The word “brunch” first materialized in an 1895 British periodical piece advocating for a more sociable meal between breakfast and dinner, something more engaging than breakfast but lighter than dinner.
Brunch is now arguably one of the most popular meals in the American diet, a commonly Instagrammed occasion that makes its way onto plenty of T-shirt sayings. One Time article proclaimed: “Millennials spend more time planning brunch than they do looking for a date."
In the Tampa Bay area, brunch options are plentiful and people have a lot to say about them. At least that’s what a Yelp analysis of the area’s 50 best brunch spots found.
To compile the list, the Yelp team looked at local restaurants with a high number of reviews mentioning the word brunch, plus they evaluated other factors like the total number of reviews and the ratings.
A few of their top 50 spots overlapped with our former food critic Laura Reiley’s best boozy brunches in Tampa Bay.
1. Noble Crust
At the No. 1 spot, Noble Crust is both a favorite for local Yelpers and the Times’ former food critic. Reiley picked Noble Crust as one of the area’s best boozy brunches and noted in particular its $8 bottomless mimosas on Saturday and free mimosa with an entree on Sundays. She recommends the lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberries as well as the fried chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup and the short rib Benny. Are you hungry yet?
What Yelpers said: “The fried chicken is half a chicken and could easily feed two. The white meat is plump, tender, juicy and delish on the inside and crisp, light and flavorful on the outside. It is further enhanced by the honey pepper sauce-amazing," wrote Jan S. from St. Petersburg.
“I now understand the cult following for Noble Crust. Our whole time there was a great experience," wrote Anna M. from Tampa.
“I am totally picking up what they are putting down. The modern vibe mixed with unique and delicious menu options makes this place a perfect option for a night out,” wrote Kenneth M. from Seminole.
St. Petersburg: 8300 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 329-6041
Wesley Chapel: 28330 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel, (813) 703-2602
Tampa: 11618 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 463-0193
2. Craft Street Kitchen
Oldsmar’s Craft Street Kitchen opened in winter 2015 and combines cocktails with Southern comfort-type food, according to a piece Reiley wrote on the opening of the restaurant’s original Trinity location. Recommended menu items include fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese and the restaurant’s signature craft burger.
For those who aren’t big drinkers or don’t want to guzzle a cocktail at brunch, Times correspondent Justin Grant suggests the restaurant’s non-alcoholic beverages, like blueberry-mint and orange-rosemary house sodas or a basil-mint lemonade.
What Yelpers said: “Food: 5 out of 5 stars. I ordered the salmon salad which was delicious. Generous portion and reasonable price $15.95," wrote Crystal W. of Clearwater.
“Service with Ashley and brunch an easy 5 stars. As for entrees French onion soup rings a 4 especially for inventiveness," said Bridget B. of Palm Harbor.
“Ordered the skillet short rib hash $8.95 and short rib sweet potato tots $10.95 and both were totally different and delicious!” said Nicholas S. of Clearwater.
Oldsmar: 3153 Curlew Road, Oldsmar, (727) 314-4270
Trinity: 3216 Little Road, Trinity, (727) 372-9491
3. The Mill
Downtown St. Petersburg’s The Mill came on the scene in August 2015 and sparked a mostly positive review from Reiley. She called one dish “the Appetizer of Summer 2015,” a watermelon bruschetta with melon, heirloom tomato, feta and smoked pistachio brittle, because she said it was the dish everyone was talking about at that time. (That appetizer is available on the brunch menu.)
The Mill’s brunch menu offers a variety of choices, from the classic banana bread French toast and a Southern fried shrimp and grits dish to the more unusual duck confit frittata, a garden naan sandwich with sweet pea hummus, cucumbers, red peppers, pear, onion, tomato, sprouts avocado, havarti and vinaigrette, and a Brussels leaves salad, which Reiley also recommended for dinner. At $13, the dish will leave you full, she said.
Personally, I’m eyeing the apple fritter as a starter.
What Yelpers said: “We ordered the Southern Belle salad and was our favorite of the two dishes. The southern fried chicken had the perfect amount of batter and was fried to perfection," said Randy L. of Tampa.
“Well wasn’t this just a nice pleasant surprise! No expectations except for what I saw in the images and this place delivered from cocktails to dessert,” said Alex S. of Orem, Utah.
“The soup of the day was vegetable stew, so I decided to do their not your mama’s grilled cheese and upgrade the side to the soup. Both were wonderful. I have never had a grilled cheese on rye bread, but that was so good,” said Teresa W. of Jacksonville.
