Sometimes, in Florida, less is more. Especially when you're looking for no-frills, authentic and delicious food that is representative of the sunshine state. Sure, there are plenty of chain restaurants where you could wait in line and eat the same thing over and over. But where's the fun in that?
Instead, it can be rewarding (and delicious) to look for some of Florida's vintage restaurants that have withstood the challenges of time. These types of places have proven that they have what it takes to thrive in a very competitive market.
There's a small, older restaurant in a Florida beach town that may not look like much on the outside, but locals and visitors alike have been coming for over 80 years to enjoy the delightful, and somewhat famous, smoked fish - which has always been prepared in exactly the same way.
This restaurant is not a local secret. It's appeared on the Food Network's Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, and sometimes, it can get a bit crowded due to its popularity. But most feel that any wait is worth it. (The picture at the top of this article is one the buildings on the property. The restaurant itself is a bit bigger.)
What's So Special About Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish?: Ted Peters' is a St. Petersburg institution that first opened in 1951. Generations of Floridians have come here through the decades, and many remember having dinner with their grandparents. Those same people are now bringing their own children.
And generations of the same family have also worked in and run the restaurant, which has kept things consistent throughout the years, using the same oak smoker process and a simple dressing of salt and a light tomato sauce, which allows the true flavors of the fish to come through.
Although corporations have tried to partner with or invest in the restaurant through the years, the family has always resisted this, wanting to keep the restaurant consistent for the community, and not ruining what already works.
Mike Lathrop, the son of one of the original owners, told Edible Tampa Bay:
“Our family commitment continues. We have loyal employees, a good location, and a great product. We just want to keep it simple and enjoy life.”
Although the original menu has expanded to include smoked salmon and mahi-mahi, the main draw has always been and still is the mullet. And the menu remains sparse and simple, sticking to popular items that customers ask for again and again.
What Do Reviewers Like Best About Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish?: As you might expect, reviewers do rave about the smoked mullet, and when there are negative reviews, they sometimes stem come from a reviewer who is frustrated that the mullet was sold out.
However, customers also love the fish spread, the German potato salad, the clam chowder, and the Key lime pie. Reviewers also notice (and appreciate) that the fish is always fresh and is served right out of the smoker.
What are the Prices Like?: If you go for lunch, a fish spread sandwich is $9.99. The mullet lunch, which comes with German potato salad and coleslaw, is $12.99. If you go for dinner, the mullet diner is $19.50. Other types of fish are a little more expensive, with mackerel being the cheapest and salmon being the most expensive.
A slice of Key lime pie is $6.99, and you can get a pint of the popular smoked fish spread for $11.99. A pint of clam chowder is $5.99.
Information if You're Visiting: If you'd like to visit Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, know that they are old school and only accept cash. They are also closed on Mondays as of this writing, and they've been closed on Tuesdays in the past, so it's probably prudent to check hours before you go. The address is 1350 Pasadena Avenue South in St. Petersburg. The website is here for further information.