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Downtown Bites: Rice, Beans, and Cubans, oh yes

The best way to describe my relationship with Bodega on Central is like that meme that talks about how broke you are but then a friend asks you to lunch. This is by far my favorite place to eat in St. Petersburg. There are times where I eat here several times a week. I don’t have any shame or money for that matter.

The first time you visit, a Cuban sandwich is a must. It’s hot and crunchy with a sliver of sour pickle. Their slow roasted pork melts in your mouth, a true classic and one of their best sellers. If you don’t want pork in a sandwich, try their lechon plato. It comes in a box full, and I mean full, of pork, black beans, rice and soft maduros plantains. There’s enough food for two in one box and makes for great leftovers

My personal favorite is their pollo asado sandwich. I deem it the best sandwich in the world, everyone I’ve taken to Bodega has ordered it, and not one of them regretted it. Mango mayonnaise smeared on freshly pressed Cuban bread, topped with coconut marinated chicken, fresno peppers and perfectly ripe avocados. It’s juicy and spicy because if you’re like me, you douse everything in Cholula hot sauce. If i’m feeling really hungry, I’ll order their pollo asado plato, which comes with beans, rice and maduros plantains. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’re not excluded! They offer tofu and tempeh options, too.

Bodega is right up the street from Ferg’s, across from Tropicana Field. It lives up to its name, as it’s a small standing bodega where you order from the window and sit outside. You’ll usually find yourself standing in line waiting to place your order, but it’s always worth it. If all the seats out front are taken, there’s a patio in the back with more tables. If you want to escape the heat of the upcoming summer months, visit their juice bar right next door.

They have a selection of soda frescas, made with fresh fruits and Florida cane sugar. There’s also a menu of smoothies and fresh pressed juices. My favorite is the Kale-ing Me Softly smoothie, made with kale, banana, and pineapple. If you’re not wanting something lean and green, order a cafe con leche. Coming from someone who isn’t a huge coffee fan, Bodega’s Cuban coffee is to die for.

To polish off your Bodega experience, try their guava pastelito. The warm and flaky dough is filled with cheese and guava paste. It’s practically summer in a pastry.

Everything is made to order, so it takes a minute, but Bodega on Central has created such a laid-back environment, waiting for your food might just be the easiest thing you do all week.

To take a look at their menu, click here.

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