Last Updated on December 20, 2023

When my family is planning a vacation, the first decision after choosing the destination and our accommodations is where to dine.

We’re a family that doesn’t mind doing our research, and since we do have a few picky eaters in our midst, it’s important to plan ahead and look at restaurants and menus that fit everyone’s needs.

Does location matter? It does, especially when that destination is a Gulf Coast town like St. Petersburg, FL boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We love dining with a view!

However, our criteria for finding fun places to dine takes into consideration other factors like food quality, service and a festive or romantic ambiance (depending on what you’re in the mood for).

Here are some of our favorites.

RumFish Grill

RumFish Grill aquarium restaurant. Photo by Michael Kompanik
RumFish Grill aquarium restaurant. Photo by Michael Kompanik

It’s like dining under the sea.

Rumfish Grill, the Rumfish Beach Resort’s signature restaurant, not only serves up some fabulous seafood, but the main draw is its massive, 33,500-gallon aquarium encompassing an entire dining room wall.

The tank was crafted by Animal Planet’s hit series “Tanked.” Sting rays, an eel, and multi-hued tropical fish glided by as we enjoyed our drinks and dinner at this beautiful tropical eatery.

Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and happy hour, RumFish’s mantra is that their “mouthwatering menu is sure to have you hooked.”

What’s good here? Everything.

Coconut Charlie’s Beach Bar & Grill

When we spied this eatery from the beach, we were drawn to its outdoor lights, vibrant patronage, live music and tantalizing aromas.

With its thatched roof, hammocks in the sand and casual setting, you could easily brush it off as just another same-old, same-old beach bar, but that would be a mistake.

Yes, it is a beach bar, but Coconut Charlie’s was voted Tampa Magazine’s runner-up for the best new restaurant and beach restaurant in 2023. It’s won both Open Table and TripAdvisor choice awards for 2023 as well.

Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch, the restaurant offers a variety of breakfast plates along with seafood-inspired entrees and other start-me-ups, salads, handhelds and main entrees. Shrimp Your Way can be grilled, blackened or coconut-crusted while Charlie’s Rum-Glazed Ahi is an amazing selection.

Snapper’s Sea Grill

Snapper's Sea Grill restaurant in St. Pete Beach.
Snapper’s Sea Grill restaurant in St. Pete Beach. Photo by Michael Kompanik

“Ask the locals” is always our motto when looking for new places to eat, and thanks to a suggestion from our bartender at RumFish Beach Resort, we dined at Snapper’s on a very busy Friday evening which is why reservations are important.

Owned by a local fisherman, Snapper’s is where casual elegance meets exceptional seafood and, wow, is the food outstanding!

Those who opt out of seafood will love Snapper’s in-house aged steaks, another staple of the restaurant. If you are into seafood, however, you’ll truly appreciate the selection.

My late mother, who lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida for years, loved her fried clam strips. She was always disappointed when she visited other parts of the U.S. that didn’t have them. Well, Snapper’s does as one of its throwback menu selections, and of course, we had to order them in her honor. 

Diners will look far and wide to find a jumbo coconut shrimp as fresh, tender and tantalizing as Snapper’s, but if you ask my wife her favorite entrée, she’ll tell you that the best-stuffed grouper she ever had was at this charming, fun eatery.

Spinner’s Rooftop Grille

St. Pete Beach views from Spinner's.
St. Pete Beach views from Spinner’s. Photo by Michael Kompanik

Located on the 12th floor of the Bellwether Beach Resort, Spinner’s is so named for its 360-degree panoramic views as the restaurant revolves.

This was a throwback memory for my wife and I who dined at Niagara Falls, Canada’s famous Skylon Tower restaurant more years ago than I want to divulge. I guess there’s just something about a revolving restaurant that’s still fascinating to us.

Kitschy as it may sound, Spinner’s is not only a favorite of locals and resort guests, but it’s elegant yet unpretentious and an ideal place for a special occasion dinner.

The restaurant offers a menu showcasing all that Florida brings to the table, from locally caught seafood, beef and pork sourced from premium ranchers to fresh produce and sweet treat delights.

The menu isn’t extensive, but it’s well-planned and very balanced with its variety of land and sea dishes.

82 Degrees

82 Degrees Restaurant St. Pete Beach.
82 Degrees Restaurant St. Pete Beach. Photo by Michael Kompanik

Fresh coastal fare is the mainstay of this lovely, laid-back restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico with stellar sunset views. The name represents the average daily temperature in St. Pete.

The eatery, located on the property of The Saint Hotel, a chic boutique haven, is great for light bites, happy hour or a leisurely dinner. Lunch, dinner, brunch and happy hour feature Southern-inspired dishes, chef specials and some super fun hand-crafted cocktails with cool names like No Sleep Til, Some Peach, and Talk About Bruno.

Sea Grapes Eatery + Wine Lounge

With St. Pete Beach as the eatery’s backdrop, Sea Grapes specializes in South Florida cuisine infused with creative Latin and Caribbean flavors.

Open for brunch and dinner, the menu is really cool making it hard to choose from a variety of salads, small plates and sharables.

Lobster Mac + Cheese is amazing as is the Jerk Lamp Lollipops served with a cornmeal sweet potato cake, plantains and a tomatillo jicama pico.

In addition, the wine, beer and cocktail menu is impressive.

Castile Restaurant

Located at The Hotel Zamora, a Spanish-inspired boutique hotel overlooking the quiet Intercoastal Waterway, Castile represents the melding of traditional and contemporary cuisine.

The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating on their expansive terrace with views of the picturesque Intercoastal Waterway. Its modern American plates showcase the best of each season from the land and the treasures from the Gulf waters.

Castile serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily along with a Sunday brunch. We enjoyed a grouping of shared appetizers during our lunch visit that were all impressive in both taste and presentation.

If you have a favorite restaurant in St. Pete Beach, we’d love to know. If for no other reason than to add it to our “to do” list the next time we’re in this piece of Gulf Coast paradise.

NOTE: Visitors to St. Petersburg from outside of Florida should be aware that the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for the state noting, and warning, that under its current governor, Ron DeSantis, Florida has “engaged in an all-out attack on Black Americans, accurate Black history, voting rights, members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, and free speech, while simultaneously embracing a culture of fear, bullying, and intimidation by public officials.”

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