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Places to Dine in St Petersburg/Clearwater Where You Won't Break the Bank



Let’s face it. Everyone likes to go out to eat. Not only is it often a “social happening,” but sometimes it’s a necessity when we haven’t planned accordingly for the next meal. But, going out to eat can be expensive – unless you have a handle on which restaurants offer value for what they serve and won't break your bank.

Fortunately, St Petersburg and Clearwater have many options where you can get a satisfying meal for under $10. Some are "Mon and Pop," hole-in-the-wall places, which serve ethnic cuisine -  like the wonderful Zaytoon Grille where you can feast on authentic Mediterranean fare.

While you’re taking in one of the area’s best beaches, Paradise Grille and Kooky Coconuts are the perfect solution because not only are you just steps from the shore, you get a tasty, affordable meal to take with you, if you wish.

For something a little fancier, The Frog Pond and Stella’s combine tasty food with reasonable prices and South Pasadena’s Comfort Café offers a cozy neighborhood touch to the dining experience.

The ultimate adventure can be found at Mazzarro Italian Market where you can spend a long time poring over their freshly-made offerings, which can be savored on the premises or packaged up to enjoy at home.

Here's a list of places which offer the perfect blend of value and tasty food.

 


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10
Indian Rocks Beach
Kooky Coconut
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

If 32 flavors of locally made ice cream, served in a variety of "old-fashioned" ways, along with a good selection of burgers and dogs are what you're looking for, then this is your kind of place. Set in a small, funky "shack," along Indian Rocks Beach, Kooky Coconut also happens to have a surprising selection of Cuban and Mexican favorites which includes: tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tasty guacamole. Cuban sandwiches include the popular Tampa Cuban, layered with mojo marinated roast pork, ham, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese and sauce tucked into a hot pressed, freshly made Cuban bun. The Reuben Cuban combines corned beef, Swiss cheese and Reuben sauce. A small outdoor umbrella-shaded patio allows for outdoor or indoor dining.

Recommended for Best Value because: The food is tasty and very easy to transport to the serene beach, located just steps from this popular little hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

Michelle's expert tip: Ice cream lovers should delve into the variety of locally-made flavors. Banana splits, frothy milkshakes and root beer floats are sure to bring back sweet childhood memories.

Read more about Kooky Coconut →


Paradise Grille Upham Beach
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Set on Upham Beach, one of St Pete Beach's best "swimming holes," this casual, walk-up counter offers an amazing selection of tasty breakfast and lunch treats throughout the day. On weekends, you'll even get live music! Start your day with a range of breakfast options featuring egg platters, breakfast sandwiches, French toast and buttermilk pancakes accompanied by bacon or sausage. Lunch-goers will enjoy shrimp, fish and chips, salads, sandwiches, wraps and what's often described as the "best burgers in town." Refreshing drinks include sodas, beer, juices and smoothies. A pleasant patio dining area offers umbrella-shaded picnic tables with easy access to the beach.

Recommended for Best Value because: It's the perfect stop when planning a day at the beach as located on one of the finest in the area.

Michelle's expert tip: If you're to go to the beach in addition to dining here, be sure to arrive early as the metered-parking spaces fill up quickly.

Read more about Paradise Grille Upham Beach →


8
St. Petersburg
Taco Bus
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

You might not expect to find authentic Mexican food being served from a stationary school bus, but that's exactly what you'll get at this unique Taco Bus. Tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, tortas (typical Mexican sandwiches on freshly baked "telera" rolls) line up with hardier choices such as "carnitas," (shredded pork), carne asada (marinated steak) and a selection of chicken dishes to sate your craving for Mexican food. Leading the list of desserts, delve into typical sweet treats such as sopapillas (warm pillows of fried dough drizzled with honey) and guava cheesecake. Traditional Mexican soft drinks and refreshments including horchata (made from rice, condensed milk, vanilla and cinnamon). Food is freshly made and the menu includes vegetarian choices as well as a childrens' menu.

Recommended for Best Value because: The food is the "real deal," and the selection is extremely varied, considering you're getting it from a bus!

Michelle's expert tip: The chicken dishes are especially popular, so be sure to try one of the selections.

Read more about Taco Bus →


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7
St. Pete Beach
Willy's
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Burgers, beer, sandwiches, seafood and a variety of other "comfort" foods are served starting at 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. in this late-hour, popular St Pete Beach hangout. Popular with locals as well as visitors, it does tend to become rowdy as the day goes on. The atmosphere is definitely laid-back and very rustic but patrons don't seem mind as the price is right and the food is tasty. Special favorites tend to be the burgers – and they offer a variety – as well as the wings and buffalo shrimp. Try the "Big Gooey" hamburger and baked beans. They're a favorite! An indoor-outdoor bar is hopping into the wee hours.

Recommended for Best Value because: Willy's offers easy access from the beach or boating and it's a casual place with good food at reasonable prices.

Michelle's expert tip: Seating is limited and it can get rowdy, so bring your patience along with an appetite when you go.

