It’s no secret that there are an overwhelming amount of St. Petersburg restaurants to choose from to satisfy those pre-lunch time hunger pangs. We all want the same thing: food that is both delicious + quick because let’s face it, we’re all busy people. So I’ve put together a list of my favorite quickest lunch spots downtown St. Pete (or in the surrounding area) that won’t take all day.
If you are familiar with the area, I’m sure you are not surprised this one made the list. Serving some of the best Latin street food you can get your hands on, Bodega on Central (known as just “Bodega” by locals) is located in the ever-growing Edge District of St. Pete. The service is nothing short of great and adds to the already pleasant food experience.
In an area where Cuban sandwiches are plentiful, this one really stands out as well as their plates and is made the right way with (the best) roast pork, ham, swiss, pickles and mayo. Their plates and veg options are outstanding, as well.
When dining in, I often sit inside at the juice bar to order and eat my food. I recently tried the Berry Cubano smoothie made with cuban coffee + dates + almond milk + choc butter and it was fantastic. Such an interesting mix of flavors that really go so well together!
You can also go up to the counter (which is what most people do) and take a seat in the outside area in front or out back. Typically, your food comes within 10 minutes. Keep in mind this is typical of the weekday lunch. On the weekend, there is no telling how many people will line up to get the food at what I consider one of the best restaurants downtown.
My go-to orders: Cuban / Pollo Asado / Lechon platter
Weekly Special: Medianoche Mondays $10 for a Cuban on Medianoche bread (sweet egg dough bread) and Modelo Beer
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-9pm; Thurs-Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-9pm
At Bangcock 9, the food is delicious and the service is quick. The best part is you will walk out for lunch under $10 (with tip) and if you’re like me, you will probably even have some leftovers. The portions aren’t huge, in fact, they are just right. Your lunch, however, always includes the soup of the day (typically chicken + rice or egg drop) and an egg roll. Plus, it’s brought you to RIGHT when you sit down.You really can’t beat it.
They also include some of the sushi rolls in the lunch special. You can get two rolls (plus the soup and egg roll) all for 8.95. Most people have caught on to this hidden gem that’s been around longer than most places residing on Central but despite the crowds, the staff works very quickly to get you in and out as quick as possible not skimping on quality in any way.
In my opinion, this is one of the best lunch options in downtown St. Pete. Lucky for me, I work just across the street!
My Go-To Orders: Chicken and Broccoli / Green Curry with Pork / Sushi
Daily Lunch Special: All lunch menu items come with soup + egg roll
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-2:30pm 5pm – 9:30pm; Fri & Sat 11am-2:30pm; Sun Closed
I’ve already expressed my love for the Old Southeast Market in a previous blog post which you can find here, so you can refer to that for the whole scoop on one of the only Poke Bars in St. Pete. This probably comes in at the quickest spot of them all since you walk up and order as they make it front of you (think Chipotle).
It’s also a convenience store with a love for all things local so you can also grab a Buddy Brew coffee after filling up on Poke or one of the many deli sandwiches offered. I didn’t eat meat for a couple years and this place won me over with their veggie Banh Mi. Don’t worry all you meat lovers out there, they also serve a Cuban, a meat filled Banh Mi regular and more.
This stand alone building in the heart of Old Southeast (which happens to be one of my favorite neighborhoods) has one of the most peaceful patios you can enjoy a meal on.
My Go-To Orders: Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl / Veggie Banh Mi
Hours: Open 7 days a week 7am – 9pm
Since moving to the Grand Central District, I have become slightly obsessed with this place. The staff is so friendly and the food is is great every time. The casita bowl with barbacoa, which is spicy shredded braised beef, is my absolute fav because it has the best flavor. However, when I’m feeling in a healthier mood, I go with the salad with pollo verde and let me tell you, it’s super juicy and just as satisfying (I promise). One of my favorite things about the bowls is the come with the option of either chips or tortillas so if I’m feeling torn between a bowl and taco, I don’t have to sacrifice my craving of one of their homemade corn tortillas.
This is another walk up to the counter type-a place so as long as the line isn’t too long, it should be a quick in and out for all you worker bees. I recommend taking a seat outside on the beautiful patio area. The vibrant colors and vibe of this place make the dining-in experience worth while.
As of the date of this article, there are no Taco Tuesday specials (womp womp) but I think it’s because the prices are reasonable every day of the week.
My Go-To Orders: Casita Bowl w. Barbacoa / Salad w. Pollo Verde
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am – 9pm; Fri – Sat 11am – 10pm; Sun Closed
5. Urban Deli
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of one of the four Urban restaurants around the downtown area. Over time, Urban Deli (formerly Urban Provisions) has become my favorite of the Urban restaurant group establishments. They cure their own meats in house and all the sides are made from scratch (potato salad is superb). You can buy the deli meat by the lb. which will make you never want to go stand in line at Publix deli again.
When dining there, I typically go for the Hot Italian, which is served on a cuban roll topped with slices of pork loin, smoked provolone, giadirniera (pickled vegetable medley), pickled peppers and roasted garlic aioli. Their unique take on a traditional Italian sandwich makes this an unforgettable sandwich.
Another favorite of mine is the Cuban (yes, I realize I have a Cuban on almost every restaurant on this list. It’s Tampa Bay, afterall). This is no ordinary cuban, though. Pork shoulder confit, cured pork lion, house made mustard and pickles, and swiss cheese make this make this Cuban like no other you have tasted.
Urban Deli also has an extensive list of bottled beer available for purchase and often have specials. Recently, all the beers in one of the fridges were 9.99 for a six pack. If you’re a craft beer fan, you can recognize how sweet of a deal that is. Regardless, you get a discount on the singles if you make your own six pack. You can also enjoy one of their craft beers on tap (many local, of course) if your boss is cool with that.
My Go-To Orders: Hot Italian / Cuban / Sides: Potato salad
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am – 3pm; Th 11am – 9pm; Fri – Sat 11am – 10pm; Sun 11am – 5pm
That wraps up my list of quickest lunch spots downtown St. Pete. Am I missing any you think should be on the list? I’d love to hear your favorite lunch spots around town.