My best friend Mark left today after a two-week vacation. As always, we had a great time. Whether we were out and about in downtown St. Pete or chillin’ with Sherwin in Tampa, we always know how to have a good time. And if I could only record some of our conversations and podcast them; they’re just that interesting.
Now that Mark’s left, I wanted to take a moment and brag (again) about how great the ‘burg is. To think that just a few years ago, the only spot around here I could get a good drink at was The Cockney Rebel (ah, those were the days. That place had a 3-4-1 happy hour. Mark, my ex Erin and I lived around the corner and we took full advantage of that proximity). Now, we still have The Cockney Rebel, only its called Limey’s — and how cool is it to see this neighborhood bar become a hotspot — along with dozens of other great bars and restaurants that have taken root over the last five years. Over the last two weeks…
Mark and I met his ex Kristina and her insanely hot friend at Cafe Alma for a couple of Pacifico’s. We didn’t get there until midnight, but Alma was still open. If you live in a big city, you’re probably wondering why I am amazed that a restaurant was still open that late, but if you live in St. Pete you know that few places stay open past 10:00.
Open very late is the ultra-hot Ceviche. Not the Tampa Ceviche, the St. Pete Ceviche. That’s right, little brother St. Pete grew up and got its own Ceviche. It’s in the spot that used to be occupied by Ten Beach Drive, although it’s a dramatic improvement over that. Actually, it’s got an upstairs-downstairs component with food served at the perfectly appointed upstairs restaurant, and drinks and salsa dancing stirring underneath. This place is hot.
If you want a place where you can just chill out and enjoy some world-class draught, then you have to stop by The Independent bar at Jannus Landing or head over to the just-opened Old Northeast Tavern on 7th Avenue. Both places have a relaxed vibe and wide selections. My buddy Sherwin had a beer with us at the former and I think it met his high standards.
I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention the best bartender in town — Jason at Marino’s/Martini bar. Let’s just put it this way, the guy knows how to pour a drink.
As for the best restaurant in St. Pete, that is, without question Pacific Wave. Mark stopped in several times for sushi. Along with that, the food is among the most interesting being served in all of Tampa Bay. And let’s just say, the service is impeccable.
Of course, no visit from Mark would be complete without a dinner out at Bonefish Grille. I am not there as regularly as I used to be, but the staff still remembers me from my heyday (and when I would date the occasional server). The hostesses at BFG are as delicious as the food, and if I have my way, my next love will be the appropriately named Rose. If getting past the door wasn’t hard enough, it’s difficult not to be entranced by any number of the gorgeous women that work on the floor at BFG. Mark and I were transfixed by Crystal and Katie, while Carolyn used her grace and beauty to make our time at the bar all the more enjoyable.
It always sucks when Mark has to leave town. He’s such a good friend. Along with him, I am blessed with my two other best friends, Eric and Sherwin, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their friendship.