The following morning, we bade farewell to Clearwater a little too late to squeeze in any proper breakfast. (Save for a quick pastry and a coffee as we left).
Leaving Clearwater, we didn’t really have any plans but we’d gotten a few recommendations along the way – one of which was John’s Pass Village.
A quick google of John’s Pass Village piqued my curiosity but actually getting to visit made me wish we’d planned to spend a bit more time here.
It’s the such an amazing, rustic (perhaps intentionally so?) little spot that feels like you’ve stepped back in time into an olden fisherman’s harbour. There are cool restaurants and bars all across the boardwalk and even some on mini-piers on the water.
Fishermen go about their daily business here, attracting a crowd of hungry birds, looking to do the least possible work to get their lunch. 😄
The Pink Palace is a place whose reputation precedes it! It’s been ‘home’ to Marilyn Monroe, Al Capone and even F. Scott Fitzgerlad (writer of the Great Gatsby).
It’s got so much history around it and is a favourite with the locals (it’s the kind of place you dream of getting married in or honeymooning in since you were a kid, I’ve been reliably informed on Instagram – the ice cream is also not bad here too!)
Alas, we arrived too early to check in, which was fine as we had plans in St Pete’s to check out the city murals (they’ve got so many amazing ones here) and grab some lunch.
By the time got into St Pete’s though, plans had changed and tummies-a-rumbling, we decided to go lunch first.
For lunch, we headed over to Pacific Counter, a spot which I had no idea how much I would love until I stepped into it.
As soon as I stepped into the bright colourful space, I kinda realised I was probably in for a surprise (though thinking back now, I have no idea what I was expecting).
Then we took some time to get into the menu here (which was so patiently and rather helpfully explained by the manager here).
Turns out, everything here is thought through to the last details. Even the bright lights are there so you can see exactly how fresh your food is. The ingredients are prepped daily and you can definitely tell as soon as you take your first bite.
But let’s back things up a bit. So, Pacific Counter is essentially inspired by Pacific cuisine – think Hawaii (poke bowls) and Japan (sushi, sashimi…etc).
There’s so much choice on offer here – so much so that it could almost be a bit much but then it’s all reigned in as you get two ways to ‘build your meal’, poke bowl or in a wrap (and I know the wrap is perhaps more Mexican than it is Pacific but it comes greatly appreciated as it’s quite the most convenient edible plate, given the delicious choices you’re about to make).
We went poke bowl style and I went for all things spicy, including extra spicy sauce because… well, why not.
Lloyd tried to go in the similar spice lane as me but backed out when choosing his fish and a couple of veggies.
I’ll just go ahead and say something now. And this is a pretty big deal considering how good the food here is – this was the best meal we’d had (all meals included thus far), the entire time we’d been here on the trip thus far. Like hands down, the most “makes you wanna dance while you’re eating it” meal.
In fact, looking back now, there was only one other place that rivalled this but I’ll tell you more about it later (it was actually the last place we ate in the city before leaving).
It was just so delicious and this was even before I had the frozen sake (kinda like a sake slushie – soooooo good and much appreciated in that Florida heat).
Dessert came in the form of a soft-serve pineapple delight.
It’s like one of those desserts that not only tastes good but is like free from artificial anything so it also feels good. In fact, I think one of the only other places you might be able to find it is in Disneyland.
Lunch done with and with an extra spring in our step, we decided to go check out the murals of St Petersburg (which is actually the official long name of St Pete).
The murals here are kinda next level, not necessarily in terms of what they are but in terms of how integrated they are across the city. Like there are soooooooooo many, and you could spend a whole day looking for all of them and still not end up getting round to seeing them all.
The main thing here is to decide on which ones you wanna see the most and focus on them. This colourful piece very easily made the shortlist but that’s also because it was right next Twiggy one, amongst a few others.
Mr Sunshine here also made me giggle a fair bit, mostly because of that random car in front of it and how it looked like someone ridiculously pleased with his new car. (I know, it seemed so much hilarious to me at the time. Even Lloyd didn’t get why I kept bursting into fits of giggles).
Shark toof is something of a special one.
The opportunities to play around with it are endless but what really struck a chord with me is how detailed it really is!
It’s just one of those pieces that makes you duff your hat to the artists. (I’m terrible at drawing or painting – that’s more Lloyd’s forte so I appreciate this stuff soooo much).
I could run through all of them in details (I tried to find out a bit more about the artists and the art as we went along) but I’ll let you discover that for yourself when you visit – I will, however, show you some of my favourite across that afternoon…
This one with the fish was Lloyd’s favourite. (Like it’s cool but I don’t ‘feel it’ the same way he does – each to their own I guess 😀 ).
Marilyn Monroe kinda rounded things off for us before I realised that it was well past check-in time at the Don Cesar.
Now, there was a spot we’d (and by ‘we’, I mean ‘I’) had been planning on seeing the evening into and that’s Green Bench Brewing, however, thanks to a festival in town that evening, parking proved near impossible and so with that, we headed the Don Cesar for evening cocktails.
The Don Cesar is a whole vibe, in and of itself. It’s just such a fun place to be! (Also, if you’ve ever been there, you know those big pink sweets at the reception? I can’t even begin to tell you how many of those I had. I tasted one when we arrived and instantly started making excuses to go to reception just for a sugary top-up).
The cocktails here are so good and just the thing you need to start your evening.
By this point, we decided to abandon the car with the valet and hop into a taxi for dinner.
Dinner had us at Trophy Fish, which I kid you not, was the point where I decided that I could probably be quite happy moving (even if just for a few months) to live in St Pete.
The vibe here was so fun and relaxing as soon as we arrived and cocktails were exactly as delicious as I’d hoped (again, this was another local recommendation so we went with high hopes).
I went for the shrimp to start (don’t ask – given what we had in Clearwater, I feel like this needs no explanation – Hehehe! 😄).
We carried on with tacos for both of us, asparagus and coleslaw – all of which was just so yummy but left very little room for dessert!
With the final drops of the cocktails tucked away in our tummies, we decided to bid adieu to Trophy Fish and head over to the Don Cesar for drinks at the bar.
In what turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise, the Don Cesar had left some bubbly at the hotel for us which turned out to be the nightcap I didn’t know I wanted but kinda felt like I deserved! 😄
Well played Pink Palace, well played. 😄