By Java and Dune

Saturday, October 30, 2010

El Cap

3500 4th St N, St Petersburg, FL 33704
Tel: (727) 521-1314

The burgers are tasty and the shoestring potatoes are an absolute must. El Cap is a St. Petersburg landmark worth visiting, but be prepared for the fact that the service is a little brusque. People, especially sports fans, love to hang out here with friends. Dress your handmade all beef burger or cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, etc. The ketchup and mustard are on the table within easy reach. Other bar food is available, as well as cold beer. A steady stream of people makes weekends difficult to find a seat in the dining room or a spot in the parking lot. The feeling among diners is relaxed and casual.

El Cap on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 29, 2010

Gennaro's Ristorante Italiano & Pizzeria

2004 Pass-A-Grille Way, St. Pete Beach, FL. Tel. 360-0563
Heading home after a fun day at the beach we spotted a sign for Gennaro's Pizza. We hadn't been there before, but it looked homey so we went in. Long story short, we had a terrific dinner. I went around raving about the food to all my friends and soon discovered that I wasn't alone in my thinking. This little storefront restaurant has been around for awhile and it is better than ever. For me the hard part is deciding between the pizzas, all are delicious served on an elevated tray at your table. or the spinach, garlic and oil served over penne. But they have everything; Subs, soups, salads, veal dishes, shrimp alfredo....okay enough. I've never had enough room left for dessert but have always wanted to try the Cannolli. Give it a try it and let me know how good it tastes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fresh Market

2900 4th Street North St. Petersburg, FL
Monday - Saturday 9-9
Sunday 10-8

The new Fresh Market opened in St. Petersburg this month with a lot of fanfare and yes, a few parking issues. The interior is upscale, clean and bright, festooned with pumpkins, sunflowers and robust Fall fruits and vegetables. This Fresh Market has the distinction of being the 100th store opened in the chain. I was in search of comfort food as I was headed to a dear friend's house whose father passed away over the weekend. The bakery drew my sweet tooth in and wouldn't let me go empty handed. I packed a new burlap Fresh Market bag with Orange Cranberry Walnut bread, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Almond Stuffed Sugar Cookies and imported English Breakfast Tea, preparing for an afternoon of photo sorting and reminiscing. The Whoopie Pies went first, because well, who doesn't love spice cake sandwiched by a lovely cream center? Speaking of love, the not too sweet, but very satisfying Cranberry bread was a hit, and the cookies had a wonderful rich center that went along nicely with the tea. There was much more to experience in this brand new space, but the weekend crowd was a bit overwhelming for in depth shopping. Not sure there is anything new here, but the family owned business is bringing quality prepared foods and groceries under one roof. They deliver the goods, inspire the gourmet (or gourmand) in us, and maybe provided a little comfort to my friends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Museum of Fine Arts -- MFA Cafe

255 Beach Drive NE., St. Petersburg, FL. Tel. 822-1032

On recently becoming a member of the MFA I planned to take full advantage of everything it had to offer. The museum is very good at promoting their exhibits and gallery talks through both website and newsletter. Quite often though, there's the urge to explore first hand, take a closer look, and so I discovered the Cafe. Actually, I can't take any credit, it would be hard to miss. When the new Hazel Hough wing was built a cafe was placed in the very large atrium beneath a wall of windows that look out onto the sparkling waters of Tampa Bay. Ingenious! Who could resist wanting to dine on stark white tablecloths in such a setting. It oozes sophistication. I've found the lunches and dinners to be light and flavorful and am always pleasantly surprised by their presentation. Salads and seasonal soups are fresh and healthy, but a heartier meal can be had. Dine al fresco on the terrace beneath the palms even tour the museum when you're done. It's all worth the visit and you might even become a member! Prices are reasonable and there's no entrance fee to dine in the cafe or to visit the museum store.

