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  1. Ulele Native Inspired Food & Spirits

    1810 N Highland Ave., Tampa, 33602

    Richard Gonzmart spent $6 million to get the doors open at Ulele and in just about every way it shows: It is a project of prodigious moving pieces, a thousand stories — an intricate cogs-and-wheels front door made by Dominique Martinez of Rustic Steel Creations; furniture and decor elemen...

  2. Rooster and the Till

    6500 N Florida Ave., Tampa, 33604

    Without calling it this, Ferrell Alvarez and Ty Rodriguez have launched the most diligently local-farm-to-table restaurant in the area, its name a veiled reference to farm animals and fertile earth. They use Buddy Brew coffee; Hooker Tea Company; local craft beers; pork from Pasture Prime in Su...

  3. Vintage On 5th

    Editor's pick

    Citrus County : 114 NE Fifth St., Crystal River, 34429

    Set in a rehabbed 1940s church, Vintage is preoccupied by the grape, offering 20 pours by the glass and lots of liquid temptations, duly sanctioned by the Wine Spectator. Still, it goes far beyond the traditional wine bar model where food plays second fiddle to the potables. The menu i...

  4. Pia's Trattoria

    Editor's pick

    Gulfport : 3054 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport, 33701

    This is the kind of sweetly earnest restaurant that you'd like to think unfurls fully realized from the ground, good basic ingredients and a healthy inoculation of Italian culinary know-how nurtured by sweat and love. Its setting is a teeny bit foyer and mostly outdoor patio covered with a ...

  5. Bavaro's

    Editor's pick

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

    In Tampa's deliciously blossoming downtown, this is pure Neapolitan know-how. Dan Bavaro spent time roaming Italy, falling deeply in lust with the mosaic-tiled, rounded brick pizza ovens handmade by Stefano Ferrara and his family outside Naples for the...

  6. Floridian Cuban Sandwiches

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 4424 W Kennedy Blvd. # B, Tampa, 33609

    Harold Seltzer, co-founder and former president of the Sam Seltzer's Steakhouse chain, saw a gem called the Floridian. It is a Treasure Island old-timer founded by the Dilar family, distinguished by its long record of winning the title of best Cuban sandwich in the area. He licensed t...

  7. Cafe Dufrain

    Editor's pick

    707 Harbour Post Drive, Tampa, 33602

    Boasting one of Tampa's best views, this Harbour Island bistro is one of downtown's best getaways. Get smart eating from lemongrass soups to diver scallops, risotto, short ribs and salmon with frizzled leeks. Flavors come from the Pacific and the Americas, but the style is Tampa lofty. ...

  8. Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe

    Editor's pick

    Seminole Heights : 5119 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa, 33603

    Ella’s has been embraced by...

  9. Verducci Pizzeria & Trattoria

    South Pinellas beaches : 7736 Blind Pass Road, St. Pete Beach, 33706

    Bustling, intimate, without unnecessary razzle-dazzle and just plain good homemade Italian pizzas and pastas, Verducci has been discovered by snowbirds and winter tourists at the beach. With no shortage of places to eat along Blind Pass or Gulf Boulevard, what stands out here is a commitment to...

  10. Mad Dogs & Englishmen

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 4115 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, 33611

    Mad Dogs and Englishmen has a sense of humor. Perhaps that explains its longevity. Its new menu sports the old joke: "Two cannibals eating a clown. One says to the other, 'Does this taste funny to you?' " Talking about things tasting funny on a menu? Is this a good idea? Co-ow...

  11. Parts of Paris

    Editor's pick

    146 Fourth Ave. N, Safety Harbor, 34695

    This charmer, set in a 1936 Florida bungalow, has a recently expanded menu of traditional French bistro fare, with steaks (entrecôte, ribeye, filet) that can be paired with optional sides (pommes Lyonnaise, haricots verts, little French lentils) as well as full liquor service, and an attr...

  12. Cafe Vienna

    5625 Fourth St. N # 6, St. Petersburg, 33703

    Look around the pretty, forest green dining room, flanked at the front by a bar lined with personalized beer mugs and wine glasses, and it's clear: This place has devoted regulars. They find their mug, have it filled with a Spaten pilsner or Franzikaner weissbier, and then consider — ...

  13. 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 bu...

  14. Fetishes Dining & Wine Bar

    South Pinellas beaches : 6305 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 33706

    For years it was an outlier on St. Pete Beach, a community more comfortable with flip-flops than flambees. Bruce Caplan's salaciously named Fetishes Fine Dining was a throwback of sorts, a nod to the Continental restaurants of yore. Just eight tables and a menu that boasted tournedos, quene...

  15. 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 $...

  16. Pensare Italian Bistro & Wine Bar

    Dunedin : 799 Highland Ave., Dunedin, 34698

    Opened early in 2013, Pensare feels like it has been around all along with its wide wraparound patio and pretty wood floors. Dishes that jump out at Pensare often fall into one of two categories: the "oh, I really shouldn't, but I will" decadent and those heightened by his bright ...

  17. Capital Tacos

    Land o' Lakes : 6765 Land O Lakes Blvd., Land O'Lakes, 34638

    Bobby Heskett  and his wife Kristel opened Capital on a budget, and avid travelers both, they've spent time lingering in the taquerias of Denver, Austin and elsewhere, putting together a dream list of Tex-Mex dishes. There's regional Mexican thrown into the mix, and a little Baja s...

  18. Il Ritorno

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 449 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33701

    "Italian" is the kind of description that can get you into trouble, encompassing dozens of cuisines as it does. David Benstock's version is not fancy Northern Italian cream sauces, nor Sicily's big ol' bowls of meatballs. What he's doing is sensible portions at mo...

  19. Brix 33 Fine Wines and Bistro

    8351 State Road 54, New Port Richey, 34655

    One side is a smartly curated wine shop and the other is a warm and convivial wine bar and restaurant. Together, it is a prime opportunity to drink something wonderful paired with salads and shared plates, cheese and charcuterie. Any bottle from the retail side is available in the dining room a...

  20. Council Oak Steaks and Seafood

    Editor's pick

    5223 Orient Road, Tampa, 33610

    Council Oak has managed to assemble a competent, thoughtful service staff and to train them well. Owned by the Seminole tribe (as is the restaurant of the same name in Hollywood), Council Oak is a new contender in the great American steak house wars. Morton's, Sullivan's Steakhouse, Don...

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