HOME > Chowhound > Florida >


Come on Tampa!!!!

  • m

Where are all the Tampa Chowhounds?

Let's start talking about all of the great restaurants!

A great Mom and Pop hole in the wall Sothern Indian Eatery on Hanley? NS aka Idli Dosa Place. A must try!

Sidbern's - Great fusion dining, make a great meal out of appetizers and dim sum.

Roy's - Great East meets West Fusion. Also, go with the appetizers.

That's just a start.

Please pass on your favorites. Tampa is starting to get new restaurants. We need to keep this thread going and start sharing Good Eats!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've been posting on Tampa for the past year. Check out my posts. I usually specify (Tampa) in parenthises. Lots of posts, just keep scrolling down. I agree that Tampa needs to be more active. By the sound of these boards, you'd think there is little between Orlando and Miami! I'm not going anywhere, so you can expect my posts in the far future. I usually just post on one place at a time, and very rarely eat at upper-crust type of places. Can't afford it, and it's rarely worth it.

    1. This is the only cite where there is a chance for chowhounds to find gfood food here. There are zilioins of chains, and the media is pathetic. It reviews the same 25 places over and over. Ted Peters in St. Pete is a must for fresh home smpked mullet ad kingfish. Also Mazzarro's on 22d avenue. Best Italian market (although small) in the area

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tom McGowan

        Hey! What about the Tampa Underbelly Tour (Tampa Tribune)????????? Not one place had been reviewed on either trip.
        You have a piont, but that is changing. Check out the new Tampa Tribune Flavor section every Wednesday. You may be surprised.

      2. Roy's is great, but it's a chain. We go there from time to time, but try to dine in non-chain restaurants. Here are a few of our favorites:

        Spartaco is by far one of the best Italian restaurants in Tampa. We dine there almost every Tuesday evening. It is run by Spartaco, and sometimes, his mama who comes in from Northern Italy to cook. Authentic, small and warm. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. It is in South Tampa off of Macdill and Bay to Bay. Address is: 4127 S Macdill Ave

        I agree with the recommendation for Sidebern's. Jeannie does a fabulous job with her dishes and keeps the menu fresh! I love the cheeses and her risotto is to die for! Off of Howard and Morrison in South Tampa (SoHo.) 2208 West Morrison Avenue

        Restaurant BT in Old Hyde Park Village. This place is up and coming. Definitely some fresh menu ideas and drink ideas too! 1633 W Snow Ave

        Ceviche is a great place for tapas. This is in Hyde Park at the end of Howard as you run into Bayshore. Keep your eyes peeled, it's easy to miss! In my humble opinion, much better than Sangria's. 2109 Bayshore Blvd.

        Another nice place for a glass of wine and some good food is the Wine Exchange in Old Hyde Park Village. This is not fine dining, but the food is good, the staff is great and the wine list is wonderful! 1611 W Swann Ave

        Mise En Place is also up and coming. I've had hit or miss meals here, but the last time we were there it was wonderful. We ordered several small appetizers and some wine and it hit the spot! Everything was done perfectly. Downtown. 442 W Kennedy Blvd

        Fine dining: Six Tables in South Tampa...I cannot speak for the other ones, but Richard and Amy do a fabulous job! 4267 Henderson Blvd

        2 Replies
        1. re: HeatherFL

          Welcome to the board, HeatherFL. Your profile indicates you've had some extensive dining experiences all over the world. I'll look forward to your opinions.
          Just curious. What do you mean by "up and coming." ? Mise En Place has been open since 1986 and has been named one of the top restaurants in the area year in and year out.

          1. re: HeatherFL

            Spartaco was sold, as was Vino E Pasta (same owners). I was so upset, I hope the food remains just as good.

            Mise en Place = Yucky


          2. I'm certainly happy to see any thread with Tampa in the title, and welcome, but as you're waiting for responses here, type Tampa in the search bar up top...

            1. looks like someone is bumping ancient threads.....

              1. Yes you are right, Mise En Place opened in 1986 and Marty has been there since its opening. I apologize for being misleading by saying it's "up and coming" when it has been around for over 20 years now. I don't personally recall it getting awards and accolades until more recently, probably since I've only been in South Tampa for a few years and in Tampa Bay for just over six. Again, my apologies if I seemed misleading. Also, it hasn't been until recently that I've found the cuisine to be much improved. Maybe I've had bad nights, but I don't yet find it to be on par with Sidebern's.

                Also, sorry for bumping an "ancient" thread. I'm new to these boards and hadn't realized how old this thread was. I will pay closer attention in the future.

                1. i only get to the tampa area about 2-3 times a year (usually ybor is one of the times) but i very much look forward to reading the tampa environs chow recs.

                  i love the west coast, it's so different from the east! (i love the east coast also, but it's just excellent that we have so many different scenes all within one state).

                  we'll be going to fort desoto this june (first time ever, and i'm from FL) and i am very happy to read about the places in st. pete beach and tierra verde.

                  c'mon june! and yay tampa!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: hitachino

                    Fort Desoto is so beautiful. We took our travel trailer camping there a couple times last summer. One time we never even cooked the food we bought but went to Billy's Stone Crab instead lol. There is another excellent restaurant we also went to on Tierra Verde but of course I can't remember the name! I'll ask my husband and post it if he remembers.

                    1. re: hitachino

                      We will be visiting the West Coast in Oct./07. Any advice on great restaurants from San Francisco down the coast to Chula Vista/San Diego Thanks!

                      1. re: milowad


                        Firefly http://www.fireflyrestaurant.com/ went there for a special meal, good atmosphere, and great food. It is in a mostly residentail neighborhood, and off the trendy scene. The servers treat you like a regular. Food is great.

