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  1. Benedetto's Italiano

    Land o' Lakes : 21529 Village Lakes Shpg Ctr, Land O'Lakes, 34639

  2. German Restaurant

    West Pasco : 2616 US Highway 19, Holiday, 34691

  3. Rustic Grill

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 400 N Lemon Ave., Sarasota, 34236

    Fast forward the old Citrus Exchange into the 21st century with boisterous antiques and brilliant cooking to eye at the chefs bar or on CCTV. Clinton Combs dresses lusty chops, steaks and crab cakes with amazing vegetables, risotto and chickpea crepes.

  4. Mattison's Forty-One

    Sarasota : 7275 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 34231

  5. Euphemia Haye Restaurant

    Manatee beaches : 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 34228

    Opened in 1975 on Longboat Key, the restaurant has marched to the beat of its own drum, serving wildly sophisticated and far-reaching food in a lush garden setting. It always wins top honors from local magazines and national food mags as well, and you need only to try the smoked salmon on buckwh …

  6. Black Pearl of Dunedin

    Editor's pick

    Dunedin : 315 Main St., Dunedin, 34698

    Folks have come here for grand meals under various flags for more than 20 years. The space is tiny, with plush decor and posh service. The food ranges from top-dollar classics to clever contemporary fare among the specials, all with first-rate vegetables.

  7. 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 in t …

  8. Derek's Culinary Casual

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 514 Central Ave., Sarasota, 34236

    This is true big city, indie style dining: sharp, chef-driven cooking in a plain storefront space in a not-yet-gentrified neighborhood. Choose foie gras, crispy rabbit, killer soups, scallops and peas, chicken and quinoa. Every course is a robust adventure, from small plates to dessert.

  9. Michael's on East

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 1212 East Ave. S, Sarasota, 34239

    It's won best-of-Florida accolades from nearly everyone since its opening at the beginning of the 1990s — and it's kept up with all the newcomers, consistently pushing the envelope and wowing diners with its "New American' take and opulent decor. During the day it's a power-lunching crowd  …

  10. 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  …

  11. Alfano's Restaurant

    Largo : 1702 Clearwater Largo Road, Clearwater, 33756

    Classically prepared Italian food, superb (and affordable) wine list and elegant building make you feel at home, not outclassed. From tomato soup and pasta with simple sauces to fine veal and chicken with rosemary, cooking is fresh and service is warm.

  12. 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 …

  13. Six Tables Restaurant

    Gulfport : 2937 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport, 33701

  14. Main Street Oyster Bar

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 1991 Main St., Suite 118, Sarasota, 34236

    Well-established and still innovative, this two-chef restaurant serves sharp and simple cuisine with a sidewalk view downtown. Locals flock for the seasonal ingredients and smart takes on New England classics like fried Ipswich clams and Maine lobster. The same owners previously had Zoria at thi …

  15. Mirage Restaurant

    Clearwater : 2284 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, 33765

    The most dynamically flavored dishes don't seem to appear on the weekday lunch buffet; thus a dinner visit is in order (caution: belly dancing Friday and Saturday evenings). Two of the most famous Persian dishes, fesenjan and shirin polo, are elegantly rendered at Mirage. The former is chicken b …

  16. Pelagia Trattoria

    Editor's pick

    International Plaza District : 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    Located in the Renaissance Tampa Hotel at International Plaza, the restaurant has an Italianesque menu that starts in Spain and coasts the entire Mediterranean for lusty flavors, scallops and bean ragout, Manchego cheese and honeycomb, crunchy olives and artichoke ricotta flan. Panettone French  …

  17. Massimo's Eclectic Fine Dining

    Editor's pick

    Palm Harbor : 31876 US Highway 19 N, Palm Harbor, 34684

    There's nothing rustic about the cooking of Massimo Patano, yet his love of luxurious tastes is decidedly Italian. Veal, lobster and cream sauces abound, and Patano enriches them further with sage, ricotta, balsamic and bottarga.

  18. Casa Tina Gourmet Mexican & Vegetarian

    Editor's pick

    Dunedin : 365 Main St., Dunedin, 34698

    After a move from a smaller space, Casa Tina already it looks like it has been there forever, with a long fuchsia wall packed to capacity with old photos and funky mirrors, the opposite weathered brick wall tattooed with a Day of the Dead skeleton mariachi band painting. Doors are flung wide to  …

  19. Restaurant BT

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 2507 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, 33606

  20. 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 …

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