46 Best Restaurants in The Tampa Bay Area, Florida

Bern's Steak House

$$$$ | Hyde Park Fodor's choice

With the air of an exclusive club, this is one of the finest steak houses—if not the finest—in Florida. Rich mahogany paneling and ornate chandeliers define the legendary circa-1956 Bern's, where the chef himself ages the beef, grows much of the produce, and roasts the coffee. There's also a Cave Du Fromage, which houses a discriminating selection of artisanal cheeses from around the world. Cuts of prime beef are sold by weight and thickness. There's a 60-ounce strip steak that's big enough to feed your pride (of lions), but for most appetites the veal loin chop or 8-ounce chateaubriand is more than enough. The wine list includes approximately 7,000 selections (with 1,000 dessert wines). After dinner, tour the kitchen and wine cellar before having dessert upstairs in a cozy booth. The dessert room is a hit.

1208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL, 33606, USA
Known For
  • colossal wine list
  • exclusive atmosphere
  • after dinner, a trip upstairs to the famous dessert room
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential, Jacket and tie

Bijou Garden Café

$$$$ Fodor's choice

This 1920s-era gas-station-turned-restaurant has been enlarged and is decorated to evoke a European café—think French windows and doors, sparkling glassware, bouquets of fresh flowers, and the soft glow of candlelight. Lunches feature inspired soups, salads, or sandwiches, such as the pesto chicken salad croissant; dinners emphasize local produce and sustainable seafood.

1287 1st St., Sarasota, FL, 34236, USA
Known For
  • contemporary takes on traditional dishes
  • chef-created seasonal menus
  • pre- or post-show dining
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch. Closed Sun. and Mon.

Casa Tina

$$$ Fodor's choice

At this colorful local institution, you can veg out on roasted chiles rellenos (cheese-stuffed peppers); enchiladas with vegetables; and a cactus salad that won't prick your tongue but will tickle your taste buds with the flavors of tender pieces of cactus, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, lime, and queso fresco. Tamales, tacos, and tortillas are prepared in dozens of ways.

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Euphemia Haye

$$$$ Fodor's choice

A lush setting on the barrier island of Longboat Key makes this one of the most romantic restaurants around. Signature dishes include crisp roast duckling with bread stuffing and flambéed prime peppered steak; the popular dessert display is a sweet ending. The staff is friendly and gracious, the food delightful, and the atmosphere contagious. The upstairs Haye Loft, once the home of the original owner's grandson, has been converted into a more casual bistro and lounge.

5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, FL, 34228, USA
Known For
  • "scratch" menu with all foods made to order
  • upstairs dessert bar offers delicious, heaping portions
  • quaint, intimate atmosphere
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch. Closed Mon., Reservations essential

Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

$$$ Fodor's choice

Sunsets and Gulf views are the bait that hooks regulars as well as travelers who find their way to this somewhat hidden pit stop in historic Pass-a-Grille. Dating from 1977, it's mainly heralded as a watering hole where you can hoist a cold one while munching on one of the area's better grouper sandwiches. (Speaking of this sweet white fish, it's the real deal here, which—be warned—isn't always a guarantee in some restaurants.) There's also a range of seafood and steak entrées, and the crab cakes are legendary. The aforementioned sunsets are best seen from the rooftop sundeck.

Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish

$$$ Fodor's choice

Picture this: flip-flop-wearing anglers and beach-towel-clad bathers lolling on picnic benches, sipping a beer, and devouring oak-smoked salmon, mullet, mahimahi, and mackerel. Dinner comes to the table with heaping helpings of potato salad and coleslaw. If you're industrious enough to have hooked your own fish, the crew will smoke it for about $1.50 per pound. If not, there's always what many consider to be the best burger in the region. The popular smoked fish spread and Manhattan clam chowder are available to go. There's also indoor seating at Ted's, which has been a south-side fixture for more than six decades. Closing time is 7:30 pm, so dinner is only for early diners.

1350 Pasadena Ave. S, FL, 33707, USA
Known For
  • red oak–smoked fish
  • region's best burger
  • smoked fish spread
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues., Reservations not accepted

The Columbia Restaurant

$$$ | Ybor City Fodor's choice

Make a date for some of the best Latin cuisine in Tampa. A fixture since 1905, this magnificent structure with an old-world air and spacious dining rooms takes up an entire city block and seems to feed the entire city—locals as well as visitors—throughout the week, but especially on weekends. The paella a la Valenciana, bursting with seafood, chicken, and pork, is arguably the best in Florida, and the 1905 salad (with ham, olives, cheese, and garlic) is legendary. The menu also has Cuban classics such as boliche criollo (tender eye of round stuffed with chorizo), ropa vieja (shredded beef with onions, peppers, and tomatoes), and arroz con pollo (chicken with yellow rice). Don't miss the flamenco dancing show every night but Sunday. This place is also known for its sangria. If you can, walk around the building and check out the elaborate, antique decor along every inch of the interior.