                        For Italian you have to go to Pomodoro. There are multiple locations, but we went twice to the one on Union St. so we could sit outside and watch the scene at washington square park. I had the seafood pasta both times.


                      2. re: hitachino

                        Hit up Acropolis on 7th ave during your next Ybor visit. I reviewed it for New Heights Mag and have gone back at least 30 times since then. It is always great.

                      3. Tierra Verde:

                        Crazy Conch Cafe

                        Pass-A-Grille, near Tierra Verde:

                        A place we enjoy-Black Palm Restaurant-we like to sit outside

                        Have a great time. Ft. DeSoto is so great! I love the sunrises down there.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: HeatherFL

                          Crazy Conch is the one I was trying to remember. Thanks!

                          1. re: HeatherFL

                            thanks! when we were in pass-a-grille it was many, many years ago -- like i was still young and skinny ;) -- we ate grouper sandwiches on a deck someplace across from the beach. (hurricanes?)

                            it was right when the lime-in-corona thing had just started, and we were in heaven with our awesome fish sandwiches and our limed lagers.

                            of course, back then, i could have eaten shoe leather and been happy as long as we were someplace beachside.

                            heck, i'm *still* happy whenever we're beach side! it's just. SO. fun.

                            don't worry about bumping, it happens to everyone - and some threads really deserve to be resurrected! ;)

                          2. Thanks, hitachino. I appreciate that!

                            LOL I bet it was The Hurricane! http://www.thehurricane.com

                            I've enjoyed myself there with a drink (or two) on the rooftop! It's still there in all its glory.

                            I really understand about being beachside. You are SO right! It is just fun. And wonderful. Ahhh I love Florida.

                            Have a great trip!

                            No problem, rhnault!


                            1. Here is my listing after spending 19 years in Tampa:

                              SANDWICHS-Wrights Deli, Pane Rustica, Casteliino and Pizzo, Interbay Meat Market, Schillers German Deli, Roberts Meats, Publix

                              MEXICAN - Estellas, Miguels, Algustos, Taquiera Q, Chiuauas

                              ITALIAN - Laughing Cat, Bellas, Bernini's, Spartaco

                              STEAKS- Bern's, Charleys, Flemings,

                              BBQ- Kojaks, Jimbos

                              SUSHI - Yokos, SOHO, Samarai Blue,

                              WATERFRONT - Rattlefish, Sea Critters, Salt Rock Grille, Island Way Grille

                              MEDITERRANEAN - Ganghis Kahn, Byblos, Acropolis Greek Tavenera

                              CUBAN/SPANISH - Arcos Iris, Miramar, Columbia

                              PIZZA - Cappy's, Eddie and Sam's

                              THAI - Royal Palace, Thai Corner

                              SEAFOOD - Oystercatchers, Mangroves, St. Barts Island House, Bonefish Grille, Collonade

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: rshally

                                I have only been here for 91/2 years-- your list looks pretty good-- a couple I haven't tried-- I would add Thai Sweet Basil to the Thai category-- and I agree with the sushi places but the best sushi in town hands town is GOSushi-- Matthew gets the absolute freshest fish available-- I have never seen tuna like it. But he doesn't have a restaurant so remember it for your next party. He will even set up a sushi bar in your home/office wherever so your guests can have a sushi chef preparing it for you! People love it. I also gotta say that Demi's market on 7th has really good pizza-- granted 1 or 2 toppings is about the limit or you won't be able to pick it up. I also had 2 really good pies from Gourmet Pizza Co. Taco Bus still rules-- the shredded beef taco can't be beat.
                                Oh, has anyone tried Daily Eats in SoHo? I find breakfast to be pretty mediocre most places but their breakfast bowls are amazing!

                                1. re: rshally

                                  Good list Rshally, but I'd like to add my two cents:

                                  Sandwiches: Good list but add: Bungalow Bistro and The Noho Bistro

                                  Mexican: Mi Mexico (for traditional, don't expect a beautiful establishment) and The Taco Bus (awesome authentic tacos). Miguels is some of the worst food in Tampa.

                                  Italian: Good choices. At Bella's ONLY get the pizzas, everything else is just bla.

                                  Steaks: try the ridizio at The Brasilian Grille on Armenia

                                  BBQ: I am aghast at your choices. Big John's BBQ is the ONLY good BBQ in Tampa

                                  Sushi: Have to try Ichiban

                                  Waterfront: Frenchy's! For the atmosphere and the She Crab Soup

                                  Mediterranean: Great Choices

                                  Cuban/ Spanish: Pipo's, West Tampa Sandwich Shop, Ceviche's

                                  Pizza: Ybor Pizza & Subs

                                  Thai: Good Choices

                                  Seafood: St. Bart's closed. Ummmm, The Wharf, The Crab Shack, Mangroves is good

                                2. Taco Bus on Hillsborough just E. of 275 is great cheap authentic Mexican. We normally do take out, but eat in can be fun when the weather is nice(no AC).

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Tampa Chrissie

                                    Now you have me craving their ceviche.......this weekend would be perfect for outdoor Mexican!

                                    1. re: rhnault

                                      Don't forget they have tamales on Sundays.

                                      1. re: Tampa Chrissie

                                        saturday and sundays. the best thing on their menu. be sure to try the pineapple tamales should you see them.

                                  2. I was happy to see the old thread come back. Tampa had very little activity on this board at the time. Our friends in Miami dominated the proceedings, especially New Yawkers looking for pizza and bagels, which drove me up the wall. So seeing my response six years ago was amusing for me.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: andy huse

                                      what's wrong with a New Yawker looking for pizza and bagels? i hunted for two long years before finding pizza i would even consider edible. after 4 years, still looking for a good bagel place.