M.F.A. Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Munch's Restaurant

3920 6th Street South St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Tel 727-896-5972

Munch's Restaurant has been around since 1952 and they've certainly perfected the "diner" experience. I was there on Sunday morning, along with many other people looking for a hearty breakfast. The interior is clean, well kept and takes you back to the fifties with its counter and booth service. The service is fast and friendly, so you won't have to wait long for these homemade dishes. You could sense that most of the people happily waiting for their order were on a return visit. I chose the Gulfport SOS which turned out to be a delicious mountain of toast, cheese grits, ham and eggs. They served it with a little parmesan cheese on the side, which added some tang. I don't usually like white toast, but the heat caramelized the ingredients into a irresistible combination. My friend ate every bite of his Field Hash (I had a smidge), a perfectly seasoned combination of pork sausage, onions, peppers, and spiced potatoes. Munch's is unique in their ability to improve upon classic fare. Breakfast entree prices were mostly under $7 and there was plenty to fill up on. I'll be back to indulge in the Munch Burger, their Fried Chicken and the Fried Green Tomatoes. I'll let you know how that goes.

Munch's Sundries on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bella Brava - The New World Trattoria

204 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, FL. Tel. 895-5515

The definition of trattoria is, 'an informal restaurant or tavern serving simple Italian dishes'. Bella Brava - The New World Trattoria offers cuisine that is far from simple. Yes, their menu offers the familiar pasta dishes that we know and love but there are many very creative dishes too. Such as the Lobster and White Truffle Mac-n-Cheese? Need I say more.
Thin crust pizza is made to order in their Woodstone stove. My dining partner and I shared a BLT pizza; gorgonzola cheese melted over pancetta, oven roasted tomatoes, arugula and red onion. Sounds light? It was, and delicious. We each had a salad, my friend had the conventional Caesar and I tried the House Misticanza, so green and fresh with a light citrus dressing. Very good. We each ordered a glass of pinot grigio and escaped with a check of less than $36 for two. If we hadn't been late for the MFA talk on Egyptian art we definitely would have stayed for dessert. Next time.
Bella's large corner location with outdoor seating sits just across the avenue from the new French restaurant, Cassis (see my review), creating a very festive corner. It might be my imagination but to me the food at Brava seems to taste better since their move to Beach Drive. At the moment Beach Drive is bringing out the best in a row of new restaurants and St. Petersburg residents are making the most of it.
Bella Brava - The New World Trattoria. Well, if this is the new world I want more!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Worden Farm

Saturday Morning Market
Downtown St. Petersburg
Al Lang Stadium/Progress Energy Park
1st Street & 1st Avenue South
Every Saturday, October - May

I went to one of my favorite spots at the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Petersburg last Saturday. I missed them the first week, but was very happy to see the return of the Worden Farm booth on my return trip. They only have organic offerings and all the choices are fresh, green and unlike some of the choices at the surrounding grocery stores --- local. The upscale restaurants I've visited throughout the country lately seem to be putting an emphasis on local farms and organic choices. Until recently it was a challenge to buy quality organic vegetables and fruits in St. Petersburg. At Worden's, I picked up a huge bag of basil, some kale and a bucket of zucchini. It seemed like everyone in this part of the market had an armload of fresh picked basil. Its fragrance was intoxicating, but a family of three has a hard time consuming this much of the delicious herb. So I made plans to have people over and set about figuring out what to cook. I visited the Worden Farm website and found a great recipe for pesto. Yes, some people think that pesto has a checkered past, based mainly on its meteoric rise and fall in popularity in the nineties. I remember a particularly cheeky friend announcing after a few glasses of wine, "pine nuts are very underrated," (circa 1996.) We all laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but we were caught up in the fervor of the era too. The simplicity of the recipe, mainly basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil and a quick whirl in the food processor makes pesto an easy meal. Add a little fettuccine, simple salad, some bread and "voila," you have something to impress your friends. Everyone loved the pesto and for me, it brought back a great decade to my mind, one that saw the debut of the Food Network, a Pottery Barn catalog in every mailbox, and a full set of Calphalon listed on every bridal registry.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dairy Inn

1201 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg, FL. Tel. 727-822-6971

