It has been too many years since I last visited St. Pete’s. Seconds after I bellied up to the bar, I scolded myself for not having this popular restaurant/bar on my short list. I’d forgotten the welcoming spirit of the interior: large marlins appear to dance across the brick walls; bartenders pull tap handles while chatting with customers; the hearty laugh of owner Pete Zotos echoes above the noise. The menu is equally friendly. There is a long list of appetizers to accommodate the drinking crowd, and pizzas, pastas, salads, and specials (such as chicken-fried steak and a New York strip) for diners. The signature Dancing Tuna Sandwich has not changed. A thick slab of grilled tuna simply seasoned with a cilantro-chile glaze rests between two buttered buns. It is not gussied up. The tuna does the talking. Simplicity is key here. The beefy flavor of the plump hot dog, made just around the corner at Rudolph’s Meat Market, bursts through layers of chili, cheese, and onions. For dessert, the kitchen turns out a rich, crunchy baklava and a straightforward chocolate sheet cake. After I paid my tab, I stuck my head outside to check out the patio scene. I spotted a couple of friends having a beer and went over to join them. “Fancy seeing you here,” one sarcastically said, as I approached his table. “Do you come here often?” To which I replied honestly, “No, I don’t, but I plan to make it a habit.”
For more information about St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin, visit our online restaurant guide.