                                      1. re: Manderley

                                        just saw this. I'm from Philly and in the same boat. The only Bagel I can get that is somewhat similar is at Einstein Bagels on 19. Not too bad considering the miserable selection a Publix. Pizza? HAHAHAHA! Right.

                                        Anywho, nice to see you Manderley

                                        1. re: DoubleBurger

                                          i was at Mike's on Saturday night, were you there?

                                          1. re: Manderley

                                            no, Mom wouldn't let me go. Maybe next weekend after the IRS pays for my meal, lol!

                                    2. My fave for BBQ in Tampa Bay is definitely FirstChoice BBQ in Brandon.

                                      Jimbo's is ok for when we don't feel like making the drive, Kojak's went once and never again. If you're further south, Hickory Hollow in Ellenton can be good. Great selection of sides, last time we went the bbq tasted a little dried out, they specialize in carolina style.


                                      1. We love Cafe Paradiso in south Tampa for Italian. Naples style italian. Chianti on 60 in Brandon is great. The owners are from NJ. Very good food, but wine list could be improved. Sushi Ninja in Bloomingdale (out here in the burbs) is yummy, simple sushi. Samuri Blue in Ybor is very good w/great people watching. Had a good meal recently @ Shula's (I know, chain but..) with excellent service. Six Tables was a wonderful personalized experience that I would recommend for special occasions. TC Choys is south Tampa is very good Chinese.

                                        1. Pelagia Trattoria at International Plaza is a real treat - fresh ingredients, quality meats and seafoods, creative, inventive chef, energizing atmosphere.....and watch out for Boizao Steakhouse, also in the Westshore area. Not yet open but soon. Should really shake things up. A dining experience that's in its own category. Another one of a kind find.

                                          1. Thanks for the heads up on Boizao, peanut! I'll keep my eyes open.

                                            Haven't been to Pelagia Trattoria in awhile. You've inspired me to go back soon!


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: HeatherFL

                                              we went there for Valentine's Day and it was awesome
                                              We had the olives and carpaccio for appetizers, then the romaine fondue (which my husband really loved when he realized he could eat it with his hands). They had a nice Italian sparkling wine on VD special for like 20 bucks so we could not turn this down! For entrees I had the duck-the best duck I have ever had! We had a nice bottle of Franciscan pinot noir. My husband had the lamb chops and for dessert we had the white chocolate cheesecake and a very generous pour of port. The food I thought was better than Armani's and the restaurant was just beautiful with fabulous service.

                                            2. Mis en Place is still the best Tampa restaurant overall after many years.
                                              Bern's, the original, is.......what-can-I-say-?......ya gotta do it! Side Bern's is overpriced and has a better marketing agent than a kitchen.
                                              Laughing Cat, Caffe Paradiso, La Terrazza are the best for superior Italian and great personalized service-----Donatello if snob appeal is critical to your dining experience.
                                              There is no Chinese worth eating in Tampa.
                                              BT's in Hyde Park is excellent--check your check tho', they have a rep of adding up the bill 'wrong'.
                                              The Hurricanne on St. Pete Beach is tasty and gimmicky--great for the tourists--but Frenchy's in Clearwater Beach has a much better grouper sandwich. It's right on the beach, too.
                                              Rattlefish is a great locale---food's very average.
                                              Castellano and Pizzo is an excellent though small 4th generation Italian Market with great prepared dishes and sandwiches. Up the street from there, the Mott and Hester deli has a combination of homemade soups, s'wiches, daily specials--usu very jammed-up at lunch; good service and fresh homemade food.
                                              Wright's Gourmet has some tasty deli treats. If you do not call ahead their marginal service will make you wait and wait and wait and wait...............................................
                                              and wait ................(you get it)
                                              Your grandparents will love the Colonnade and its prefrozen, thawed re-heated dinners.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: JeffTampa

                                                have you been to China Yuan? The only one worth eating at in Tampa for the money.

                                                1. re: JeffTampa

                                                  Great suggestions but I still can't seem to find anything... I'll be dining in Tampa mid-February and am looking for something fresh, somewhat trendy in the $18-25 entree range (probably not sushi since others in my party might not be big fans). Of those suggested that appealed to me, most weren't open Sunday nights or Monday lunch though which is when I'll be in town. Any ideas? Thanks.

                                                  1. re: kitty39393

                                                    So do tell where you finally decided to dine in Tampa?

                                                  2. re: JeffTampa

                                                    Mise en Place?????????? WHHHHHATTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!
                                                    Um, no sir.

                                                    1. re: The Urban Eater

                                                      You sure have an issue with Mise en place. Did Marty do something bad to you? I was just there about 6 weeks ago and it was lovely. Far from yucky....

                                                      1. re: rhnault

                                                        i had a great meal there late last year with a large group. food and service were flawless. The venison and spaetzle were superb. I couldn't disagree more with a "yucky" review.

                                                        1. re: rhnault

                                                          I love Mise en Place. I was there Friday and had another unbelievable meal. we had like 5 appetizers and an entree. The foies gras was melt in your mouth delicious, oysters were lovely--can't say enough! The service there is wonderful. Maybe urban eater isn't used to such a creative menu. That would be understandable then that you wouldn't like it.

                                                    2. I've written it before, but respectfully disagree that Mise En Place is the best. I have yet to have a great entree there. Average, but I couldn't even say they were "good." Acceptable. That is the word I'd use.

                                                      Agree about Restaurant BT, but disagree that Sidebern's is overpriced. Hands down, much better than Mise En Place and completely worth, what I consider to be for the food and preparation, the very fair prices!

