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Enjoy outdoor dining around Tampa Bay

Afternoon diners enjoy the weather with the outside dining at The Moon Under Water in St. Petersburg.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Afternoon diners enjoy the weather with the outside dining at The Moon Under Water in St. Petersburg.

Take advantage of Tampa Bay's picture-perfect winter weather by dining al fresco. Here is a sampling of our favorite spots.

Parkshore Grille

Situated on the ground floor of a downtown condo complex, Parkshore Grill's sidewalk tables offer a view of its namesake park and shore. The menu includes upscale comfort foods like beef Wellington, grilled lamb chops, chili-blackened yellowfin tuna and lobster pasta. 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 896-9463; parkshoregrill.com

The Moon Under Water

The eatery's heated patio provides a prime spot for people-watching. Its ethnically diverse array of pub grub includes its signature chicken tikka masala and chicken curry with warm naan. 332 Beach Drive NE St. Petersburg, (727) 896-6160; themoonunderwater.com

Pacific Wave

The interior's dimly lit, white table cloth-flanked interior is the big draw, but there are six sidewalk tables for al fresco dining. The strengths of the menu are sophisticated but traditional sushi and sashimi, but also Japanese- and Pacific Rim-inspired cooked dishes (special emphasis on Pacific fish from Hawaii) and an appealing short wine list and alluring cocktail list. 211 Second St. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 822-5235; pacificwaverestaurant.com

Taps Wine & Beer Merchant

There's a relaxed vibe to this spot, whose sidewalk lounge chairs allow diners to take in the downtown traffic from a safe distance. In addition to spirits, the full menu features sandwiches, salads, tapas and more. 777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, (813) 463-1968; tapswineandbeer.com

Pia's Trattoria

The large, bricked patio outshines the small interior of this Italian eatery. A bright yellow building facade, hanging plants and bistro-style tables lend a Mediterranean feel outdoors. Foodwise, a robust, straightforward aesthetic prevails in staples like pressed panini, bruschetta and of course, pasta. 3054 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport, (727) 327-2190

Restaurant BT

Located in South Tampa's trendy Hyde Park shopping and dining district, BT's umbrella tables are perched on a tree-lined street corner. Squid salad, tofu hotpot, lamb spare ribs and pumpkin soup are as subtle and smooth as the service. 1633 W Snow Ave., Tampa, (813) 258-1916; restaurantbt.com

Centro Cantina

With kitschy chili pepper lights around the bar and Maroon 5 blaring over the loudspeaker, this chain restaurant (formerly Adobe Gila's) is more Tex than Mex. Still, you can appreciate it for what it is: an open-air hangout with a second-story view of Centro Ybor, attentive staff and live music Thursday to Sunday. The 64-ounce margarita and a selection of 30 tequilas provide the necessary liquid courage for Wednesday karaoke nights, while gringo faves like chips and dip, Southwestern egg rolls and quesadillas are filling. Centro Ybor, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City, (813) 241-8588

Bernini of Ybor

People-watching is a robust pastime in Ybor City, with occasional catcalling and trash-talking adding a fillip of drama. For the best sidewalk seat in town, pull up a chair at Bernini. It's set in the historic Bank of Ybor City building and serves sophisticated Cal-Ital cuisine — salmon carpaccio, lemon-scented calamari, and filet mignon sparked with a wild mushroom risotto and topped with heady truffle butter. It attracts a more mature crowd than the bars and clubs around it, partly because of the thoughtful wine list and partly because the mixologists know their way around the bar. 1702 E Seventh Ave., (813) 248-0099, Ybor City; berniniofybor.com

Mema's Alaskan Tacos

When Ybor City's clubs let out, partiers in goin'-out shirts and take-me-home-stilettos flock to Mema's. Its patio, with high-top tables and a view of the Italian Club of Tampa, is a chill spot to sober up in the fresh air. The $3 fish tacos are a crowd favorite, although partiers also come in droves for the shrimp, beef and vegetarian varieties. 1724 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City, (813) 242-8226; myspace.com/memasalaskantacos

Acropolis Greek Taverna

Tables outside are nice, but you might miss out on the bouzouki band, Greek song stylings of Babi Lavidas and weekend belly dancers in the columned dining room. The menu is all that the blue-and-white color scheme promises, with gyros, spanakopita, moussaka and a pleasing array of vegetarian options. 1833 E Seventh Ave., (813) 242-4545; acropolistaverna.com

Gaspar's Grotto

The courtyard is spacious and pleasant, with several fountains, palm trees wrapped in white lights and a just-close-enough view of the Seventh Avenue party crowd. Magicians, stilt walkers and live music — from rock to blues to jazz — on the outdoor stage add to the merriment. Settle in at a picnic table for a generous Philly cheesesteak, a slab of the Grotto's signature ribs or the crowd-pleasing ship's wheel sampler, a plate of fried finger foods. 1805 E Seventh Ave., (813) 248-5900, Ybor City; gasparsgrotto.com

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Located on the ground level of Centro Ybor, the fenced-in patio of this ale house allows for prime people-watching while keeping pedestrian traffic at bay. Service is on the slow side, but with a koi pond and birds twittering from the two-story palms overhead, you won't mind shooting the breeze while you wait. The menu includes beer-infused entrees like the Iron Rat Stout crab cakes and jalapeno beer cheese soup, plus an extensive list of substance-free fare. Centro Ybor, 1600 E Eighth Ave., (813) 247-1422; tampabaybrewingcompany.com

Enjoy outdoor dining around Tampa Bay 01/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:46pm]

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