Having visitors from the North is a fine occasion for ranking the best things I know about life in Pinellas County. We managed to cover many of them in the past week or so. In no particular order:
Boris Family Restaurant for breakfast. Boris is a bear of a man who presides over this simple family eatery, and server Mary Ann showers us with attention every Sunday morning. Eggs Benedict this nicely prepared are hard to find. Thick, creamy Hollandaise that has never seen a blender. I can feel my arteries hardening as I type.
Clearwater Beach, even in the driving rain. Slashing, hissing, deluging rain. Bummer, I know. But there is something elemental about strolling through boiling surf, soaked to the skin but warm and in good company. In a land of exquisite beaches, CB rains supreme. (Sorry.)
Gulf Coast Po' Boys is a hole in the wall featuring the Louisiana delicacies for which it is named. Sit outside and be treated like royalty for about 8 bucks. I love this place.
Busch Gardens. Eight roller coasters, count 'em.
Willard's Tap House has 40 beers on draft, with "no crap on tap." These beers average somewhere north of 7 percent alcohol. The Smith boys know what they like. And they seem to know what a lot of folks like. I'm working my way through the list for the second time, surrounded by those peerless tipplers who have long since tucked away their third or fourth rotation. This is a happy place.
The Cajun Cafe on the Bayou sprawls along the bank of Center Bayou in Pinellas Park. When Paul and Rebecca are not hosting a music fest or beer fest or crawfish fest, they preside over the best Cajun vittles in the south - including, by some reports, the best that New Orleans can put up. Not to mention a menu of 80 great beers - 80! - of which 15 are on tap. No crap on tap here, either.
The Turtle Deck at McGough Nature Park is an oasis of quiet charm off nasty Walsingham Road. No one can resist dropping 2 bits worth of turtle food into the teeming mass of armored reptiles, rooting for the little cooters and snappers, but fascinated by the stately Florida Softshells.
(Photo Credit: Robyn's Pond Turtle Species Page)
Taste of Punjab means great curries and friendly service. And decent beer. (You see the theme here.)
It is with considerable anguish that I barely mention Golden Bear Restaurant , the sponge docks at Tarpon Springs, the Museum of Florida History, the amazing Cuban sandwiches at the Kooky Coconut, and a dozen more favorites.
Welcome to Paradise.