St. Petersburg: 200 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, (727) 317-3930
Tampa: 2500 W Azeele St., Tampa, (813) 603-8786
4. Wildflower Cafe
Wildflower Cafe set off the “cutesy alarm” of former Tampa Bay Times food critic Chris Sherman when he first went there in 2005, according to Times archives.
“Before I could say, ‘How nice,’ I realized that there was so much good stuff on the menu that making a choice for breakfast or lunch was difficult,” Sherman wrote. “The good stuff included, for instance, ham and Swiss melted in a ciabatta bread with a crisp olive oil crust. That’s real food, not just for quiche eaters.”
He also talked up the restaurant’s bakery. His list of goodies includes pumpkin scones, lemon bars, pecan tassies and a hummingbird cake.
What Yelpers said: “I got the grits special. It was actually off the menu, but the server suggested it after I told her what I was looking for on the menu. Get the cheesy grits!! I’m really picky with grits and they definitely hit the nail on the head,” said Jonathan T. of Chicago, Illinois.
“If you weren’t looking for this place, you’d probably miss it. I’m glad we used Yelp to search for breakfast options en route to Clearwater Beach, because this place is a gem!” said Sara B. of Saint Augustine.
“Really enjoyed the avocado toast and Belgium waffles,” wrote Vikash K. of Canton, Mich. “Bread was toasted well so it had the right amount of crunch and the scrambled eggs on top were made perfectly.”
Clearwater: 1465 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater, (727) 447-4497
5. Oxford Exchange
Oxford Exchange is perhaps best known for its presence on the Instagram accounts of, well, everyone in the Tampa Bay area. And that was immediately clear shortly after its opening, when Reiley couldn’t get a place at the restaurant without a 45-minute wait.
What Reiley loved most about the Oxford Exchange, and what really does make it stick out, is its decor and ability to transport you to a different place and time. “The food is solid, much of it very good,” she wrote.
What Yelpers said: “How else can I describe it? You just have to go here. This place was just chock full of Instagram worthy backgrounds awaiting your vanity,” said Shanelle R. of Gainesville.
“I ordered a cappuccino and the prosciutto flatbread. Delicious!!! Normally I’m not a huge pesto fan but in the case of this flatbread it was the perfect touch,” said Christine D. of West Palm Beach.
“We ordered fried avocado wedges for the table and it was absolutely delicious. The lime gives the crunchy wedges a kick to its taste!” wrote Emily H. of Gainesville.
Tampa: 420 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, (813) 253-0222
6. Ciccio Cali
Ciccio Cali is one of a number of restaurants owned by the Ciccio Restaurant Group, a company that opens and manages local restaurants around the area, like Daily Eats, Fresh Kitchen and Green Lemon. Ciccio Cali’s signature dish is the Cali bowl, according to a 2014 Times article. The bowl combines proteins with vegetables, sauces and bases, like rice, farro or spaghetti squash.
“It’s a good, balanced menu,” said Ciccio Restaurant Group’s Matthew Lanza at the time. “We have something for everyone. The kids may want pizza, but mom can still have her spaghetti squash in a Cali bowl.”
What Yelpers said: “This place is such a cute place for brunch. I ordered the Ahi Tuna and it was amazing. I was craving poke but also brunch food so this definitely hit the spot,” said Amy C. from Chicago.
“We went here for brunch today. Our server Mike was nice and friendly. We ate outside because I love patio seating when the weather is nice. We had a great time!” said Cathy S. from Tampa.
“I like Ciccio Cali and most of the rest of the Ciccio Restaurant Group. The food is always good and the options for gluten free food are more than most. I’ve always received exceptional service. If I catch their weekend brunch I get the Steak and Egg bowl over Ciccio potatoes with the lime Caesar dressing,” said Eric F. of Tampa.
Tampa Palms: 17004 Palme Pointe Drive, Tampa, (813) 975-1222
Brandon: 11230 Sullivan St., Riverview, (813) 436-3840
South Tampa: 217 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 305-2473
St. Petersburg: 190 37th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 898-8226
7. Flying with Jerome
The Times’ Laura Reiley didn’t review the Clearwater French cafe Flying with Jerome until about a year after the restaurant’s opening. But in that time, about a dozen readers wrote to her to say the restaurant merited a review.
Reiley says the restaurant’s “central draw” is its pastry case, which boasts eclairs, apple tarts, napoleons and opera cakes.
“It’s a greatest-hits lineup of French pastries made exactingly, all lovely to look at,” she wrote.
But she also praises the eatery’s eggs feuillete, a puffed pastry with poached eggs, bacon and asparagus, and its side of mashed potatoes.
