Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
The decor is kinda jazzy and modern. It´s hip and upscale but understated, and the waitstaff is great. It could be in New York or San Francisco, but here it is in St. Pete. I love sushi and I like to experiment, so I just usually ask Michael (the owner and manager) what they have and let him guide me through an experience. He doesn´t even bring me a menu, and I know I´m gonna have a culinary adventure every time. Plus, they´ve got a good selection of saki and they´re open late.
Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, 5901 Sun Blvd., Suite 121, St. Petersburg, 727-867-0770.
BEST PLACE TO START YOUR FRIDAY MORNING
Atlanta Bread Company
We have this conversation group at Atlanta Bread Company on Fridays from 8 till about 9:30. You might see the mayor, a county commissioner, maybe someone who´s just come to town. You´re gonna hear conversation about everything from art to politics to life, what´s the meaning of it all.
Atlanta Bread Company, BayWalk, 179 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 727-896-3656.
BEST PLACE TO SPEND SATURDAY MORNINGS
St. Pete´s Saturday Morning Market
This is the coolest place on Saturday morning. You hear international voices and sounds. Accents from Europe, the Middle East — all over the world. Millionaires are interacting with people who live in mobile homes, hanging out and talking about their lives. Once I was sitting with this actor who´s in a soap opera in New York; his wife´s on Law and Order. Another time, a guy with dreadlocks invites me to a party. It´s a full slice of life. I buy coffee, seafood and maybe a curio, something for the mantel — and fresh-cut flowers for the dining room table. There´s music — you get all kinds of people playing — jazz, folk, traditional Irish. It´s the town center; it´s where you go to interact with the community. I don´t know my neighbors. The people at Saturday Market are my community — I can talk to them about stuff besides the weather and chinch bugs.
Saturday Market runs 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday, October-May, on Central Avenue between First and Second streets, 727-455-4921, www.saturdaymorningmarket.com.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWNERS
Bern´s Steak House
It´s still the place — great food, great service. They just do it right every single time. I love Patrick´s on St. Pete Beach too. It´s a small place, probably has 15 tables, maybe 20, better-than-average food, good waitstaff — they know how to give you enough attention and then leave you alone. It´s not on the tourist line — more of an insider place. I saw Paul Tash and his family there. Another great place is Karim´s Bistro inside the Thunderbird on Treasure Island. You walk through the doors and suddenly, you´re in Europe. It´s got nice wood, an inviting bar — and the food´s excellent. It´s also a great place for brunch.
Bern´s Steak House, 1208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, 813-251-2421, www.bernssteakhouse.com; Karim´s Bistro, 10700 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-367-1961; Patrick´s Bayside Grill, 5007 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-363-4440.
BEST ALL-AROUND POLITICIAN
Congressman Jim Davis
I know him. I like him. He´s a solid guy with real character and political skills. He got a challenge with redistricting, and he´s handled it well. His district was extended from South Tampa to include South St. Pete and Bradenton. After the riots in St. Pete, there was a town meeting called to discuss the situation. He got on an airplane and came here. A lot of people didn´t show up, but he did. He came and participated. He wasn´t the star of the show; he didn´t give the keynote address. He was just part of a group trying to work things out. Not all congressmen would do that. I was impressed with his quiet leadership. He didn´t get any headlines for it; it was real stuff.
Jim Davis, 3315 Henderson Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa, 813-354-9217 or 888-266-0205; 1186 62nd Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-867-5301, www.house.gov/jimdavis.
BEST RISING POLITICIAN
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch
You might call him our Barak Obama. He´s an African-American county commissioner from the south side. He´s businesslike, he works hard. I think he´s one of those political leaders Tampa Bay´s gonna hear a lot more from in the coming years. When the Uhurus blamed the police for the riots, he said both sides had issues. He reached beyond the simple finger pointing. He supported the mayor and the police but he said we´ve still got issues to resolve. I´m impressed with him.
Ken Welch, 315 Court St., Clearwater, 727-464-3377, www.pinellascounty.org/commission/KTWelch.htm.
BEST REPUBLICAN POLITICIAN
Attorney General Charlie Crist
I´m probably gonna have my liberal card revoked for this, but I have a lot of respect for Charlie Crist. He´s been a consumer advocate, he´s stepped up for civil rights, and he´s approachable. I have confidence I can approach him with a problem and we´ll work on a solution together. I´ve heard people say, ¨Oh yeah, he´s got all the right moves, but that´s just politics.¨ I don´t feel that from him. When he takes on civil rights issues, I believe him. I give him a lot of credit for doing what a political leader should do. He leads. I don´t have the feeling he has his finger in the air, testing which way the wind is blowing. My standard is, do you do stuff when the cameras aren´t rolling? And he does. He fights to get things done. He´s as good as his word. He´ll tell you what he thinks, agree or disagree. He´s done some things that were just the right thing to do. His track record shows he´s truly thoughtful and inclusive. If it came down to a race between him and Jim Davis for governor, I´d have trouble deciding which one to vote for.
Office of Attorney General Charlie Crist, The Capitol, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300, Citizens Services: 850-414-3990, Florida Toll Free: 866-966-7226.
BEST UNSUNG HEROES
Bob Devin Jones and David Ellis
They got investors, they got a building, they put together a program to engage the community in culture and real creativity with no government money. They created this place called [email protected] Nobody asked them to do it. They don´t get paid for it. You hear a lot about using art to create economic development, but these two guys realize that art in and of itself has a positive impact on a community. They won me over because of that vision. They convinced me it´s not about economic development — it´s about making your community a better place. There´s so much talent here that´s not getting recognition and support; 620 is all about giving it to them.
[email protected], 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-895-6620.