The Originals: St. Pete Gems Revisited II

elcaps

This is the second installment in our series looking at the restaurants that made St. Pete a foodie city well before the rest of the world took notice.

In this series of articles we’re going to feature our favorite classic spots in the Burg. From burgers and fries, to smoked fish and grits, these are the original entrepreneurs and culinary behemoths that made St. Pete the place it is today.

 

El Cap

Since 1964, El Cap has served St. Pete the kind of no-nonsense fare that locals crave. If you want a cold beer, a true cheeseburger (the Daily Double is choice) and a decent seat to watch the Lightning, Bucs and Rays play, El Cap has been, and will continue to be, the place to go.

*Photo via Tripadvisor

The walls are lined with local touches from a different era. Horses, baseball squads, Rays banners and more are framed around each table. More than just homey, it feels like home. Banter from the regulars substitutes for blaring music and the servers greet you as if you’re an old friend.

The evolution of the Burg’s foodie scene illuminates and makes beautiful the uncomplicated nature of El Cap’s menu. They have chicken finger baskets for kids, steaming hot broccoli cheddar bites and mozzarella sticks for the family to share, and burgers that are covered in grilled onions, giant pickles and mayo. Their fries are the kind of addicting finger food you’ll find yourself eating by the basket.

They have ample outdoor seating, which is pet-friendly, and plenty of big screens inside, and a few small screens outside. 4th Street’s restaurant roster has grown immensely in two years. BetterByrd, Fresh Kitchen, Pei Wei, BurgerMonger and Noble Crust have all added to 4th Street’s culinary allure. While the new institutions are exciting, El Cap’s waving red sign will remain the true marker of St. Pete’s best cuisine.

When asked what he loved most about St. Pete, Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River, Shutter Island, Live By Night said, “An outdoor seat at El Cap on a March afternoon.”

El Cap is located at 3500 4th Street North.

 

Kopper Kitchen 

The Kopper Kitchen has been in business in St. Pete for over 30 years. This old-school institution serves up some of the most bountiful salads and mouthwatering pies you’ve ever experienced.

One of the charms of this Burg icon is their all-day breakfast. Kopper Kitchen is open Monday through Friday, from 7am-3pm, and Saturday, from 7am-2pm. Everything you enjoy at the restaurant was made fresh in-house.

Their breakfast menu offers your normal diner options: pancakes, french toast, granola, fruit, eggs and omelets. Kopper Kitchen‘s thick cut French Toast, generously dusted in powdered sugar, is a nostalgia-inducing dose of sweetness. If you want to add some color to the dish, we recommend the strawberry and banana toppings.

Kopper’s egg and cheese sandwich is pure morning fuel, and an unmatched starter for Saturday mornings in St. Pete. For lunch, their giant Greek Salads and Turkey Reuben on rye should be on your culinary bucket list.

They also serve fruit platters and an array of sandwiches to satisfy any palate, like their Cuban Sandwich, Asian Chicken Wrap (teriyaki-sesame marinated chicken, spinach, carrots, cabbage), and the stacked ham club with potato salad.

For vegetarians they make a tomato stuffed quiche, falafel stuffed eggplant, quinoa and black bean stuffed sweet potatoes and more. Click here to see their full menu.

Save room for dessert. Their cream puffs are made fresh as is their Boston Cream Pie, the best we have ever had, and the supersized coconut cream pie. Kopper Kitchen is located at 5562 Central Avenue.

 

Want to learn about a few more of our favorite original spots in the Burg? Click here to read Part I featuring The Chattaway and Harvey’s!

 

*Header photo by Greg Francis. You can purchase the photo on his Etsy Shop.