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
Cuisine: American casual, Burgers, Sandwiches.
The burgers come on tasty brioche buns with toppings in inventive combinations. And the burgers aren't just beef: In particular, try the shrimp po' boy version, with a hot chili slaw. Lunch and dinner, seven days a week. 9664 W Linebaugh Ave., Tampa. (813) 475-5921. burger21.com
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Vietnamese.
V is for Vietnamese, the stylish cafe proffering an expanded menu of the noodles, soups and banh mi sandwiches that made the lovely Thuy Le's 34th Street N spot a foodie destination. With 60 varieties of smoothies and boba teas (and fairly portable, herb-bright vermicelli bowls topped with lemongrass chicken, La V has had victory as a top takeout lunch spot for downtown workers. Prices are mostly under $10. 441 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 820-3500. lavfusion.com
Cuisine: Breakfast or brunch, Sandwiches.
It's frenetic and the wait can be a while, servers with their game-day faces whisking around plates of oatmeal pancakes and cafe con leches (exceptionally rich). The core of the menu is the frittata, an open-faced omelet studded with an array of meats, veggies and herbs. 3203 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa. (813) 831-9339. pinkysdiner.com
Ricky P's Orleans Bistro
Cuisine: Breakfast or brunch, Cajun/Creole, Casual Dining, Soul food.
The menu includes deli sandwiches, po'boys, drippy cochon de lait sandwiches and muffaletta. The space is spectacular: high, pressed-tin ceilings in a two-floor roomand the menu is hearty portions of etouffee, jambalaya and the like. 1113 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 821-4061.
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Most entrees $10 to $20
Cuisine: Steak house.
There is no liquor license, so bring your own and they will open it for you while walking you through the brief menu. In short, pick a protein, all of it purchased fresh that morning at the store and minimally messed with (not even salt and pepper) before being thrown on the grill and accompanied by a choice of sauce. With it comes a lot. Meals begin with a plate of toasted, seasoned flatbread triangles and a bowl of beer cheese soup topped with buttered popcorn, then a house salad and entree accompaniments like a duo of fresh cheese ravioli and a whole grilled carrot. 143 Seventh Ave. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 723-0909.
Ciccio's California Cuisine
Cuisine: California, Vegetarian.
Upper West Side roots, pump-you-up health trends and culinary imagination make the menu mostly Italian, with wild swings from crispy risotto cakes to Atkins-friendlier lettuce wraps. 190 37th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 898-8226. ciccioandtonys.com
Edison food'drink lab
Cuisine: New American.
What has kept Jeannie Pierola's place lively since the start is exacting execution of exciting ideas. TPierola and her team seem perennially brainstorming, tinkering with faddish techniques and trendy ingredients in an ever-changing menu. But it's never precious: It's a rollicking, comfortable place at jeans-and-T-shirts prices. 912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 254-7111. edison-tampa.com
Guppy's On the Beach
Cuisine: American upscale, Seafood upscale.
Fresh finfish, Caribbean fire, Southwestern flair and healthful ingredients make fun fusion in Margaritaville-by-the-Sea. 1701 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach. (727) 593-2032. 3bestchefs.com/guppys
Jackie's on Corey Bistro & Catering
Cuisine: Bistro, Breakfast or brunch, Mediterranean, New American.
Chef Jackie likes to please, with a little bit of sweetness and big-hearted portions, but always with an eye to what's healthy. She's big into dishes that go light on carbs and gluten but focus in on gutsy veggies and fresh gulf fish. Servers are personable and know the menu cold, and the wine list is moderately priced and without a ton of surprises. 338 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. (727) 320-6358. jackiesoncoreybistroandcatering.com