What are your personal faves in the Tampa/St Pete/Clearwater area?
We're pretty new to the area and would appreciate the dining wisdom of all you seasoned Tampa types. Please share your list of favorite area restaurants. Doesn't matter if they're hip or hole-in-the-wall. We want to put our time, calorie and eating-out budgets to their best use.
J. Alexanders on Dale Mabry & Cypress St...
A grill restaurant with consistent perfected recipes, great service, and generous portions...
Incredible burgers, Salmon, (great)Prime Rib, Calamari, Caesar Salads... Chicken Fingers... SMASHED POTATOES!!!...
Beautiful restaurant too... Dimly lit ski lodge vibe...
What a place...
Okay, here are a few of mine.
Chinese - China Yuan/North Tampa
Seafood - Mid Peninsula Seafood/St. Petersburg
Rusty Bellies/Tarpon Springs
Mexican - El Toro Negro/Kenneth City
BBQ - Jimbo's/Tampa
Thai - Ban Thai/Clearwater
Sushi - Hook's Seafood and Sushi/St. Petersburg
Puerto Rican - Cafe Kalao/Pinellas Park
Italian Beef - Fat Boy's/St. Petersburg
No concern with dollars - Cafe Ponte/Clearwater
I know I will think of more. Will come back and add them as I remember them.
For Vietnamese, Mekong on Hwy 19 at about 58th Ave N in Lealman (unincorporated Pinellas). In December ’04 I ate at six Vietnamese places on both sides of the Bay. It’s the quality of the stock that keeps me coming back to Mekong. There is another Viet restaurant and a Viet sandwich/bubble tea place in the same strip mall. My car doesn’t want to drive by without turning into Mekong. Say hello to Alexander and Victoria.
For Cuban, try La Teresita, 7101 66th St in Pinellas Park. You will roll away from the table fat and happy for ridiculously little money. Wish they had an outlet down toward the Skyway Bridge.
For upscale, Cafe Pont, http://www.cafeponte.com/ (d@mn the annoying music at the website), is in Clearwater. Redwoods (http://www.sptimes.com/2004/01/01/Wee...) has recently caught my attention. Given prices pushing toward Charlie Trotter’s and my one (disappointing) experience there, I would avoid Chateau France in St Pete.
Keegan’s Grill (http://www.keegansseafood.com/) can’t be beat for deft handling of seafood. Another fine choice for no-frills, high quality seafood at prices that will make anyone happy, hit Mid-Peninsula. http://www.sptimes.com/2003/06/26/Wee...
Breakfast/Brunch or Lunch = Lenny’s in Clearwater (http://www.sptimes.com/2006/03/23/Wee... ) skip church on Sunday or you’re going to be waiting. Yes, it’s that good; God will understand.
Chinese requires a trip across the Bay to China Yuan (http://www.sptimes.com/2004/04/22/Wee... ). You won’t find any frills, but you will find fine fresh food and humble prices. Try the shrimp wonton soup – a fat, succulent shrimp hidden in every wonton. Beware, though, those appetizer soups could serve two or three people! The cuttlefish and ducks hanging in the case are worth perusing – take one of each home for later.
Now for my neighborhood:
For tacky, old Florida at its best, try Skyway Jack’s. It’s not politically correct, but where else are you going to get brains and eggs? http://www.weeklyplanet.com/gyrobase/...
Munch’s (http://poynterextra.org/pointssouth/2... ) is walking distance from my home. Don’t miss the fried green tomatoes. They only take cash.
The Chattaway (dog-friendly link - http://boards.thenest.com/boards/Show... ) is another don’t miss. Like Munch’s and Skyway Jack’s, it is a tasteless but tasty bit of Americana that, as of yet, has not been obliterated by standardization, homogenization and Disnification. There are many pink bath tubs, cold bear and good burgers.
Now if there was just an Ethiopian place I could be happy forever.
Adding a few to the list:
Red Mesa - Nuevo Latino(something more than Tex-Mex) 4th St. St. Pete
Italia Mia - Hole in the wall Italian. Try the sausage or meat balls. St. Pete in Rutland Plaza, 62nd Ave N.
Vincenzo's - Not upscale Italian but a cut above the local neighborhood, red sauce place. On McMullen Booth Rd. Clearwater.
For a couple of near institutions not already mentioned - El Caps on 4th St. (Beer and burgers) St. Pete and Ted Peter's on S. Pasadena Ave. (Beer, burgers, SMOKED FISH and attitude)
Ditto on China Yuan, Ponte's, Skyway Jack's
i need to get out more. my list hasn't changed much in recent years. all in Tampa unless otherwise indicated
Arco Iris and La Teresita, both on Columbus in Tampa for good cheap Cuban.
Trang's and Pho Quyen for Vietnamese. Trang's has the best rolls--- try the 4 seasons platter. also try the happy pan cake for a savory bean flour crepe. At Pho Quyen, the Pho is very good, as are all the entrees i've tasted.
Antojitos on Howard for great Columbian food. try the empanadas, pork chop, fish, etc. was not too impressed with the tamale and beef. get a fruit shake con leche.
i do like El Cap for burgers in St. Pete.