Their slogan 'Almost famous since 1947' tells it all. Every generation, since its invention has loved soft serve ice cream and of course hard ice cream is available too, their claim is a choice of 90 flavors. Today, though, I'm not going to discuss the yumminess of ice cream but to tell you (what is to most) a well kept secret. The friend I met for breakfast today was raised in St.. Pete and she didn't even know this little secret. Here goes. Been to New Orleans? Loved those beignets? Well, of course you did and now you can run right over to the Dairy Inn on 9th St. N and have three on a plate for $1.99, add a small coffee and the whole deal is only $2.99. and they are good! The coffee's darned good too.
Of course, they're not exactly the same as those in New Orleans, but I attribute that to a lack of southern drawl from the next table and no flowing Mississippi River near by nor is there someone blowing Dixieland on a horn. Of course, if we had those things we wouldn't be in St. Pete., and we really like it here. For those on their way to work the kind cashier will place those beignets in a little white bag, nice and neat. Seating is at picnic tables and don't forget to take some home with you.
You'll need at least one bag per person. Yum.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Parkshore Grill

300 Beach Drive NE
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701


In my world, the Parkshore Grill is often the place for special meet ups with friends and this week was a shining example. My good friend Tracy is moving away and about a dozen or so of the St. Paul's "girls" had a farewell dinner for her. The restaurant staff set up a banquet table for us outside so that we could partake in the buzz that surrounds the sidewalk crowds. I enjoyed Chef Tyson's special pan roasted duck, seasoned with Asian spices and served with rice and veggies. The avocado tempura that accompanied the meal was a delicious first for me. There are wine suggestions listed with the entrees for people like me who recognize some of the wineries, but who are a bit indecisive when a committment has to be made. Those around me enjoyed the Hanger Steak and Fries, the Tomato and Buffalo Mozzerella Salad, Somona Goat Cheese Spinach Dip, and the Beef Carpaccio just to name a few of the menu items. Saying goodbye to Tracy was sad, but as we toasted, someone said, "our paths will cross again, they always do!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Moon Under Water

332 Beach Dr. St. Petersburg, FL Tel. 727-896-6160

Almost everyone, resident, snowbird, tourist, has been to The Moon Under Water and probably more than a few times. And why? Because you’re never disappointed. The food and drink are consistently good. Service, no matter how crowded, is always good. Prices are more than fair. So why am I writing about a place you already know about? To make sure that you’re not missing one of the best things about The Moon and that’s the Curry. Oh yes their fish and chips are enjoyed by many, their salads served in that taco shell are had by all. But the Curry, that takes some courage. They offer mild, and you can certainly begin with that, but don’t be afraid, next time move on to the hotter version. You’ll be glad you did. It’s a PUB, don’t forget, and those Brits love their Curry. Find out why. Enjoy it with the nain bread and a COLD draft beer. Okay, we don’t have to like everything the Brits like, do we?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spice Routes Global Soul Food

460 46th Av N, St. Petersburg, FL 33703

I first discovered Spice Routes at the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Petersburg. The booth was centrally located and their fresh, colorful dishes caught my eye immediately. When I was told they had a cafe at the Unity Church, I knew I had to give it a try. It turned out to be a wonderful place to meet, centrally located in St. Petersburg and just barely off the beaten path. No GPS needed to find the route to these exotic flavors. I had the Butternut Squash Salad which was comprised of fresh greens, roasted butternut squash, dried cranberry, walnuts, feta and onion. This healthful combination was dusted with paprika, so it not only tasted like Fall, it looked like it too. My friend had the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup and grilled cheese sandwich. The soup had a flavor reminiscent of chili, just the right smokiness and a little bit of tang. We shared a slice of Gooey Butter Cake which was light as air but rich in flavor. The iced African red tea was a refreshing compliment to the meal. Service was fast and very friendly. Prices for lunch start at $6.50. Takeout and delivery available.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Woody's Waterfront Cafe and Beach Bar

7308 Sunset Bay, St. Pete Beach, FL.
Tel. 727-360-9165

On Thursday I attended an art show, followed by a very pleasant social hour. I met up with a friend and as we walked together to the parking lot we decided that we needed No problem, we made a quick decision and took the short drive over to Gulfport. As we feared, it was too early for Gulfport, the town was DEAD and restaurants empty. So we moved on to a place we knew would be ALIVE…. St Pete Beach! As always, there was a crowd at Woody’s, and a table for two. Which was nice because most of the tables are picnic tables for six. Of course, sometimes you have to share. The menu consists of the regular barfare; chicken in the basket, wings, shrimp, but these guys go one step further….. this food is really good. We both had the fish and chips. I’ve never tasted better and for $6.95 they can’t be beat. Frozen drinks of different pastels are on almost every table. Oh yes, those tables and umbrellas are crowded onto a wooden deck that sits at the waters edge on Blind Pass looking towards the Gulf of Mexico. You can always catch a cool breeze at Woody’s and a little night music. Parking is available, no charge.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cassis American Brasserie

