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. Bijou Café

    $$$ | French

    This 1920s-era gas station–turned–restaurant has been expanded over the years so that it now has 140 seats. The enchanting decor is what you...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. 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

  • 5. Birch & Vine

    $$$ | Downtown | Modern American

    Seasonal, locally sourced ingredients work equally well in both the surf and the turf columns at Birch & Vine, which has turned The Birchwood...Read More

  • 6. Bob Heilman's Beachcomber

    $$$ | American

    The Heilman family has fed hungry diners since 1920, and although it's very popular with tourists, you'll also rub shoulders with devoted locals...Read More

  • 7. Boca

    $$$ | Modern American

    One of four locations, this regional chain fits right into downtown Sarasota's hopping dining and shopping scene. The menu is as locally inspired...Read More

  • 8. Bon Appétit

    $$$ | European

    Known for its creative fare, this waterfront restaurant has a menu that changes frequently, offering such entrées as broiled rack of lamb in...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Casa Santo Stefano

    $$$ | Italian

    This inspired new concept pays tribute to Ybor City’s sometimes overlooked Sicilian roots. Appropriately housed in a renovated 1920s macaroni...Read More

  • 12. Castile

    $$$ | Spanish

    Within the chic Hotel Zamora, this popular dining spot has been getting much praise from local and national press. As the name suggests, most...Read More

  • 13. Ceviche

    $$$ | Downtown | Spanish

    A choice romantic destination as well as an excellent launchpad for a night out, this tapas bar offers an astonishing spate of pleasant sensations...Read More

  • 14. Flor Fina

    $$$ | Ybor City | Latin American

    Celebrated Miami chef Douglas Rodriguez has quickly impressed Tampa by bringing his globally inspired flair to historic Ybor City as part of...Read More

  • 15. Michael's on East

    $$$ | American

    Not only do the lounge and piano bar, with their extensive wines and vintage cocktails, lure the after-theater set, but inspired cuisine and...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. Sal Y Mar

    $$$ | West Tampa | Contemporary

    With 360-views of Tampa Bay and its skyline, this sultry Tulum-inspired rooftop bar is one of Tampa's trendiest new spots for cocktails and...Read More

  • 18. Salt Rock Grill

    $$$ | Seafood

    Tourists and locals converge to enjoy a fun and lively waterfront atmosphere, but the rock-solid (if slightly less than imaginative) menu is...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Shore

    $$$ | Modern American

    If you're a sucker for midcentury modern flair, the aesthetic alone at this partially open-air St. Armand's Circle spot is a draw. But the menu...Read More

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