Taconazo in Tampa for best tacos, burritos. too bad the tamales are only on weekends, they are the best, especially slathered with their spicy salsa verde.
I'm sure there's others...
Thanks to all you guys thus far for the great recommendations. I'm familiar with a few, but for the most part these are all new and exciting suggestions that I doubt I would have discovered without your help. Keep 'em coming!
Black Pearl in Dunedin
Massimo's, Hwy 19, Palm Harbor
Café Pont mid county, Pinellas
Side Berns, Tampa,
Rusty Bellies, Tarpon Springs for freshest, "Cracker" seafood.
Mykonos, Tarpon Springs, authentic, generous, no frills Greek
Kelley's Dunedin, funky, excellent breakfasts.
Check out Cello's Charhouse on 143 7th Ave N, Safety Harbor. It is a tiny place- only about 9 tables- so you will need to make a reservation 727-723-0909. It has a basic prix fixe menu of fish, chicken and filet mignon on which you add one of their sauces. The dinner comes with a salad, grilled bread, soup grilled squash and perogues (small potato-filled pasta pockets.) They don't have a liquor license, but you can bring your own beer or wine. They also have other appetizers and main courses and deserts. The prices are really reasonable- I can order the filet and get a desert and pay about $20. Defenitley worth checking out- personable service and great food at a good price.
Personal Favs in Tampa :
Italian: Laughing Cat in Ybor
Steaks: Charleys and Bern's
Cuban: Arcos Iris
Seafood: Salt Rock Grill/Oystercatchers
Breakfast: First Watch downtown/The Brunchery
Pizza: Eddie and Sams downtown Tampa
Sushi: Samarai Blue-Ybor/Yoko's on MacDill
So many great restaurants on the list already it is hard to add more, but I have to put my favorite sushi restaurant up. Sushi Ren on Tampa Road, the sushi chefs Mike, Tony, and Bom are the best in my book. I must eat there once a week and have never had a bad meal. This is a small quite little place with great people. There are about 4 booths, the type where you take your shoes off, maybe 6 tables and a good size sushi bar.
To find Sushi Ren, make your way between McMullen Booth road and US Hwy 19 N on Tampa Road. The address is 3428 Tampa Rd, you will find it on the south side of the road in the small shopping plaza. Not the one with the gas station, but the one on the east side of Lake St George Dr. The sign on the top of the suite is Japanese Restaurant. The window has a curtain, but do not be shy it is a great little place. Tell them Jeff and Stacy sent you, will just love it.
My pizza place, Pizza Hut.... Just kidding really my preferred choice is Napoli Pizza at 35216 US Hwy 19 N. Nice little shop with great pizza. I like mine on the thin side, which he does just great.
Now, I have lived in the south my whole life, the best BBQ is Big John’s. This is just the best BBQ you can find here, and I have tried them all. It is a small place but the food is to just die for. Everything at Big John’s will kill your diet but what a way to go.
Maybe not a total of five, so many of them were already on the list, so I would just go twice to all of them and you would have six. Good eaten.
Thai: Amarit in East Lake Woodlands; Thai Coconut in downtown Clearwater
Steaks: Salt Rock Grill in Indian Rocks Beach--awesome!!!
Japanese: Joto's in Countryside Mall area. The food is fresh and authentic. Yummy!
Mexican: Poblano's in Clearwater; Casa Tina's (downtown Dunedin)
Italian: Umberto's in Dunedin. Fastastic pizza and pasta! Also, Cafe Milano has good pizza.
American (upscale): Bill Heilman's Beachcomber on Clearwater Beach has awesome fried chicken and potatoes.
Breakfast: Village Inn, Lenny's
Sorry to be so provincial but we the most familiar with the eats in in south Tampa:
Breakfast - Village Inn (Dale Mabry and Kennedy)
Upscale Steak - Charley's (Cypress between Westshore and Lois)
New American - cruise up and down Howard Avenue for about 15 choices
Upscale Seafood - Oystercatchers or the Salt Rock Grill
Downscale North Carolina BBQ and Fried Seafood - Butler's BBQ on 94th in St. Pete
Downscale Pizza - Galley's Pizza on south Westshore
Sport's Bar - Cherry's on Bay to Bay near MacDill Ave
Best Huge Burger - El Cap on 4th Street in St. Pete
Budget Italian - Cafe Cibo on 4th Street in St. Pete
Sleeper Authenic Southwest - Red Mesa on 4th Street in St. Pete
Best German Beer - Schiller's at Manhattan and El Prado
Agree with above posts on Cafe Ponte in St. Pete
Would generally avoid the mediocre "key west" seafood places on the beach
Also believe that Cuban sandwiches and fried grouper is generally over-rated
I'm much more familiar with Pinellas (St. Petersburg & beaches) than Tampa, but here goes:
1. The Pearl, Treasure Island
2. Redwoods, downtown St. Petersburg
3. Julian's, downtown St. Petersburg
4. Dessert room at Bern's Steakhouse, Tampa
5. Habana Cafe, Gulfport
I've done reviews of quite a few area restaurants and put them on my web site http://www.lauriekimball.com/MyRestau...
Welcome to the area!