                                                      The Colonnade? UGH. They took a Red Lobster and put it on Bayshore. Save your money and go elsewhere!

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: HeatherFL

                                                        I guess it is all based on your own perspective. I used to have my office in the same bldg. as Mise En Place and went there quite often as you can imagine. To this day, I will go there in a moments notice. I do enjoy my experience and meals at MEP.

                                                        I also feel the same way about Cafe Ponte.

                                                        And once I went to Sidebern's where my friend and I sat for a good 15-20 minutes and no one even approached us to say hello and that they will be right with us. I have to say that we got up, walked out, and have never been back again. There is no reason for this kind of treatment.

                                                        Just my $.02.


                                                        1. re: RibDog

                                                          Wow, I am so surprised at your experience with Sidebern's, John. I had the opposite: was fifteen minutes late for a reservation, the place was packed. They told us to wait at the bar - which was standing room only. We figured OH NO we blew it. But in ten minutes they came and sat us, and although packed to the gills, we were treated like royalty. The food was wonderful. I am hoping you will go back someday, and maybe they can change your mind. But I agree, being ignored is inexcusable.

                                                          Now I haven't been in awhile, but I'm hoping your experience was the exception to the rule!

                                                          P.S. Had dinner with a party of six last week at Cafe Ponte. I was the one who recommended it, and my party (my family) are not the biggest spenders in the world, so I was a little leery that they wouldn't like it.....Well, service was exceptional, and everyone loved the food, said it was a wonderful experience and worth every penny (or should I say every dollar). I can still remember the risotto...aaah.

                                                        2. re: HeatherFL

                                                          the Colonnade IS AWFUL. and I had a wonderful experience at Cafe Ponte--- service and food excellent.

                                                          1. re: HeatherFL

                                                            Agree with you on BT. Sideberns is hit or miss and now has a new head chef.
                                                            Colonnade? You are mistaken it is 10x worse than any Red Lobster.

                                                          2. John, I'm also very sorry that your experience at Sidebern's was so poor. We go there just about every Friday and are "regulars" who just like to sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders. I am so surprised. If we do venture off from our regular routine, Ginger is the server for us! I hope you'll give it another shot and allow them to exceed your expectations. How disappointing.

                                                            I agree about Cafe Ponte. Loved it and we bought some of the artwork too!


                                                            1. so is Ponte's Tuscan Cafe also good?
                                                              I have a gift certificate I need to use there.

                                                              1. Well, I would go when it was Bracci Bistro and it was pretty good. I haven't been to Ponte's Tuscan Cafe' yet (Cafe Ponte' is awesome, though!) but I have been told by several people it is even better than Bracci's.


                                                                1. The trouble with Sidebern's, IMHO, is that after you order and receive your dish, you have to get the menu back to see what is on your plate. Good quality, well prepared but just a bit too cute.

                                                                  1. <furiously typing notes on this content> Thanks all... For what it's worth, I agree that Ceviche is great, but the newer Ceviche in St. Pete is substantially newer, bigger, better, and IMO worth the extra few minutes drive (comparatively, from Northdale). Check www.cevichetapas.com if memory serves.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: RC16

                                                                      I don't know why you would rive all that way when you can go right down DM to Vizcaya in Carrollwood. It's excellent

                                                                    2. I recently had my most memorably worst tampa food experience at sideberns. I had not been there is at least a year, and I don't go there often. But it was my birthday and it was monday, which means the choice of where to go was limited. we got the dim sum, which we'd had in the past and enjoyed, and this time, almost every one of the little goodies was just awful. we had a crab rangoon that must have been fried at least an hour or more earlier and was cold and not crisp. we had pad thai which tasted like a gallon of something sweet and sticky had been hoisted on it. and the rest of the dim sum was just totally unmemorable. the highlight of our "light" fare was a fried oyster po-boy appetizer with 5 or 6 mini po' boys, single-bite oysters. As usual the wine was underpriced and wonderful, the service was attentive, but the food was dismal. actually dreadful is more appropriate. my son had a seafood chowder that was excellent but for $10/bowl it should have been. And on top of all that misery, it was likely $100 for what ended up being dim sum, appetizer, soup, and 2 glasses of wine. I'm sorry guys -- go hang out at the bar and get taken all you want, I will eat fine food elsewhere. St. Barts, Berns, Park Shore Grille, all are better food value than Sideberns. You go and be seen while I make a trip to the bank for a deposit.

                                                                      1. Tandoori Girl, I am curious to know-did you say anything when asked how your food was? If I have ever had a problem at Sidebern's (which is rare) they take it off the bill and correct it immediately. I am sorry you had that experience. I wonder if Jeannie was present that night. I don't go there on Mondays, but it's sad to think that without the head chef there the cuisine is not up to par.

                                                                        1. No I did not say anything, Heather. Frankly, I wasn't sure if I had mentioned how horrible the dim sum was that they would have brought me more, nor that it would have been any more edible. As for the price of a $10 bowl of soup, I surely think they would have said that if I wanted to pay any less then I should have gone somewhere else.

                                                                          Perhaps Jeannie and Sideberns are just slipping, Heather. Seems like there are quite a few negative comments. I'll take Berns anyday. And pay their prices, which I think are quite reasonable for what you get. I just remembered what else I got. Foam soup. The new cuilinary rage. I'm glad I at least tried it so I could see what the buzz was all about. Just another gimmick as far as I could tell.