What Yelpers said: “First I got my son a chocolate brownie so he would drop complaining long enough for me to order something and sit down to eat. I’m on a meal plan but I found a good salad with eggs. I only ate half the bacon but it’s tasty. The bread is out of this world. Never tasted anything like it,” said Lori V. of Tampa.
“The fact that they let me order a side of mashed potatoes with my mushroom and goat cheese quiche was a game changer. Such delicious and perfectly prepared food but still has a diner vibe to it so you feel relaxed and comfortable,” said Alyssa G. of Atlanta.
“The pastries are better than the entrees!! The entrees are not bad but the pastries were delicious and my favorite part!” said Emily M. of Largo.
Clearwater: 1469 S Belcher Road, Clearwater, (727) 315-4925
8. Lenny’s Restaurant
A 2011 Tampa Tribune article called Lenny’s “one of the few old-fashioned diners left in the Tampa Bay area.”
The restaurant opened in 1980 and has been a place for fans of both the Phillies, who spring train in Clearwater, and those who love bagels, knishes, latkes and brisket.
Lenny’s website advertises their reputation, proclaiming: “Fact: Lenny’s has the best breakfast in Clearwater.”
Their menu includes multiple types of benedicts, a number of omelette choices and country-style breakfast complete with a Danish basket.
What Yelpers said: “What the what now? This place deserves all the praise and phenomenal reviews. Jalapeno bacon, yes please! Belgian waffles, yes please. I really need to come back and try out their lunch specials because their corned beef was ridiculous looking!” said Brigitte E. of St. Petersburg.
“I ordered eggs Benedict (not too deli-ish, I know) and it was great. I had potatoes with onions as my side and they were good. I kind of wish I’d gotten the pancakes which smelled great..but...too much food!!” said Brooke P. of Odessa.
“Had the French toast which was good, but a bit too crispy. The scrambled eggs were cooked perfectly and delicious. Lastly, the special, Breakfast Wellington, was the absolute best. A pastry filled with egg, ham, sausage and bacon. It was all covered in thick sausage gravy--wow! So unique and delicious!” said Mark M. of Miami.
Clearwater: 21220 U.S. Highway 19 N, Clearwater, (727) 799-0402
9. Marker 39 Floribbean Cuisine
The website of Maker 39 Floribbean Cuisine declares its chef’s vision as one of “modern Florida and Latino-Floribbean cuisine" blended with "Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Jamaican, Bahamian and American Deep South and Gulf Coast cuisines.”
For brunch, that translates to the classic big breakfasts and egg frittatas, but also a roasted plantain-stuffed crab cake benedict, Cuban-style breakfast tostadas and a Bahamian conch wonton. Even standard menu items have interesting flourishes, like calamari added to a Caesar salad or cornmeal-crusted oysters with poblano remoulade.
What Yelpers said: “The appetizers were all so appealing. They are known for their Nemo rolls, house cured ginger infused salmon rolls. I was tempted but instead went for 1 of the 2 specials, key lime basil seared shrimp. They were so delicious and artfully prepared," said Larry G. of Tampa.
“Several desserts arrived. I only took a bite of one which was the donut with a guava sauce on top. Think more like a churro with its crispy goodness then a flavor punched sauce. In heaven I was!!!” said Susan T. of Tampa.
“We went for brunch. We were told by our server that if we ‘just got the bacon and eggs we would leave disappointed because you can get those anywhere and everything else is so good,' she wasn’t wrong," said Alison M. of Palm Harbor.
Safety Harbor: 155 5th Ave. N., Safety Harbor, (727) 791-1939
10. The Frog Pond
When the Times’ former food critic Chris Sherman stopped by the Frog Pond at North Redington Beach, he noted that average-size plate ware could not fit the amount of food typical of their dishes.
“No, a Frog Pond breakfast amounts to an entire vacation, breakfast escalated a bit in price and a lot in quantity to celebratory feast. You can get a two-egg deal, but most of the menu is frittatas, omelets, Benedicts, waffles and a wicked ‘eggs in a pan,’” wrote Sherman in 2006.
For those with a sweet tooth, he also tried the fruit crepe, which was a “delightful folly.”
What Yelpers said: “Wow. Excellent food. Great service. Wide variety of choices. Everything was tasty, portion sizes enormous,” said Sid B. of Atlanta.
“We enjoyed this place so much that we came back a second time during our vacation....The food was DELICIOUS! So many omelets to choose from and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, definitely try the cinnamon roll French toast,” said Sarah R. of Franklin, Tennessee.
“Good old fashioned breakfast place. Nice menu, good portion size, happy kids,” said Debora B. of Lake Orion, Mich.
