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Solo for Valentine’s Day? Here are 4 Tampa Bay spots to dine at the bar

These restaurants offer a good excuse to belly up to the bar solo.
Rooster & the Till in Seminole Heights features plenty of bar seating and is a good spot for solo diners.
Rooster & the Till in Seminole Heights features plenty of bar seating and is a good spot for solo diners. [ Times (2018) ]
Published Feb. 12, 2020

Flying solo this Valentine’s Day? No reason to stay on the couch with delivery pizza. Though the couples-friendly holiday is one of the busiest nights of the year for the restaurant business — and snagging a two-top without a reservation can be near impossible — it’s also one of the best times to grab a seat at the bar. From creative tasting menus to steak-and-martini spots and fancy charcuterie spreads, here are four restaurants with plenty of bar seating that make a convincing argument for a night out alone.

Steelbach

The 32-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye served at Steelbach.
The 32-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye served at Steelbach. [ Times (2018) ]

I’m not sure if there’s a better way to splurge on a dinner out than with a good steak and an icy cold martini. (If there is, I haven’t found it yet.) Steak is also a dish that is great enjoyed alone — and when it comes to the aged Florida raised beef steaks here, who wants to share? The horseshoe-shaped bar that anchors this buzzy Armature Works restaurant provides plenty of space to both dine and people watch, and the hot and cold oyster flights offer even more of an incentive to treat yourself.

1902 N Ola Ave., Tampa; (813) 693-5478; steelbach.com

Sonder Social Club

Mushroom tartare is served at Sonder Social Club.
Mushroom tartare is served at Sonder Social Club. [ SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times ]

Craft cocktails might be the first draw at the swanky downtown Dunedin lounge, but the elevated bar snacks and fancy cheese and charcuterie spreads offer just as convincing an argument. Especially good are the pillowy steamed buns filled with braised short ribs with ginger slaw and fermented chili aioli and the buttery baby beef wellingtons wrapped in puff pastry and served with a grainy mustard cream. If you’re extra hungry — or feel like sharing with a stranger — the white truffle cauliflower pizza is an exercise in decadence (but gluten-free) and comes topped with melted cheddar, bacon and roasted garlic cream.

966 Douglas Ave., Unit 101, Dunedin; (727) 754-6674; sondersocial.club

Rooster & the Till

Sea Bass Belly served with glass noodle crab salad, pumpkin panning curry, and coconut chutney is pictured at Rooster & the Till in Tampa.
Sea Bass Belly served with glass noodle crab salad, pumpkin panning curry, and coconut chutney is pictured at Rooster & the Till in Tampa. [ "LUIS SANTANA | TIMES" | Tampa Bay Times ]

The lauded Seminole Heights restaurant might be a popular pick for couples, but the ample bar seating throughout also makes it a great spot for single diners looking for a solo splurge. Sure, you could order one of the reliable favorites here, from the crispy cobia collar to the sea bass belly. But why not treat yourself? The always changing tasting menu, or “food experience,” will run you $75 and includes six courses, which could range from Wagyu cheeks with shaved black truffle to a fancy fried chicken with trout roe and ranch creme fraiche.

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6500 N Florida Ave., Tampa; (813) 374-8940; roosterandthetill.com

Annata

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Heirloom Tomatoes, Ricotta, Quail Egg and Truffle Oil is served on a flat bread at Annata.
Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Heirloom Tomatoes, Ricotta, Quail Egg and Truffle Oil is served on a flat bread at Annata. [ Times (2014) ]

The downtown St. Petersburg favorite for cheese and charcuterie boards is a popular spot for couples looking to snag one of the outdoor tables on Beach Drive. But the dark and sultry inside space provides a great excuse to belly up to the bar and take advantage of the encyclopedic wine-by-the-glass selection. What’s more, the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so even if you decide to show up on a whim, there’s a good chance you’ll still be able to get a seat.

300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 851-9582; annatawine.com

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