We have a new go-to restaurant. Last week after our bike ride around St. Pete and visit to the Dali Museum, we met up with our friend Libby for a late lunch at the just-opened Better Byrd. It’s run by the Ciccio Restaurant Group (who owns half the restaurants on Howard in Tampa – Daily Eats, Fresh Kitchen, Green Lemon, the Lodge, and Ciccio Water). The other half of the Better Byrd building is actually another Fresh Kitchen, which shares an outdoor space so you have the choice of dining at either restaurant.
It is a fast casual concept which specializes in chicken and donuts. I originally thought it was going to just be unhealthy fried chicken dishes, but they actually have amazing fresh bowl options as well. Their menu is pretty extensive, but they have an area to review the options on the wall right when you walk in before you get in line if you’re indecisive.
Here’s a brief description of their philosophy:
I had their PestoByrd bowl with chicken, arugula, grape tomatoes, cucumber, lemon almond pesto, and quinoa. I was really hoping for their sweet potato tots, but they apparently haven’t started serving those yet, so I got sweet potato fries instead, served with creamy maple dip. Libby had their Melon Margaryta bowl, and Lance had their Numberone sandwich.
Lance and I had beers (they have several local ones available). We saw on their website that their beers are only $3 on the weekends, but on checkout, the girl didn’t seem to know about that special (they had literally had their grand opening two days prior, so everyone was still in training…) She seemed confused when we mentioned it to her, but we didn’t want to hold up the line and cause a scene about it, so we ended up just paying the normal $4 for our drinks. They did give us Better Byrd coozies with our drinks to keep them cold though which was nice.
They have a bunch of amazing sounding donut flavors. They are mini, which is great because you can eat more of them, but they sell them in sets of 3 per flavor. The whole point of mini donuts is that you can try more variety, so they might as well just sell full-sized donuts if you’re eating 3 mini ones of one flavor. This time we tried the hibiscus cardamom and the lemon poppy thyme (loved them both!)
I only ate half my bowl so I’d have room for donuts – it kept well for lunch the next day.
Only two days later, we returned with my cousin Jenn, my brother, David, and his girlfriend, Kim. Jenn and David had just celebrated their birthdays, so we wanted to take them out to eat as a late gift. It was more crowded that night – I guess the word got out about their delicious food!
I can’t even remember the last time I ate at the same restaurant twice in one week, but we enjoyed it so much the first time, we couldn’t wait to return. This time, I tried another one of the bowls – the Byrd-a-Bing with chicken, mixed greens, dried bing cherries, toasted walnuts, cucumber, quinoa and creamy mojo dressing. I figured that since I wanted to try a few more donuts, I should get something healthy again.
I also had their homemade watermelon lemonade, which they have next to the soda fountain. I didn’t get it the time before because I figured it would be a fake watermelon taste like a Jolly Rancher, but Libby gave me a sip of hers and it was super refreshing, so this time I got it for myself.
I tried one of my brother’s truffle garlic parmesan wings and it was amazing – I think next time we go, I’ll get the wings since they have several interesting varieties.
We had a dozen mini donuts between the 5 of us – cracker jack, pumpkin spice, chocolate raspberry, and toasted coconut. I actually spoke with one of their employees about how I wished you could order the flavors individually since they all sound so good. They all have the same cake base, but they are decorated freshly on order. He explained that since they have just one person in charge of donuts in the back, it would be much too time consuming to have them do all different flavors all on one order. Right now if you order 3 you can only get 1 flavor and with 6 you can get 2 flavors. He said they may change it so you can order 2 different flavors with an order of 4 so you can try a bit more variety.
My favorites so far from the two trips have been the hibiscus cardamom and the chocolate raspberry – both were tossed in a sugary coating and have a slightly tart aftertaste.
It’s the perfect place to go with a group because they have something for just about everyone and it’s very reasonable. Our meals averaged around $10. It wouldn’t be ideal for vegetarians since it’s nearly all chicken dishes, but they do have the option for veggie burgers just in case.
Another location is coming to the Tampa side of the bay soon at the corner of Howard Ave and Platt St. I have yet to find an opening date, but I’m excited we’ll have another one even closer to us soon!
Better Byrd is located at 4447 4th St N #1, St. Petersburg, FL 33703. They are open 11am – 9pm Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm on Saturday, and 9am – 8pm on Sunday.