Bite me

A few nuggets from the CL Festival Foodie Tour of Downtown St. Pete.

The mission: Plan a food tour that is both walking-friendly and delicious. I could think of no place better than my own backyard, downtown St. Petersburg, for the inaugural tour. And wouldn’t you know it, about 25 lovely people gathered last Thursday to wine and dine through St. Petersburg on foot, with me as their guide. Brave souls.

Our first stop was La V, owned by Thuy Lee, for Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches and boba teas. A good hostess keeps a group’s hunger and thirst slated, so we ventured next to Mandarin Hide for cocktails and some boozy education from Mandarin’s Tony Finotti. We sipped on one of their signature cocktails, Fernal Heights, featuring Tito’s vodka and a bunch of other tasty drink ingredients.

Post-cocktail, I veered toward The Ale and the Witch for some domestic craft brews. Sipping on a Cigar City Cider, owner Brett Andress showed us into his new barbecue spot, the Witch’s Den, upstairs in the same plaza. We snacked on cups of pork and beans and smoked cheddar jalapeno grits.

Down the alley and around the corner, to 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House we went. Awaiting us near the glorious multi-tap bar was a gorgeous spread of fresh seafood creations: spoonfuls of bright ceviche and warm pulled pork sliders. We feasted, then bid 400 Beach and its plentiful food and drink farewell.

Our final course awaited on the terrace out front of the Vinoy Hotel. Marchand’s Bar & Grille brought out trays of Florida mojitos, made with Florida’s own Four Orange Vodka, orange slices, and refreshing mint. Cocktail in hand, we noshed on peanut butter and chocolate covered pretzels and the supremely sinful caramel and bacon popcorn.

The lights of downtown flickering off the bay, good conversation ensuing with those on the tour that I now call friends, our adventure continued late into the night until a rainstorm told us it was time to go home. Another foodie tour in the future, you ask? Survey says … yes!

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