We have dined several times at The Pearl, Redwoods, and just today again at Habana cafe. All are restaurants we enjoy. As new residents you will be able to experience Redwoods and Habana Cafe 2 for 1 if you buy the local Entertainment Book sold at the Beaches Chamber of Commerce and other venues.
Since most of these are in South Tampa and St. Pete, I figured that I'd bring it up north....
Thai: Thai Orchid - On Cross Creek near Hunters Green. Good stuff
Sushi: Sushi Ko - Opened fairly recently on BBD near I-75 in the shopping center with the Boston Market and such across from the Krispy Kreme and LeRoy Selmons
Pizza: Pizza Mania - BBD and RT 56. Don't be fooled by the cheesiness of the name. Such goodness and their pasta is pretty good as well.
On a side note, OysterCatchers has the best crabcakes in Florida bar-none. The other stuff on their menu has been hit or miss for me. However, my wife loves being able to get a piece of fish simply prepared with the sauces on the side.
LA TRATTORIA DA GAETANO, 2152 Main St., Dunedin
Unique experience -- no printed menus...the executive chef and owner brings fresh food to the table and gives suggestions on preparation. YOU decide your meat or veggie main dish, sauce and preparation. Unbelievable Southern Italian food. Make reservations! He only buys so much for the night.
BONEFISH, MCMULLEN BOOTH, CLEARWATER
Although a chain, I have never been disappointed with this restaurant. It reminds me of my favorite dark, contemporary favorites in LA, and you will not find better dipping butter for your king crab or lobster ANYWHERE!
BOMBAY MASALA, 4023 W WATERS AVE, TAMPA
The best Indian I've tried in Florida. On par with my favorites back in Cali. Tip: Bring in your own bottle of Riesling with dinner -- they've only been serving Chateau St. Michelle.
also try Snaci City foir tropical ice cream. the mango, guava, coco, etc are all first rate. other faves include chocolate, butter pecan, cookies and cream, and cashew raisin. an interesting flavor is Kezar Pista, which is made form saffron and pistacios. Different, not too swett--- i like! Alfredo makes it for the Indian community here, and didn't think this gringo would like it. He seemed shocked when i bought some aqfter he let me taste it last night. He'll probably be open for a few more months, but time is limited. The food is decent too, but the ice cream is the real star. Try it!
Snack City is on Columbus, a block west of Armenia...
The "He'll probably be open for a few more months, but time is limited." comment has me concerned...
I'm friends with the family but haven't been in contact lately... I'll give'em a call to see what's up...
If it's true, definitely get in there and get some of that Ice Cream! The Coconut is a favorite of mine...
He also makes this great Fried Rice that may or may not be on the menu... They do all the Cuban food pretty darn good... Maybe they're just getting old and need a rest...
re: Mild Bill
the owner fo the building is sick, anbd it will soon be up for sale. alfredo can't afford to relocate, and rent is too high. how i wish we could find a helados-loving benefactor to give him a new home. he could probably make a fortune in Hyde Park. i agree the food is good too, little cuban burgers, and the fried rice is still a special. gotta love the cuban-chinese.
I recently tried Cafe de France in Madiera Beach. It was excellent and not too pricey. I'm very big on The Pearl right now. Groupers seafood, now at the Thunderbird Hotel, is always fresh, as is Mid-Peninsula.
I just noticed a place on Cypress btwn. Himes and MacDill touting a great Jamaican Breakfast. I will be there this wknd. so see you there!
You guys are awesome. True to form, you've turned me on to some places I would never have found on my own or through the local papers. What would I do without this board? Keep the recs coming!
Seafood-Mystic Fish in Palm Harbor-Recommend Lobster Escargot, Grouper Piccata, Snapper
Martinis-Blue Heron in Palm Harbor-Recommend Chocolate Martini
New Tropical Steak, Ribs, Seafood-Catch 23 Clearwater-Coconut Banana Bread, Coconut Rice, Creole Green Beans, Very Fresh Fish, Great Sangrias
Italian-Angellino's in Palm Harbor-Large portions! Big enough to share
OK, let's see -
Sushi - Sushi Spot in Largo (East Bay and Belcher, behind the Green Parrot). This place is fairly new, but they have some truly tremendous sushi, including a huge variety of specialty rolls.
Italian - Villa Gallace in Indian Rocks Beach. Family-owned Italian, and the gnocci is exquisite! No disrespect intended to Angelino's (also very good), but VG is my favorite.
Southwestern - Red Mesa on 4th street.
Hot Dogs - Chcago Dogs on Ulmerton and Belcher. Great dogs, and "the Mayor" is always entertaining.
Indian - India Gill on 1st Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg. My wife and I are big fans of Indian food, and this place is not only the best food in the area, but it also has the best prices.
someone mentioned Vincenzo's in Clearwater/Safety Harbor. Went there for the 1st time a few weeks ago. the Food was really good Italian. No problem and would gladly go back, but the service was just ATTROCIOUS. Neithe the host, nor the waiter ever cracked a smile. When we arrived for our reservations, there were only a few people there, yet they looked confused to see us there. When we did not order a bottle of wine, the waiter lost interest. By the conclusion of our meal, we were being blatantly ignored. We finally grabbed the waiter, who was chitchatting with another table, and I said I would like to order coffee. He disappeared without asking if any of the other 3 at my table wanted any (they did) We grabbed him again to order those coffees, and had to ask for a desert menu, which did not arrive with the coffees. We grabbed him again and asked for a desert menu for my wife. He brought the menu, but never returned to take desert orders from us. We finally, just left and had desert elsewhere. He was still chatting with his buds when we left. And by the way, the two tables beside us were also just sitting there, staring hopelessly and helplessly, waiting to be waited on.
