Folks who frequent beaches usually look for a special place to eat or drink. When they find a good one, they tell everybody, especially their friends. After a few visits, these good places become their favorites, to which they return again and again.
Rick’s Reef in St. Pete Beach is this kind of place. You go there once and you get a certain feel of the place, and then it is a worthy candidate for telling others. This small beachy location is very accessible, right on Gulf Blvd, and has decent parking. I have gone there for years, when it was known by many different names, but this is the first time a new owner spent some money on fixing up the place, making needed improvements, brightening the dining room, and classing up the bathrooms—a nice touch.
The atmosphere at Rick’s Reef is not just casual, it’s downright friendly. There is an L shaped dining deck outside, concealed from busy Gulf Bl by a half-wall and large shrubs and palms, and an attractive air-conditioned dining area inside. A circular bar opens to the deck and to the inside. Although I didn’t sit at the bar, those who did seemed relaxed and content.
At Rick’s Reef you’re welcomed like they really ARE happy to see you, happy to tell you about their great food, and happy to serve it with a real smile. That’s not always easy to find these days, but on my visits to Rick’s, it seemed to be guaranteed.
Now to the food. On two of my visits I ordered the Pork Toro sandwich. The menu states that it is “Spicy Pork Toro topped with caramelized onions & Swiss cheese served on a Ciabatta Roll.” It is excellent—flavorful with a nice sauce. All the sandwiches are served with your choice of Shipwreck Fries or Tropical Slaw, and although you can save some money by leaving off the slaw or fries, you might be cheating yourself, because the fries are homemade out of real potatoes. Rick and his cooks place a potato in a little machine, and out come long pieces that are immediately fried and served to the customer. Once you taste them, you’ll know there’s a big difference between real and frozen! The slaw is cut coarsely and is flavorful.
My friend had the fish taco sandwich which I will order on my next visit. I looked around at other diners. They looked content and all their food looked like things I want to order on my return visits. Check out the website menu—it’s colorful and everything it features will be something you’ll want to try too.
I live fifty miles away, but when I’m in the neighborhood, I’m glad to return again to Rick’s Reef. So will you!
Dr. Andy LePage
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