170 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL. 33701

The beautiful Cassis opened this summer at a terrific location, the corner of Beach Drive and 2nd Ave. NE. You can't miss the huge modern metal sculpture in the middle of a very large outside area with it’s typically French café chairs and huge umbrellas. You'll want to just sit and chat while watching the people go by, and you can because it’s still a sidewalk! (just like in Paris). The interior is just as lovely, stark white tablecloths contrast with the dark tables and seating. The large white globe ceiling lights give a feeling of yesterday. But the sophisticated decor is just the beginning because the service and the food are fantastic. Five of us were seated in a u-shaped booth. Made to order, it seated the five of us perfectly. Service is just right and not too fast, if you know what I mean. We had our drinks, time to decide on dishes from a terrific menu, and then just enough time to enjoy each other’s company before we were served, by more than one waiter I might add. Our meals, all hot, actually arrived at the same time. I had the grilled salmon on a bed of udon noodles that were crispy on one side encircled by three al dente baby bok choys all covered with a deliciously light ginger sauce. It’s the best meal I’ve had in at least 12 months, one of which was spent in Europe. What was I thinking! Everyone was very satisfied with their order. Best of call ahead. Reserve a table outside along the Beach Drive while the weather is still warm, there will be plenty of time later to eat inside. Almost forgot, take advantage of the valet service….why not! You are in for a wonderful evening.

Friday, October 15, 2010

La Petite France Mobile Creperie

Saturday Morning Market
Downtown St. Petersburg
Al Lang Stadium/Progress Energy Park
1st Street & 1st Avenue South
Every Saturday, October - May

One of the best booths at the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Petersburg is La Petite France Mobile Creperie. Not only do they offer delicious breakfast and lunch treats, but the vendor has decorated the mobile creperie to look as if it's parked on the coast of France. Watching the owner/operator create these tasty treats is definitely part of the experience. When he handed me a beautiful crepe and said "Merci," I felt transported to France. Well maybe, just for a second. Java and I shared La Crepe Tatin, a heavenly mix of cooked apples, caramel, pecans, and whipped cream artfully assembled on top of a well executed crepe. Choices range from the simple cinammon and sugar to a more complex mix of eggs, cheese and herbs. Quiche topped with fig preserves rounds out the menu. Prices range from $4 to $6. The brevity of the market and plethora of food offerings makes it difficult to choose an entree. I'm going back next week to sample some more. Quel dommage!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cafe Bohemia

937 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL.

How many cafes around the world have the name Bohemia? Wow, that many? Well, no need to travel so far, we have our very own cafe right here in old St. Pete. They might even look similar, a combination of avant garde, bohemian, hippy like. Hard to imagine this downtown until you see it for yourself. No coffee for me this time, although their espresso and homemade pastries are a draw so I will return soon. A friend suggested we meet for lunch at Bohemia and from the extensive menu I ordered a hummus wrap, served with their homemade German potato salad. Delicious. Everything is fresh and lots of vegan dishes on the menu. Catering? Yes. Movies? Yes. Full length films sponsored by St. Pete for Peace are shown on the patio, free. They invite you to bring your own chair since seating is limited.
This is a fun place, nothing flashy, but you're sure to have a good time. Bring an appetite, they're here to please. Wine and beer are available.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ABC Chinese Seafood Restaurant

