Is your head spinning from new restaurant openings? You’re not alone. 2023 has been a whirlwind of restaurant and bar launches, with at least 20 new places opening over the past few months. From big and splashy Water Street Tampa debuts to tiny, off-the-beaten-path gems in St. Petersburg, there’s no shortage of exciting new eateries to check out.
So if you’re scratching your head over where to eat this weekend, look no further. Here are 15 new spots you’ll want to put on your list.
The tiny spot tucked inside St. Petersburg’s Baba sports the largest menu of conserva (tinned fish and seafood) around. The nine-seat bar takes over what was formerly the restaurant’s bakery and features a full cocktail bar. The food menu boasts 48 different types of tinned fish and a raw bar selection that includes oysters and stone crab and a rotating selection of crudo. For now, the restaurant is only open Friday through Sunday, but it will soon hold the same hours as Baba.
2701 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-954-3406. eatatbaba.com.
Bin 6 South
Get to know your dining neighbors at this intimate St. Petersburg restaurant, which has just six seats at a communal table and a six-top bar. It’s all part of the charm here, where elevated kitchen technique is paired with an impressive international wine and sake program. Lunch is a more casual affair, with a menu that includes one of the best banh mi sandwiches in town.
330 Sixth St. S, St. Petersburg. 727-498-6735. bin6south.com.
Take a trip to Paris without leaving the city at this modern French American brasserie at Water Street Tampa. The Next Level Brands restaurant features a breezy vibe during the day and gets extremely busy in the evenings, when it can feel like everyone in Tampa is sidled up at the long bar, sipping on French martinis and lingering over steak frites. Grab a chocolate croissant and a baguette at the adjoining bakery before you go.
1001 Water St., Tampa. 813-768-9988. boulontampa.com.
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Champagne, anyone? This Hyde Park Village restaurant from the Cru Cellars team is a tribute to all things bubbly, from the bubbles-inspired chandelier greeting guests in the entryway to the envelope-pushing dinner menu, designed to pair with owner Jen Bingham’s extensive selection of Champagne, wine and sparkling wines. The space is tiny, and tables fill up fast, but a speakeasy-style room toward the rear of the building does double duty as a Champagne cellar and features additional seating for 35 people.
1640 W Snow Ave., Tampa. 813-550-2560. bouzybar.com.
Get cozy over bowls of chow fun noodles, roasted chicken thighs and creative charcuterie boards at this petite St. Petersburg restaurant from a couple of local restaurant industry veterans. The globally inspired menu is matched by an international wine selection, and reservations are highly recommended — this tiny 25-seater can fill up fast.
2909 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. 727-202-0263. calidastpete.com.
Folks know chef Melissa “Melly” Gardner from her popular St. Petersburg food truck Three Generations, where she won hearts with her tasty spins on Southern comfort food classics. At her new brick-and-mortar in Seminole Heights, a bistro menu boasts dishes like French toast made with pound cake, bruleed bananas and salted caramel whipped cream; and truffle chimichurri lamb chops served with a citrus salsa. An equally exciting cocktail menu focuses on Caribbean-inspired spirits including rum, tequila and mezcal.
7701 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. instagram.com/coasistampa.
Fans of Clearwater’s Little Lamb Gastropub would be wise to go check out their sophomore effort, a modern new American restaurant right in the heart of downtown New Port Richey. Described as an elevated seafood-focused restaurant, roughly 70% of the menu is fish and seafood, both local and international varieties, with an emphasis on sustainable choices. There’s also a selection of East, West and Gulf Coast oysters and a cocktail menu featuring lighter, seafood-friendly spirits designed to pair with the dishes.
6220 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. estuarynpr.com.
The Glass Noodle
Noodle dishes of all kinds get the spotlight at this St. Petersburg pan-Asian restaurant on Central Avenue. The spot, owned by the same folks that run nearby Mangosteen and the Green Pagoda, features a menu of noodle dishes from all over Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Japan, China, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Korea and Cambodia. On chillier days, a bowl of steaming Chinese duck noodle soup can’t be beat.
681 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-289-3720. theglassnoodle.com.
East and West Coast oysters, craft cocktails and an elevated gastropub menu are on deck at this Water Street Tampa spot from Ohio-based restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. The casual spot sports strong nautical vibes, and there are plenty of great seafood options to be had. But don’t overlook some of the other menu highlights, including a dreamy jalapeno corn spoon bread and the standout burger.
823 Water St., Suite C-100, Tampa. 813-709-7776. thepearlrestaurant.com.
Small Giant (and Wine on Water)
Every neighborhood needs a good tavern and a decent bottle shop, and Cru Hospitality Group has the solution for both. At Small Giant, Columbus, Ohio-style pizza is the highlight, along with smash burgers, beer, wine and a brown spirit-focused cocktail program. Over at Wine on Water, pick up something yummy to pair with dinner or grab a seat outside and enjoy a glass al fresco.
1011 E Cumberland Ave., Tampa. 813-921-0571. smallgiantbar.com.
The Austin, Texas-based taco chain with a cult following opened in January at Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg and has remained packed ever since. It’s not hard to see why: Creative taco spins, potent margaritas and an addictively good green chile queso keep the crowds coming. Plus it’s one of the few spots in the area that truly excels at the art of breakfast tacos.
2314 Tyrone Blvd. N, St. Petersburg. 727-308-3332. torchystacos.com.
The highly anticipated offshoot of St. Petersburg’s popular seafood and cocktail hub is now open in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood. The large outdoor space exudes the same elevated fish camp vibes as its sister across the bay and features a menu that highlights fresh fish, snacks like smoked fish spread and hush puppies, and potent boat drinks. Whatever you do, don’t skip the tasty pistachio Mai Tai.
5901 N Florida Ave., Tampa. trophyfish.com.
Uncle Funz Provisions
Many will recall chef and restaurateur Zack Gross’ celebrated spot Z Grille in downtown St. Petersburg, which closed in 2017. Six years later, Gross and his wife Jennifer are back with Uncle Funz Provisions, a mostly grab-and-go concept in St. Pete Beach that doubles as a gift shop with general store vibes. (Think charcuterie kit supplies, knives, hats and T-shirts, linens, fresh flowers, salt blends and gourmet chocolates.) The menu is constantly changing, but pretty much anything on the sandwich board is a great bet, from a vegetarian Brie, apple, hot honey and arugula combo to the smoky, delicious jerk chicken sandwich, paired with pineapple pico, greens and pepperjack cheese.
6640 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-498-6873. instagram.com/unclefunz.
Union New American
One of Tampa’s buzziest openings this spring, the modern new American spot from Next Level Brands (of Forbici and Boulon Brasserie) launched in April at Westshore City Center. The gorgeous (and massive) bilevel space will eventually operate as both an upscale restaurant and a nightlife hub further down the line, when the team will launch their upstairs lounge. For now, grab a seat in the beautiful downstairs dining room or patio, and get ready to splurge a little: Champagne, caviar, toppling seafood towers and steaks offer a great excuse to celebrate.
1111 N West Shore Blvd., Annex B, Tampa. 813-768-9989. uniontampa.com.
The pan-Asian restaurant first launched in London in 1992 and has since expanded globally, boasting more than 200 locations. Tampa’s Water Street addition marks the seventh U.S. location for the chain, and features a menu full of modern twists on a variety of Asian cuisines, from Japanese ramen bowls to Thai noodle dishes. Be sure to order the fiery Bang Bang cauliflower and a cooling fresh-squeezed juice to wash it down.
1050 Water St., Tampa. 813-429-9242. wagamama.us/restaurants/tampa.