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  1. Cafe Alma

    Editor's pick

    North Pinellas beaches : 111 Boardwalk Place, Madeira Beach, 33708

    This touches the tastiest parts of every coast: sausages and bean casseroles from Spain, eggplants and beets from Italy, bouillabaisse and mussels from France and the lamb tagine across the sea. Smart drinking, friendly bar plus a weekend brunch that features a Build Your Own Bloody Mary bar.On  …

  2. Sacred Grounds

    Tampa : 4819 E Busch Blvd., Tampa, 33617

    You can't have a coffee shop list and not mention this stalwart. This gay-friendly spot has been a haven for USF students needing a break from their midterms for years. Combine that with a killer open-mike night and you have a great alternative for people who'd rather skip the Tampa bar scene.

  3. Capital Grille

    Editor's pick

    International Plaza District : Bay Street at International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd. , Tampa, 33607

    When you need a $47 steak to make your Neiman Marcus purchases seem a mere pittance, this is the place to go. It's a national dry-aged beef chain with a 400-plus label wine list. Capital Grille offers top-notch service and a steak menu that's more inventive than many (see: the dry-aged sirloin c …

  4. Big Jim's Tap House

    Largo : 9220 Ulmerton Road, Largo, 33771

    Philly cheesesteaks, beef on weck, pizza, subs, craft beers, microbrews. Hours: 11 a.m. till late, daily.

  5. O'Briens Irish Pub & Grill

    Plant City : 1701 S Alexander St # 2424, Plant City, 33566

    This branch of the original O'Brien's Irish Pub in Brandon opened in 2007. It serves up the hearty Irish stew of beer, great bar food and a good crowd that loves its sports.

  6. Carmine's Seventh Avenue

    Ybor City : 1802 E Seventh Ave., Tampa, 33605

    Established nearly a century before the big renaissance of its Ybor City environs, Carmine's blends Italian and Cuban favorites in a spacious and characteristic brick building. A huge front window gives a great view of passersby.

  7. Spinner's Rooftop Revolving Bistro

    South Pinellas beaches : 5250 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 33706

    High rise bar and revolving restaurant with panoramic views of the Gulf and surrounding beach.Restaurant hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, bar open later, many nights until 3 a.m.

  8. Anise Global Gastrobar

    Downtown Tampa : 777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, 33602

    A small posse of seasoned restaurant pros jumped on the gorgeous space at the bottom of SkyPoint, unveiling Anise Global Gastrobar early in 2013. Its focus is Korean-ish, with a southeast Asian palette of flavors that's fairly hard to pin down. With many of the share-friendly plates under $10, f …

  9. The Wine Studio

    South Tampa : 4106 Henderson Boulevard, Tampa, 33629

    Sharon Stewart had a wine bar of the same name back in the 1980s in Sarasota, before its time, evidently. The new place in Palma Ceia has hit its stride with low-slung couches and tables that seem like someone's homey kitchen, classic movies that play softly against one wall and a soundtrack tha …

  10. Pita Pit

    Downtown Tampa : 514 N Franklin St., Tampa, 33602

    Hours: 9:30 a.m.-midnight, Sun.-Wed., 9:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Thur.-Sat.

  11. Pappas Ranch

    Editor's pick

    West Pasco : 11345 State Road 54, Odessa, 33556

    It's been an interesting road for the veteran restaurateur Louis Pappas, from his family's flagship business in Tarpon Springs years ago, to overseeing a fleet of eponymous fast-casual Mediterranean-Greek spots. He sold the big restaurant in Tarpon in 2002 and at one point oversaw seven Louis Pa …

  12. Downtown Disney

    Editor's pick

    Lake Buena Vista : 1590 E Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, 32830

    Downtown Disney is the place to go when you've had enough, at least for a while, of the theme parks or want late-night entertainment. Its divided into 3 sections: Downtown Disney West Side, Downtown Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island. The innovative Cirque du Soleil La Nouba live entertainm …

  13. Channelside Bay Plaza

    Editor's pick

    Channelside : 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, 33602

    The struggling Channelside complex is situated along the water on the southern edge of downtown, near the Port of Tampa. In recent years, it has fallen on hard times and many tenants have moved out, leaving only Hooters and Splitsville luxury bowling as its major tenants. Until a new buyer is fo …

  14. Darwin's on 4th Peruvian Cuisine & Brewery

    Sarasota : 1525 Fourth St., Sarasota, 34236

    Darwin Santa Maria first introduced his stylish Peruvian vision to locals at Selva Grill, which he sold some time back. He now has inherited a fabulous Rosemary District restaurant space formerly occupied briefly by Mad Crow Brewery and Rustic Grill before that. He has lightened up the space but …

  15. Carne Chophouse

    Ybor City : 1536 E Seventh Ave., Tampa, 33605

    It's official. Jason Fernandez has an empire. Bernini, Green Iguana and Hot Willy's in Ybor City were joined in 2012 by Carne Chophouse in the historic 1912 El Centro Español Building. Steaks and chops take center stage, supported by nostalgia-inducing classics like garlicky escargots and …

  16. Flambe @ Fusion

    Channelside : 615 Channelside Drive, Suite 123, Tampa, 33602

    Formerly Taverna Opa, the waterfront views along Channelside stay, along with the belly dancers, and cuisine expands to include Mediterranean, Italian, Indian, besides Greek, with full bar, and a Happy Hour.

  17. Meze 119

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 119 Second St. N, St. Petersburg, 33701

    Meze 119 is billed as "authentic Middle Eastern food with modern flair." That it is. What it may take the unobservant diner a while to figure out, though, is that it's 100 percent vegetarian. It's not that owner Dean Hershkowitz is being coy. It's as he says: "A lot of the food we …

  18. Ceviche St. Pete

    Editor's pick

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 95 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33701

    That cocktail of marinated fish is only one item on the biggest spread of hot and cold tapas laid out on both sides of the bay. The Tampa location is dark and cozy, St. Pete's open to the embarcadero. Crowds and food are fast and fun: olives, quail, sherried chicken livers and albondigas. The ba …

  19. Donatello Restaurant

    Editor's pick

    Tampa : 232 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, 33609

    The blush is not off the rose at this nearly 30-year-old Tampa original. In the dining room, tuxedoed waiters have the assurance only longtime employment provides, whether that's guiding guests through the menu or whipping up a tableside Caesar (the best in town). The food is rigorously traditio …

  20. Wood Fired Pizza & Nightlife

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 344 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, 33701

    Peter Taylor opened his first pizzeria in New Tampa on Bearss in 2009. In 2012 he opened a much more ambitious venture in St. Petersburg, a bigger Wood Fired Pizza with a massive outdoor deck, tucked between the new World of Beer and the Avenue. He figures, with a denser concentration of foodies …

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