Downtown #2

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What’s not to love about downtown St. Pete? With some of the Tampa Bay Area’s best restaurants and drinking establishments, all within walking distance of each other, there’s a host of reasons to take your tastebuds on a tour of the area. Don’t forget to share the experience with friends, family, and followers using the hashtag #healthystpete! Click here to load this tour’s stops in Google Maps.

DT2_STOP1Stop 1: Margaritas in a Courtyard Cantina ! 

In Spain, cantinas are typically known as the worker’s watering hole, but this is St. Pete, and you don’t have to be leaving the office for one of Red Mesa’s libations. As Laura Riley of the Tampa Bay Times writes, this spot is ideal for “a stylish margarita… and snatched conversation.”

Answer the call of their Cucumber Margarita; this refreshing drink is a mixture of Hornitos Plata Tequila, fresh muddled cucumber, cilantro, lime, and agave nectar, served adorned with a cumin salt rim. Besides helping replenish the skin, cucumbers also curb the appetite. What’s not to like about that? As one Yelp user says, “I highly recommend it.”

DT2_STOP2Stop 2: Homely Hors d’Hoeuvres and an Intimate Affair ! 

A few blocks up 3rd St and over Central Ave is Brick & Mortar. It’s one catering couple’s restaurant dream and it’s proven their culinary chops as chefs. Having already climbed its way into the Tampa Bay Time’s Top 50 Restaurants 2016 Edition, the intimate restaurant is a great place for an appetizer.

On Zomato, you’ll find reviews like, “If you’re a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ and value the importance of the freshest ingredients and handmade pasta, then Brick & Mortar is a must.” They fill a niche for rustic, yet elegant flavors, like their Farm House Flatbread. It’s house made with a fresh pesto comprised of local greens and herbs. Also covered in roasted mushrooms, parmesan, goat cheese and reduced balsamic, the bread may be flat, but you’ll still get a rise out of all its flavors.

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Stop 3: A Feast Fit for a Samurai ! 

Souzou is a whole ‘nother world with its Far East fusions. Like the previous stop, it’s also one of Tampa Bay Times’ Top 50 Restaurants for 2016. Its architecture and design is a sophisticated black and silver with organic contrasts. One TripAdvisor user declared it their “favorite new place in Downtown St. Pete.” Why? “The menu is creative and by far my best choice for Chicken Ramen.”

Start with edamame, spicy or not, while you wait and follow that with a bowl of the irresistible Japanese noodle soup. We’re sure there’s some health conscious joke waiting to be made about eating bamboo shoots, but, also served with bok choy, scallions, and a marinated egg, Souzou’s Chicken Ramen is no joke.

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Stop 4: The Return to Something Sweet ! 

Destination dessert: IL Ritorno is fittingly Italian for “the return.” Make your way back down 5th Street for the #1 Italian restaurant in the Tampa Bay Times and a Top 10 overall — basically, a St. Pete gem. Creative Loafing Tampa’s restaurant critic Jon Palmer Cartridge agrees, writing, “If you seek bold but nuanced flavors, this is your kind of Italian… the dessert is out of this world.”

Tahitian Vanilla Bean Mousse is a mouthful, but wait, get this, it comes with everyone’s favorite hazelnut spread in the form of housemade Nutella gelato. “To die for” and “a terrific experience” says one Yelp user. The Callebaut chocolate shell and salted caramel set this one over the top.

DT2_STOP5Stop 5: A Caffeinated Cocktail Pick-Me-Up ! 

Who says dessert has to end there? “Pouring our spirits to raise yours” is Mandarin Hide’s motto and their Espresso Martini, a modern dessert cocktail, does exactly that. It’s made with OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka, Kahlua, creme de cacao, and fresh espresso from local St. Pete brewers Kahwa Coffee — a nice touch.

Only a couple blocks further on Central Ave, this quaint little spot with a speakeasy feel is a craft cocktail haven. “The attention to detail every cocktail receives is what helps make this place a true gem,” reads one Yelp review, before going on to rave that, “The Espresso Martini is one of the best I’ve ever had and definitely helps with a pick-me-up to finish the night.”

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