$$$ Fodor's choice

Named after a 16th-century Tocobagan princess, this hot spot was created by the family behind the historic Columbia restaurant in Ybor City. Although diverse, the menu focuses on local ingredients and has an easy-to-detect Southern accent, with appetizers such as alligator hush puppies and okra fries and entrées like pan-seared Florida pompano served with sun-dried-tomato shallot cream and fried carrot ribbons. Set in the refurbished old Tampa Waterworks building, high on the bank of the Hillsborough River, its water views are particularly spectacular at dusk; Downtown is an easy walk away. Beer is brewed on-site, and the creative cocktail menu (go for the Ring of Fire, a spicy creation of vodka, gin, and lychee liqueur) is supplemented with wines from domestic, family-owned vineyards like Silver Oak Winery.

1810 N. Highland Ave., Tampa, FL, 33602, USA
Known For
  • go-to spot for Tampa diners in the know
  • spectacular views of the Hillsborough River
  • creative cocktail menu and house-brewed beer
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Bella Brava New World Trattoria

$$$ | Downtown

This trendy eatery on equally trendy Beach Drive offers imaginative takes on Italian fare. Ravioli Genovese, stuffed with fresh goat cheese and toasted pine nuts, or lobster mac and cheese with black truffle bread crumbs are some of the more decadent dishes; lighter fare includes colorful salads and flatbreads. Specials often feature local seafood. There's almost always a lengthy wait for a table, even on weeknights, so reservations are really a must. Sitting at the bar, which has an inspired beer, wine, and cocktail menu, is also an option.

204 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL, 33701, USA
Known For
  • pasta brava (with wood-grilled chicken, cotto ham, peas, and Asiago cream)
  • lengthy waits if you don't have a reservation
  • lively happy hour and people-watching scene
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Bella's Italian Café

$$$ | Hyde Park

Although this SoHo (South Howard Avenue) mainstay earned its wings by offering crowd-pleasing Italian classics, much of its popularity stems from creative takes on such dishes. Carnivores are not slighted here, but it is often more delicious to go meatless, perhaps with the pear sachet (pasta purses packed with pear and three cheeses and topped with a creamy saffron sauce). The grouper alla calabrese (lightly battered and sautéed with red wine, capers, olives, and onions) is another memory maker. Bella's is not too highbrow to ignore pizza and calzones—there are dozens of options. Offerings like these have kept the restaurant popular since 1986. If you're in a rush, there's curbside pickup.


$$$$ | Ybor City

Named for the 17th-century Italian baroque sculptor, this trendy restaurant is something of a gallery for copies of his works. In the former Bank of Ybor City building, it has a classy look and creative takes on Italian classics. The menu includes such fare as penne Sicilia (veal meatballs, homemade sausage, and hard-boiled eggs tossed with pasta and tomato sauce); cioppino à la Cinzano (a stew with fish medallions, clams, sautéed mussels, and shrimp over polenta); and pistachio-crusted grouper.

Birch & Vine

$$$$ | Downtown

Seasonal, locally sourced ingredients work equally well in both the surf and the turf columns at Birch & Vine, which has turned The Birchwood hotel into a Downtown destination for hungry diners. The setting is a reimagined 1920s property, but the dishes are contemporary. Things can be loud on weekends, when patrons pack the interior dining room's tables and curvaceous banquettes; for a quieter dinner, reserve on Monday or Tuesday, or opt for an umbrella-covered table on the patio, where the people-watching along and Beach Drive is good, and the view takes in North Straub Park.

Bob Heilman's Beachcomber


The Heilman family has fed hungry diners since 1920, and although this restaurant is very popular with tourists, you'll also rub shoulders with devoted locals. Despite the frequent crowds, the service is fast and friendly. The sautéed chicken is an American classic—arriving with mashed spuds, gravy, veggie du jour, and fresh baked bread. Or try some Gulf shrimp prepared in nearly any way you can imagine, including lightly breaded and fried, tossed with pasta primavera and sautéed vegetables, or served Rockefeller-style.

447 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, FL, 33767, USA
Known For
  • classic sautéed chicken with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and fresh bread
  • Gulf shrimp prepared several ways
  • good wine selection



One of four locations, this regional chain fits right into downtown's hopping dining and shopping scene. The menu is as locally inspired as it gets—from the catch of the day courtesy of local fishing boats to the fresh herbs that literally grow on the walls here. The zucchini fries are a crowd-pleaser as an appetizer, and the Florida pink shrimp and grits is a spicy entrée that can only be done right in the coastal South. For drinks, you'll find everything from locally made kombucha and fresh-pressed juices to local craft beers and signature cocktails.