                                                                          1. Maybe they are. I'm just surprised is all. I usually go there once a week and don't encounter these problems (or if there is something wrong it is very rare,) nor am I a big fan of Bern's other than its dessert room. I find it pretty overrated. As others have mentioned, I guess it all just depends on the person. Certainly does suck you had such a negative experience @ Sidebern's. I'm sorry you didn't say anything. If you were that dissatisified they should have been aware of what a let down it was and at the very least removed the charges from your bill. It's just a bummer to read of such negative experiences when the staff is always so wonderful to us and we have great meal after great meal. I'll remember to avoid the "foam soup." Thanks for the heads up. ;)

                                                                            I haven't been to Park Shore Grille and your post has inspired me to try it next time I'm over the bridge that way. Thanks!

                                                                            1. so much attacking and defending! I avoid these high falutin places--- they are rarely worth it. If you have money to burn at these places (once a week?!), go right ahead. A meal at Bern's only elicited a shrug from me. More recently, Cafe Ponte truly impressed. What impresses me most are places with reasonable prices and great food and flavors. Seems like trendy Yuppies and high rollers rarely encourage fine food. But they are hell-bent on spending money far away from the masses. The more you spend, the less you get for your money. It is the law of diminishing returns. If i want a "fine" meal, I usually cook it myself. I spent too long as a struggling student to throw my money away in the palaces of conspicuous consumption. Most of the time they serve mediocre food because they can, and people come back anyway to spend all that money they don't need.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: andy huse

                                                                                I agree with you on Cafe Ponte and the Ponte Tuscan Cafe is also good. However, you are very wrong on Bern's! The food is fantastic, wine selection and service are amazing, and the value is unbelieveable at a 40%+ discount to the big chains (morton's, ruth's chris) - especially great value if you are not into huge steaks. Wine value is also great - minimal markup on older vintages, etc.

                                                                              2. yeah. i really don't think i'll be buying any more $10 foam soup no matter what the food critics say. it was a rather shallow experience.

                                                                                you know, the more you know about berns, the more you would be impressed. they actually skin their celery, make their own ice cream, roast their own beans, import their chocolate, grow their own vegetables, have the biggest wine cellar in the world, pour a healthy glass, etc. etc. etc. it is really an unusual place. where else can you eat so extravagantly in a bordello atmosphere.

                                                                                1. Andy, I wasn't attacking and I apologize if it seemed that way. In fact, I felt bad that Tandoori Girl had such a terrible experience and felt she shouldn't have had to pay for mediocre food.

                                                                                  I do, however, find it ironic that you are writing of anyone's "ability/choice" (for lack of a better term) to go out to a place such as Sidebern's once a week. The amount of money one spends and what is considered "burning money" is all relative to the individual. It's not like I'm eating 7 courses every time I go out either. I eat out often because it's my lifestyle and I like to. I cook at home when I have the time and prefer to take my time when doing so.

                                                                                  I do not profess to be a food expert by any means. I travel a lot and I love to try new food. Whether it's a $3 meal in Cartagena, Colombia or an expensive one in Europe, I am around to learn. I enjoy reading others' opinions, but I don't have to agree with them. If I question someone, it's because I am genuinely interested and thinking that if I'm liking something that others aren't maybe I'm getting lucky. If others are liking a place I'm not, then maybe I'm not ordering the right stuff. I'm not presenting a challenge. I like what I like-just as everyone else here does. I didn't realize giving one's opinion would be considered "attacking" others. Again, it wasn't my intention at all.

                                                                                  Still agree with you on Cafe Ponte. Excellent.

                                                                                  Tandoori Girl-I guess part of it is I feel the atmosphere is gaudy and dated at Bern's. I realize that's part of its charm and history, but it's just not my cup of tea. It's amazing to me the people I see there with their noses up in the air because they're at Bern's. I just don't get it. I prefer to go to the bar there and eat and chat with the bartender(s) rather than dine in a dark room with someone who barely utters a word other than those he or she are trained to say. I have also found the steaks at Charleys superior too. BUT, everything you listed is quite impressive and it has definitely given me new insight and made me take pause. It's been a few months since we were there (and it was cute, my grandparents were here from South America and my grandfather was soooo excited they brought him a separate ice bucket for his beer LOL.) Sooo, we'll have to give it another whirl. Good excuse to go back to the dessert room. Won't have to go very far. ;)


                                                                                  1. Heather, you seem to get around. That's good. We need people who actually GO to restaurants to chime in. I didn't feel attacked nor defensive so maybe it's all in the reading. not to worry.

                                                                                    And the bar at Berns is a wonderful place to get a steak salad or sandwich for lunch. Andy. Yoohoo. If you need a bargain. In and out for less than $10 -- which will only get you a bowl of soup at Sideberns. Or a bowl of foam.

                                                                                    1. Thanks, Tandoori Girl. You made me feel a lot better and I appreciate it. Air Force Brat on my dad's side and my grandfather on my mom's side is a Gypsy. It was embedded in my DNA to travel LOL.

                                                                                      I promise I won't start singing Kum Ba Yaha now. ;)

                                                                                      1. Hello- I grew up in Tampa, moved away, and now back again. I am more of a lurker on eGullet and just learned about ChowHound and will lurk here too. Loved Rshally's List- got some great new places to try- would add Spain, JoTo's sushi, Gourmet Pizza co and I would only take away Estella's. HeatherFl- I definitely agree with your experiences at Mise en Place, and Tandoori Girl and Wineman, I have had similar thoughts on SideBern's. However, these places ARE Tampa's culinary talent and trying too hard can't be a negative thing. Even without execution of the promise, there is still hope that with these locals continuing to be in business still, that we can still be a culinary town. I just wish there was something in between- has anyone tried the Honduran restaurant where Viva La Frida's used to be? across from Front Porch?

                                                                                        Thanks for the thread!

