St. Petersburg, Florida (or St. Pete Beach) is chock-full of casual eateries and bars that cater to fun-loving beach bums and frozen beverage aficionados. But beware of less-than-local seafood and often underwhelming bites. Here are three of my favorites in the area that serve good grub in a stellar location.
PCI Bar & Grill
This renovated motor inn is a stylish and affordable lodging option for oceanside digs in St. Petersburg. Set on the beach, the hotel's restaurant and bar has the perfect setting for sipping fresh lime and agave margaritas. The BBQ joint makes a mean rack of ribs, or try their signature BBQ grouper with mango raspberry chutney and citrus mango puree.
Salt Rock Grill
Chef Tom Pritchard's famous surf and turf is where tourist and locals head for fine dining in the area. Located in Indian Shores, this grill is known for their mouth-watering, in-house aged, 1,200-degree steaks. What's even better? They partner with local fishermen to provide the freshest, caught-hours-ago seafood around. My advice? Ask for a seat by the window for some great views (or sit outside if the weather permits) and order the local catch. The wine list is award-winning, too, so splurge on your vino.
Red Mesa Cantina
Fancy yourself a tequila connoisseur? Red Mesa Cantina has a mind-boggling list to enjoy straight up, in a margarita, by the flight, or something in-between like a "sangrita" – a spicy tomato chaser with a side of chile salt with orange and lime slices. The fresh modern Mexican cuisine is solid here – I love the ceviche sampler, and the meaty tacos feature handmade tortillas. Of course Florida brings warm weather, and I believe it's a proven fact that all tequila-based beverages are better enjoyed on patios: The Red Mesa Cantina's lush courtyard is lit in the evening, providing the perfect place for a cool adult beverage.