The Tampa Bay Area Restaurants

Fresh Gulf seafood is plentiful—raw bars serving oysters, clams, and mussels are everywhere. Tampa's many Cuban and Spanish restaurants serve paella with seafood and chicken, boliche criollo (sausage-stuffed eye-round roast) with black beans and rice, ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in tomato sauce), and other treats. Tarpon Springs adds classic Greek specialties. In Sarasota the emphasis is on ritzier dining, though many restaurants offer extra-cheap early-bird menus.

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  • 1. Bern's Steak House

    $$$$ | Hyde Park | Steakhouse

    With the air of an exclusive club, this is one of—if not the —finest Florida's steak houses. Rich mahogany paneling and ornate chandeliers...Read More

  • 2. The Columbia Restaurant

    $$$ | Ybor City | Spanish

    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...Read More

  • 3. Ulele

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Named after a 16th-century Tocobagan princess, this hot spot from the same family behind the historic Columbia restaurant in Ybor City has become...Read More

  • 4. Bella's Italian Café

    $$ | Hyde Park | Italian

    While this popular SoHo (South Howard Avenue) eatery earned its wings by offering crowd-pleasing Italian classics, much of this mainstay's popularity...Read More

  • 5. Bernini

    $$$ | Ybor City | Italian

    Named for the 17th-century Italian baroque sculptor, this trendy restaurant is something of a gallery for copies of his works. In the former...Read More

  • 6. BT

    $$$ | SoHo | Asian

    Local restaurateur B. T. Nguyen has earned quite a following with her modern take on high-style Vietnamese cuisine featuring fresh herbs grown...Read More

  • 7. Byblos Café

    $$ | South Tampa | Mediterranean

    Good grub, a friendly crowd, and belly dancers on weekend evenings make Byblos—named for an ancient city in Phoenicia—a fun addition to almost...Read More

  • 8. Café Dufrain

    $$$ | Downtown | American

    Dogs can tag along if you dine on the front patio at pet-friendly Café Dufrain, an eatery right on the Hillsborough River across from the Amalie...Read More

  • 9. Cappy's Pizza

    $ | Seminole Heights | Pizza

    Chicago may be the first place you think of when you hear the words "deep-dish pizza," which is why the high-quality pies this local chain offers...Read More

  • 10. Datz Tampa

    $$ | SoHo | Eclectic

    Fans of a hearty meal will not be slighted here; the eclectic menu is mostly massive sandwiches and hefty plates (and printed on tabloid paper...Read More

  • 11. Edison Food + Drink Lab

    $$$$ | Downtown | Eclectic

    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...Read More

  • 12. Kojak's House of Ribs

    $ | South Tampa | American

    Few barbecue joints can boast the staying power of this family-owned and -operated pit stop. Located along a shaded stretch in South Tampa,...Read More

  • 13. Mel's Hot Dogs

    $ | Central Tampa | Hot Dog

    Look for the red wiener-mobile parked on the north side of the highway near the theme park, and you'll find this 1950s-style diner that specializes...Read More

  • 14. Mise en Place

    $$$ | Downtown | American

    Known to locals as "Mise" (pronounced meez ), this upscale, modern downtown space is a popular lunch spot for Tampa's political and social...Read More

  • 15. Taco Bus

    $ | Central Tampa | Mexican

    It's a Mexican joint with a simple name in a less-than-magnificent location, but that matters not to anyone who's ever eaten to this legendary...Read More

  • 16. Estela's

    $ | Downtown | Mexican

    On the quaint Davis Islands near Downtown Tampa, Estela's is a favorite among those who enjoy authentic Central American cuisine and Mexico...Read More

  • 17. Pearl in the Grove

    $$ | American

    For those who need a break from the urban sprawl—or who may be just in search of a decent early dinner after a Giraffe Ranch excursion—this...Read More

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