If you've ever headed over the Pinellas Bayway, chances are when you got to the end you've either turned right to head to St. Pete Beach, or maybe you've stopped right in front of you at the famous Don CeSar Hotel (also known as The Pink Palace), one of St. Petersburg's two famous pink hotels (the other being the Vinoy, located downtown). But have you ever considered turning left? Doing so means you have arrived in Pass-a-Grille, and many wonders await you.
Pass-a-Grille is located at the southernmost tip of St. Pete Beach and was originally inhabited, like many spots in Pinellas, by the Tocabaga Indians. Europeans visited for the first time in 1528 when Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez anchored off the pass. How the place earned the name is up for debate. One story says it comes from the French for "Passe Aux Grilleurs" which means the passageway of the grillers. This name was in honor of the fishermen who used the land on the tip of the island as a camp and grilled fish there.
Another more specific story says Pass-A-Grille got its name from Cuban fisherman, known as "Grillers," who camped along the water's edge of the island and would smoke their fish before returning home. Traveling through the pass, you could see the fires on the beaches, hence Pass-A-Grille. Like many beach towns in Florida, PAG is often described as having an Old Florida feel, and many say it's "Key West as it used to be."
While there are certainly majestic waterfront homes in the community, the area is better known for beach bungalows, and there are no huge condo towers or hotel chains. Historic 8th Avenue contains the oldest dwellings on the Pinellas beaches and is one of the largest Historic Districts on the Gulf Coast. Paradise Grille, located right on the beach, is a great spot for beach bites, cold drinks, and the sunset. The Brass Monkey makes delicious jerk chicken (perfect over a Caesar salad) and the best crab cakes (known there as Monkey Balls). The Hurricane bar rooftop is an ideal viewpoint for sunsets. If you want to be like the locals, go to The Wharf. It's a great spot to sit out back on the water and watch the boats. The Mexican shrimp bowl, conch fritters, and ceviche are our favorite dishes, and we love that the bar has a jukebox (even though it's one of those new digital ones).