Best Of 2012

Best Royal Couple

From the moment they opened their chic re-think of an English pub in St. Pete’s Grand Central District, British expats Darren and Paul have been as much a draw as the restaurant’s gourmet updates of fish & chips and bangers & mash. Their acerbic wit and congenial attitude suffuse the place, attracting a steady clientele to the South Beach-y courtyard, eclectically decorated bar and weekly quiz nights with Trixie the Trivial Tranny. A couple for 17 years (they met on an Italian ski slope), they share day-to-day responsibilities (Darren’s the “money man,” Paul handles marketing and events), and while being in a business together isn’t all hunky-dory, Paul says, “We both have fun together and hope that that relaxes other people when they are in the Queens Head and provides a family/community atmosphere that we have aimed for from the start of the business.” Mission accomplished.

Watch: One half (with Darren Conner) of the Best Royal Couple, Paul Smith of the Queens Head restaurant explains how he and Darren met (it involved an Italian ski slope, a rugby team and a now-ex-girlfriend), and Paul attempts to recreate his cover-boy leap. He spoke with CL's David Warner during the Best of the Bay awards reception Sept. 19 at Creative Loafing.

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Best All-Around Restaurant
James Ostrand

Runners-up: Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, Datz

Watch: Greg Baker shares the secret dish he makes for his wife Michelle that he never makes for anyone else. The winners of several Best of the Bay awards this year, including Best Restaurant Tag Team, Greg & Michelle spoke with CL's David Warner during the Best of the Bay awards reception Sept. 19 at Creative Loafing.

Best Attempt to Turn St. Pete into SoHo

When St. Pete changed its drinking curfew to 3 a.m., the downtown area exploded with new bars. Instead of continuing to try luring drinkers from St. Pete over the bridge to Tampa, a few popular SoHo hangouts set up sister establishments in the ’Burg. In November of 2011, World of Beer and MacDinton’s opened their doors, catering to patrons who put a premium on drinking beer over mixed drinks, and who prefer to sing along to cover bands rather than dancing to DJs. MacDinton’s Jannus, 242 First Ave. N, St Petersburg, 727-565-0544,; World of Beer. 100 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-823-2337.

Best Bagel Shop

Runners-up: Einstein Bros., Panera

Best baguette

Outside of France, good baguettes are hard to come by. You know the kind. They crackle, and spray you with crumbs when your teeth pierce the crisp, chewy crust to reveal what seems an impossibly airy interior. Luckily, Café de Paris Bakery brings France to you in the person of master baker Xavier De Marchi. He’s the real deal, and so is his bread. 2300 Gulf Boulevard, Indian Rocks Beach, 727-593-0277,

Runners-up: Mazzaro's, Housewife Bake Shop

Best Bar Food

Runners-up: Five Bucks, Fly Bar

Best Barbecue Restaurant

Runners-up: Holy Hog, Kojaks

Best Bargain Restaurant
James Ostrand

Runners-up: 220 East, La Teresita

Best Bartending Organization

Tampa has done an amazing job of attracting members to its guild from all aspects of the business; there are “cocktail bartenders,” but also club bartenders and dive bartenders. It’s inspiring to see a small community come together and work harmoniously. I was lucky enough to return to Tampa for their Sunset Tiki party and experience that same energy. I find myself taking pages out of their book here in Boston.

David Delaney Jr is the VP of Boston USBG.