2705 54th Avenue North #3, St. Petersburg, FL 33714

It sounds crazy, but last week while I was having my birthday pedicure, I received the best tip ever for a Chinese restaurant. The woman who filled me in was decked out in Rays gear (very little interest to me) and was talking to the technician about her upcoming trip to the "orient" (slightly more interest to me.) When she looked over at me and said she loved Asian food, well she had my attention. "Best Chinese restaurant in St. Pete is ABC Seafood," she announced. People nodded politely, yet no one seemed to care but me. It's probably because I have been extremely disappointed with Chinese food in this area. It's either too greasy or too salty or just plain bad, so I've turned to the more modern fusion places for my noodle and fried rice fixes. Since it was my birthday, I told my husband this was where we would go for dinner. My son loves wonton soup so it was an easy sell. When we drove up, the phrase "hole in the wall" came to mind. How many times have you thought this and were suprised by one of the best meals of your life? Once inside, we found a very clean restaurant with a pleasant staff and many enticing smells. We had hope when we saw the fish tanks filled with future entrees much like the restaurants of our Chinatown experiences. Their slogan, "all live and fresh" was true. The mixed seafood platter we ordered was delicious and had a variety of tasty fish and crustaceans. I had vegetarian fried rice which was crunchy and flavorful, infused with some unexpected herbs. The chef uses basil in many of the dishes served, giving the meals a Thai-like twist. Of course, once I discovered this place I started talking to people about it. One of my friends had already been there and felt the bold assertion by the Rays fan (that it was the best) was true. Now I think so too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saturday Morning Market

Al Lang Stadium parking lot 1st Ave. & 1st St. , St. Petersburg, FL.

Yes, another visit to the Market and it's just before 9am so we head straight for Paciugo's Gelato Cafe. No delicious gelato this time, just their great Kenyan coffee. A generous cup for $2 that certainly rivals our locally roasted Kahwa. Now to find that quick breakfast, well, actually we know what we're looking for. Last week the line was too long for Uhuru's morning wrap filled with eggs, sausage and herb seasoned potatoes, all blended with a spicy tomato sauce. Next time though, we'll ask for more sauce. Splitting that big wrap we still had room for dessert. Leaving our comfortable chairs we headed for the Parisian booth for a tasty Crepe Tatin topped with whipped cream. Huge for just $6.00. Totally satiated we got down to business, checked out the musicians, this week it was Kevin Wilder on keyboard making you want to dance over towards the produce, which we did and purchased a bag full of veggies for a song, literally. haha. Next time promise to tell you about the craft section which seems to be growing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

St. Petersburg Octoberfest 2010

Central Avenue and 21st Street, St. Petersburg, FL

This was the first annual Grand Central Octoberfest, highlighting an eclectic St. Petersburg business area and celebrating craft brew. There was a good sized crowd of several hundred people waiting patiently for the beer tastings. My husband is a imported and craft beer afficionado so he was able to point out the special brands to me. All those beer guides as Christmas gifts finally paid off. A few food vendors showed up including a tasty taco hut manned by Tijuana Flats. Theme appropriate brats and sausages sizzled on temporary grills. The scent wafted along on a cool Fall breeze and a variety of live music gave the evening a festive feel. The best part was walking along Central and feeling safe. Having grown up in this area, sometimes I take my town for granted. I love the architecture of the buildings and appreciate the people who have come along in the last few years to adopt and take care of them. The Grand Central business district has a lot to be proud of and I'm reminded by this event that these stalwart folks deserve my patronage.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Banyan Coffee & Tea Co

689 Dr. Martin Luther King St., St. Petersburg, FL. 33701 Tel. 896-6100

Careful, you might drive right past this cafe the first time just like I did. Hidden behind the trees, it's an old fashioned American coffee shop with a modern twist and lots of color. A chalkboard menu is a sharp contrast to the colorful fiestaware cups and saucers that line the shelves behind, yes, another long bar. The wooden barstools get filled up fast on a Saturday morning. Not to worry, there are small tables for two, indoors and out. The coffee is Kahwa again, that local brew, but it's not as strong and flavorful as the Kahwa shops. The food is good however, with lots of morning sandwiches to choose from. Although, you have to place your order and pay when you arrive, the Banyan Tree has waitresses who pass by offering to fill your cup….they filled ours twice! For you jazz enthusiasts, Sinatra was singing in the background. Nice place and, we’re told, it's a popular hangout for local celebrities.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Saturday Morning Market Downtown St. Petersburg