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: artemisanne

                                                                                          I would like to try the the new Honduran restaurant if for no other reason than to show my support. Would love to hear fellow Hounds' report on the same. Did you guys read the St Pete Times article this week about certain Seminole Heights residents lamenting the surge of "Hispanic" restaurants in "their" neighborhood?? And the one guy--I think he's the head of their neighborhood association--saying he wanted a CHILIs in the neighborhood?!?! Talk about idiotic!

                                                                                          1. re: laurie

                                                                                            yes, I resent those remarks. I'll take taconazo over chili's any day. I live in the neighborhood and have good Mexican nieghbors. Tampa would have been a boring cracker town had it not been for the Hispanic immigrants 1885-1920s. I'm happy to see new blood coming in and bringing their tacos, pupusas, and empanadas with them. If you don't want a diverse neighborhood, get out of Seminole Heights and move to New Tampa or something.

                                                                                            1. re: andy huse

                                                                                              Chili's in Seminole Heights? uggh-- I live here too and I will take taconazo over any mexican in the city honestly-- I used to be a fan of Estellas on Davis Island but the last 2 times I went the food was very blah. I really gotta get over to the Honduran place-- I hope it doesn't disappoint. Has anyone been to Grass Root? I love that place--granted the service can be a little slow, but the atmosphere is so zen I really focus on relaxing. Then the food comes and boy is it fresh and delicious. If you go, try the coconut miso soup (I am currently trying to disect it to make at home) and any of the lettuce items like the marrekesh or the "raw fried" burrito are delicious. I took a bunch of meat eaters there for my birthday-- they got the sunshine burger and loved it-- they didn't even resent the fact that there was no meat in the place. They don't have booze, but the owners said feel free to BYOB-- wine at least. I just found this site by the way and love all the input! I have a very hard time going out to eat because it is so disappointing. I don't mind paying top dollar if it is worth it, and rarely do I find it so. Roy's has not disappinted me yet, Chris Ponte is awesome-- Taco Bus, Angithi Indian, Akropolis (ybor) Byblos for Mediterranean, Thai Sweet Basil waaaaay up on Northdale is absolutely worth the drive-- There is a great buffet on Armenia at Hills. called Brazilia--tons of veggies and if you are a carnivore-- they have something like 20 meats on a skewer they will bring you.

                                                                                              1. re: teamellis

                                                                                                I also love Thai Sweet Basil. Excellent food. My husband likes really really really hot peppers and they were so funny last time we ate there. They kept going out to the pepper plants out back and bringing in more and more peppers for him to try.

                                                                                        2. Just moved here from KC, but here's what I've found so far:

                                                                                          Restaurant BT in Old Hyde Park: Excellent, but pricey. Creme Fraiche crepe escargot was excellent. As was their filet ceviche appetizer.

                                                                                          Ceviche in Tampa: Great food, particularly if you like quality over quantity.

                                                                                          Mystic Fish in Oldsmar: Great food at probably $8-10 less a plate than you should pay. Duck is great, curried escargot very good. Lamb is missable. blackened sea bass is good.

                                                                                          Ponte's Tuscan Grille: Best Gnocchi I've ever had. Server was slow and more than likely high on Ganja.

                                                                                          Roy's: It may be a chain, but it's not run like one. 80% of the menu is locally chosen and rotated about every 2-3 weeks. The servers are well educated and professional about the food they serve, and they've got the best sushi i've had anywhere.

                                                                                          San's Pizza in Tampa: Great NY style pizza. So cheap, so friendly, so good. Make all their own sauces.

                                                                                          Pickles Plus at Enterprise / 611: Best deli food I've had. Philly is very good. A bit geriatric, but great, especially if you like pickles.

                                                                                          Kosta's Greek in Tarpon Springs: I like this better than some of the better known places up there. Very good gyros and mixed grill.

                                                                                          Ban Thai: Gilded elephant style. Their panang duck is good and sushi is better than you'd think. Opposite side of Enterprise / 611 as Ponte's.

                                                                                          Beach Food: Palm Pavillion in North Clearwater Beach: Better views than Frenchy's, food is about the same (not great).

                                                                                          1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Tio Pepe's on 60. This place has been around for a very long time and always pleases. My family and I like to refer to the delicious sangria as "Clearwater Coolaid". The menu has an extensive selection of tapas that are always wonderful...the portabella mushrooms melt in your mouth. I have always been pleased with any entree, but the sea bass is my favorite. Don't miss the salad and beans and rice...lovely.
                                                                                            And if you get a chance, ask a server or the manager to take you to the upstairs wine cellar. They sometimes do private parties in there. At first it seems a little too dark and a little too dusty, but then you realize what a neat ambiance the room creates, absolutely worth the walk up the stairs.


                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: kmills9408

                                                                                              Also if you are in Clearwater someone else posted on Cristino's Coal Oven Pizza, which is by far the area's best. Also has great gelato and entrees.

                                                                                              New Sandpearl has a nice place called Caretta's if you are in the mood for something fancier.

                                                                                            2. My husband and I love Bonsai Sushi and Pho Quoyen in North Tampa.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                Pho Quoyen in North Tampa, if you mean just south of Waters in the old Steak and Ale location, has closed.

                                                                                                1. re: DonnaFL

                                                                                                  I think it's been closed for a couple of years- though it looked like the building was being remodeled recently. They relocated to Hillsborough and Sheldon and there's also the location on Fowler and 30th. My favorite Vietnamese food.

