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Best Restaurants in Tampa Bay, FL

by Marty Martindale

Tampa Bay is a relatively new designation for the tri-city area of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater located on the west central coast of Florida. Tampa’s International Airport will gets raves from those who appreciate the short connects between tickets, planes and baggage. and Busch Gardens. The Bay is home to the NFL’S Buccaneers, MLB’s Devil Rays, some of Florida’s best beaches. She’s also winter home to the New York Yankees.

The city of Tampa, in Hillsborough County, is the historic, urban hub of Tampa Bay. Ybor (EE-bore) City, Tampa's historic Latin district, dates back two centuries when thirty thousand Cuban and European immigrants hand-rolled cigars in more than 200 factories. The Quarter is now a restored entertainment and shopping district. Nearby is Channelside with its entertainment district adjacent to Tampa’s cruise port.

Separated by three long, bridges, Pinellas county and its beaches are to Tampa’s west and much more laid-back. This county includes not only Clearwater and St. Petersburg but also Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Safety Harbor to their north. Her beautiful barrier islands are separated from this mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. These islands rim the Gulf and run from Clearwater Beach south to St. Petersburg Beach, with colorful towns in between. Gulf Blvd. parallels most of its shoreline.


 
RESTAURANTS OF TAMPA BAY


 
Bangkok Thai Restaurant
571 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg, FL
727 894-5990
Excellent Thai at the same location for over eight years. The Bangkok is right in the midst of St. Pete’s rapidly growing art district. Lunch and dinner daily.


Bern ’s Steak House
1208 South Howard Ave.
Tampa
813 251-2421
Bern's Steak House, “Art in Steaks,” is historic in Tampa and attracts world tavelers and presidents. Now run by Bern’s son, David, this legendary restaurant has been owned and operated by the Laxer family for over 40 years. Their menu boasts 24 types of caviar, an immense wine cellar with over 6900 labels and celebrated aged steaks ordered scientifically. Their elegant dessert room is separate from the dining room. Serving dinners, only. Please make reservations.


Billy’s Stone Crab and Steak House
1 Collany Rd.
Tierra Verde, FL (southern tip of Pinellas County)
727 866-2115
Enjoy the bay, the mangroves in this eatery just off the road on the way to Ft. DeSoto Park, where the beach was once again voted one of the top ten beaches in the world. The regular year-round menu offers luncheon salads, Cubans and a wide array of sandwiches. At dinnertime, choose from a full range of seafood choices plus to-order sirloin and prime rib. Enjoy the piano bar and a free boat ride at sunset to Shell Island, Monday through Thursdays.

Boizao Steakhouse
4606 Boy Scout Blvd (across from International Mall)
Tampa, Fl
813 286-7100
Boizao, (pronounced “Boy-ZOW,” meaning “big Buffalo”) brings churrasca to Tampa, and Brazilian gauchos don’t serve buffalo meat on their big, sizzling skewers. Boizão  features a “Rodizo,” or all-around style of service where servers bring roasted, skewered, hot, Brazilian-style, prime meats, 14 of them, carving them onto your plate. This is in addition to a selection of 45 vegetables and salads. You control the speed of your personal service. Boizao is the first churrasco-style dining in the Westshore district. Lunch and dinner, valet parking.


Bon Appetite
148 Marina Plaza
Dunedin , FL
727 733-2151
“Twenty-eight years of dining excellence,” they state. This restaurant, both indoors casual and outdoors informal, is right on Clearwater Bay and has a spectacular view. Look for luncheon or dinner, complete dinners, daily specials and ala carte selections. Complete menu including seafood, beef, lamb and veal. Sunday brunches, valet parking.
 
Bonefish Grille
13262 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa
813 969-1619

Bonefish Grille
3665 Henderson Blvd , Tampa
813 876-3535


Bonefish Grille
2519 McMullen Booth Road , Clearwater
727 726-1315


Bonefish Grille
5901 4 th St., N. , St. Petersburg
727 521-3434

Bonefish Grille
2929 West Bay Drive , Belleair Bluffs
727 518-1230
Upscale elegance in seafood and fish. Appetizers with innovative imagination, including Corn Chowder with Lump Crabmeat. Fish creations from Rainbow Trout to Chilean Sea Bass, grilled specialtries or mixtures from the sauté center. Meat and vegetable dishes, too. Match these with specialty drinks and surprise desserts. Dinner, only, reservations, please.