Life is short. There are too many good Italian restaurants around to EVER set foot in in this place again. And it's not like we were cheap. The bill was $150. Could have been more if we could have only had desert.
I have a new fav sushi place in Tampa/Carrollwood called "Sushi Alive". It's a unique atmosphere with a great Sushi menu. I ate there tonight and had a Roll called the Hawaii 5-0 that had coconut shrimp, avacado and I believe a mango marmalade. It was amazing!
Italian - Alfonos on Clearwater/Largo Road...I love their manicotti.
Spanish - Teo Pepe on Gulf to bay. Love the stuffed shrimp, and their dark bread, and salad!
Mexican - corner of east bay/19...Carmalitas
Seafood - Cooters Raw Bar & Restaurant on Poinsettia...Love the stuffed snapper dinner; grouper ruebin, and crabby shrimp dip.
Steak - Redwoods in St. Pete...awesome flat iron sirloin.
Pizza- Queens pizza on Belcher Rd.
Brunch - Wildflower Cafe on Ft Harrison. Delicious homemade muffins, breads, cakes....
Chinese - Yummy House (east of Armenia on Waters in Tampa). Simple place, but closest thing to authentic N.Y.C. Chinese.
Pizza - Alfonso's (N. Florida Avenue in Tampa). Classic, store-front, strip-center, mom and pop pizzeria. Closest thing to NY/NJ pizza in the area.
Mexican - Algusto's (Kennedy Blvd., near downtown Tampa). Not a chain and not the typical Tex-Mex faire. One of the few places to serve salpicon and excellent guacamole.
Roast Pork - Sorry, but no one in the area can beat Pipo's, when it comes to roast pork. A plate of roast pork, moro and yuca is a vinigary, garlicky plate of heaven. There are several of these typico cafeteria-style locations around Tampa.
Peruvian - Terra Sur Cafe (West Village Dr. in north Tampa). Great ceviche and the rest of the menu is excellent. Good service, with entertainment most weekend nights.
Middle Eastern - Byblos Cafe (South MacDill in Tampa) - romantic place with great food.
My favs in Tampa Bay are well worth the money
Seven 17 South
Just went to a new place with some friends a few weeks ago too called Ceviche Fresco that is a little out of the way but oh so good.
Carmelita's is a must for mexican and Charlie & Millies Pizza is a must hole in the wall best pizza...for more upscale Wine Cellar Indian Rocks and Salt Rock you cant ever go wrong with those two :)
Tough list to compile. Over the years this has become a good location for Hounders.
Cafe Ponte - through ups and downs one of the best restaurants around.
Savannah's Cafe - new restaurant in St. Petersburg that serves southern-style cooking.
Cafe Alma - St. Petersburg, decent ambience but quality of food is not always consistent.
Harvey's 4th Street Grill has been around forever and is always decent.
Coney Island for hot dogs and thick fattening shakes.
Loads of places on the beaches.
massimo's in palm harbor...right on 19 near tampa road...chef owned...his name is massimo and puts out terrific food. Italian but not just Italian. If he has any version of his flash fried shrimp or calimari then order it ...if not ask if they can do it for you...they are one of the most accomodating restaurants in that respect. and the owner is most likely going to come out to the dining room during your visit.
My favorite in the area. With a private room if you have a large group as we do near the holidays when all extended family are in town
sushi - Kinjo (tyrone area), Osaka (Madeira Beach)
pizza - Charlie & Millies, Seminole Pizza, Campanella's
steak- Salt Rock Grill
Seafood- Lobster Pot, Salt Rock, Rusty Bellies
Mexican -(none like Texas here):
El Toro Negra(kenneth city), Carramba's (drew street,Clearwater)
Thai - Tum Nuk Thai (seminole), Siam Garden - 9th Street
Cuban - La Terrasita
Caribbean - SAFFRONS
BBQ (none like Texas, i know) BUT BIG TIMS on S Pasadena...great potato sald
CAJUN - CAjun CAfe on the BAyou on PArk Blvd...GREAT food, but the owner,manager REBECCA is such an ASS I cant patronize that place any longer. too bad
re: andy huse
I have to say that I've been to cajun cafe dozens of times over the past few years and always had great service and really great food. and yes the crawfish cornbread is great, so are the fried oysters, the crabcakes, the jambalaia, the crawfish etouffee, and the whiskey bread pudding is to die for.
Frog Pond - breakfast on st. pete beach but not on the water
Brown Dog Cafe - St. Petersburg
The Pearl - an all time classic in Treasure Island
Water Witch - Gulfport, breakfast, lunch or dinner with water view, fresh market eatery, delicous and brand new. The best crab cakes and rib eye I ever had in my life. they are big in sea food. Breakfast is mouthwatering and "different" in a good way.
