Let’s face it, St. Petersburg, Florida isn’t exactly known for its exotic cuisine. Delicious seafood? Yes. Sizzling steaks? Sure. But Asian food? The options in St. Pete are pretty slim. For lovers of Eastern cuisine, Hawkers could be the answer to your curry cravings.
Located on the edge of downtown on Central Avenue, Hawkers is a great place to go on a night out. Walking into Hawkers feels like stepping out of St. Pete and into a much more urban city. The lighting is warm and inviting. The tables are dressed with pop culture articles torn from Asian newspapers. At my table, Chloe Grace Moretz smiled up at me while I ate.
Everything seems to move faster when you step into Hawkers. Fortunately, this includes the service. Our waitress always seemed to appear seconds before we needed her.
The menu can seem overwhelming at first. It can be difficult to decide between the plethora of noodle, rice and curry dishes. After our waitress returned to our table for the third time, we had finally decided what we wanted to eat.
For an appetizer, I ordered the roti canai, a flaky Malaysian flatbread served with a curry sauce. The bread was warm and buttery and the perfect vessel to soak up the tangy curry sauce. The bread was so good that I ordered an extra piece so I would have something to pair the remaining curry with.
My main course was pad thai. The flavors in it were absolutely incredible. The typical problem I have of pad thai containing too many noodles and not enough meat was not a problem at Hawkers. The dish had a healthy portion of both chicken and shrimp. The combination of peanuts, peppers and lime blended together and left me wanting more by the time I finished my bowl.
The food at Hawkers is prepared quickly and comes out as it’s ready. This means if you order multiple items, your main courses could come out before your appetizers. A good strategy at Hawkers would be for your party to order multiple dishes and split them all. The portions are smaller than some restaurants, so it’s easy to sample more than one dish.
Thirsty? Try one of Hawkers’ Asian-themed cocktails. In the “Boozy Boba,” the tapioca pearls absorb all the rum, reminiscent of alcohol-soaked gummy bears. Hawkers also has sake, Japanese whiskey and imported beers. A major mistake we made was not saving room for dessert. Be sure to pace yourself so that you can try the mango sticky rice, ginger cheesecake or cinnamon roti.
Hawkers is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday its hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday it’s open an hour later, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Friday and Saturday nights you can stop by for a midnight snack as they’re open until 12:30 a.m.
No matter your dietary needs, Hawkers has a dish to suit them. Their menu is clearly labeled with gluten-free and vegetarian options. With most entrees priced at $8, Hawkers won’t leave your wallet or your stomach empty. Come to Hawkers hungry and be prepared to leave full and happy.
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