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Wimauma Restaurant

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Categories: Restaurant, Top restaurant

Cuisine: Southern

Features: Top restaurant

Cost range: 10.01-20.0

Payment options: Credit cards accepted

Alcohol: Beer and wine only

More in this neighborhood: South Tampa

Opened at the very beginning of 2012, Wimauma hit another national trend square on the noggin: haute Southern. Around the country chefs have turned their attention to fried chicken, black-eyed peas and all things okra, taking down-home upscale. Chef Gary Moran and wife Amy opened this little charmer after being part of the team at the super-short-lived Knife & Co., building a substantial fan base with social media savvy and Gary's gutsy, seasonally changing menu. It's not all strictly Southern. A case in point is salt and pepper fried okra, a recent brunch dish that is a hat-tip to Yummy House (another of my favorite and affordable Tampa spots). Chinese with a deep Southern drawl — an interesting accent indeed.

Gary and Amy unveiled Wimauma at the end of 2011 in the space vacated by Delizie Bakery. Moran, who spent time as executive chef at Datz and has a long resume of prestigious kitchen jobs in New York, focuses on giving Southern comfort foods a little polish. There's some exciting stuff here, things Tampa hasn't seen much of before. Perfectly fried Florida oysters set on dollops of lush guacamole and paired with dabs of smoked tomato jam. Or pickled golden raisins lurking in the bottom of a balanced carrot/ginger/coconut milk soup. Service can be inconsistent and the space itself needs some gussying, but a lot can be overlooked in the name of good fried chicken.

This is part of Times Food Critic Laura Reiley's 25 Top Affordable Restaurants in Tampa Bay.

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Wimauma Restaurant - South Tampa