Pia's Trattoria - Gulfport, the best italian I know because the food and ambiance are just perfect.
Mrs. Green's Bakery - St. Petersburg, I love it.
Random thoughts from a displaced TB area native....
Hellas in Tarpon Springs for Greek, but especially their bakery. Yum!
Strachans in Palm Harbor for ice cream, the best ice cream in the area.
La Tropicana Cafe in Ybor City for an authentic Cuban/Spanish lunch, and people watching.
Columbia is still good, but better for luch when less crowded. The St Pete Pier and original Ybor location are my favorites.
Ted Peters for smoked fish, burgers, brew, smoked fish spead, and the potato salad.
Coney Island in St. Pete for cheap hot dogs.
Molly Goodhead in Ozona for seafood, and cute waitresses.
Skyway Jacks for breakfast.
Walt's - Dunedin, Fabulous Food is what to expect.Walt is formerly the chef from Bobby's Bistro(Clrwtr Bch) and decided to open his own place a little over a year ago. It is a small pace in a strip center off 580 and we eat there at least once a week. Very reasonably priced and the food is always fresh. My favorites are Shrimp Saganaki,Spinach Salad w/ Feta & strawberries, Grouper is one of the best. A must try!!!
Bellini's - Dunedin, the closest thing to eating in Italy in the Tampa area. The menu is large and a bit pricey but easy to overlook with the delicious food and good service. If the weather is nice eat outside.
Guppy's- Indian Rocks Beach, wonderful food,service and great location especially for a sunset meal. This is a longtime local place and they have it all,the seafood is always fresh and love that they even have Half Order,sizes if you want.
I have a few more to add and will be back to do so soon.
first off let me state that i avoid corporate restaurants like the plague. I live in pinellas county so my focus will be there:
breakfast: Lenny's and skinny rooster
BBQ: Eli's (in Dunedin only open Saturday and Sunday)
Deli/ sandwich: Felice's Italian Pork Store
Mexican (authentic): Taqueria Chazumba
Cajun/Creole : Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
Indian : Laziz
Steak: Peppermill of Clearwater, and of course Bern's
Pizza : Cristino's (coal fired pizza), Mikey's New York Pizza
Cuban: La teresita (on Columbus)
casual Seafood: Frenchy's, i like the saltwater cafe the best
Late night: Ceviche
Well, let me say that I'm gratified that this thread still has legs almost two years after I orginally posed my question! Now that I've noshed my way through much of the area, let me answer my own question with a few faves I've developed over the past several months:
B'fast: Lenny's (Clearwater), Wildflower Cafe (Clearwater), Benedict's (Dunedin)
Seafood (higher-end): Guppy's (Indian Rocks Beach)
Seafood (divey): Keegan's (Indian Rocks Beach); Dockside Dave's (John's Pass); Philthy Phil's (St. Pete Beach)
Special Occasion (e.g., high-end and worth every penny): Hapa (Oldsmar)
Night out with the hubby: Walt's Seasonal Cuisine (Dunedin); Green Springs Bistro (Safety Harbor)
Homey Italian: Umberto's (Dunedin)
Southern: Savannah (St. Pete); Whistle Stop (Safety Harbor)
BBQ: Eli's (Dunedin)
Smoked fish: Ted Peter's (S. Pasadena)
Burgers: Ted Peter's (S. Pasadena)
Steak: Fleming's (Tampa)
Beach bar food: Cooters (Clearwater Beach); Caddy's (Treasure Island)
Pizza: Paul's Chicago Pizza (Clearwater); Cristino's (Clearwater)
Indian: Lazziz (Clearwater)
Middle Eastern: Mirage (Clearwater)
Eastern European: Pierogi Grill (Clearwater; now a second location in Dunedin)
Mexican taqueria: La Cabana del Tio (Clearwater)
New Mexican-style Mexican: Casa Tina (Dunedin)
Chain: Bahama Breeze (Tampa)
Greek: Mykonos (Tarpon Springs)
Puerto Rican: La Casona (Tampa)
Colombian: Antojitos (Tampa); Mi Tierra Colombiana (Clearwater)
Ice cream: Strachen's (Palm Harbor)
Admittedly, my list tends to favor locales closer to home (Clearwater), although we do venture further on a regular basis for those places we consider worth the effort. That said, let me list a couple that I think are overrated: Frenchy's (Clearwater Beach), Salt Rock Grill (Indian Rock's Beach), and Roy's (Tampa). I've given each of these a few tries apiece and frankly, I don't think they live up to the hype.
Many good replies so far. Three near that beaches (where we live) that I have not seen in this thread are:
E&E Steakhouse, Belleair Bluffs - fresh, high-quality steak & seafood - try the ahi tuna
Al & Stella's, IRB - awesome N. Italian; bake their own bread; service scattershot but worth it
Snapper's, St. Pete Beach, crowded in season, but excellent seafgood & reasonably priced.
Thanks for these suggestions! I've been wanting to try Snapper's and Mad Fish; your post is inspiring me to do so.