Bon Appétit


Known for its creative fare, this waterfront restaurant has a menu that changes frequently, offering such entrées as broiled rack of lamb in herbed pecan crust and red snapper on a bed of lobster hash. The creative grouper options, including medallions, get well-deserved plaudits from many patrons. Bon Appétit has staying power, having served at the same location for more than three decades. It's a great place to catch a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. There's live music Thursday through Sunday, in addition to a pianist who plays Wednesday through Sunday evening and at Sunday brunch.

Café Dufrain

$$$ | Downtown

Dogs can tag along if you dine on the front patio at this pet-friendly eatery right on the Hillsborough River across from the Amalie Arena. Creative menu items, which vary by season, might include teriyaki-glazed salmon and homemade dim-sum. The bar menu has a nice selection of craft beers and cocktails.

707 Harbour Post Dr., Tampa, FL, 33602, USA
Known For
  • internationally influenced American cuisine
  • excellent water and Downtown views
  • large selection of craft beers and cocktails
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

Cappy's Pizza

$$$ | Seminole Heights

Chicago may be the first place you think of when you hear the words "deep-dish pizza," which is why this local chain's high-quality pies might surprise (and please) you. The menu at this family-friendly spot is pretty simple: choose either a Chicago- or New York–style crust, and select your toppings. The Cappy features a blend of pepperoni, ham, onions, green pepper, sausage, and mushrooms. You can also go with a calzone. There's no hostess here, so put your name on the (usually long) list you see when you first walk in. If it's not too packed, try to get garden seating. The feel inside is very nostalgic—vintage signs and an old toy train set adorn the walls. You'll find a lengthy list of craft brews, and the kids might enjoy an IBC root beer. This location is cash-only, but there is an ATM on-site.

4910 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL, 33603, USA
Known For
  • the Cappy pie (pepperoni, ham, onions, green pepper, sausage, mushrooms)
  • bottled beer selection—grab one yourself from the cooler
  • real-deal vintage decor
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch, Reservations not accepted

Casa Santo Stefano

$$$ | Ybor City

Appropriately housed in a renovated 1920s macaroni factory, this restaurant pays tribute to Ybor City’s sometimes overlooked Sicilian roots. Each dish is lovingly created and transports you straight to an Italian grandmother’s kitchen.

Cassis American Brasserie

$$$$ | Downtown

If you drop in for a drink at what is one of the best happy-hour spots in St. Petersburg, it's worth sticking around for dinner. Casual French options include croque monsieur, but there are also more elaborate entrées like bouillabaisse or Atlantic salmon served with smashed peas, baby-carrot confit, and an orange-coriander glaze. The wine list is formidable, and the cocktails are a Friday-evening draw for local movers and shakers. Given the location on bustling Beach Drive, the people-watching here is second to none. If you're around in the morning, stroll over to the attached bakery for a pastry and some coffee.



Within the chic Hotel Zamora, this popular dining spot has been getting much praise from local and national press. As the name suggests, most of the menu's inspiration comes from Spain, but many items—all the creations of executive chef Ted Dorsey—have other influences. Take the romesco butter sea scallops (keep in mind the menu does change a lot). One particularly brilliant creation is the Caesar salad, which has Parmesan custard and white anchovies. The bar here offers an extensive wine list, plenty of craft beers on tap, and handmade cocktails bursting with fresh fruit and muddled spices.

3701 Gulf Blvd., FL, 33706, USA
Known For
  • creative Spanish fusion offering a particularly deft touch with seafood
  • Caesar salad with Parmesan custard and white anchovies
  • lovely views
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant

$$ | Downtown

A choice romantic destination as well as an excellent launchpad for a night out, this restaurant offers an astonishing spate of meat, seafood, or veggie small-plate options. You can't go wrong with any of the ceviches, and the paella (featuring vegetables, seafood, or chicken and pork paella) is a good large-plate choice. In the catacomb-like bar downstairs, there's jazz, salsa, and flamenco many nights (the schedule varies each month). While you're here, the sangria is a must.

332 Beach Dr., St. Petersburg, FL, 33701, USA
Known For
  • tantalizing flavors
  • delicious sangria
  • live jazz, salsa, and flamenco music

Dan's Clam Stand


Four reasons to go: the fried grouper sandwich, the clam "chowda," anything else seafood—including the shrimp po' boy and oyster sandwich—and the beef burgers. It's very popular among locals—just check out the packed parking lot at lunch and dinner. New England–style seafood is a house specialty, including whole-belly clams and lobster, but the grouper and mahimahi are fresh from local waters.

