Ask the Locals: Terry & Kanika Tomalin, Times journalist & St. Pete deputy mayor

click to enlarge Ask the Locals: Terry & Kanika Tomalin, Times journalist & St. Pete deputy mayor - Photo by Heidi Kurpiela
Photo by Heidi Kurpiela
Ask the Locals: Terry & Kanika Tomalin, Times journalist & St. Pete deputy mayor

Terry Tomalin is the outdoors-fitness editor at the Tampa Bay Times. He joined the Times staff in 1986 as a police reporter, but left 18 months into the job to backpack through New Zealand and Australia. When he returned to the paper a year later, he switched to a more appropriate beat in the sports department. Rugged and gutsy, Tomalin is the Jon Krakauer of Florida outdoors reporting. He has lived with witch doctors in the Amazon, explored sunken Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico, sailed to Cuba, canoed to the Bahamas and swum around Key West. He’s the author of Everyday Adventures: A Florida Outdoors Guide.
Kanika Tomalin is deputy mayor of the City of St. Petersburg. She was hired in November 2013 by Mayor Rick Kriseman after serving as regional vice president of Health Management Associates, the parent company of Bayfront Medical Center. A former TV and print reporter, she has been tasked with spearheading progress in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. She spent six years on the board of the Pinellas County Urban League and two years serving the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.
The Tomalins, who live in Pinellas Point with their two children, are admitted opposites. At Cappy’s Pizzeria, where the walls are decorated with movie posters, they each identify with a different star. Terry’s is Steve McQueen. Kanika’s: Audrey Hepburn.

Best fisherman’s breakfast: Skyway Jack's. Terry: “Sometimes I’ll intend to go fishing and I’ll get down to the docks and the wind is blowing fierce and I’ll just say to heck with it and eat breakfast at Skyway Jack’s instead. They have the best potatoes.”

Best place to hook snook: Honeymoon Island. Terry: “There are few places in Tampa Bay where you can consistently catch big snook from the beach. Honeymoon Island is one of those places.”

Favorite staycation destination: Sarasota. Kanika: “We love the Ritz-Carlton. The kids can hang, the parents can chill and there’s great shopping at St. Armand’s Circle.”

Quickest way to satisfy a carnivorous craving: The black and blue burger at Harvey's 4th Street Grill. Terry: “They make it by hand, and if you tell them you want it medium it’ll come medium. They don’t fool around with their burgers.”

Quickest way to satisfy a sweet tooth: Dairy Inn. Terry: “I’ve literally gotten hundreds of kid cups there. Back in the day you used to get hot dogs there for a dollar.”

Best-kept hair salon: Images by Anderson & Co. Kanika: “Bravo needs to discover it for a reality show. You see everyone there, from Charlie Crist to little church ladies to football players. It’s a common ground for people from all walks of life.”

Best places to buy a gift: Marion's Gift & Clothing and Beach Papery & Gifts. Kanika: “Both places have great things to make your life and home beautiful.”

Best place to reflect: The Peace Garden at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Kanika: “It’s this sacred place that bustles with activity where everyone — not just churchgoers — is welcome. It’s full of reverence and people, from the smallest child to the most elderly. Everyone leaves a little peace and takes a little peace.”

Best place to play hooky: Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Terry: “Sometimes I let my kids skip church and we go to what I call the Church of the Great Outdoors.”

Best dive bar: Mastry’s. Terry: “I can walk in wearing my fish gut shorts and still feel overdressed.”

Best place to bring back that lovin’ feeling: Marchand's Bar & Grill at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Kanika: “We got married at the Vinoy. Our family story starts there. It’s one of the most romantic places in St. Pete. We’re sentimental about it for obvious reasons.”

Best cocktail in the ‘Burg: The Zack Special at Z Grille. Terry: “It’s Hendrick’s gin, soda water and lime … and probably some other secret stuff that [Chef] Zack [Gross] would never tell you.”

Freshest fish in St. Pete: The Tavern at USF St. Petersburg. Terry: “The quality of the food at that little university pub is one of St. Pete’s best-kept secrets. You show up for lunch and order a fish sandwich and you can bet it came from the 25-pound grouper [owner] Tom [Herzhauser] caught that morning. The grouper sandwich is seriously six hours removed from the dock.”

Best leisurely bike ride: The Pink Streets in Pinellas Point. Kanika: “They run through our little neighborhood. The area is super kid-friendly and people yield to pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s gorgeous. There’s lush landscaping, historic Indian mounds, live oaks and a lot of flora that attracts butterflies.”

Best chance to catch an optical phenomenon: Paradise Grille in Pass-a-Grille. Kanika: “It has a great mix of tourists and locals. Where else on the beach can you get French fries for the kids and beer for the parents? Legend has it the green flash can be seen from there. [Former St. Petersburg Mayor] Rick Baker saw it on the night of his election.”

Favorite way to cover 5K: Tampa Bay Frogman Swim. Terry: “Each January more than 150 swimmers come from all over the country to swim 5K from Gandy Beach to Picnic Island. I’m one of the founders of the event. It started off with me and a few lifeguards swimming across Tampa Bay and it’s turned into a major fundraiser for the Navy SEAL Foundation. In four years we’ve raised more than $400,000.”

Favorite place to take tourists: Hillsborough River State Park. Terry: “You get an idea of what the real Florida looks like — cypress trees older than the U.S., alligators and river otters. It’s one of those places where you realize there’s more to Florida than beachy T-shirt shops.”

What Terry’s famous sister (actress Susan Sarandon) loves to do when she’s in town: Terry: “She likes to hang at the Vinoy or walk along Beach Drive. She loves the Dalì. Sometimes I take her paddleboarding and snook fishing.”

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