                                                                                                  If you're still around Heather- I have to say I've been disappointed with SideBern's twice now. Not at all worth the price. I say go for drinks if anything. We recently reserved the Chef's Suite- lovely room and good service, most of the meats were good (not really great though) but the side dishes were terrible- my friend had hard-as-rock au gratin potatoes. And the dessert menu was pathetic- some weird chocolate thing, a creme brulee and some ice cream. That's it? Several of us walked over to the Harry Waugh dessert room (in our heels) and had a great experience. I say Bern's trumps SideBern's right now without a doubt.

                                                                                                  1. re: rikkikm

                                                                                                    Brief history. Moved from NYC a couple of years ago. My girlfriend got me into this site (she is definitely the bigger foodie and has the more discernible palette) but I will give you my two cents worth:

                                                                                                    Bungalow Bistro: just opened on Florida south of Hillsborough a couple of months ago. Solid place especially for brunch. Dinner is very good too. They will get their liquor license in the coming year but for now it is only a $3 corkage fee (unheard of). Bring in champagne and vodka for the usual brunch cocktails.

                                                                                                    Pizza: Cappy's and Eddie & Sam's are by far the best places that we have been to. We eat at both regularly. Eddie & Sam's (downtown on Twiggs) actually ships their water in (or so they say) from NY. It does remind me of the NY pizzerias. Cappy's is a good solid pie. We have tried Stefano's twice, extermely disappointed the first time and pleasantly surprised with the margherita pie very recently.

                                                                                                    Indian: We like Angithi on Fowler but overall we almost always eat at Bombay Masala on Waters past Dale Mabry. Outstanding vegetable samosas and you can really spice it up on request.

                                                                                                    Chinese: We thought it was non-existent in Tampa until we found Yummy House on Waters just east of Armenia. Good authentic food. You cannot go wrong. I don't think we have had a bad dish at this place.

                                                                                                    Sad to hear about SideBerns. We liked it a lot when we went but that was over a year ago. One of the best pork loins I have ever had.

                                                                                                    Italian: Bella Brava on Central AVe and 5th in St. Pete has quickly become our favorite. Good wine list and equally good food. We've been twice and have not been disappointed.

                                                                                              2. Does anyone remember when there was a Capone`s pizza on 30th between Fowler and Fletcher, Berns was run by old man Bern who raised his own beef, the Seabreeze was a small wooden building, and you could smell smoked mullet from the Mullet Inn at the airport? I`m homesick, but I`m not sure home is still there.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                  I think Capone's is still there but Bern passed away and his son is running things now. I have only been here 12 years ; )

                                                                                                  1. re: rhnault

                                                                                                    Yeah, it was a long time ago, but I`ve been looking at google maps and come to realize that i might have the location wrong. Possibly it was on 30th between Busch and Fowler. This was just a little joint in a strip mall, but I have fond but maybe not so accurate memories...

                                                                                                  2. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                    30th between Fowler and Fletcher doesn't have much in the way of retail business. There's USF campus, USF med school clinics and library- all on the East side, a defunct Hardees, a bank(I think), Doctors walk-in clinic, J. Haley VA hospital, some apartment complex "Sunshine-something" that suffered from a sinkhole about 10 years ago, some other medical complex, another apartment complex and a strip center area with Staples, Panera, Hollywood video, another bank and a gas station.

                                                                                                    So where exactly was Capone's?- because USF has been there a while.

                                                                                                    1. re: rikkikm

                                                                                                      I think I have seen it when we go to Motorsports of Tampa. I am not real familiar with that part of town. I know the way to Taj and Trang and that's about it!

                                                                                                  3. I'm surprised more people don't suggest Vizcaya. I know it's not in South Tampa but it's so worth the drive to Carrollwood. The cuisine is Spanish from Spain not Tampa. I've been to other tapas places in town and there is no comparison. Vizcaya's menu is to die for.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: JJASF

                                                                                                      My husband and I ate at Vizcaya last night. We are never dissppointed! It was fabulous, like usual. We live in South Tampa and do not mind the drive.

                                                                                                      1. re: gfctampa

                                                                                                        What did you have (at Vizcaya)? What does the menu look like?

                                                                                                        and...does anyone remember Willie`s on 21st?

                                                                                                        1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                          I've had quite a few things on the menu. The sea bass is great. It melts in your mouth. Their paella is wonderful too. The chef there is amazing with sauces so any of the entrees are a must. The filet with a peppercorn sauce is just awesome. I order that alot. For tapas, I would probably suggest the croquetas, octopus, meatballs with peaches, or avocado and shrimp. If you like oxtail, that is also worth a try.

                                                                                                          1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                            We had a lot of tapas at Vizcaya. Salmon Ceviche, pate, scallops, the meat and cheese plate,mussels, oxtails. Everything was wonderful.

                                                                                                            1. re: rhnault

                                                                                                              Just went to Vizcaya yesterday - it was pretty good. The tuna tartar was good, a few other ceviche were also quite good. Nothing wowed us, but everything was pretty good.

                                                                                                              We also had braised duck, lamb, and rabbit - while each was good on its own, each had the exact same sauce - disappointing.

                                                                                                              1. re: housemaidsknee

                                                                                                                I had the rabbit on one of my last visits and thought it was very good. Though I would have been disappointed by 3 dishes with the same sauce!

                                                                                                      2. I read this and other threads before my wife and I visited Tampa (from Gainesville) a few weeks ago during the Olympic soccer qualifiers at Raymond James, and wanted to thank everyone for good recommendations!

                                                                                                        We enjoyed the little Korean restaurant south of RayJay, near the overpass (Sa Ri One?). Really liked the breakfast and atmosphere of La Teresita, though did have one disappointing late dinner (partially reheated bubble-gum pink chicken in partially reheated rice--but we kept going back. Loved their setup, and seeing little old blue-haired retirees next to tattooed and pierced scary guys, behind business people, young couples, groups of friends, families, black, white, hispanic. It was like Tampa in a bottle, and everyone having coffee and cuban bread for breakfast, Taconazo had good food and friendly waitresses, and great salsa verde (brought two bottles home).

