5 Best Fish Spreads in St. Petersburg FL for 2019

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5 Best Fish Spreads in St. Petersburg FL for 2019

Along with Cuban Sandwiches, and Grouper Sandwiches, Smoked Fish Spread is the epitome of local Florida eating, and definitely embedded in local St. Pete food culture.

Where & When Did Fish Spread Start? The popular history of smoke fish spread starts with Ted Peters. While it’s unclear whether Ted Peters was the first local to turn smoked fish into a spread/dip, he’s certainly one of its earliest (and most important) aficionados… Ted’s original fish smoking location opened in the late 1940’s. By 1951, the current Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish restaurant was up and running, and neither smoked fish nor Ted Peters ever looked back. – SplashyVentures.com – (Check the link for a great fish spread write-up.)

Ted Peters is definitely the most famous because of their long history, AND because it says so on their sign—and kudos to them, but they didn’t make our best list.

Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish Sign
Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish Sign

Just like Bodega with their Cuban Sandwich, Ted Peters seems to be the undisputed leader. Why? Because everyone says so, that’s why. It’s like in Game of Thrones when the Dothraki women mean to tell someone this is the truth no matter what, they say, “It is known”. Period.

I did enjoy my visit to Ted Peters. You have to give them credit for their long history, and for smoking their own fish right on the premises. When you pull into the parking lot you can smell the smokers while still sealed inside your air-conditioned car.

The servers are all quite friendly, there’s a log cabin, hunting lodge vibe, and you are encouraged to use the Crystal Hot Sauce.

Ted Peters Interior
Ted Peters Interior
Ted Peters Mantel
Ted Peters Fireplace & Mantel
Ted Peters Smoked Fish Spread
Ted Peters Smoked Fish Spread
Crystal Hot Sauce
Crystal Hot Sauce

Ted Peters Fish Spread was good. It’s made with Mullet, and Mahi-mahi always, and sometimes with Salmon too. It’s mildly smoky, has a pronounced tanginess, and a little sweetness not found in the others, which I didn’t care for. If you haven’t been, you should check it out just for the experience.

NOTE: Almost EVERY restaurant in St. Pete has fish spread on their menu, and this is a Top 5 list, so chances are that YOUR favorite might not be on this short list. Please feel free to list them in the comments at the end.

Before we get into the list, an important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments, or actually eat the food. (Sounds ridiculous, right?) They just download photos from the internet, or embed Instagram posts from someone else. Instant “Best of …” list produced without having to leave the house, or even get dressed.

That’s NOT how we do it.

We absolutely DO eat all of the food on all of our lists. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?)

Unfortunately, we’ve seen these junk lists a lot—from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here.


The order is zip code, then alphabetical by restaurant name.

Best Fish Spreads in St. Pete

1. The Birch & Vine

340 Beach Dr NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 896-1080
The Birch & Vine Website

The Birch Vine Fish Spread
The Birch Vine Fish Spread

Smoked Fish Dip – House Smoked Fish, Peruvian Paprika, Sofrito, Buttermilk Flatbread.

From Chef, Lee Aquino, “We have gulf-selected fish, salmon, tuna, sofrito relish, sofrito green, and the smoked wet-mix is sofrito-based as well. The Buttermilk Flatbread is made in-house.”

I asked how they smoke the fish in-house, and Chef informed me that they use an Alto Shaam smoker.

The Birch & Vine’s fish spread is the most unique. First, they win for the fanciest plating. Chef Lee’s French-training likely comes into play here. Then there’s the cylindrical shape. Lastly, it is unique because there are some large chunks of fish mixed in with the finely chopped fish. Some pieces are larger than a bite, and need to be cut with a knife. Interesting, but still quite tasty. The Peruvian Paprika and sofrito adds a nice little spice to it. It is the most mild in smokiness in this group.


2. The Galley
27 4th St North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 575-7071
The Galley Website

The Galley Fish Spread
The Galley Fish Spread (Photo: Lori Brown)

Gulfport Fish Spread – Local Catch, Smoked In-House.

From co-owner, Pete Boland, “Ours is always smoked in house, and rotates depending on the availability of local catch. As true Tampa Bay locals, we like to use Amberjack as much as possible, but today’s spread is made with Swordfish.”

We have had both the Amberjack and Swordfish versions and love them both. The multigrain bread and cherry peppers are great accompaniments. When it’s cooler out, Lola, our long-haired Chihuahua comes along and enjoys the carrots.


3. Paul’s Landing
501 5th Ave NE (Inside The Vinoy Resort)
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 824-8007
Paul’s Landing Website

Paul's Landing Smoked Fish Spread
Paul’s Landing Smoked Fish Spread

Smoked Fish Spread – Pickled Veggies, Grilled Bread.