I must say, DH and I were disappointed by our one dinner at E&E Steakhouse. DH ordered the fajitas (the place is supposed to be Southwest-inspired), and they served him a tiny dab of STORE BOUGHT guacamole! That is HIGH TREASON for fajita aficionados! When we expressed our shock to our waiter, she said that they didn't serve enough fajitas to justify fresh-made guaca. Wellllllll, then, take the entree off the menu if you can't do it right! Ok, enough of my rant. . . . I happen to love E&E's sister restaurant Guppy's; the other member of its family of restaurants--Mystic Fish--is overrated IMO.
Laurie, I completely agree with you on E&E. I thought that their food was entirely overpriced when compared with some other, better places. I also agree with you on Mystic Fish. When they first opened, I would beg my husband (then boyfriend) to take me there. Now, after several bad experiences with either food, service, or both, I haven't gone back!
just returned from 5 days at the don and i must say that we had two great meals, one at mad fish, the other at six tables in tampa. mad fish is an old diner that looks great inside, and the food was fine. i had the grouper over rice (?) and my wife had the raw bar. everything was excellent. six tables in tampa was quite the experience. a little too much food, but i had the boar and my wife had the duck. all delicious. i would highly reccomend both.
For the more plebian tastes (or cheapskates):
Pizza - Westshore Pizza X, west of McMullemn Booth, just south of Enterprise in
Clearwater. A chain but as good as the pizza back in PA.
Chinese Carryout :
Cyber Takee Outee on Hillsborough east of Racetrack Road - sort of in Tampa, I guess.
East Wok just opened near us next to the Publix on East Lake Rd. across from the Boot Ranch. We've only gotten food there twice but its as good as Takee Outee so far.
Lots of other good places to eat in the area. Much better than when we moved here 15 years ago.
And Mexican food to stay away from: Tiujuana Flats
Well I am only a part-timer down here, but these are places that I have enjoyed that I haven't seen mentioned:
Ponte's Grill (used to be Bracci) on McMullin Booth, always reliable Northern Italian style with a decent wine list. Good atmosphere and bar, large curved booths and soft lighting.
Restaurant Hapa on Tampa road in Oldsmar in one of the strip plazas, delicious gourmet new cuisine with a Hawaiian flair. There are some good reviews on their food if you google them. Small place - reservations most likely best.
Beachcomber Bistro in Cleawater Beach, one of the best and most reasonable wine lists around, especially for older Burgundies. Good steak and upscale food. Great atmosphere and an intimate (small) bar area.
Man, now I have a huge list of places to try next time we're at my folx in Largo!
I'll second some restaurants already mentioned:
Italian - Alfono's in Largo/Clearwater - LOVE their spinach cannelloni, it's been great everytime we've been.
Seafood - Guppy's
Expensive but good: Wine Cellar and haven't seen The Lobster Pot mentioned, but it's wonderful as well
Tio Pepe's - one of our special occasion fav's. Great sangria, brown bread, paella and love the flan.
And I haven't seen The Skinny Rooster mentioned for breakfast - wonderful (http://www.skinnyrooster.com/). They do a great Sunday brunch. The Frog Pond is also very good for breakfast, but get there early!
Last trip to Dockside Daves was terribly disappointing - the shrimp was practically inedible. Stay with the grouper (which was excellent, as always) if you go.
Oh, and on the cheap seafood dive thread, try P.J's on Indian Rocks - one of our fav cheap but really good spots. Great shrimp and fish.
Thanks for all the replies. As I recent transplant from Chicago I've been craving great restaurants (especially ethnic)
I'm surprised I didn't see any of these posted:
Oysters - Central Avenue Oyster Bar/St. Pete - By far the plumpest and juiciest in the Bay Area (and we've been hunting) Great menu, too.
Turkish - Mirage on Gulf to Bay/Clearwater - the lamb shank and dilled rice au jus is curl your toes delicious and reasonably priced. The service is excellent and friendly
Breakfast - Yanni's on Highland/Clearwater Fresh, cooked to order - most of the time there is a line, but worth the wait - way too many favorites to list all - Fresh blended juices a must - REAL corned beef hash from scratch - They close early, so call ahead if you're going to arrive after 1:30 p.m. No reservations.
Some already posted that are great -
Pierogi's/Clearwater/Dunedin (show up hungry)
BBQ - Eli's/Dunedin - If they have the smoked turkey legs - grab them!
Kelly's/Dunedin - Great food with interesting twists
Eddie's/Dunedin - Great cheap eats - bring your dogs & sit outside
SeaSea Riders/Dunedin - Lunch menu is generous and a bargain for well prepared seafood, great atmosphere
Sushi - Jotos/Countryside - Sit at the bar - Special requests always fun
Just found this site and am going to try the Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba tonight - can't wait! Thanks to all.
If you've moved from Chicago, you will be happy to know that Mi Pubelo at 1910 Lincoln serves a mean jibarito. Also, Aunt Lee's Fried Chicken at 1403 N Myrtle Ave in Clearwater is a decent substitute for Harold's. As for Mirage, I thought that place was Persian not Turkish. I had fesenjaan the one time I was there, which I was pretty sure was a Persian dish.
Thanks for the info. I'll check them out in the near future. You're right, Mirage is classified as "Persian, Greek and Middle Eastern" cuisine. You've got to try the lamb shank. I find it impossible to order anything else.
