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  1. Best Restaurants

Best burgers in Tampa Bay

These are more fancy than your average patty.

Edison: Food+Drink Lab

A wood-grilled Shakshuka burger, topped with goat cheese, spicy tomato sauce, fried organic egg, cucumber salad and a brioche bun. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

I’m guessing Jeannie Pierola is not going to be thrilled to be in this category. She’s one of the area’s most celebrated chefs, pushing the envelope with her own globetrotting-but-still-somehow-uniquely-Floridian culinary take. She has been busy, opening Swigamajig at Sparkman Wharf at the end of 2018, with her Counter Culture opening soon at the iconic Pach’s Place location in South Tampa. Food, service, cocktails and the wine program at Edison continue to dazzle. There has been a great deal of menu change (the potato-crusted oysters remain, ditto the roasted bone marrow and the sugar-crusted butter cake) and there have been some exceptional seafood options recently (snapper, grouper and a memorable charred achiote octopus). But one of the best dishes I had there in 2018 was for lunch: a grilled all-natural burger with Mexican chorizo topped with an organic fried egg and white cheddar, the whole thing elevated by a finger lime crema and little zings of pickled red onion, served on a lush toasted brioche and accompanied by rustic but textbook fries. It was $16 and I’d spend every penny again. edison-tampa.com

Address: 912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Phone: (813) 254-7111

Price: $$$

Pane Rustica

Sebrenna Strickland, who works the bar, says she has lots of regulars and customers seem to like the new bar a lot. Pane Rustica, just had a new bar installed which was designed in an oval to maximize people watching and socializing. [PETER MASA | Times]

I’ve been writing about Pane Rustica since I moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2004. It was anomalous then, so much more sophisticated than most of the restaurants around it, with big city breads and pastries, thin-crust pizzas with fancy toppings. It was Tampa’s smartest lunch spot, supplementing its business as a wholesale bakery. Then they annexed the produce section of the Village Health Market next door, added a full U-shaped bar attached to the cafe, added a couple of private dining rooms, added dinner Wednesday to Saturday. Owners Kevin and Karyn Kruszewski still deliver about 7,000 pounds of bread to area restaurants weekly, and at lunch the coin of the realm is a huge triangle of elaborately topped pizza followed by a chocolate espresso cookie. At dinner, my modus operandi is to sit at the bar, share the truffle potato chips, then a salad (often the field greens with Danish blue and apple), then whatever the burger of the moment is. These days it hovers around $18, a noticeable price, but the grind on the Creekstone all-natural beef is satisfying, its accoutrements careful - arugula, avocado, bacon, blue cheese and a sriracha aioli. It previously was Niman Ranch beef on focaccia with Brie and blackberry jam, also good. panerusticabakery.com

Address: 3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa

Phone: (813) 902-8828

Price: $$-$$$

Little Lamb Gastropub

Available at the Little Lamb Gastropub in Clearwater is a S'more's Tart, created with a graham cracker crust, ginger chocolate and a handful of burnt espresso marshmallows. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

James Renew globe-bopped, working at restaurants in Las Vegas and Sydney, Australia, before putting down roots in Clearwater and opening this little charmer a couple of years ago. There’s an expansion and a full bar to be executed in the next six months, but with rough plank walls inset with sconces made of industrial piping, concrete floors and an open kitchen, it’s currently got a no-frills edginess with just 38 seats if you count the long concrete bar (which is where you should sit to watch all the action). This place is a conundrum: Some of the best dishes are unabashedly meat-forward (paper cones of chicharones, super crispy and airy, served with a ramekin of spicy mayo; char siu ribs capped by an herb salad, candied peanuts and lime vinaigrette), but salads are some of the prettiest composed plates in Clearwater. They do a Creekstone angus burger and an Australian lamb burger that are both excellent, served on paper-lined metal trays with rustic, skin-on fries and wrinkly-shiny brioche, their rounds of tomato and red onion always snappy and fresh. The beef burger, juicy and not overworked, is paired with sharp white cheddar; the lamb version gets a cap of feta and sits on lush tzatziki. thelittlelambgastropub.com

Address: 2475 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater

Phone: (727) 401-3339

Price: $

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