Al Lang Stadium/Progress Energy Park
1st Street & 1st Avenue South

Every Saturday, October - May

Was that you? I heard a collective sigh of relief from the downtown area as the first signs of Fall appeared and the Saturday Morning Market re-opened. Cooler, dryer weather and fresh fruit and vegetables are part of it, but the thought of breakfasting at the market with a friend made me leap out of bed. Touted as the largest fresh market in the Southeast US, the market is a must for local shoppers and a "worth the trip" experience for out of town noshers. The 120 + vendors provide a colorful selection of produce, prepared food, plants and crafts. Live music rounds out the experience. Local favorites like Paciugo Gelato and the Banyan Coffee and Tea Co are there, serving up some specialties, and vendors from out of the area offer the opportunity to taste new flavors. I tried a sampling of baked goods from Sweet Carolines Bakery and Desserts by Milly, had some some delicious Kahwa coffee and bought a unique plant that garnered many compliments on the way to the car. There's so much to write about, Java and I are headed back next week to try the Uhuru breakfast which had the longest line. My advice is to get there when it opens at 9 and don't wait to get your veggies like I did. Since it was opening weekend, by 10:00 the line went on forever.

The Buzz: Lot of friends and neighbors spotted here. Dogs were in abundance.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


900 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach, FL.33706 Tel. 727-360-8280

Make a change in your week and have coffee on the beach. Pass-a-Grille Beach in the City of St. Pete Beach has two popular coffee spots so let’s take a look. The first, and my personal favorite, is Paradise Grille which opens daily at 8am and stays open til sunset. Only outdoor seating is available here with picnic tables and umbrellas. Orders are taken at the register, get there early on the weekends or you may find a line., but all of this is worth it because you are literally ON the beach. The food is good and the Gulf view spectacular. The menu is large and the food is good yet simple. Omelettes, pancakes, french toast and that old southern staple, Biscuits and Gravy. You can even take your puppy along.
Just across the street is the Hurricane, a well known night spot, it has a breakfast window that opens at 7am. Looks like they’re trying to beat the competition by opening earlier, but one problem…..the up close and personal view of the Gulf is missing. Coffee in both restaurants is okay, but let’s face it, we’re really not here for the coffee this time. Give it a try, it’s a popular hangout.

Saturday Morning Market

Al Lang Stadium Parking Lot, 1st Ave. & 1st St. St. Petersburg, FL.
The Saturday Morning Market reopened for the season on October 2nd and what a turn out. EVERYONE was there! I kept running into people I knew. So much to talk about. Let’s begin with the obvious, the food booths. Whatever your taste; French crepes, Cuban sandwiches, Italian coffee and gelato, Cajun dishes, British meat pies, Jewish blintzes, Mexican Tacos, they’re all there and more. I was most impressed by Paciugo who made their iced coffee with coffee ice cubes. Can you STAND it? How generous and delicious is THAT? Talk about going above and beyond. Of course the produce booths had long lines. My personal favorite is the fresh pineapple stand where it’s sliced for you. The aroma in the air from the pineapples just draws the non-suspecting passerby. Not even a caring glance at how long the line. Okay, I’m giving it all away (not really) see for yourself next Saturday, early at 9AM sharp!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Banyan Coffee & Tea Co.

The Banyan Coffee & Tea Co. is a true gem just waiting to be discovered in downtown St. Petersburg. Judging by the number of people I saw there on my visit, many have already discovered it. This restaurant offers a creative menu and a warm, friendly interior. Outside seating is available for those who want the benefits (smoking, dog friendly and some times a cool breeze), but I prefered the feeling inside. Taupe walls, bankette style seating, and a full pastry case reveal the attention to detail that you will experience in the food. Breakfast is served 7 days a week, opening at 7 am on weekdays, 8 am on weekends. Lunch is served on weekdays until 2 pm. AM offerings include sandwiches, burritos, omelets, and other specialty items. The sandwiches are served on cuban bread or bagel. Spinach is a nice addition to what could be considered standard fare. PM offerings include a soup and sandwich deal for $7.95. A sandwich can just be a meat and cheese combo without the addition of a tasty condiment. Banyan does offer a bit of zing with things like apricot salsa, wasabi mayo, and balsamic syrup. Guaranteed to liven up your taste buds. Greek salad, risotto du jour, and a black bean frittata round out the menu. Prices range from $6 to $8.95. Banyan's friendly staff serve Kahwa coffee with their flavorful menu and bring a lot of class to the regentrified storefront.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Messineo's Gourmet Market