Ceviche Tapas Bar
2109 Bayshore Blvd.
Tampa
813 250-0203


Ceviche Tapas Bar
95 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg FL 33701
727-209-2302
The house signature dish is Ceviche de la Casa, and Manchego rules! Each of 45 tapas has its own character and reflects traditional dishes from the small tapas bars of old Spain. All contain the purest sherry, almonds, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, olives, Spanish ham, cheeses, great mussels, sea bass, pork and quail. Cervichs’s not easy to find. Phone for helpful directions. Dinner, only, closed Mondays.


Charley’s Steak House
Aged Steaks & Market Fresh Fish
4444 West Cypress Street
Tampa , Fl
813 353-9706
Located near Tampa’s International Airport, Charley’s is also attracting people from out of town. “Our specially built pit and flame-broiling secret date back to Florida's own Seminole Indians; meats, poultry and seafood cooked over special hardwoods.” Charley’s is a member, Distinguished Restaurants of North America. Open 5:PM daily. Reservations recommended.

Crabby Bill’s Carry Out
413 1 st St. E, Indian Rocks Beach
727 517-9521
Crabby Bill’s Seafood will cater dinner for your family or a beach party! Choose fresh directly from the display cabinets, carry as-is or have it cooked to order. This includes appetizers, soups, sandwiches, kids’ meals, combination platters or full dinners with sides of your choice. Cooking fee, $1 extra, per pound. Lunch or dinner, 7 days.


Frenchy's Rockaway Grill
7 Rockaway St Clearwater FL
727-446-4844

Frenchy's
41 Baymont St Clearwater Beach FL
727-446-3607

Frenchy's
419 Poinsettia Ave Clearwater Beach FL
727-461-6295

Frenchy's South Beach Cafe
351 S Gulfview Blvd Clearwater Beach FL
727-441-2548
This is another very popular fish restaurant. "Our fish is right off the boats," state the owners. Some specials are Key West conch steak, Rockaway stuffed clams, grouper Reuben, calamari salad and a fresh fruit salad for land-lubbers. Popular is their She Crab Soup with a fresh Three Fish Taco. Four locations for fresh fish and selections for landlubbers. Lunch and dinner daily.


Frog Pond
16909 Gulf Blvd.
North Redington Beach
727 392-4117


Frog Pond
7390 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach, FL 33706
727 363-7205
Still very popular with locals and out-of-towners for their generous portions, abundant omelets, heaping fruit plates and lots of two-handed sandwiches. Small fee for splitting selections. Chunky homemade pickles during lunch. “Lotsa” frog paraphernalia all the time. Breakfast and lunch daily.


Garden Restaurant
217 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg
727 896-3800
Here before St. Petersburg’s downtown art district burgeoned, the Garden is a memorable stop for a refresher. It’s also next to historic Jannus Landing a popular musical venue. Dine inside or out in the quaint courtyard. Its bistro format features middle eastern and Mediterranean specialties. Live music, lunch and dinner.


Gator’s Café & Saloon
12754 Kingfish Dr.
Treasure Island
727 367-8951
Located at busy, congested John’s Pass, this is a hearty, party-down, bikini-clad, sun-fun, brewsky deck with live music, swooping pelicans and wide-open jet ski action. Find volumes of beer brands and a great array of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers. Or, goodies from their smoke house. Music, boat access, open 24 hours a day.

Guppy’s on the Beach
1701 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beachs
727 593-2032
Find indoor or outdoor dining here. Word of Guppy's innovative menus seems to have gotten around Europe. It's also popular with natives, as well. Leading edge entrees, seafood, pastas well presented. Wine and beer, only. Lunch and dinner daily.


Hallas’ Restaurant
785 Dodecanese Blvd
Tarpon Springs
727 934-8400
If you have ever been to the Greek islands, the coast of Tarpon Springs, just a little north of TampaBay, will make those Greek memories rush back, and Hallas’ Greek Restaurant will enliven them. Their bakery will cause some to gasp. On the menu find, not just Gyros, Mousaka, Pastitsio, but Tiropita (Cheese Pie), Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) and Tzatziki, of course. Fresh seafoods are Squid, Smelts, Bakaliaro Skordalia, Octopus and the Greek touch to all familiar seafood favorites. There’s plain foods for the unimaginative, as well. To this wonderful food, add the music, affable Greek waiters, the décor, yes sponges in all shapes and many shops bearing curious gifts, and you practically have a perfect day in a small Greek town.


