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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 Inclusion in this list or database is not related to advertising. If you have a restaurant or bar youÕd like us to check out, e-mail us at

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Most entrees less than $10

Taste of Punjab

Cuisine: Indian

Chef/owner Rajinder Singh's palate is spicy and flavorful but balanced, with a good eye to contrasting colors and textures, and at a fair price. The menu's greatest density of standouts cluster in the bread section: Beyond the hot-off-the-tandoor regular naan, you'll find naan stuffed with soft curried potato or spongy paneer cheese and a range of buttery, flaky paratha delicious enough to spoil your appetite. Vegetarians are also well-served, with a range of vegetable curries and pulse dishes that showcase yellow lentils, black lentils and chick peas. 6540 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park. (727) 545-4103.

Ted Peters Smoked Fish

Cuisine: seafood, Southern

It's been featured on the Food Network, but that hasn't made Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish uppity. Prized for its laid-back style and inviting picnic tables, the big-time draw is, of course, the smoked fish. Smoked fish spread with saltines is fabled, the salmon is excellent, the mullet is an intensely fishy acquired taste. But Ted Peters also produces some beloved cheeseburgers and German potato salad. This is a beer-drinking establishment; it closes early and for a price they will smoke your catch for you. 1350 Pasadena Ave. S, South Pasadena. (727) 381-7931.

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Most entrees $10 to $20


Cuisine: American upscale, Italian, pizza

With its new location along Beach Drive, it offers a hip, yet affordable, contemporary Italian menu that leans heavily on wood-fired pizzas (note especially the one with the fried egg on top) and boldly flavored and rustic pastas. Sidewalk tables expand the seating options, and a lively bar keep it among downtown's most active nighttime scenes. 204 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 895-5515.

Kelly's for Just About Anything

Cuisine: American casual, breakfast or brunch

The day's fun could start with Butterfinger muffins or French toast with chocolate and Cognac, drift through lunch of banana pancakes or Hell-burgers, and head into dinner of duck breast, Emeril's escolar and house-smoked pork chops. Virgel Kelly and pals always add an extra smile and a kick, like gazpacho butter or chili onions - and the wildest silly-tinis outdoors and in the adjoining Chic-a-Boom Room. 319 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 736-5284.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Cuisine: American casual, British, pub

This pub has a lot of charm on tap, fine beers, rosy-cheeked publicans and smart pub eating with the spice of the colonies at every meal, including brunch. Pet friendly. 4115 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 832-3037

Rumba Island Bar & Grill

Cuisine: barbecue, Caribbean, seafood

The barbecue and seafood restaurant called Hogfish Grill was reinvented as a lively Caribbean joint with well-conceived food and reasonable prices. There's still barbecue and a wide net of fresh fish, but now it's accented with kicky jerk aiolis, tropical salsas, big squeezes of lime or a splash of coconut milk. Beyond the food, a new wide patio bar with tiki torches sets the mood with an Afro-Cuban beat. 1800 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 446-7027.

Taps Wine & Beer Merchants

Cuisine: American upscale

It's posh. It's urban. It's got pleasant food. It's got a massive wall of beers - at least a hundred bottles and dozens of drafts arranged by categories like lambics, India pale ales and pilsners. The wine selection's not quite as drop-dead amazing, but Taps makes up for it with an electronic pay-by-the-glass Enomatic wine system (the first of its kind in Tampa), which dispenses some 30 wines by the ounce. A newly added liquor bar includes specialty martinis and mixed drinks. 777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 463-1968.

Walt'z Fish Shak

Cuisine: seafood

Perfect grouper sandwiches are just the start in one of the hidden pleasures of John's Pass. Walt'z is a parrothead shack of driftwood and reggae colors where you might luck into amberjack or cobia or a Buffett-worthy sunset. You'll always get great yucca fries. 224 Boardwalk Place Madeira Beach. (727) 395-0732.

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Most entrees $20 or more

Caretta on the Gulf

Cuisine: American upscale, seafood

Part of Sandpearl Resort, the restaurant has all the elements that make for success: knowledgeable service, a gorgeous beach view, plus tasty and fair-priced food and drink. A lovely raw bar near the restaurant entrance sets the tone: ceviche, oysters on the halfshell, spiny lobster and spicy tuna sushi rolls. A wood-burning oven sends out roasted fishes, chicken and meats that for the most part are paired with thoughtful, unusual side dishes and sauces. 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach. (727) 674-4171.

Rusty's Bistro

Cuisine: American upscale, seafood, steak house

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. 1160 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 595-1611.