I looked and don't find anything still open for soul food/jamaican in clearwater area. Had a place until earlier this year that served a mean Jamaican curried goat (Gus) on Highland. Anyone know where he went?
Went to Lazziz this weekend. Curried lamb wonderful. They were more than happy to make lamb vindaloo (not on menu). Service great and friendly. No long wait.
Also went to Queen of Sheba. Lots of complaints on this site, but we had a great meal. Didn't have to wait, meal proportions more than sufficient (make sure to leave room for the injeri that the meal is served on - it's soaked up all the wonderful juices of your various dishes) and yes, they do serve coffee with incense. It is the traditional Ethiopian way of serving coffee. If you have a problem with it, simply ask your waiter to tone it down and they are more than eager to accommodate. Although not the best I've ever had, I highly recommend this restaurant as they really do care about their food and want to initiate people into their cuisine and culture. I'm crazy about not having to wait to travel to eat this wonderful cuisine.
Yeah, I wish one of us would tell the owner, I think her americanized name is Mimi, about the discussions here regarding the portions at QoS. She is very nice and I am sure she would respond positively to constructive criticism. This is definitely a restaurant that we want to help keep in business.
Queen of Sheeba - As much as I don't like to be the bearer of not so great news. I'll take it on to tell her. She is an incredibly lovely person and I'm sure she'll take it to heart. I have to say, this was the best cultural experience I've ever had at an ethiopian restaurant. They really do want to introduce you to their culture, music, dance, etc. There is live music now on Fri and Sat. One of our group took it on to research a little. They did a little demonstration of the indigenous dance and it was great fun to watch. Starts a little late, but worth the wait.
Newly rediscovered fav - Santorini's on the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs for the best grilled octopus. Anyone have another better?
We recently went to Queen of Sheba and left impressed with the experience as well. We ordered the big platter with various dishes to try and were quite happy with our meal and our bottle of Ethiopian wine. The flavors weren't as strange as we concocted in our minds and the service and atmosphere were great. Although the food wasn't that memorable, the dining experience was. Thumbs up.
Welcome to the Tampa area! Some new suggestions on the Tampa side (can't speak for Clearwater/St. Pete/beaches). I think all of these have opened in the past 6-12 months or close to it:
Council Oak Steakhouse - at the Hard Rock Casino. Giving Bern's a run for the money on the best steak in town (and, surprisingly, great steakhouses are all over town)
Teatro's on Seventh - in Centro Ybor in Ybor City. Their smoked salmon pastry was one of the best appetizers I've had all year. Ask for a table on the balcony and watch all the action below you.
Beaune's Wines - in Ybor City also (22nd Street). It's primarily a high-end wine store but Thursday-Saturday evening, they have great French-inspired dinners and an amazing selection of cheeses and charcuterie. Great place to try great wines accompanied by some great "munchies"
Mitchell's Fish House - at Westshore Mall. I usually try to avoid chains (this one is from Ohio, of all places for seafood) but that have the most simple, fresh seafood in the area. I love the Cobia Shang Hai style, and their oysters are terrific (haven't tried Central Ave Oyster Bar in St. Pete, which I heard was great as well).
Smoke - in Hyde Park (on Swann?). A terrific take on barbeque (including barbeque duck, which I hadn't had before). The sides make it -- probably the best macaroni and cheese I've had in a while.
Malio's Steakhouse - in downtown Tampa (Beer Can building). I don't think the steaks are as good as some others in Tampa, but great atmosphere in the evening (have some wine outside just watching the Hillsborough River). The best French Onion soup in the area.
Those are the new places that pop to mind. Of course, there are a lot of other "established" places that you should try -- Bern's, Sidebern's, Charley's Steakhouse, El Puerto Argentinian, Pellagia at the Renaissance, Queen of Sheba -- but the new places are the ones above. Enjoy ... it's really a great restaurant town!
Calley's Sticky Bones BBQ:
The Absolute Best BBQ Pork and Texas Brisket in Tampa is now Calley's Sticky Bones BBQ. 2313 W Linebaugh Ave. 813-935-6600. This place is a hole in the wall restaurant that you would never know existed. The man who runs it is an accomplished professional BBQ Master (certified in Kansas City BBQ) who wins competitions all the time. He decided to open up a restaurant to continue his hobby while his real job is in A/C Work.
The ribs are okay, BUT the PORK is awesome - truley amazing!! Absolutely the best in the Tampa Bay Area. The Beef Brisket is also outstanding. Make sure you ask him to slice it and pick out a really nice moist piece.
I have been reading this post for some time now and have finally found a restaurant to brag on.
Here are some good places that I have found.
Alfonso's at N Florida and Bearss.
Sardo's on Ulmerton in Largo
The Cuban Sandwich Shop on N Florida
Cyber Takee Outee at 12807 West Hillsborough Avenue, just east of the Pinellas county line.
Does anyone know of a lard-free Mexican (any type of Mexican including cali-mex, tex-mex, et al) resto in the Bay Area? Yes, this is sacrilege to the world of traditional Mexican foods but I know someone put there must be doing it and probably doing it well. There are Jews and Muslims in Mexico, right? I can't eat pork which takes out most of Mexican cooking, but I really like the non-pork Mexican places I eat at. I don't know Spanish so I can't ask if there's lard or pig used at a restaurant and because of that I don't try new places often.