                                                                                                        T.C Choy's had excellent dimsum, and we were prepared for the price, but they (check your bill!) overcharged us by one order. Eating dimsum, it's very easy to lose track of how many dishes you get. We had to persuade them to check the bill, and to their credit, they admitted fault. However, afterwards we were disappointed that we didn't get something like an further discount, and it's not because we're greedy. In Korea, where my wife is from, an accidental overcharge would automatically result in an apologetic discount. From my visits there, Korean restaurant service is generally on a level higher than American service: lightning fast, food freshly made, piping hot, super attentive staff, and restaurants frequently give you a little bonus dish to cultivate customers. When you walk in, the entire staff looks up smiling and calls out in Korean, "Welcome!" And no tipping! The idea is good service brings the customer back. From my (American?) point of view, if a restaurant overcharges, it is only just that something more than removing the overcharge be done. Otherwise, why not try and overcharge if there is no penalty? I guess that's why I'm fixating on T.C. Choy's overcharge: this bad press is their penalty. If they had exceeded my expectations on the overcharge, I'd be singing their praises.

                                                                                                        But I just wanted to thank the Tampa chowhounds for their recommendations, because it made the biggest difference to have good places to eat!

                                                                                                        1. For "fine dining", Six Tables is excellent (on Henderson in So Tampa)... I'm with the anti-SideBerns crowd, too much silicone (cheezy clientele) and too expensive! However, I do love Berns, it's the best deal in town as well as an "old school" clientele, but doesn't feel too exclusive. It's fun to order wine from your birth year or wedding year or whatever and not pay an arm and a leg. Ask for a tour after your meal!

                                                                                                          There is a new Indian restaurant on 56th St. in Temple Terrace called Cilantro that is amazing. Apparently they have a restaurant in Jacksonville as well and recently opened here. Yum! In the old Cafe Don Jose location, just south of Fowler, north of Busch.

                                                                                                          Everyday places - we like Byblos on MacDill, Pane Rustica also on MacDill....

                                                                                                          1. First Choice BBQ in Brandon. Its just off Hwy 60 behind Home Depot. Its BANGIN'!!! I love BBQ and this place is absolutely awesome! I usually go 2 times a week.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: askdrtodd

                                                                                                                TAMPA HOUNDS: NEED HELP!

                                                                                                                Am taking GF to the area for long weekend and need help on where to find the Good Eats. We're in the reatuarant biz in Brooklyn so are less interested in the "fine dining" options and cheat more towards the "freshest fish and local seafood, grilled outside" kinda vibe. Not that we're against the white tableclothe option, but we get more than the share of that in NYC while the "this was swiming an hour ago and check out that sunset" is bit unusual in the Brooklyn context. So, fellow eaters, sound off. Lemme hear it!
                                                                                                                Thanks to all!

                                                                                                                1. re: Nicky Brooklyn

                                                                                                                  Ted Peters (ultra-casual fish) in St. Petersburg...near beach, picnic table 'dining'. Check the hours before you go. Massaro's Italian market/deli also in St. Pete---excellent---but it can't outdo what's regular fare in Brooklyn. 220East on Davis Island is a family restaurant with a locals bar, always fresh food cooked by professional chef-owner, Dave...not really gourmet, but excellent selection and preparation. The Hula Bay club is really average on the food, but has the water, the sunset, the "scene"...better yet for NYers looking to get out of the snow and all that goes with it is the Hurricane in Pass-a-Grille beach! Check drive times and distances as these places are in all the Tampa Bay "area" abut not close to each other.


                                                                                                              2. Noodle world in largo is some of the best sushi i've had around, decent prices too. I also tried a new chocolate in the citrus park mall by the name of peters. They fly it down from somewhere up north. Really good stuff. Still looking for the king of mexican restaurants.

                                                                                                                1. there's a new restaurant on Bearss and Bruce B. Downs where the old crepe place was. It's called Season's Fresh and it's pretty good. A little heavy on the pesto, but besides that the sandwich I had was awesome.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: londonqu33n

                                                                                                                    hard to go into that plaza for anything except Wood Fired Pizza

                                                                                                                  2. I stopped by Smoke on Platt yesterday and the place was closed. What happened to open 8 days a week?

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd

                                                                                                                        Do you know what happened? Why did they close.

                                                                                                                        1. re: slpreston

                                                                                                                          I have a buddy that goes there at least once a week, and I guess consensus was the location. Probably a good lunch spot but not a lot of people in the area for dinner? Also parking wasn't the best. I'm not sure it's closed, I just know there was word on the street hinting toward that.

                                                                                                                          1. re: askdrtodd

                                                                                                                            I drove by Smoke this past weekend and the sign on the door said they were up in the mountains fishing and that they would be returning in the fall.

                                                                                                                    1. I recently discovered EL PUERTOS it is a small resturant in Ybor but it has amazing steak.
                                                                                                                      The meals are really cheap but really filling during lunch I get the Steak and get two sides fries and rice and they give u big portions, THere bread they give u when you sit down doesnt even compare to Red lobster or olive gardens. So you get Yummy bread, FAntastic steak, two large sides for 12 dollars. I recommend this resturant to anyone!!!!!

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. Has anyone heard if they have an opening date? I drove by today, since it is fall, and it is still closed.

                                                                                                                        Smoke Barbecue & Grill
                                                                                                                        901 W Platt St, Tampa, FL 33606

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: slpreston

                                                                                                                          pretty sure it's game over for Smoke.