Island Way Grill
20 Island Way , Island Estates
Clearwater Beach FL
727 461-6617
There’s a high, new bridge open now connecting Clearwater to Clearwater Beach, and half-way along the causeway is picturesque Island Way Grill. Seafood, with a good many Asian influences, is the emphasis here. Amid scenes of a colorful harbor and exotic landscaping find dishes like Vietnamese King Crab Rolls, Thai High Mussels, Szechuwan Pepper-Crusted Tuna, sides like Saki Braised Baby Bok Choy and a vast Sushi Bar. This is in addition to perfectly prepared standard fare. Dinners and Sunday brunch.


Lee Roy Selmon’s All-American Grill
South Tampa
4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd.
(across from International Plaza)
(813) 871-3287)


Lee Roy Selmon’s All-American Grill
New Tampa
17508 Dona Michelle Drive
813 977-3287


Lee Roy Selmon’s All-American Grill
Largo
2480 East Bay Drive
727 536-5773


Lee Roy Selmon’s All-American Grill
St. Petersburg:
2424 Tyrone Blvd
727 347-5774
If you are into sports, beer, fun and robust eating in front of 27 or more TV’s, come to Lee Roy’s as he offers Mama Selmon’s meatloaf, fried green tomatoes and slathered barbecued, crispy, sweet and juicy all-at-the-same-time ribs. Or. Order his Sweet Heat Fried Chicken, tangy appetizers, fascinating sides, not to mention a list of “two-handed” burgers and sandwiches. They also do brisket two ways. A retired NFL Buccaneer, Lee Roy, is Ole Number 63 and an important public figure around Tampa Bay. Lunch and dinner Saturdays & Sundays, New Tampa and Largo. Lunch and dinner all days, at the South Tampa location.


Lobster Pot
17814 Gulf Blvd. Redington Shores
(1 Mile South Of Park Blvd. Bridge)
727 391-8592
All types of lobster including lobster cocktails, lobster cakes and stone crabs in season, chef’s specials, a wide variety of fresh local seafood, pasta dishes, bouillabaisse, steaks and lamb. Full bar, extensive wine list. The Lobster Pot is a recognized premier seafood restaurant in Florida. Open daily, 4:30 PM

Los Mariachis
1200 Cleveland St. , Clearwater
727 446-8731


Los Mariachis II
9100 Ulmerton Rd , Largo
727 586-1885
Popularly priced, authentic Mexican food in two locations. Not fancy, but tasty. Enjoy pitchers of margaritas, Fajitas-for-two specials, Pollo con Mole and all of the extra accompaniments. All with everybody’s favorite, Mariachi music! Lunch and dinner daily until 10:00 PM.
 
Mise en Place
442 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa
813 254-5373
Mise en Place is a stone’s throw from the University of Tampa and its 13 silver-domed minarets. The college buildings were built in 1891 by Henry B. Plant. Here Teddy Roosevelt billeted his Rough Riders in preparation for their trip to Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Its Plant Museum is well worth the visit. Mise En Place features New American cuisine with fresh local ingredients. Zagat Surveys says "Kudos abound for this superb, cutting edge New American bistro in downtown Tampa, where chef Marty Blitz creates dishes that are inventive yet homey, turning each plate into art. Staffers know their food and cater to the guests.” Open lunch and dinners--call for days. The menu changes every week as well as the by-the-glass wine list.


Oystercatchers
Located in the Hyatt Regency Westshore
6200 Courtney Campbell Causeway ( U.S. Highway 60)
Tampa
813 207-6815
Upscale and reminiscent of the best of Key West. Oystercatchers continues to be one of TampaBay’s premier eating establishments. Scenically located on the shores of Old Tampa Bay with views of the Gulf’s glorious sunsets. Up-to-the-minute fresh seafood selections include: American red snapper, Florida mahi-mahi, Norwegian salmon, New Zealand orange roughy, Gulf Coast black grouper, Atlantic swordfish, yellowfin tuna, Idaho rainbow trout and Louisiana pompano. Great salads, steaks and huge servings are a hallmark. Awards: Zagat’s “Extraordinary,” Silver Soon Award and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Lunch and dinner daily. Sunday brunch.