Read more about Willy's →


6
St. Pete Beach
Woody's Waterfront
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond


Sandwiches, burgers, salads, fresh seafood, pizza, wraps and other treats are staples of the Woody's Waterfront dining experience. The price is right, the food is tasty and the drinks are frosty... and flowing. Sitting along Blind Pass with tranquil views of the Gulf of Mexico, it's a family-friendly, casual type of place with a definite 50's vibe. It started out in 1945 as a bait house for local fisherman and has morphed into a colorful hang-out for anyone in search of good food at affordable prices. The menu is ample and happy hour offers half off on some snacks as well as a range of frosty drinks.

Recommended for Best Value because: The setting on the water is the perfect backdrop for the laid-back atmosphere and reasonable food served there.

Michelle's expert tip: This is a cash-only establishment. No credit or debit cards are accepted, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Read more about Woody's Waterfront →


5
South Pasadena
The Comfort Cafe
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Tasty homemade cooking with priced aimed to please served in a very cozy ambiance is what you'll find in this small South Pasadena restaurant. It doesn't look like much for the outside, but the dining experience is memorable. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. menu offerings feature a selection of true "comfort" options. Breakfast staples range from eggs, bacon, sausage, muffins, pancakes, croissants, biscuits and gravy and a variety of pancakes. The lunch menu features a variety of fresh salads, wraps, burgers and a host of sandwiches. The friendly staff and good service are just an added bonus!

Recommended for Best Value because: It's a cozy little place, the food is good and prices are very reasonable.

Michelle's expert tip: Try the creamy house potatoes as your side dish instead of home fries. They're made with their "secret" cheese sauce and are delicious..

Read more about The Comfort Cafe →


4
St. Pete Beach
The Frog Pond
Photo courtesy of The Frog Pond


This popular St Pete Beach eatery has been drawing locals as well as residents since it opened in this location in 1982. The casual, family-friendly atmosphere offers a good selection of favorites, at very reasonable prices. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menu offers breakfast staples in addition to a roster of eggs Benedicts, a long list of omelets, quiches, Belgian waffles and other favorites. Lunch items feature soups and sandwiches. A special menu if available for "tadpoles," (ages 10 and under). The whimsical frog decor adds to the ambiance. Bring a hardy appetite as portions are huge – although "doggy" bags are encouraged. Open daily, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. A second Frog Pond is located in North Redington Beach.

Recommended for Best Value because: It's been a mainstay of St Pete Beach since 1982 and is a "must" whenever you're in the mood for good food at affordable prices.

Michelle's expert tip: If you're going for breakfast, get there early or be prepared to wait for a table. This is a very popular place!

Read more about The Frog Pond →


Stella's
Photo courtesy of Stella's


Located in the charming waterfront town of Gulfport, Stella's is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Known as the "Cheers of Gulfport," the restaurant has been getting rave reviews since it opened in 2009. Breakfast is served throughout the day and guests can belly up to the comfy indoor counter, or opt for outdoor seating along the quiet, shaded street with views of Boca Ciega Bay in the distance. Breakfast favorites include signature homemade corned beef hash, fried green tomatoes, southern shrimp and grits and more. The omelet station is where you can order freshly made omelets or Benedicts, made to order. Luncheon palate pleasers feature burgers, wraps, Reuben's, and a freshly made quiche du jour. Pets are also welcome! There's even a dog bone menu for your furry, four-legged companions.

Recommended for Best Value because: The setting is charming, the food is tasty and the price is right!

Michelle's expert tip: If you have furry four-legged friends, bring them along, too - they love the bacon!

Read more about Stella's →


Mazzaro Italian Market
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond


Lose yourself amidst aisles studded with fine wines, cheeses, take-home homemade pasta dishes, decadent pastries, brick-oven-baked breads and more in this heavenly Italian-style market. You can grab something to go, or savor your tasty purchases on a charming adjoining patio. An ample lunch menu boasts everything from soups to salads and hot or cold sandwiches, wraps and paninis. If you're a cheese aficionado, more than 300 varieties from around the world are sure to satisfy the most discerning palate, while the deli features a variety of freshly made treats. Coffee beans from around the world, soothing pastries and a host of gourmet imports are sure to fill your shopping cart.

Recommended for Best Value because: It's more than a place to get fresh, delicious food - it's an experience.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to check out the cheese room for a selection of more than 300 cheeses from around the world.

Read more about Mazzaro Italian Market →


1
St. Petersburg
Zaytoon Grill
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

Tucked into a small space on Central Avenue, Zaytoon Grille showcases freshly made authentic Mediterranean cuisine in a pleasant, no-frills setting. Open since 2015, this family-owned restaurant treats adventurous palates to homemade specialties ranging from falafel, babaghanoush and tahini appetizers to zestier dishes such as the shawarma bowl (made with basmati rice topped with chicken or beef shawarma, cucumber, tomato salad and sautéed onion with a dollop of tasty garlic sauce). Another favorite - the kabob platter - offers marinated chicken, beef, lamb or kefta skewered and cooked to order and served with basmati rice, grilled and a side of your choice. Wraps, salads and delicious desserts top the list.

Recommended for Best Value because: This Mediterranean cuisine is personally made by Jerusalem-born owner/chef Waleed Khalel. He and wife Mary are the ultimate hosts.

Michelle's expert tip: Try the falafel sandwich made to order with fresh pita, hummus, cucumber and tomato salad. It's truly to die for!

Read more about Zaytoon Grill →


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Meet Michelle da Silva Richmond

Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations. 

She has written hundreds of articles...  More About Michelle

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