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  1. Clay Oven Indian Cuisine

    Pinellas Park : 7201 66th St., Pinellas Park, 33781

  2. The Rack

    South Tampa : 1809 W Platt St., Tampa, 33606

    Eightball and tekka maki are a combo made in yuppie heaven. A poolroom sushi hall, The Rack opened to an enthusiastic audience in 2002 at the site of the Blue Gardenia restaurant. No one's bringing their own spiffy Schon or Predator cues, but there's decent play at most of the tables in the fun, …

  3. Shackleton's Folly

    St. Petersburg : 4300 Sixth St. S, St. Petersburg, 33705

  4. Taj Indian Cuisine

    University Area : 2734 E Fowler Ave., Tampa, 33612

  5. Brio

    International Plaza District : International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    This casual, white-tablecloth restaurant serves Northern Italian cuisine with wood-grilled and oven-roasted steaks, chops and seafood. It also has a bar menu that includes a "shrimpitini" shrimp cocktail, beef carpaccio and mini burgers, all for $2.95. There's indoor seating for 190 gu …

  6. 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.

  7. India Grill

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 409 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33701

    For four years, India Grill was downtown's quick-and-easy, moderately priced Indian buffet lunch spot. We hardly took a seat before we were back up again, stalking the steam trays of tandoori chicken, palak paneer, lentil dahl and fluffy basmati. It's back in a new location that doesn't quite ha …

  8. Mangroves SOHO Restaurant and Bar

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 208 S Howard Ave., Tampa, 33606

    Established in 1996, Mangroves has been a key player in making SoHo one of the region's top dining and drinking districts. The two-story restaurant and bar, which also features a deck with private cabanas, doubles as a nightclub on the weekends. Superior service makes this an excellent place to  …

  9. Press Box Sports Emporium

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 222 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, 33609

    We've been in a lot of press boxes over the years, and trust us — we've never seen one containing a stuffed bobcat. Plastered with sports memorabilia, jerseys and autographs — and yes, a stuffed bobcat — this dugout-like South Tampa mainstay is where you want to go for any pay-per-view box …

  10. Emma's Rose Tea Room

    St. Petersburg : 911 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33705

    Owner Linda Davis has created a rarefied little world at Emma's Rose, one with a Victoriana giftware shop at the front and three themed dining rooms, one room stocked with froufrou tea hats you can don if the mood strikes. And the mood will strike. Chef Gabi Ford turns out to-die-for scones, bab …

  11. Taiga

    Editor's pick

    Tampa : 10317 Causeway Blvd., Tampa, 33619

    One of Brandon's few nightlife hotspots, Taiga has a different theme each night of the week and gets crazy on the weekends. The two-story hangout looks like a sports bar with all the TVs and murals of sports scenes on the walls. But at night, the tables are pushed aside, the strobe lights kick o …

  12. Square 1 Burgers and Bar

    Sarasota : 1737 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 34239

    Angus and kobe beef among the 20+ different burgers offered, with Meyer Ranch beef from Montana. Extensive beer list, many microbrews, plus desserts, cupcake sundaes, milkshakes, malts.Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Thur.; 11 a.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat.

  13. Bernini Restaurant

    Ybor City : 1702 E Seventh Ave., Tampa, 33605

    Back in the '90s, Bernini's lionhead roared with hipness, and it's still king of this jungle. The old gold interior is comfy now, the service is both old-pro and young. The menu's modern standards of crisp pizzas, rustic pastas and smart salads make it a fine room for dealmaking dinners or urban …

  14. 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 …

  15. Take 2 Lounge

    Carrollwood : 14416 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, 33618

    If you're tired of your living room and want to watch the football game or play Nintendo Wii in another living room with a full bar and comfy couches, then Take 2 Lounge is the place. Attached to the Tampa Pitcher Show, a restaurant and movie theater in Carrollwood, the lounge radiates a '50s fe …

  16. Bijou Cafe

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 1287 First St., Sarasota, 34236

    The Bijou has been a local sparkling jewel since 1986, making everyone's Top 10 list and garnering lots of drippy adjectives from Zagat, Bon Appetit and Gourmet. It's what you'd call Continental-American fare, presided over by chef Jean-Pierre Knaggs and his wife, Shay. Located a couple of block …

  17. Cafe Trastevere

    Orlando : 825 North Magnolia Ave., Orlando, 32803

  18. Duke's American Grill & Sports Brewery

    Spring Hill / West Hernando : 1320 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, 34606

    Take a brewery tour, watch sports on the 30 HDTV big screen TVs.

  19. Bern's Steak House

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 1208 S Howard Ave., Tampa, 33606

    Naysayers can grouse, but there's no denying the fine meat and one of the world's best and cheapest wine lists. You can drink back through 20 years in Spanish, Italians, Rhones and zins for $75 or less. Lighten up and relax; just exploring the menu's new additions takes time. Dessert takes more. …

  20. Positano's Ristorante Italiano

    Palm Harbor : 3309 Tampa Road, Palm Harbor, 34684

    Live jazz Fridays and Saturdays (7-10 p.m.), appetizers, antipasto, to veal, steaks and seafood.

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