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  1. Ciro's Speakeasy & Supper Club

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 2109 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa, 33606

    Buy into the pervasive Prohibition era theme and it will pay off. The fare ranges from high-class finger food like truffled popcorn and manchego soft pretzels to seared tenderloin with a stack of fries cooked in duck fat. All that comes after a pick from an extensive cocktail menu where the dri...

  2. E & E Stakeout Grill

    Editor's pick

    Largo : 100 Indian Rocks Road N, Belleair Bluffs, 33770

    After many years in the same location, E & E Stakeout has done a major renovation. The kitchen received the bulk of chef Erwin Scheuringer's attention, with a complete gut and rebuild, but the rest of the building got new plumbing, air-conditioning, carpeting, banquette upholstery and o...

  3. Texas de Brazil Brazilian Steakhouse

    Editor's pick

    International Plaza District : 4112 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    The number of varieties of meat on sticks that will come straight from the first to your plate — via a sword-like skewer — will be in the double digits. Try as many as you deem responsible, but don’t miss a visit to the salad area, with a magazine-like spread of vegetables and...

  4. Oxford Exchange

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 2420 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, 33609

    Vacant for decades, it was originally a horse stable. If the horses could see it now: marble and brass, soaring ceilings, flickering gas lamps and a black-and-white checkered floor that attract hungry souls like moths to a flame. It's straight-up gorgeous, with a kind of retro-chic that is ...

  5. Datz

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 2616 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, 33629

    Tampa now has a road trip-worthy deli, the vision of founder Roger Perry. It's like Zingerman's in Ann Arbor meets Zabar's meets Carnegie Deli: a theme park of gorgeous grocery items with a cheese counter, a bread counter, desserts, and a wide counter of prepared food items. But tha...

  6. Maison Blanche

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota beaches : 2605 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 34228

    Jose Martinez’s Longboat Key special-occasion restaurant at the Four Winds Beach Resort serves uncompromisingly haute French cuisine in a glamorous, white-curtained dining room designed by architect Franck Hammoutene. It's an evening's theater, a reason to dress up and order a bot...

  7. Maritana Grille

    Editor's pick

    South Pinellas beaches : 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 33706

    A major renovation in the dining room has made one of the area’s more swanky restaurants more contemporary. The renovations made their way into the kitchen, too, where fruits are being compressed and fish are being cooked in warm water baths. The black grouper cooked sous vide and served ...

  8. Ocean Prime

    Editor's pick

    International Plaza District : 2205 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    This new high-end steakhouse may not seem like the most prudent choice in this economy, in this restaurant climate, even in this steak house-choked town. But it’s fabulous, with a la carte prime meats and fresh fish cooked at 1,200 degrees and served simply. Many of the sides are stunning...

  9. Edison food+drink lab

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, 33606

    Edison embodies what was most exciting and new in 2012. I’ve heard restaurant industry folks grousing: How does Jeannie Pierola keep the prices so reasonable at her inventive Kennedy Corridor newcomer, opened in August (foie gras dishes under $20?!)? To them she might ...

  10. Iavarone's Steak House & Grill

    Editor's pick

    3617 W Humphrey St., Tampa, 33614

    What makes Iavarone’s endure is its palpable sense of history. Carmine and Frances Iavarone chucked their grocery business and started Carmine Restaurant in Tampa in 1948. Their kids carried on, opening Malio’s Restaurant and Lounge at S Dale Mabry and Azeele in 1969, Carmine’...

  11. Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza (Tampa, N Dale Mabry Highway)

    Editor's pick

    Carrollwood : 13020 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, 33618

     Known for its high energy atmosphere and signature menu items, Anthony's uses 800-degree anthracite coal-burning ovens. Anthracite, said to be the "cleanest" of coals, cooks the pizzas in just four to six minutes. Coal-oven-roasted chicken wings topped with grilled onions an...

  12. Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza (Clearwater)

    Editor's pick

    2532 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, 33761

    Known for its high energy atmosphere and signature menu items, ACFP uses 800-degree anthracite coal-burning ovens. Anthracite is known to be the "cleanest" of coals, the pizzas cooking in just four to six minutes and. Anthony's is also well known for its popular coal-oven-roasted ...

  13. Armani's

    Editor's pick

    Rocky Point : 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa, 33634

    One of Tampa's top special-occasion and I-need-to-clinch-this-deal restaurants, Armani's has undergone major renovations and has seen new faces in the kitchen in recent years, but some of the traditions at the top of the Grand Hyatt remain unchanged: the antipasto offerings still have a...

  14. Bamboozle Cafe

    Editor's pick

    Downtown Tampa : 516 N Tampa St., Tampa, 33602

    It's Vietnamese quick-service downtown in all its vibrant, punchy glory, but served up in a way that's accessible and not intimidating. Step in line and order from the board. Fresh rolls are customized to suit, a water-moistened rice paper round cradling vermicelli, green leaf lettuce, ...

  15. Beach Bistro

    Editor's pick

    Manatee beaches : 6600 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 34217

    It has won nearly every award it is possible to win in Florida. Foodies and critics go on about the intimate dining room draped, tent-like, with silk; the wine list's exceptional breadth; and the playful French/Floribbean cuisine with sly Pacific Rim accents. One can put on the dog and dine...

  16. Cafe Largo

    Editor's pick

    Largo : 12551 Indian Rocks Road, Largo, 33774

    Cafe Largo, a fixture since 1986, is aging beautifully.  And while menu choices aren't vast, each one gets the same careful treatment: An included house salad is napped with a model Dijon vinaigrette, with a handful of house-roasted sweet peppers, a cube of roasted beet in a sweet-tang...

  17. Cafe Ponte

    Editor's pick

    13505 Icot Blvd., Clearwater, 33760

    Cafe Ponte is still a yardstick against which the area's other fine dining restaurants may be measured. The dining room looks positively spruce, its red, sage and black color scheme crisp and stylish; linens and table appointments are top-notch. Servers are courteous and professional even w...

  18. Caretta on the Gulf

    Editor's pick

    Clearwater Beach : 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 33767

    Sandpearl Resort does not suffer from the hotel-dining blahs. It contains a nice poolside cafe and a coffee shop, but the major accomplishment is Caretta on the Gulf. Named for a species of loggerhead turtle, the restaurant has all the elements that make for success: sleek and knowledgeable ser...

  19. Donatello Restaurant

    Editor's pick

    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 tra...

  20. Floridian Cuban Sandwiches

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 4534 W Kennedy Blvd., 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...

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