Kimchi soup with vegetables, pork, spam and ramen, with Korean side dishes at Dooriban, 600 66th St N. in St. Petersburg. [ Times (2018) ]
Published Aug. 28, 2023|Updated Oct. 9, 2023

Note: This guide first appeared in our email newsletter series, One Day in Tampa Bay. Subscribe to that newsletter and check out our other offerings at tampabay.com/newsletters.

We hope you packed an appetite for this trip to Pinellas Park.

Sure, there are busy roads with treacherous turns, too much traffic and a seemingly endless variety of hookah lounges and pawn shops. But nestled throughout the strip malls of this city, you’ll find one of the most vibrant multicultural food scenes in Florida.

You don’t need to book a flight to embark on an international culinary tour — just head to the middle of Pinellas County.

According to the 2020 census, the Asian population in Pinellas Park is 9.9%, and you’ll find tons of delicious Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean and Chinese food in the area. There’s also a lot of great Middle Eastern and Hispanic spots to check out.

Times tip: The three main thoroughfares where you’ll spend your time are 49th Street, 66th Street and Park Boulevard. And while it might not be the most bike-friendly area or conducive to a leisurely stroll (you’ll want a car for this journey), spend some quality time here and we promise you’ll fall in love with this culinary smorgasbord.

Mexican

Chicken tacos and carnitas are served at Mexico Lindo, in Pinellas Park.
Chicken tacos and carnitas are served at Mexico Lindo, in Pinellas Park. [ HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times ]

The grocery store portion of Mexico Lindo Supermarket is filled with juices, chiles, spices, pinatas and sweets. In the back, you’ll find a small walk-up counter that serves burritos, tacos, horchata and more.

  • What to order: Carnitas, pollo or al pastor tacos. Each costs a little over $1 and comes on a warm corn tortilla topped with diced onion and cilantro.

Huaraches, the specialty at El Huarache Veloz, feature masa dough folded around smashed black beans that gets fried until golden and crispy.

  • What to order: The carne asada version is topped with thick strips of grilled steak, scallions, nopales (prickly pear cactus), queso fresco, cilantro and a fiery red salsa.

Vietnamese

Bap xao bo, or corn stir-fried with butter, is served at Quan Ngon in Pinellas Park.
Bap xao bo, or corn stir-fried with butter, is served at Quan Ngon in Pinellas Park. [ HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times ]

Quan Ngon is a modern, casual cafe featuring Vietnamese specialties. It has an entire section devoted to escargot (snail) dishes, including one stir-fried with garlic butter and another served with salted eggs.

  • What to order: Bap xao bo, a crunchy, buttery side of stir-fried corn, and banh mi muoi ot, an open-faced pork floss sandwich. And don’t forget the Vietnamese coffee. You can get a salted version topped with cheese foam and coffee boba, but the classic is strong and sweet enough to stand out on its own.

Le’s Baguette bakes its own bread on-site, making it one of the best spots to grab a banh mi in the area.

  • What to order: You can’t go wrong with the classic dac biet, or special cold cut combo, made with cold cuts, sliced pork and liver pate and topped with a bouquet of pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber and plenty of cilantro.

It might not look like much from the outside, but Pho Kien Giang serves some of the best Vietnamese food around in a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.

  • What to order: Pork spring rolls, bun bo hue (a spicy beef and pork noodle soup) and pho dac biet (a clear beef broth soup with vermicelli noodles).

Thai

Thai Curry Puff, made with ground chicken breast, potato, onion mixed with curry powder and wrapped in a pastry shell, served with cucumber salad, is offered at Patti's Kitchen, Pinellas Park.
Thai Curry Puff, made with ground chicken breast, potato, onion mixed with curry powder and wrapped in a pastry shell, served with cucumber salad, is offered at Patti's Kitchen, Pinellas Park. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times (2020) ]

Find Bangkok-style street noodles at Patti’s Kitchen and don’t be afraid to dial up the spice.

  • What to order: Flaky Thai curry puffs to start and coconut cream cake for dessert. We love the duck noodle soup, tiew ped toon, and the restaurant’s signature noodle soup, tiew nam tok, served with a hearty pork broth and topped with crispy pork rinds.

Kao Thai Kitchen features creative twists on Thai cuisine in a chic and modern setting. The restaurant also sports a great takeout and delivery game, if you’re not looking to dine in.

  • What to order: Khao pad sapparod (pineapple curried fried rice), salmon ga prow (grilled salmon with spicy basil sauce) and Chiang Mai curried noodles.

Map

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Chinese

While dim sum is traditionally served for breakfast and lunch, it’s offered all day at Ha Long Bay. With gentle music playing and a flowing waterfall, it’s also a great place for a quiet and peaceful meal.

  • What to order: Turnip cake, Chinese broccoli and barbecue pork buns.

Korean

The chicken teriyaki lunch box at Dooriban, 600 66th St N. in St. Petersburg.
The chicken teriyaki lunch box at Dooriban, 600 66th St N. in St. Petersburg. [ Times (2018) ]

Nestled inside a former drive-thru restaurant, Dooriban features a powerhouse selection of Korean dishes, most accompanied by a bevy of banchan bowls, including fermented cabbage, radish kimchi and others.

  • What to order: Seafood pancakes, kimchi soup and beef bulgogi.

Hot pot and Korean barbecue fans will fall hard for Nine Spices Hot Pot, which offers a buffet-style selection of add-ons and fixings.

  • What to order: Spicy-style hot pot and beef with black pepper.

Middle Eastern

Cedars does double duty as a restaurant and Middle Eastern grocery store. You can shop for your Turkish delight, halawa and pomegranate syrup before heading next door for dinner.

  • What to order: Kibbeh, falafel sandwich and mixed grill plate.

Filipino

Emmanuel Eesa Octubre, 6, left, and Cza Cza Astapan, settle in for a meal while celebrating Emmanuel's birthday with a plate of Jolly Spaghetti on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Jollibee, the Filipino multinational fast food restaurant in Pinellas Park.
Emmanuel Eesa Octubre, 6, left, and Cza Cza Astapan, settle in for a meal while celebrating Emmanuel's birthday with a plate of Jolly Spaghetti on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Jollibee, the Filipino multinational fast food restaurant in Pinellas Park. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Yes, it’s fast food, but the spicy fried chicken at Jollibee really can’t be beat.

  • What to order: Spicy Chickenjoy, Aloha Yumburger and peach mango pie.

We love popping into Tindahang Pinoy, a variety grocer with a petite restaurant tucked in the back specializing in traditional Filipino fare.

  • What to order: Lechon kawali (fried pork belly), chicken adobo and kare kare (a stew thickened with peanut butter).

5 things to do in Pinellas Park while you’re digesting

  • Go grocery shopping at our favorite international stores: MD Oriental Market, DeCosmo Italian Market, Aladdin Mediterranean Market and Euro Produce Market.
  • Shop for discounted cologne at the Perfume Shoppe, which stocks both modern favorites and those nostalgic scents you coveted during your high school years.
  • Browse supplies for model planes, trains and automobiles at Phil’s Hobby Shop.
  • Have a rootin’-tootin’ time at Spencer’s Western World, home of Amish-made belts, leather goods, giant belt buckles, boots and cowboy hats.
  • Walk down memory lane at Sound Exchange, a full-service record shop packed with vinyl records, cassettes, video games, DVDs and classic stereo equipment.

Check out our other local guides

Contact Gabrielle Calise at gcalise@tampabay.com. Follow @gabriellecalise. Contact Helen Freund at hfreund@tampabay.com. Follow @helenfreund.