St. Pete’s EDGE District ripe with new, updated foodie destinations

Commune over tapas at The Edge, Bodega's thirst-quenching additions and more.

Posted by Meaghan Habuda on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 1:41 PM

The Edge's interior is elegant and eclectic. - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • The Edge's interior is elegant and eclectic.

Downtown's burgeoning EDGE District welcomes another new kid on the block with the opening on Thursday, July 3, of The Edge Lounge & Tapas at 911 Central Ave.

Samir Khemiri, who owns Expectations Furniture a few doors away, said he decided to launch the restaurant because of his love of food. He’ll be doing some of the cooking alongside the chef.

Khemiri moved his furniture store to the EDGE District three years ago, and according to him, the tapas lounge will fill a niche that’s been missing from the area. He said he wants the restaurant to be a social destination.

The eatery will feature Spanish tapas, as well as Mediterranean and Italian renditions. Wine and beer from locales like Argentina, Chile, Spain and France will be offered in addition to liquor in the future.

Elegant and eclectic, most of The Edge’s furniture came from Expectations, Khemiri said, and the tables were made locally with natural wood. Chic Impression, a Bay area finishing and design company, oversaw the painting of the pillars, walls, bar and floor.

With 70 to 80 seats available inside, diners may unwind on bar stools or relax on couches and chairs. There will also be outdoor seating for 32.

Thirst, be gone

Back in February, CL’s Arielle Stevenson talked with Bodega on Central's co-owner George Sayegh about the Cuban joint’s expansion into the space next door at 1114 Central Ave.

Stevenson reported that the front half of the new space would allow Bodega to provide indoor seating and broaden its offering of homemade soda frescas with the installation of a juice bar. The Sayeghs have since decided how to use the rest of the space.

Co-owner Debbie Sayegh said that the back half of the space will house a full liquor bar, focused on rum, that will debut in six months.

Meanwhile, the juice bar will be serving from four to 10 flavors, rotated daily. Bodega plans to work as many organic, native-to-the-state ingredients into its liquids, including the smoothies, as possible.

Products like house-made coconut water, Florida-grown organic sugar and aloe vera will be used, and the bar has a wheatgrass juicer as well as one for sugar cane.

The Sayeghs wanted their new space — dry and air-conditioned — to have “a more relaxed vibe,” Debbie said. Diners will be able to order from the streetside window, then enjoy the AC from 25 counter-only seats inside. Sayegh sees the new addition as a place where people will feel comfortable even if they’re dining solo.

The expansion is also prompting two additions to Bodega’s food menu.

According to Sayegh, the restaurant will incorporate the tempeh sammie and Cuban burger, which were served as specials, into its permanent bill of fare. Diners would get upset when the items weren’t featured regularly, she said.

Sayegh said Bodega’s indoor dining area and juice bar will open, at the latest, by the end of August, but that the opening could take place as soon as a few weeks from now.

Spicing up Baum Avenue

It won’t take long for those who’ve left a Red Mesa eatery in a state of post-noshing bliss to warm up to the Veytia family’s latest project, Red Mesa Mercado, at 1100 First Ave. N.

With a no-frills menu geared toward California-style Mexican eats (burritos, tacos and other take-out fare), the Mercado will give diners a taste of a whole ‘nother enchilada by October. Peter Veytia Jr., who manages Red Mesa Cantina, said the space is in build-out and remodeling mode.

A walk-up window will be open to Baum Avenue North for grab-and-go orders, and a covered outdoor patio with seating for 60 will invite chowhounds to sit and stay a while.

“We saw a gap in the market and wanted to fit the need,” Veytia said.

He said that the Mercado — part restaurant, part market — will also house a tortilla factory to fashion freshly made corn and flour tortillas.

The Mercado’s retail market will face 11th Street North and carry items such as ceviches, meats, cheeses and salsas.

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