Friday, January 27, 2012

More Than Smiles, at "Smiley's Snack Shack"

If you've ever been to St Pete Beach, you've seen the landmark Don Cesar; a sprawling pink hotel built in the 1920's. Just a few blocks north on Gulf Blvd, in stark contrast, stands the unassuming Smiley's Snack Shack. In my experience, "shacks" that sell food are incredible or terrible, there's generally no inbetween. This one was awesome!

I hesitate to write about it because one of the cool things about this place, at least for now, is the lack of tourists. Smiley's is truly a "local's" place.

The shack has about five stools, and not all of them will fit comfortably at the counter, it's a small space. After announcing we were Smiley's virgins, a man bragging about his "redneck" roots graciously surrendered his regular spot to the two new girls.

We played our "new girl card" for all it was worth over the next several hours. First, we sampled all three of the beers on tap; lined up side by side. Then ordered a bottle of Mont Gras Cabernet for a mere $11.

Over the course of the evening we tried many of Smiley's specialties, seems everything they do here is special. Like the single burger ($5), grilled to perfection, on an egg and potato bun. Everyone had an opinion about how to cook it, what ingredients to put on it and in what  order. The discussion got very animated; building a burger is taken seriously here.

You can't have a burger without fries. I loved opening the box to see smiley faces looking up at me. "Freudo", the bar tender, squirted ample amounts of ketchup on pieces of block paper used in lieu of plates.

We tried the Yum Yum Shrimp ($7.50) with Boom Boom sauce (chipotle and red pepper). It was messy,  had a great kick and offered lots of juvenile entertainment. For instance, "Hey chef, put the boom boom on my yum yum."

The staff appreciated the fact that we appreciated the  food and sent out a few more must have items. Like the giant Kegger Dog boiled in beer and something that's not on the menu; Griddlin' Cheese. Chef rolled tomato, onion and jalepeno inside of cheese then slow cooked it on the griddle. My new redneck friend was all about the Griddlin'. He assured me in a thick southern drawl "he (chef) don't make that for just anyone."

Someone cranked the volume on an old boom box behind the bar and we joined in the chorus of an even older Journey song. Bad dancing soon followed with too much laughter to measure. The laughter accompanied us on our walk home and still surfaces when I think of our spontaneous adventure at Smiley's.

***COMMENTS: Thanks to all my Facebook friends for posting so many great comments. I would LOVE it if you could also post your comments here on this blog site. Many people tell me they posted and it never showed up. Disappointing for us both. So click comment, type your comment, check the box that says "comment as" then hit post. If a word verification box does not appear next (a scrambled word to retype) your comment did not post. Thanks!


  1. WOW! That's a single burger?! YUM! I LOVE those out of the way places off the beaten path!
    Gina B is SW Florida's answer to Rachael Ray's $40 A Day!! Keep on finding the great places girlfriend!

  2. Yes that's a single. Can you believe they actually serve a TRIPLE?? You need a construction permit for that one. And I can just hear the endless debate over how to assemble each layer.

  3. I am going to check this place out. Love alot of food for very little money. Great write up Gina. Keep em coming and if you need any taste testers I'm your man

  4. DJ Tiny since you love a good burger, let me know when you come across the next great one! And by the way, a good taste tester is always needed.