From Chef Luke Decker, “The type of fish varies but it’s always local, white fish—Grouper, snapper, etc. It is smoked in house with hickory and includes mayo, celery, capers, citrus zest and juice.”

The flavors are outstanding, there’s a good amount of smokiness, and the grilled bread is delightful with the char flavor from the grill, and great texture of light crunchiness on the outside, and soft and light on the inside. The house-pickled veggies are a nice high note counterpoint.


4. Dr. BBQ The Restaurant
1101 1st Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 443-7227
Dr. BBQ Website

Dr. BBQ Gator Fish Spread
Dr. BBQ Gator Fish Spread

House-smoked grouper and gator, seasoned and served with both crackers and buttery garlic toast.

Dr. BBQ’s comes in second for most unique, as it is the only one that includes alligator. When it first came out it was called “Taste Like Chicken Spread”, but too many people didn’t get the humor, so now it’s the more obvious, “Gator Fish Spread”.

I thought I detected Hungarian Paprika, and also cream cheese (which I later learned is a somewhat common ingredient for fish spread), so I checked with Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe.

He said, “It’s a blackening spice. The grouper and alligator are both smoked on the Big Green Egg, and you are correct on the cream cheese.”

This one is the most creamiest, and most moist of all of them. It’s meaty, there’s a nice crunch from the celery, it’s tangy with a mild smokiness. The buttered toasted baguette slices are a great accompaniment.


5. Captain Bill’s Gulfside Tavern
145 107th Ave
Treasure Island, FL 33706
(727) 317-3940
Captain Bill’s Website

Captain Bill's Fish Spread
Captain Bill’s Fish Spread

Fish Spread with Grilled Bread, Cucumbers & Celery.

Captain Bill’s gets theirs from Chris Solven at John’s Pass, and it is extremely delicious with a great consistency. The char from the bread is quite good, and the cucumbers are a bonus for Lori.

Tell us what your favorite fish spread is in the comments below!

Best Fish Spreads in St. Petersburg FL
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  • Rated 4.8 stars
    4.8 / 5 (14 )
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The Best Fish Spreads in St. Petersburg FL, chosen by locals who actually ate the food, and not by an algorithm, or the magazine you found on the airplane.

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DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, Haley, Lindsey & Mahika do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner. We do not include any large national or regional chains in our ratings and reviews. We focus on independent locally owned eateries exclusively.

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.

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17 Responses

  • Agree with galley at the top of the list! We surprisingly had some phenomenal fish spread at the Getaway at Maximo marina recently. Big chunks of red onion and celery, not overly smoky or fishy. It seemed so fresh and made in house. We were pleasantly surprised!

  • I find the smoked fish spread at Island Grille on Tierra Verde to be some of the best with a generous helping. They give you two scoops. One smoked salmon and one smoked mullet (I believe). We always get a double salmon.

  • Thanks for this list. Lists are always helpful. And I mean this as a respectful and appreciative follower of this blog, and in no way mean to disparage anyone. Generally speaking, however, these “Best Of” lists, not just yours, are inaccurately named. Let’s call them, “My Favorite….” I’m sure the List Makers do not mean to imply that they think their taste, knowledge, and experience is superior to others, but it could be inferred that way. Just food got thought. You do provide an excellent source of information regarding local restaurants, etc. Thank you.

    • Grant, thanks for being a regular reader! Yes, we could have a whole discussion as to how much of a review is subjective versus objective, and the ratio likely changes based on what’s being reviewed. There is always a certain amount of personal opinion and personal taste in every review.

    • Its not a restaurant, but Gulfcoast Seafood market has a great Mahi fish spread. Flavor is spot on! Perfect for on the go!

  • I very much agree with your take on Ted Peters’ fish spread. One of my least favorites. I actually like the one at Caddy’s on The Beach. Not sure where they are getting it from, I am pretty sure they don’t make it there.

  • Knockman’s (sp?) is a supplier to many restaurants (IC Sharks was one of them) and is some of the best I’ve ever had.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Katy! A lot of people mentioned Nachman’s Seafood in the Facebook post.

  • Thankyou very much for the list of fish spreads. To us fish spread is synonymous with Ted Peters so we now are even more excited to get back to Florida. I find I enjoy food more when I feel I have received good value. Is there anyway to indicate relative prices?

  • Try the fish spread at Babalu!!! It is the BEST I’ve ever had. Love it piled on captain’s crackers with a line of green Tabasco!!! Nirvana!!!!

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