Wait, did you say vegan deli? Yup. Earlier this month, husband-and-wife duo Brian and Audrey Dingeman quietly debuted Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli, Gulfport's answer to plant-based specialties like barbecue tofu and pastrami Reuben sandwiches.
But something tells CL you've already seen your friends posting all about the place on Instagram.
The "deli" in Golden Dinosaurs' name refers more to the fast-casual service that's provided than the menu, which is a mix of meatless proteins, salads, soups, pressed sammies and baked goods.
"We felt it is an all-encompassing term, but doesn't imply the full-service style of a restaurant," Audrey said. "We aren't much for formality and like to keep things simple. We also make our own vegan deli slices, sausages and deli salads."
Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, she and Brian moved to Florida eight years ago as service industry vets with 20 years of experience working front- and back-of-house positions. The couple — veg-heads living in Iowa, after all — quickly learned how to cook their own vegan meals, and they've used this necessary skill set, combined with their restaurant backgrounds, as the foundation for the Golden Dinosaurs lineup.
The Dingemans always dreamed of opening a vegan eatery. When the former home of Mangia Gourmet — known for its emphasis on veg-friendly delights — became available at 2930 Beach Blvd. S., they saw Golden Dinosaurs as the perfect fit.
The deli accommodates up to 14 diners inside, offering nearly 40 additional seats outside on the patio and the sidewalk. Customers who dig the look of Golden Dinosaurs should high-five Brian, too; he curated the mid-century decor throughout the space (he's got a knack for thrifting).
As for the food, the deli sources its sauerkraut from St. Pete Ferments, which is used in the pastrami Reuben and spicy Italian sausage. Gainesville's Tempeh Shop also adds a magical component to nearly half of the featured sandwiches, while Pinellas Chocolate Company provides the goodness mixed into the dark chocolate chunk and sea salt cookies. A selection of frozen treats from the local Nans Plant Based Ice Cream is in the works as well.
"We love Reubens," said Audrey, when asked about Golden Dinosaurs' signature items. "We plan on having several different types of Reubens eventually."
Diners are encouraged to wash down their eats with area-made craft beer in cans and on draft from breweries like Green Bench, Pinellas Ale Works, Mastry's and Coppertail. Staying low-key? Bandit Coffee Co. roasts are on hand, as well as bubbly water and canned soda.
Looking toward the future, the Dingemans hope to offer more beverages, eventually produce nut cheeses on-site and incorporate a stocked deli counter, where customers can order a sandwich off the menu or all of the fixings they need to make one at home.
Golden Dinosaurs has received loads of attention from vegans (and omnivores) in Gulfport and beyond since its soft launch. Brian and Audrey recently hired a few extra hands in the kitchen, so be on the lookout for the deli's grand opening, scheduled for sometime in November.