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Florida snubbed again on Bon Appetit’s list of best restaurants

The annual list includes 50 nominees, and once again there are none from the Sunshine State.
Sparkman Wharf is one of three food halls in Tampa. ["TAILYR IRVINE | TIMES" | Times (2018)]
Published Sep. 10
Updated Sep. 10

Attempting to name America’s best restaurants is a gargantuan task doomed to disappoint many. We don’t envy Bon Appetit, the food publication that’s been around since the 1950s, for trying.

Since 2009, they’ve put out a Hot 10, a list of “America’s best new restaurants.” Seven years ago, they started sharing the 50 nominees vying for the top prize. They released the 2019 nominees today and, once again, a Florida city did not make the list.

Is Bon Appetit aware that Florida, the country’s third most populous state, even exists?

According to USA Today, Bon Appetit deputy editor Julia Kramer visited 200 restaurants in 34 cities, meaning she didn’t visit every state. In fact, there are only 21 states (and Washington, D.C.) represented on this year’s list. Some states, and even some cities, make the list multiple times: Food giants New Orleans and Chicago have three mentions each; the tiny Providence, R.I., is on there twice. North Carolina has five entries. Five!

In previous years, Florida’s exclusion may have stung less, when top restaurants were limited to the bigger, restaurant-dense cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. But, as USA Today noted, “cities including Maui, Hawaii; Baltimore; and Richmond, Virginia, all had restaurants hit the top 50 list for the first time this year.”

Where’s the love for the Tampa Bay area? Our 2019 list of the area’s best restaurants was the biggest one we’ve ever published. According to plenty of national publications, 2018 was the year Tampa Bay became an emerging culinary destination.

So we’re here to help, Bon Appetit. We know Florida is a big state. Here’s a list of our Top 10 restaurants in Tampa Bay. It’s a good place to start for research on next year’s list. Swing by Miami while you’re at it. Orlando has some gems, too.


  1. Celebrity chef and restaurateur Fabio Viviani inside Osteria in downtown Tampa. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Tampa Bay Times (2018)
    The high-end spot is called La Pergola, and it’s set to launch next year.
  2. KFC's latest creation features donuts. KFC
    You can’t get these in Florida yet, but the new menu items are already popular on social media.
  3. Zongo IPA Tampa Bay Brewing Company
    The hazy New England-style IPA is on tap at the brewery’s tasting rooms in Ybor City and Westchase. | Craft beer of the week
  4. Neighbors with Cafe Ten-O-One, CellarMasters Wine Bar & Bottle Shop aims to debut before Thanksgiving. MEAGHAN HABUDA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Appetizers and small plates are planned alongside wines by the glass and bottle.
  5. The fun, witty menu at Brandon's Strandhill Public features a six-minute egg wrapped in ground Irish pork. The whole thing is panko-fried, then served with pickled red peppers and spicy hollandaise. Courtesy of Rory Martin
    The modern bar and restaurant doesn’t feature any harps or shamrocks, but it does embrace present-day Ireland without losing sight of the past.
  6. Rick's on the River has called West Tampa home for 25 years. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times (2009)
    Rick’s on the River celebrates 25 years in Tampa, Oktoberfest, wine tastings and Taste of Laura Street in Plant City.
  7. Patrons hit the dance floor at Tampa venue Skipper's Smokehouse in 2015. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times (2015)
    A 12-hour party in the Skipperdome, stargazing and a family-friendly Williams Park festival provide free and cheap entertainment.
  8. A natural wine (Bianco di Ampeleia, 2017, from Italy) is poured at Cru Cellars in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    From pét-nats to skin-contact whites, natural wines are popping up at restaurants, coffee shops and wine bars across the bay.
  9. Natural wines at Cru Cellars in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    New to the growing trend? Start with these wines.
  10. Hoisin-glazed chicken meatballs. LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    They’re topped with a hoisin sauce, and can be baked or pan-fried.