Pacific Wave
211 Second Street, South
St. Petersburg
727 822-5235
Pacific Wave is the area’s Pacific Rim fusion cuisine restaurant located close to St. Pete’s Baywalk and waterfront. Fish arrives fresh from the entire world, offering the area a unique dining experiences. Sushi Bar specializes in Hawaiian fish plus an eclectic selection of seafood, meats and vegetables accented with French style sauces. Awarded Zagat’s three stars. Dinners. Reservations recommended.


Pelagia Tratoria
International Plaza, ground floor Renaissance Hotel
4200 Jim Walter Blvd, Tampa
813 313-3235
There are restaurants. And. There are special occasion, go-often restaurants. Pelagia is such a restaurant. Renaissance Hotels is proud of their tradition where affiliated restaurants are off-street, walk-in restaurants with talented, in-house chefs, not local chefs administrating the menus of a chef-central somewhere out of town. Pelagia Tratoria’s gifted chef, Fabrezio Schenardi, with classical  training in Italian and French cuisine, has sought experience in the Old World, the New World and the Pacific where he won awards for the Four Seasons Corporation in Maui. Now, in this country his is “Food simply prepared, dramatically presented” in a 152-seat restaurant located on the ground floor of International Plaza’s Renaissance Tampa Hotel, serving  breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, indoors and outdoors. Reservations recommended.

P.J.’s Seafood Restaurant
500 1st St., Indian Rocks Beach
727 596-5898

P.J.’s Seafood Restaurant
7500 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach
727 367-3309
Come just exactly as you are to popularly-priced PJ’s, renown for its Buffalo wings. Many also flock there for lobster, jalapeno poppers, crab cakes, dinners for crab lovers, for garlic lovers, for land loves. Also pasta dishes. Or try Wacky Jack’s fried or broiled combos or Mr. Ed’s famous ribs. Full bar and many beer choices. Lunch and dinner until 11:00 PM, Sunday until 10:00 PM.


The Pub Waterfront Restaurant

20025 Gulf Blvd
Indian Shores
727 595-3172
http://www.thepubwaterfrontrestaurant.com
Enjoy the music and an active boat dock as you dine indoors or outdoors, breakfast, lunch and dinner with dancing until midnight. Sometimes piano bar indoors and live jazz out on the deck. Breakfast buffets Saturday and Sunday. Full seafood and landlover menus at popular prices.


Red Mesa Restaurant
4912 4 th St., N.
St. Petersburg  
(727) 527-8728
Very popular Mexican, Tex-Mex restaurant with touches of Asian. Try chef’s Killer Shrimp & Avacado Cocktail. Colorful place. Serious Mexican foods. Also, try their  Crème Brulee Cheesecake. Lunch and dinner, hours vary.


Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Gulf Club
501 Fifth Avenue NE
St. Petersburg
727 894-1000
The Renaissance Vinoy Resort, with a 74-slip marina, has recently been named one of the “500 Greatest Hotels and Resorts in the World by Travel & Leisure Magazine.” There’s five dining opportunities at the Vinoy: Marchand’s Grill, Mediterranean for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Fred’s for continental, dinner, only; Alfresco’s, Continental for lunch and dinner poolside; The Terrace Room, American foods, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Clubhouse Restaurant, lite fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In keeping with the Renaissance tradition the house’s executive chef, John Pivar, received the recent prestigious “Executive Chef of the Year” award for culinary excellence. He competed with over 800 other Marriott and Renaissance hotels and resorts worldwide.


Rusty’s Bistro
Inside Sheraton Sand Key Resort
1160 Gulf Blvd, Clearwater
727 595-1611
“Sun-drenched” cuisine in a casually elegant room. Evenings choose from a more-than-tempting buffet, also ala carte menu broken into three parts: Small Plates, Bowls which are not just soups, and Large Plates. Choose from abundant seafood, char-grilled steaks, lamb rack and mole chicken. Chef John Harris is an award winner, wait staff attentive. Live jazz piano Tuesdays thru Saturdays. Take after-dinner drink out by the pool on the Gulf. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations suggested.

Salt Rock Grill
19325 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Shores
727 593-7625
A big-city Tampa favorite on Indian Shores in Pinellas County, a great place to see be seen. Large, multi-tier deck with vast docking facilities overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway for dining and cocktails. Indoors find large dining rooms surrounding their flamboyant open kitchen. Award-winning chef’s current menu includes Steak Tartare, Grouper Chowder, “All Steaks can Turf,” Dayboat Fresh Catches, unusual sides and much more. The Rock extends for your use, a large wine list and an after-dinner cigar bar. Dinner nightly, reservations a must. Take Pinellas Park exit off 275, follow Park Blvd to the Gulf, go north a fraction of a mile.