179 1st Ave. N., St. Petersburg, Fl 33701 TEL: 727-895-1500

On entering Messineo’s you can’t help but notice the colorful décor, modern fixtures with an old fashioned market appeal. The staff is eager to please and the overall feeling is ‘this place may be around for awhile.’
No need to search for the coffee and pastry counter. Just like the previous tenant, Atlanta Bread, it’s located just near the front door. Sorry, not too many choices yet, but a variety of tasty fresh bagels. I tried the Flax/ Raisin, delicious. The coffee however, is lacking in flavor with an odd aftertaste. An increase in critical clientele may bring improvement.
Remember now, this is also a market so there are choice cuts of meat, fish, fresh fruits and veggies. Even salads to go. You won’t find that in every coffee shop! Priced by the pound, some of this local produce is cheaper than our favorite supermarkets. With lots of growing room, Messineo’s (hard to remember?) could become a favorite. Wooden tables and chairs reminiscent of Smith and Hawkins await you outside.

The Buzz: Not a big crowd but this new establishment's location next to Starbucks means they must lure people looking for a unique experience.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kahwa Espresso Bar

475 2nd St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Tel: 727-823-4700

Kahwa coffee kept coming up in coversation as I was going about my daily business. Friends were asking, "have you tried Kahwa coffee yet?" Well, I had to admit, I hadn't. I was stuck in a name brand coffee rut and needed a change. One day I decided to break the cycle and met up with Java at the Kahwa Espresso Bar to find out what all the buzz was about. From first sip, this coffee was a strong competitor for becoming my new favorite. It has a balanced flavor that falls into a mid-range that I deem, not to strong and not too weak. The Kahwa folks know how to roast it and they know how to brew it. I chose an almond croissant to accompany the coffee and it made a tasty breakfast. The decor of this Kahwa location has an urban chic feel with lots of texture and organic touches. It feels like a place to be seen, especially if you choose an outdoor spot perched on the edge of 5th Avenue. An eclectic crowd starts gathering at 7 am on weekdays, 7:30 am on weekends, hanging out until 6:30 pm. As for the cost of this experience, this nosh in the city won't break your wallet with prices for coffee drinks ranging from $1.60 to $3.70. If you've tried it, let me know what you think.
The Buzz: Spotted the owner of Studio @ 620 chatting with friends.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kahwa Cafe

204 2nd Ave. So., St. Pete., FL. 33701 Tel. 727-821-1942

Bright, friendly, warm, sophisticated, all at the same time! The large windows give it an open and airy feel. The coffee is that same delicious brew that you’ll find in their original shop, Kahwa Espresso. Strong, but not bitter. If you like it sweet their helpful bartender will add their homemade brown sugar syrup and their delicious pastries are made on the premises. Cookies are from Central Cafe and Organic nearby and there’s a French chef that delivers special delicacies. A light lunch can be had to eat in or takeout. Tables and umbrellas outside and free wifi add to the enjoyment.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Java and Dune Who?

Just who are Java and Dune? We are friends who love to meet, talk for hours and enjoy great food and drink. The idea for this blog came about because people always ask us for recommendations about where to eat in St. Petersburg. The downtown area is hotter than ever and there is a palpable buzz surrounding "the burg." The Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuily Gallery and the Dali Museum create this wonderful artistic triangle with lots of fine restaurants in the middle of it. Lots of folks want to find a snack before going to a show at The American Stage, while others want to be somewhere hip to see and be seen. Of course, some restaurants are the destination itself. Our screen names keep us somewhat anonymous as we stealthily sip coffee, while drinking in the crowd and the decor of whatever establishment we are in. In theory, Java represents the modern downtown coffee bars and Dune represents the beachy diners and kitschy places of Florida's past. Our goal is to talk about our culinary adventures and our hope is to have input from like minded foodies. Join us on this journey by giving your opinion and suggestions on the restaurants you love.