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. Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

    $$ | Seafood

    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...Read More

  • 2. Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish

    $ | Seafood

    Picture this: flip-flop-wearing anglers and beach-towel-clad bathers lolling on picnic benches, sipping a beer, and devouring oak-smoked salmon...Read More

  • 3. Bella's Italian Café

    $$ | Hyde Park | Italian

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

  • 4. Café Dufrain

    $$$ | Downtown | Modern 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Dan's Clam Stand

    $ | Seafood

    Four reasons to go: the fried grouper sandwich, the clam "chowda," anything else seafood, and the beef burgers. The original location is about...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Gulf Drive Café & Tiki

    $ | American

    Especially popular for breakfast (served all day), this unassuming landmark squats on the beach and serves cheap sit-down eats: mostly sandwiches...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Lucky Dill Deli

    $ | American

    This New York–style deli serving breakfast, lunch, and early dinner is often packed. Favorites include Cuban sandwiches, pastrami sandwiches...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Museum Cafe

    $ | Cuban

    A short trip west of Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Refuge, this tiny eatery is housed in the Olde Mill House Printing Museum. It's open only...Read More

  • 13. Nitally's ThaiMex Fusion

    $$ | Eclectic

    For those who take pride in their ability to handle the heat, this casual yet acclaimed fusion eatery is a must. It's run by a married couple...Read More

  • 14. Owen's Fish Camp

    $$ | American

    Nestled in a banyan-shaded corner of the hip Burns Court district of downtown Sarasota, this spot dishes out quintessentially Southern fare...Read More

  • 15. PJ's Oyster Bar

    $$ | Seafood

    Follow the crowds to this off-the-beaten-path eatery, where numerous varieties of beer flow as freely as the rolls of paper towels mounted on...Read More

  • 16. RumFish Grill

    $$$ | Seafood

    Although the fish served at this upbeat restaurant at the RumFish Beach Resort by TradeWinds is deserving of much attention, the ones swimming...Read More

  • 17. Sandbar Restaurant

    $$$ | American

    Though their ever-evolving menu features cutting-edge fare for the most sophisticated of palates, the margarita-and-coconut-shrimp crowd will...Read More

  • 18. Sloppy Joe's on the Beach

    $$ | Seafood

    A sister to the famous Hemingway haunt in Key West, this breezy spot is less gritty than the original and a little more focused on food than...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. The Living Room on Main

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    Hand-picked antique furnishings add charm to this downtown Dunedin spot, which specializes in Mediterranean-inspired small plates and spectacular...Read More

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