Sideburn’s
2208 West Morrison Ave.
Tampa
813 258-2233
Sidebern’s is a “little sister” to Tampa’s famed Bern’s Steak House. Under famed Chef/Partner Jeannie Pierola, diners experience her “One World Under Food” and enjoy foods as vastly diverse as harissa, a spicy North African “pesto,” to game meats such as ostrich and wild boar.” Possibly a hint to describe the elegant menu is Sidebern’s accompanying breads: Curry Seasame Flatbread, Coconut Lime Bread, Kalameta Olive Fig Loaves or Spicy Harissa Sticks. Sidebern’s Chef’s Suite, one-of-a-kind occasions, accommodates up to 16 persons, and affords close-ups of Pierola’s kitchen as she creates and serves a degustation menu based on her One World theme with wines by Amy Cairns. Separate fancy dessert room, dinner only, closed Sundays.

Snapper’s
5895 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach
727 367-3550
“Owned by a local fisherman.” Both local and shipped-in-fresh seafoods in a Big City Bistro Style. Find Lobster Tail specials, early dinners 4:00PM, big broad menu, popular prices. Lunch and dinner served.


Spoto’s Steak Joint
71 Park Street N., Park, St. Petersburg
727 545-9481
1280 Main Street, Dunedin
727 734-0008
Thirty-two years ago Bob Spoto brought his Chicago stockyard experience to Tampa Bay to two locations offering the best beef for popular prices. Not just beef, they’re justly proud of their ribs, and the entire menu is broad with many choices. The restaurants have a large following. Seven days, opening at 4:00 PM.


Tampa Bay Brewing Company
1812 N. 15th St.
Ybor City, Tampa
813-247-1422
Tampa Bay Brewing Co., with up and downstairs bars in an original brick Cuban cigar factory building, is a fun beerpub for serious beer consumers. Add pub classics such as Shepherds Pie and Bangers and Mash, plus latter-day North American favorites and an ice cream Stout dessert, and you’ve found a great place to party! Lunch and dinner, open until 2:00 AM, Wed. to Sat. other nights until midnight.


Ted Peter’s Smoked Fish
1350 Pasadena Ave. S
South Pasadena
727 381-7931
Come as you are. This restaurant is a periodic pilgrimage for many wishing to relive decades-old memories of great smoked salmon, mackerel and mullet, Manhattan style clam chowder, German potato salad and terrific hamburgers. No credit cards, lunch and dinner daily except Tuesdays.

Thai Pan Alley
2300 Gulf Blvd
Indian Rocks Beach
727 593-3663
Literally carry your dinner off to the beach and into the sunset just 50-ft. away. Or, eat inside the tiny dining room or shaded tiki bar. The Alley has been family-owned in the same location for eighteen years. Order Thai entrees by reliable heat number, no MSG is used. Also delivery. Lunch and dinner daily.


Timpano Italian Chophouse in Old Hyde Park
1610 W. Swann Ave.
Tampa
813 254-5870
A “big-city dinner club” with live music and signature plus dessert martinis. Their menu bears Kobe Dopuble Bone Pork Chops, Organic Grain Fed Veal Chops, Black Silllet-roasted Mussels, Spicy Tuna Shooters, Special Seafood Cioppino in Lobster Broth, Shrimp Fra Diablo and Mascarpone and on it goes. Serves lunch, dinner and late nite, eat indoors or outdoors. Reservations recommended.


Wine Cellar
17307 Gulf Blvd.
North Redington Beach
813 393-3491
The Wine Cellar, a little bit of old Europe with its fine dining on Redington Beach. The Cellar is an area legend and winner of many awards for its European food and professional service over the years in an intimate atmosphere. Chef Miller has been at the helm many years. Wine selection is vast. Menu includes Continental Selections, five-course Culinary Extravaganza menu, early bird selections and a special Monday Night Buffet. Dinner nightly, dance music Thursday through Sunday.

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Marty Martindale is a freelance food writer who lives in Tampa Bay and owns Food Site of the Day. Email: mm@FoodSiteoftheDay.com.

 



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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