Edison Food + Drink Lab

$$$$ | Downtown

In the relatively short time this gastropub has been around, it has handily earned a spot at the table of Tampa culinary musts. The internationally influenced, creative menu changes almost every day as chef–owner Jeannie Pierola experiments with a revolving list of intriguing ingredients. Choices include Korean-style fried chicken and waffles as well as butternut squash and coconut gnudi (a type of gnocchi). And the list goes on. The kitchen happily makes substitutions or changes recipes if you have any dietary restrictions. The bar has a great list of craft cocktails.

912 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL, 33606, USA
Known For
  • inventive dishes like octopus bolognese and monkfish bourride
  • interesting cocktails
  • extensive wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch

Flor Fina

$$$ | Ybor City

Celebrated Miami chef Douglas Rodriguez has brought his globally inspired flair to historic Ybor City as part of the gorgeous new Hotel Haya. Whether you’re grabbing a drink and a bite at the wraparound bar or luxuriating over a meal in the dining room, this swanky restaurant is rich with an atmosphere that’s upscale and cozy all at once. Rodriguez’s Nuevo Latino-menu features wood-grilled coastal cuisine, an imaginative selection of ceviches, and a range of rum-soaked cocktails.

Frenchy's Rockaway Grill


Quebec native Mike "Frenchy" Preston runs several eateries in the area, including the fabulous Rockaway Grill. Visitors and locals alike keep coming back for the grouper sandwiches, which are moist and not battered beyond recognition. (It's also real grouper, something that's not a given these days.) Frenchy also gets a big thumbs-up for the she-crab soup, and, on the march-to-a-different-drummer front, the grouper egg rolls. In mild weather, eat on the deck, and stay for sunset if you can.

Gulf Drive Café & Tiki


Especially popular for breakfast (served all day), this unassuming landmark squats on the beach and serves cheap sit-down eats—mostly sandwiches, but also (after 4 pm) a wide array of seafood entrées ranging from lobster mac-and-cheese to grilled or blackened mahimahi. Many items have a Greek tinge to them.



This fun, friendly, flavorful Mexican eatery from Michelin-star chef Joe Isidori is the latest full-service restaurant to join a stellar line-up at Channelside’s Sparkman Wharf. The globally inspired menu offers playful renditions of classics—from wood-fired tacos with fillings you might not think to try on your own (think: Korean-style barbecue, Vietnamese steak, tempura fish) to hearty knife-and-fork burritos. And the starters and sides are as delicious as the entrées. Make sure you try the street corn and the crispy Brussels sprouts.

615 Channelside Dr. #114, Tampa, FL, 33602, USA
Known For
  • creative wood-fired tacos
  • Mexico City–style grilled street corn
  • craft margaritas and specialty tequilas

Kojak's House of Ribs

$$ | Thonotosassa

Few barbecue joints can boast the staying power of this family-owned and -operated pit stop, which debuted in South Tampa in 1978 and moved to Seffner in recent years. Day and night, it has a steady stream of hungry patrons keen on digging into tender pork spareribs that are dry-rubbed and tanned overnight, smoked for a couple of hours, and bathed in one of a selection of sauces. Kojak's also has a nice array of sandwiches, including chopped barbecued chicken and country-style sausage.

1809 S. Parsons Ave., Tampa, FL, 33611, USA
Known For
  • barbecue meat dishes (especially spareribs)
  • great sangria
  • serene veranda
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Mel's Hot Dogs

$ | Central Tampa

Look for the red wiener-mobile parked on the north side of the highway near Busch Gardens to find this 1950s-style diner that specializes in dogs and fries—perfect bites after a long day of riding roller coasters. Venture inside to find walls dotted with photos from fans and a hot-diggity menu that's heaven for tube-steak fans, with traditional dogs as well as those with a bit more pizzazz. Consider trying the Reuben-style bowwow on a poppy-seed bun or the Mighty Mel, a quarter-pounder decked out with relish, mustard, and pickles. Herbivores, fear not: there's a vegan option on the menu, and it's mighty tasty. To avoid lunch crowds, arrive before 11:30 or after 1:30. Ready for a beer? With a decent list of domestic and import beers, they've got you covered.

Michael's on East


Not only do the lounge and piano bar, with their extensive wines and vintage cocktails, lure the after-theater set, but inspired cuisine and superior service also entice. Dinner fare ranges from pompano sautéed with Gulf shrimp, tomatoes, and fresh herbs to pan-roasted chicken breast with anise-scented sweet potato puree. There's also an ever-evolving menu of creative desserts. Inside its Midtown Plaza shopping center location, you'll find a decor similar to New York's better bistros of the 1930s and '40s, but there is plenty of veranda seating for enjoying Sarasota's balmy weather.

1212 East Ave. S, Sarasota, FL, 34239, USA
Known For
  • large menu of seafood and meat dishes
  • extensive wine list
  • supper club atmosphere with piano bar
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.