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  1. SideBern's

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 2208 W Morrison Ave., Tampa, 33606

    Where Bern's is the big-name brawn in wine, steaks and overindulgence, SideBern's is the modern brains and R&D lab. The next generation of Laxers caught up to contemporary cooking and turned SideBern's into a culinary academy. On the plate, that results in mind-bending entrees, especially gr …

  2. Salt Rock Grill

    Editor's pick

    North Pinellas beaches : 19325 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 33811

    This gorgeously designed collaboration between Frank Chivas and Tom Pritchard is renowned for its straight-ahead grill cookery, fresh seafood, raw bar and deep wine list. The restaurant also has a fantastic patio bar that overlooks the Intercoastal Waterway, and an outrageous early-bird special  …

  3. Elevage at the Epicurean Hotel

    Tampa : 1207 S Howard Ave., Tampa, 33606

  4. Roy's

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 2001 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, 34239

    It's hard to resent chain restaurants when Outback can bring a chef like Roy Yamaguchi and his jeweled fusion of French polish and Asian flavors to our table. Love rack of lamb or Hawaiian fish? Roy's local partners do them up teak-brown, with orchids, breezy guitars and a happy crowd of casual  …

  5. RumFish Grill at the Guy Harvey Outpost

    South Pinellas beaches : 6000 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 33706

    After innovative seafood, the beachfront restaurant's main attraction is a 33,500-gallon aquarium offering hotel guests the opportunity to snorkel among snook, redfish, tarpon, trout, grouper, snapper, small sharks and eels.

  6. Cafe Ponte

    Editor's pick

    Clearwater : 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 when s …

  7. 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 other  …

  8. Rococo Steak

    St. Petersburg : 655 Second Ave. S, St. Petersburg, 33701

    From side dishes to musical selections, Rococo has brought a subversive eye to reinventing the steakhouse, its presence alone a novelty in downtown St. Pete, where there is an odd paucity of steakhouses. Rococo Steak offers no creamed spinach, no boats of béarnaise, no baked potatoes, no  …

  9. Tryst Gastro Lounge

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 240 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 33701

    Banquettes suitable for the likes of Marie Antoinette (had she been a barfly), a long onyx bar capped by a crowd of dazzling pendant lamps, shimmery silver wallpaper and a reflective mosaic tile backsplash on the bar — it's about as stylish a nightspot as we've seen in these parts. It has  …

  10. Aqua Prime Seafood and Steaks

    North Pinellas beaches : 213 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, 33785

    Hours: 4-10:30 p.m. Mon., 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.Read a review here.

  11. Stonewood Grill & Tavern

    New Tampa : 17050 Palm Pointe Drive, Tampa, 33647

    Like staring into a glass of Merlot, Stonewood offers dark comfort, with cherry wood and low-lit eating and drinking areas. Four-seater booths and hardwood floors orbit an oval bar, and little jail-cell-looking cabinets hold liquor bottles overhead. A wine case the size of a king-size mattress h …

  12. Stonewood Grill & Tavern

    Brandon : 612 E Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, 33511

    Like staring into a glass of Merlot, Stonewood offers dark comfort, with cherry wood and low-lit eating and drinking areas. Four-seater booths and hardwood floors orbit an oval bar, and little jail-cell-looking cabinets hold liquor bottles overhead. A wine case the size of a king-size mattress h …

  13. Stonewood Grill & Tavern

    University Park : 5415 University Pkwy, University Park, 34201

    Like staring into a glass of Merlot, Stonewood offers dark comfort, with cherry wood and low-lit eating and drinking areas. Four-seater booths and hardwood floors orbit an oval bar, and little jail-cell-looking cabinets hold liquor bottles overhead. A wine case the size of a king-size mattress h …

  14. Stonewood Grill & Tavern

    Bradenton : 7110 Cortez Road W, Bradenton, 34210

    Like staring into a glass of Merlot, Stonewood offers dark comfort, with cherry wood and low-lit eating and drinking areas. Four-seater booths and hardwood floors orbit an oval bar, and little jail-cell-looking cabinets hold liquor bottles overhead. A wine case the size of a king-size mattress h …

  15. Bently's Restaurant

    Citrus County : 11920 N Florida Ave., Dunnellon, 34434

  16. Cafe Dufrain

    Editor's pick

    Tampa : 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. If you pu …

  17. Z Grille

    Editor's pick

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 104 Second St. S, St. Petersburg, 33701

    Zack and Jennifer Gross' Z Grille at the bottom of Signature Place, has got personality. The edgy decor is dominated by a 10-foot bamboo halfpipe with artwork from local tattoo artist Evil Don. It's playful yet still sophisticated, and that's the way the food is, too. Think Dr Pepper fried ribs, …

  18. Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton

    Sarasota : 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota, 34236

    "Coastal Cuisine and Crafted Cocktails'' at the Ritz-Carlton's newest restaurant, replacing Vernona.Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

  19. The Refinery

    Editor's pick

    Seminole Heights : 5137 N Florida Ave., Tampa, 33603

    The Refinery is certainly Seminole Heights' most exciting culinary development since the opening of Ella's Americana Folk Art Café. Committed to sourcing local, seasonal and sustainable, they've got a weekly changing one-page menu of dishes that explore pretty much untrammeled ground in t …

  20. 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 over ri …

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