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  1. Parts of Paris

    Editor's pick

    Safety Harbor : 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 attra …

  2. Ferg's Live

    Editor's pick

    Downtown Tampa : 490 Channelside Drive, Tampa, 33602

  3. Council Oak Steakhouse

    Editor's pick

    Tampa : 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 Shula's, …

  4. Hattricks Tavern

    Editor's pick

    Downtown Tampa : 107 S Franklin St, Tampa, 33602

    It's not the closest hockey bar to the Amalie Arena, but it's the best. The staff knows everything about the game, and TV analyst Bobby "The Chief" Taylor has been known to stop by. With a nice menu, tons of Lightning memorabilia on the walls, tasteful brick decor and a shuffleboard ta …

  5. 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 the concept  …

  6. Roy's

    Editor's pick

    International Plaza District : 4342 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    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  …

  7. Marlin Darlin Grill

    Editor's pick

    Belleair Bluffs : 2819 West Bay Drive, Belleair Bluffs, 33770

    The most creative effort so far from the tag team of Frank Chivas and Tom Pritchard (Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill). Eat small (slick ceviche and tartare by the spoon, oysters by the piece, kettle chips, pear-bacon pizza or crab cake corndogs). Or live large on steaks with wild mushrooms and …

  8. Fly Bar & Restaurant

    Editor's pick

    Downtown Tampa : 1202 N Franklin St., Tampa, 33602

    The brainchild of Tampa native Leslie Shirah, this bastion of hip has gained a devoted following among Tampa foodies and revelers. Shirah honed the concept during a 15-year stint in San Francisco. And the concept is this: an all-day menu until late, late; a share-it-with-friends approach to worl …

  9. The Sail

    Editor's pick

    Downtown Tampa : 333 S Franklin St., Tampa, 33602

    However you arrive at the Sail Pavilion — by foot, boat, bike or car — just get there by sunset.What? Never heard of it? The Tampa Convention Center's circular bar opened on the Riverwalk in 2009. In-the-know cyclists and boaters find it, conventioneers and hotel guests wander over.  …

  10. Rusty's Bistro

    Editor's pick

    North Pinellas beaches : 1160 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater, 33767

    In the Sheraton Sand Key. Too many locals pass by the finest cooking on the beaches. Chefs on John Harris' crew give Sand Key an exquisite taste of cooking that's seasonal, handcrafted, local and up-to-date. Even the vodka is infused.Read the full review.

  11. Malio's Prime Steakhouse

    Editor's pick

    Downtown Tampa : 400 N Ashley Drive # 310, Tampa, 33602

    Malio Iavarone was the consummate restaurateur and showman, his restaurant, Malio's, an iconic dining destination. It closed in 2005. And now it's back, kind of. Owned by Malio's son, Derek and his wife, Jennifer, and with plenty of parental involvement, the new Malio's (in downtown Tampa's 31-s …

  12. Thuy Cafe

    Editor's pick

    St. Petersburg : 5944 34th St. N, St. Petersburg, 33714

    Vietnamese variety shows on the TV and a few low-slung couches make it an easy place to while away an hour or two, but the bulk of the business seems to be quick in-and-outs for boba tea and one of 10 styles of banh mi. Boba for the uninitiated is a curious thing. Milky tea or fruity smoothies ( …

  13. Mekenita Mexican Grille

    Editor's pick

    Lutz : 17623 N Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz, 33548

    Rand Packer, the celebrated former chef at Roy's in Tampa, chucked the fancy world of Hawaiian-style misoyaki butterfish for something new and different, aiming to fill a gap in the culinary landscape near his home in Lutz. It's a funky and affordable outpost of regional Mexican cuisine, cooking …

  14. Rollboto Sushi

    Editor's pick

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 221 First St. N, St. Petersburg, 33701

    It was the year of the robot. Robot Restaurant opened in Shinjuku, Tokyo, with a robot cabaret of four giant fembots manned by scantily clad women staging mock battles, and this on the heels of Japanese ramen noodle houses staffed by robotic chefs and Chinese restaurants with robot servers. St.  …

  15. The Birchwood

    Editor's pick

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 340 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 33701

    One of St. Pete's swankiest spots, this renovated hotel opened in the summer of 2013 to large crowds waiting to schmooze on its rooftop bar overlooking St. Petersburg.The place on Beach Drive consists of a 225-seat fine-dining restaurant called Birch & Vine on the hotel's first floor, and th …

  16. German Bistro 2

    Editor's pick

    Largo : 1300 E Bay Drive, Largo, 33771

    Irena Hoxie performed a Teutonic transformation with new sconces, paint in a warm orange-red-cream palette, ficus and trellising greenery, and a soundtrack of oom-pah and Bavarian polka music. For newbies she'll explain what spaetzle is (you have to get it: soft, irregular nubbins of buttery han …

  17. 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 quote Thomas A. Edison hims …

  18. La V

    Editor's pick

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 441 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33701

    V is for Vietnamese, the stylish cafe proffering an expanded menu of the noodles, soups and banh mi sandwiches that made the lovely Thuy Le's 34th Street N spot a foodie destination. Le herself is a smiling presence in the dining room, where high ceilings and high spirits can make things noisy.  …

  19. Banyan Coffee and Tea

    Editor's pick

    St. Petersburg : 689-D MLK St. N, St. Petersburg, 33701

    If you look at the acknowledgements of local author and writing coach Roy Peter Clark's latest book, there's a shout-out to Banyan Coffee and Tea. In fact, lots of local writers might credit Erica Allums's little coffee shop as muse. It opened originally in 2008, but closed after three years so  …

  20. Cafe at Art Pool Gallery

    Editor's pick

    Grand Central District : 2030 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33712

    Central Avenue west of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street had a big year, welcoming a generous handful of independent restaurants. One of the most charming opened near the end of 2012 as an annex to the Art Pool Gallery, housing spillover merchandise, a collection of vinyl records and the small c …

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