Short Orders: St. Pete's Dancing Marlin

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St. Pete's Dancing Marlin
2730 Commerce

Everyone who passes through this Deep Ellum holdout must, at some point or another, think 'you know, if they'd toss all the damn model fish, this would be one handsome old fashioned saloon.'

After all, it's not really a seafood joint. And the creaky hardwood floors, long bar, time-worn brick walls, large storefront windows--those could all be selling points. Then again, mess with the clutter and St. Pete's just wouldn't feel right, somehow.

The restaurant/bar revels in that peculiar blend of attitude and ambiance often described as soul. When I stopped in for lunch last week, my waitress hit me with "do you want cheese on your burger?"

I didn't respond so she started to reel off the options. "Hell, don't make me think," I finally said.

"I could surprise you," she replied without pausing, wrinkling her eyes to suggest a smile.

The surprise was a burger with Monterey Jack--hardly as imposing or creative as her wry expression led me to believe, merely a glob of melted stuff on a patty of ground beef. If you're craving a bang on, straightforward American burger, however...

St. Pete's relies on salt, pepper and the grill to flavor their hamburger. So you end up with the warmth of ground beef backed by raspy black pepper and a bittersweet char. It's nothing spectacular, mind you, but not at all disappointing.

Well, except for the cheese. And the fries.

The restaurant is still known for dishes like Rudolf's lucky dog, grilled tuna and pizza, though some items--the pasta comes to mind--can be hit or miss.

And there are outright misses. Their interpretation of stuffed jalapeno involves cream cheese massed into far too mild chiles. The resulting unpleasant gush undermines a nice, toasty crust.

Oh, well. When a place has so much soul, it's hard to really complain about such things.

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