Best Of 2012

"We set a rule that if we ever felt like the business was hurting the marriage, we'd walk away" —Michelle Baker, w. Greg.
Photo by Todd Bates
"We set a rule that if we ever felt like the business was hurting the marriage, we'd walk away" —Michelle Baker, w. Greg.

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.


The Refinery's Greg and Michelle Baker have been a couple for 13 years, and married for 11.

Rule for making it work:

"In an industry littered with divorces, we set a rule that if we ever felt like the business was hurting the marriage, we'd walk away," says Michelle. "Divorce is a four-letter word for us."

How to make it work:

"Leave business at the door," says Greg. "We do a post mortem for a few minutes at the end of the day and then we're done and it's time for Greg and Michelle."

Why it works:

Greg: "I'm the shy type. Michelle can just turn on that persona and is this force of nature and she really has a head for business."

Michelle: "Greg is an amazing chef and I'm his hardest critic. He says I've got the million-dollar palate. He's the hardest-working person I know and never complains."

Best achievement of the last year:

"Definitely Greg getting nominated for a James Beard," Michelle says. "I remember he was really nervous when the list was coming out, it was alphabetical. Sure enough, Baker, Greg, was first on the nomination list."

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
macdintons.com

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, macdintons.com/Jannus-St-Petersburg; World of Beer. 100 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-823-2337.

Best Bagel Shop

Runners-up: Einstein Bros., Panera

Best baguette
cafeparisbakery.com

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, cafedeparisbakery.com.

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.