The Toasted Monkey
St Pete Beach, FL 33706
I took the day off for my best friend’s birthday to go jet skiing and to eat at really good restaurants. We spent an hour on the water courtesy of Woody’s Watersports and had worked up a pretty huge appetite. We asked the attendant who helped us bring in our jet skis for a good place to get a fishbowl cocktail – he pointed us to The Toasted Monkey a few miles away. A short trip later, we found ourselves at the St. Pete Beach Howard Johnson Resort Hotel, directly on the water. The restaurant itself is a sports bar at the front of the hotel and a beach bar in the back, literally between the hotel’s pool and the Gulf of Mexico.
We walked to the back of the hotel, past the pool, towards the beach bar/restaurant area. In case you don’t know, the weather in Florida in October is perfect: 70’s, sunny, warm enough to still wear shorts and/or a bikini, yet cool enough to not be miserable. We walked through a sand volleyball court, up onto the wooden patio, and picked a table half in the sun and half in the shade of a colorful parasol. The restaurant was just filling up and the seating was first come, first serve. We waited a few minutes before I had to go to the bar and ask for menus. Once I flagged someone down, the waitress was attentive and friendly!
We ordered a round of drinks: a light refreshing grapefruit shandy, some fruity cocktails, and the requisite birthday bucket of tropical alcohol. I honestly liked these better than the hand-crafted cocktails we had later that evening, but their drink menus aren’t online and I don’t remember what we ordered. But seriously, the drinks were good, strong, and refreshing – definitely worth checking out.
I ordered a Bacon Jam Burger, the one with a happy monkey picture next to it denoting a house specialty, and my girlfriend got the Fresh Gulf Grouper, another monkey specialty. The food came, after a bit of a wait, from the kitchen at the front of the hotel and I was honestly shocked at the quality! I’d been expecting beach bar food and I got a foodie experience! My burger was perfectly medium-rare and the bacon jam was spicy and delicious; it paired perfectly with the burger, provolone cheese, and high quality bun. The grouper was flaky and moist, served with tartar sauce on a bun.
After we finished and paid, we took a few steps to the Gulf to finish off our afternoon, pleasantly surprised by The Toasted Monkey. I’d definitely recommend it for a laid back afternoon with high quality food on the beach.