My Favorite Places – Peg’s Cantina

Five days left until Tampa Bay Beer Week.  Are you excited yet?

In the Southern part of Pinellas County is a delightful little town simply called Gulfport. With a population of 13,000 residents, it is home to 1,500 licensed businesses, services, entrepreneurs, inns, artisans, boutiques, restaurants and shops. Often referred to as the “Gateway to the Gulf”, the waterfront town is known for its year-round art-walks and festivals. Several of the local restaurants have been listed among the top in Pinellas County.

One standout gem – and of special interest to the craft beer lover – is Peg’s Cantina and Brewpub. Peg’s is a “green aware” restaurant, which shows in nearly every aspect of their operation. Seating is mostly outdoors on the fun-but-nicely decorated deck with large trees that allows for strategically placed tables in shady spots. All plates and silverware are recycled from local markets, the coffee they serve is fair trade, grown by indigenous people in Mexico, and the soda is made with real sugar cane instead of high fructose corn syrup. All the ingredients in the Mexican food and thin-crust pizza are fresh and made to order. In addition, to encourage customers to realize their reliance on plastic, only cash and checks are accepted (there is an ATM onsite, however.)

All well and good, one might say. Lots of places say that. But Peg’s delivers and then some. Everything I have ever had there, from the chips and salsa on, has been fresh and flavorful.

But that’s not all! Peg’s is also a brewpub. Doug Dozark, production manager at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, is head brewer at Peg’s. Peg says “He is my son, but he got the job because he can really brew G.O.O.D. (Gulfport Original On Draft) beer!” And it’s true. Not just his mama loves him. Doug has won multiple medals over the past few years — Square Dancing Cody (a Double IPA), Gulfport Centennial Stout, and Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, just to name a few. While Doug brews about nine different styles, usually only 3 are available at any given time.

One of my favorite meals is the Burrito Mojados with pork. This is a “wet” burrito cooked with refried beans and a mild salsa then the gravy is served over the burrito. Then they garnish the wet burrito with a spicy chipotle, and serve it with yellow rice and black beans. It is amazing. The spices and seasonings are perfectly balanced and just bursting with flavor. Even the rice and beans – so often an afterthought – are delicious and obviously freshly made as well. Again, the freshness and quality of the ingredients shine through. Light but flavorful, and just filling enough.

The beer is a big reason people come to Peg’s, and for good reason. I have been fortunate enough to sample some of Doug’s (and his “sidekick pirate” Kristina Kirk’s) brews at local festivals and all have been excellent.

In addition to the local brew, there is always plenty of other beer to choose from. With nine other taps and over fifty bottles available, there is something for every taste.

Peg’s is definitely a gem in Gulfport and should be a stop on any Florida visitor’s itinerary.

During Tampa Bay Beer Week, Peg’s is running several events, including a “Ladies Food and Beer Pairing” and a “G.O.O.D. (and RARE!) Barrel-Aged Beer Day!”  Check out their other events on the Tampa Bay Beer Week website.

Cheers!

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~ by Sean Nordquist on February 28, 2012.

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