Best Of 2017

Best New Downtown St. Pete Bar: Room 901

Best New Downtown St. Pete Bar

When Peg Wesselink and Tony Dodson closed their popular Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport in 2015, we understood why, after 11 years, they’d want to take a break. But we mourned the loss of their particular brand of hospitality, combining warmth, braininess (as befitting two former academics) and high standards in food and service. So it was excellent news to hear they were getting back into the biz with Room 901, and even better news that it turned out to be the bar we’d been longing for without even really knowing it: a low-keyki (no TVs!) boite with the air of a post-modern library, thanks to leather chairs and an extraordinary installation of books and card catalogues by Jon Cline and Amanda McMahon, offering exactingly crafted cocktails, well-curated wine and beer lists, and delicious charcuterie. A “conversation bar” was Peg’s goal, and that’s what she created, drawing an eclectic clientele of politicos, journalists, artists and other locals-about-town who are definitely into conversing. Even when those conversations get loud (the opening night party was a madhouse), it’s still a great place to be — a bar, unlike some in town, that’s designed for grownups. —David Warner