North Redington Beach: 16909 Gulf Blvd., North Redington Beach, (727) 392-4117
St. Pete Beach: 7390 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, (727) 363-7205
Downtown St. Petersburg: 890 3rd Ave. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 592-4977
As for the rest of the 50 brunch spots...
After hitting the top 10, we offer to you the remaining 40 best brunch spots divvied up by county. Yelp included the Sarasota and Bradenton area in its broad boundaries of the Tampa Bay area.
- #12, Stella’s, Gulfport, 3119 Beach Blvd. S, (727) 498-8950
- #13, Shrimpy’s Blues Bistro, St. Pete Beach, 9524 Blind Pass Road, (727) 575-7222
- #14, Red Mesa Cantina, St. Petersburg, 128 3rd St. S, (727) 896-8226
- #15, Another Broken Egg Cafe, Clearwater Beach, 470 Poinsettia Ave., (727) 240-4682
- #22, Speggtacular, Largo, 7924 Ulmerton Road, (727) 270-7599
- #23, Better Byrd, St. Petersburg, 4447 4th St. N, (727) 325-2973
- #25, Clear Sky Cafe, Clearwater, 490 Mandalay Ave., (727) 442-3684
- #27, Sweet Brewnette, Madeira Beach, 13999 Gulf Blvd. Suite C2, (727)-800-9858
- #32, Chill Restaurant and Bar, St. Pete Beach, 357 Corey Ave., (727) 360-2445
- #36, Thirsty First, St. Petersburg, 119 First Ave. N, (727) 317-3333
- #38, Tangelo’s Grille, Gulfport, 3121 Beach Blvd. South, (727) 894-1695
- #39, The Library, St. Petersburg, 600 5th St. South, (727) 369-9969
- #41, Red Mesa Restaurant, St. Petersburg, 4912 Fourth St. N, (727) 527-8728
- #42, Flamestone American Grill, Oldsmar, 4009 Tampa Road, (813) 814 7778
- #43, The Wooden Rooster, St. Petersburg, 104 2nd Ave. NE, (727) 822-7373
- #44, Island Way Grill, St. Petersburg, 20 Island Way, (727) 461-6617
- #48, Clear Sky Draught Haus, Dunedin, 680 Main St., (727) 286-6266
- #49, Trip’s Diner, St. Petersburg, 2339 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, (727) 498-8980
- #50, Callaloo, St. Petersburg, 642 22nd St. S, (727) 256-1806
- #11, Oystercatchers, Tampa, 2900 Bayport Dr., (813) 207-6815
- #16, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, Tampa, 5119 N. Nebraska Ave., (813) 234-1000
- #18, Daily Eats, Tampa, 901 South Howard Ave., (813) 868-3335
- #20, Datz Tampa, Tampa, 2616 S MacDill Ave., (813) 831-7000
- #21, On Swann, Tampa, 1501 Swann Ave., (813) 251-0110
- #24, LC’s Cafe and Supper Club, Brandon, 1602 Oakfield Drive Suite 103, (813) 526-9395
- #28, Green Lemon, Tampa, 915 S Howard Ave., (813) 868-5463
- #29, Thee Tree House, Tampa, 1809 W Platt St., (813) 855-5778
- #30, Roux, Tampa, 4205 S. MacDill Ave., (813) 443-5255
- #31, Bulla Gastrobar, Tampa, 930 S. Howard Ave., (813) 773-8626
- #34, Ciccio Water, Tampa, 1015 S Howard Ave., (813) 251-8406
- #40, The Refinery, Tampa, 5910 North Florida Ave., (813) 234-3710
- #46, Pinky’s, Tampa, 3203 W Bay to Bay Blvd., (813) 831-9339
- #47, Anise Global Gastrobar, Tampa, 777 N. Ashley Drive, (813) 225-4272
- #17, Sage Biscuit Cafe, Bradenton, 6656 Cortez Road West, (941) 792-3970
- #19, Made Restaurant, Sarasota, 1990 Main St. No. 112, (941) 953-2900
- #26, Shore, Sarasota, 465 John Ringling Blvd., (941) 296-0301
- #33, The Breakfast House, Sarasota, 1817 Fruitville Road, (941) 366-6860
- #37, Toasted Mango Cafe, Sarasota, 430 N Tamiami Trail, (941) 388-7728
- #45, Station 400, Sarasota, 400 North Lemon Ave., (941) 906-1400
Do you agree with the observations of at least some restaurant-goers? Are these your favorite brunch spots, or did some of your favorites not make the list? Let us know in the comments! We’re always looking for more brunch recommendations.
View the complete list here along with a map compiled by Yelp.