"In street food, one can find the true spirit and culture of the local people." With this one statement on its website, the Flight Lounge team sums up the impetus for its entire restaurant. At the modern eatery, visitors can celebrate a cross-section of global flavors and culinary traditions that have been passed down through generations by both written recipes and subliminal messaging in top-40 songs. The menu spotlights dishes from around the world, including Cuba, the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Pakistan?each crafted with authentic ingredients such as fried plantains and pickled okra.
The perfume of warming spices permeates the vibrant lounge, which often hosts live music and displays the works of local artists in a gallery section. The gallery, illuminated by overhead spotlights arranged in the shape of an airplane, donates 100% of its proceeds to the artists and charities including Instruments 4 Life, Global Community Outreach, and Advocates for World Health.
Where there's smoke, there's a fiery Groupon. Fill your lungs with one night of unlimited fruity deliciousness at the plush and swanky Meridian Hookah Lounge (a $12 value). Meridian is an intimate and relaxing lounge that's open until 3 a.m. and has live music several nights a week.
A cultural fixture in the islands of the South Pacific, kava is derived from the roots of the Piper methysticum, and is typically consumed at a nakamal, or central village meeting area. Bula Kafe transports these traditions to the shores of the Florida Gulf, filling coconut shells with the cool beverage and serving them at its outdoor commons. Known for its medicinal properties, the kava root is first ground into powder and then steeped in water, resulting in an elixir that helps calm the body and relieve anxiety brought on by a phobia of dry powder. Along with traditional kava beverages, the bamboo-framed hut purveys such hot and cold delights as spiced chai, fruit smoothies, and frozen horchata.
Set amid an all-outdoor bar, Bula Kafe turns up the fans during hot months and warms its barstools with space heaters and tiki torches during the winter. Throughout the entire year, guests enjoy bouts of table tennis and darts, or compete in high-stakes sessions of board games such as Apples to Apples and Battleship as others strum on acoustic guitars, sip silently as they read a book, or surf the internet on free WiFi. Though the listed closing times are midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, the staff is known for accommodating late revelers with advance notice.
Tryst Gastro Lounge’s chefs draw in diners with their roast duck breast with maple glaze, which helped earn them recognition as one of America's Most Popular High End Restaurants in 2012 on Urbanspoon.com. Behind the full bar, Logan Owens, the Tampa Bay Times’ Ultimate Bartender in 2012, also does his share to lure customers as he crafts specialty cocktails with muddled fresh fruit, herbs, and spirits. Owens infuses a pear lychee-tini with lychee purée and sake or custom blends an off-menu libation dubbed a "Logan Special," which he designs to suit each imbiber's palate. Tufted leather booths inside the black-and-white-wallpapered dining area absorb posteriors while taste buds absorb cocktails. Alternately, the outdoor patio gives guests the chance to raise their glasses up high in a toast to clouds that look like Winston Churchill.
For fairly-priced sushi in St. Petersburg, you can't beat Rollbotto Sushi. Featuring a simple menu of foods that are served with the elegance and style of a high-end sushi bar, Rollbotto is perfect for someone seeking the seemingly impossible combination of low prices and high quality. Start with a cucumber salad or a bowl of piping-hot miso soup and then move on to an order of rolls—you can get your sushi rolls customized by requesting they be topped with one of Rollbotto's signature mixes, such as the volcano mix featuring spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce and a seafood blend. For a great Japanese meal that won't burn a hole in your wallet, try Rollbotto's.
The aromas of Middle Eastern spices and grilled meats waft through the restaurant’s windows and doors, drawing passing noses closer with every outpouring of scent. At Prestige Lounge & Lebanese Cuisine, chefs reproduce authentic Lebanese recipes that draw from both Eastern and Western culinary influences to give diners a taste of the Middle East that lingers on in memories with expressive herbs and sizzling meat dishes. Chefs build their culinary sonatas using only halal meat and prepare yogurts and build on their flavor profiles all in the restaurant’s kitchen, ensuring that each bite is fresh. As live entertainment gets rolling on Friday and Saturday nights, the food gets a worthy competitor for diners’ attention spans. Belly dancers perform on weekends, and other talents, such as Middle Eastern singers and DJs, electrify the dining room with their lively shows.