These are restaurants that we can recommend for date nights, special occasions and a good meal. You can find more Tampa Bay restaurants and bars by searching our database at tampabay.com/things-to-do. Inclusion in this list or database is not related to advertising. If you have a restaurant or bar you'd like us to check out, e-mail us at email@example.com.
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Most entrees less than $10
Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill
Cuisine: American casual.
Situated just a deep fly ball from Tropicana Field, this converted gas station has become a pregame ritual for many fans, and not just for baseball. Bucs, USF, Lightning - Ferg's pulls them in for burgers, wraps and wings (try the teriyaki ones) served amid a fanatic's paradise of memorabilia. 1320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-4562. fergssportsbar.com
Wright's Gourmet House
Cuisine: Coffee shops/diners, Deli, Dessert.
Mrs. Wright wrote the book on takeout and the recipes for beef martini sandwiches and drop-dead cakes 50 years ago. Don't sweat standing in line; everyone knows that a slice of hummingbird cake or a Golden Gate sandwich of pork and bacon is worth it. 1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 253-3838. www.wrightsgourmet.com
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Most entrees $10 to $20
Bin 27 Bistro
Cuisine: American upscale.
The place is hip and cozy, with a modern aesthetic. The "Bin" part promises a deep and far-reaching wine list that isn't quite there yet. It's a menu that isn't hung up on geographic boundaries. Think California fusion that draws inspiration from Latin America and the Pacific Rim, in dishes that aren't contrived or disjointed. 2702 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 878-2700. www.bin27bistro.com
Ceviche St. Pete
Cuisine: Tapas/small plates.
That cocktail of marinated fish is only one item on the biggest spread of hot and cold tapas laid out on both sides of the bay. The Tampa location is dark and cozy; St. Pete is open to the embarcadero. Crowds and food are fast and fun: olives, quail, sherried chicken livers and albondigas. Try the sangria. 95 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 209-2299. www.cevichetapas.com
Cuisine: American casual, Casual Dining, Deli.
This deli is like Zingerman's in Ann Arbor meets Zabar's meets Carnegie Deli: a theme park of gorgeous grocery items with a cheese counter, a bread counter, desserts, and a wide counter of prepared food items. But that's not the half of it. The sandwiches are jaw-stretching with stacked meat, on great housemade bread, with solidly tasty condiments, a marvelously real half-sour pickle, deeply russet housemade chips (perfectly salted, greaseless, with a drizzle of addictive aioli). But still, that's not even the best part. It's the vast beer and wine list, with offerings at near retail prices. Weekend breakfasts are also noteworthy. 2616 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 831-7000. datzdeli.com
Loud and crowded and why not? Tourists who squeeze in among the locals get a true taste of Greek in anything grilled in lemon and oregano along the Sponge Docks. 628 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs. (727) 934-4306.
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Most entrees $20 or more
Aqua Bar & Grill
Formerly known as Aquaknox, it features "Global Water Cuisine," which is seafood, sourced from all over the world, served in an upscale hotel on the Courtney Campbell Parkway. It might be relegated to business travelers and office parties were it not for a few secret weapons. First, the chef's adroit way with shellfish and flatfish reflects an appreciation for clean, simple flavors. Second, the desserts whipped up by the pastry chef will knock your socks off. 7627 W Courtney Campbell Parkway, Tampa. (813) 675-8700. www.aquaknox.net
Cuisine: Fine dining, French.
A fixture since 1986, it is aging beautifully. Chef Christini makes a pain de campagne that is one of the two best breads in the Tampa Bay area (the other at Pane Rustica in Tampa). And while menu choices aren't vast (seven entrees, all under $30), each one gets the same careful treatment: An included house salad is napped with a model Dijon vinaigrette, with a handful of house-roasted sweet peppers, a cube of roasted beet in a sweet-tangy Bagnol vinegar and a wedge of tomato marinated separately with a sprinkle of herbs de Provence. Then each entree plate gets these side veggies: a buttery tangle of crisp-tender haricots verts, another pile of thick matchstick roasted carrots and a single turned potato. It's pretty food, and rigorously classical. 12551 Indian Rocks Road #18, Largo. (727) 596-6282. cafelargorestaurant.com
Island Way Grill
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 brunch. 20 Island Way, Clearwater. (727) 461-6617. www.islandwaygrill.com
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean.
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 toast for breakfast. 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa. (813) 313-3235. www.pelagiatrattoria.com
Cuisine: American upscale, Fine dining.
Where Bern's is the big-name brawn, SideBern's is the modern brains and R&D lab. On the plate, that results in mind-bending entrees, especially great fish paired with exotic vegetables and global seasonings. A newish housemade charcuterie menu is as sophisticated as it gets in Tampa, and bartender Dean Hurst offers a stunning seasonal cocktail list. 2208 W Morrison Ave., Tampa. (813) 258-2233. www.bernsfinewines.com