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  1. 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 …

  2. Circles New Tampa Bistro

    Tampa : 19651 Bruce B Downs Blvd. # B2, Tampa, 33647

  3. Melting Pot

    Palm Harbor : 25822 US 19 N, Clearwater, 33763

    Gooey fun bubbles up for date nights around fondue pots in 100 spots stirred from the Tampa headquarters. Hot stuff from cheese and chocolate to mojo broth for cook-it-yourself chicken, beef, seafood, dessert seafood, and fruit with sensibly priced wines list.

  4. Columbia Restaurant

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota beaches : 411 St. Armands Circle , Sarasota, 34236

    This is one of six branches (plus a cafe) of the original Ybor City location, considered the oldest restaurant in Florida (1905). You'll enjoy old-world service and traditional Spanish dishes such as paella, arroz con pollo and ropa vieja, to name just a few. Going to the Columbia is an experien …

  5. Columbia Restaurant

    Editor's pick

    Ybor City : 2117 E Seventh Ave., Tampa, 33605

    The granddaddy of them all, Columbia Restaurant bears the distinction of being the oldest restaurant in Florida as well as the nation's largest Spanish/Cuban restaurant, with 13 rooms extending one full city block. Some of these waiters have been here a lifetime, there are stirring flamenco show …

  6. Dempsey's Steak House

    Wesley Chapel : 5700 Saddlebrook Way, Wesley Chapel, 33543

    Should you find yourself plotting a golf or tennis outing to Saddlebrook Resort, consider a finishing meal at this traditional steakhouse. The chairs are clubby, the service excellent, and the steaks and seafood are topnotch.

  7. 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  …

  8. 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  …

  9. Vernona

    Editor's pick

    Sarasota : 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota, 34236

    In the Ritz-Carlton. Put on the down-home Ritz in Sarasota and you'll taste local flavor as well as the chain's culinary fame. Almost everything but the salmon has Florida roots, from heirloom melons and tomatoes to Everglades bass and orange-braised veal shanks as the restaurant features locall …

  10. 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.

  11. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse

    Editor's pick

    International Plaza District : 4322 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    Outback cooked up a higher class venue here with first-rate trimmings. Sharp staff, smart wines, a broad menu and expansive hospitality, updated beyond showoff beef-offs. Fine steak in prime comfort starts with onion soup.

  12. Beaune's Wine Bar

    Ybor City : 2009 N 22nd St., Tampa, 33605

    Beaune's Wine Bar is a classy yet comfy lounge, perfect for a first date or an intimate night with friends. Beaune's (pronounced "bones," after the city in Burgundy) wine shop has been a go-to place for local oenophiles, and the wine bar gives wine lovers a place to linger in the eveni …

  13. 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 …

  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. Ruth's Chris Steak House

    Tampa : 1700 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa, 33607

    In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, the New Orleans-based chain closed a handful of outposts (and, much to the chagrin of Louisiana residents, relocated its headquarters to Central Florida), but it's still more than 90 strong and growing. Some of this is due to the memory of scrappy Rut …

  16. 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.

  17. 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 …

  18. 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. …

  19. Island Way Grill

    Editor's pick

    Clearwater : 20 Island Way, Clearwater, 33767

    A waterside palace of seafood, art glass and Asian accents, Island Way centers on freshness. Eat at the sushi bar, order from the raw bar or have boat-fresh fish grilled. Go for an oyster tequila shot, a noodle and clam pot or Korean BBQ and dive into the endless wine list. Be back Sunday for a  …

  20. Il Terrazzo

    Downtown Tampa : 700 S Florida Ave., Tampa, 33602

    The Marriott's signature restaurant offers Northern Italian dining and a wine list cited by Wine Spectator.

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