BBQ - Peebles in Auburndale (The PC, Ya'll)
Italian - Caffe Paradiso (Tampa on MacDill)
Asian - Restaurant BT (Tampa in Hyde Park)
Cali-Mex - Z Grille/Zurritos (St. Pete)
The "Go To" - Cafe Primi (St. Pete)
Bar Food - Old Northeast Tavern (St. Pete)
Steaks - My House on my Big Green Egg (Tha 'Burg)
Burgers N' Fries - 5 Guys
Others - Salt Rock/Island Way; Cafe Alma, Moon Under Water, Wine Exchange, Bowled, Red Mesa, etc.
Some of mine:
Thai - Jasmine Thai, Thai Sweet Basil
Seafood = Salt Rock Grill, Grille One Sixteen, Bonefish, Catch 23
BBQ - Leroy's (and try their chopped smoked chicken salad!!!)
Steak - Charley's and Bern's
Casual Seafood - BallyHo's
Best happy hour drinks and bar food - Grillsmith/Carrollwood
New one to try - The Elements in Northdale (jazz on Fri.-Sat nights - and try their walnut crusted asiago salmon!)
Italian casual - Gino's (on Armenia) and of course Carrabas
Fun casual waterfront - The Tarpon Turtle - arrive in your boat or drive, reggae music on weekends on the deck - good food
Mexican - don't really care for Mexican
Chinese - Ho Ho Choy on Ehrlich
New Orleans style - Harry's on Sheldon
re: lawn boy
Dockside Dave's is super-casual and has a fairly limited menu...burgers, grouper sandwiches, onion rings, fried shrimp & scallops, etc. It's a pretty good place to grab a cold beer and some relatively cheap seafood, although I liked the food better before they expanded when they were still just a hole in the wall.
Steak: Berns; it is awsome and not as pricey as some people will lead you to beleive. Make sure you go to the desert room if you are not too stuffed from your gynormous steak dinner that includes a salad, french onion soup and a baked potato.Make reservations if possible.
Italian: Belini located in downtown Dunedin. We love Italian food and this place is by far the best privatly owned Italian restraunt in the Bay area; We have tried the m all. Casa Ludivico in Palm Harbor came very highly reccomened to us and we were less than impressed.
Indian: Barwachi located off of highway 19 in Palm Harbor. Very authentic and addictive. I ordered mine medium spicy and went thru 2 bottles of water with my meal so be careful unless you can handle it!! Yummy no less.
Seafood: Sams in Dunedin and the Saltrock Grille on St Pete Beach. Best Lobster tail.
Pizza: Little Italy on Highway 19 in Clearwater
Thai Nana on Alternate 19 in Palm Harbor. They make the best Pad Thia!!
Olde School house for brunch and anything for that matter; Located in Palm Harbor;
All fornow I will thinkof more I am sure.
Beach Snoballs, 10937 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, In the MIddle Grounds Parking Lot.
Unbelievable, stuffed Gourmet Snoballs and also REAL New Orleans Snoballs-
Voted for Best Treat in the Beach for Best of the Bay, Creative Loafing 2009- Tangerine Dream was the treat that won
My husband and I just visited from California. We stayed at the Sheraton on Clearwater Beach. Based on recommendations from this board, our meals were:
Columbia Restaurant (Cuban/Spanish; Clearwater Beach and other locations): Delicious food, waterfront view. We both had the 1905 salad. I had the sampler that included beef, pork, rice, beans, empanadas, yucca and plantains. My husband had their signature dish, which I can't remember the name of. We enjoyed it all
Cristino's (pizza/Italian; Clearwater): We had a pizza magherita and added olives and pepperoni to half. The plain side was wonderful. The taste of the pepperoni was okay, but it looked like the pepporini on store bought pizzas. Their gelato was fabulous. They have homemade raviolis that we wanted to try, but weren't hungry enough.
Kelly's Chick-a-boom (breakfast, Dunedin): We asked the owner of Cristino's for a breakfast place. We wondered if Lenny's was worth the LONG wait. He said it's okay once in a while, but unhealthy. He recommended Kelly's and I'm so happy he did. The breakfast was fresh and tasty. And, Dunedin is a quaint town worth visiting for a few hours. We enjoyed our walk down Main Street. My husband got his hair cut at a barber shop so we chatted with the locals for a while. It was a lovely morning.
Lenny's (breakfast, Clearwater): We never made it. The wait was always way too long.
Cooters (lunch, Clearwater Beach): I had a grouper sandwhich, my husband had a western burger. Yuck! I didn't like anything about the place. We had to wait a long time for our food, even though there were only about 3-4 tables. I could see our waiter outside smoking a cigaratte and talking to a co-worker.
Jimbo's (BBQ; Tampa): I don't get barbecue, being from Northern California, so pretty much any barbecue is delicious to me. We had chopped pork sandwiches, mac and cheese, beans and apple cobbler. It was all good and seemed just like the BBQ I had in Memphis.
Main Street Bar
335 E Main St, Bartow, FL 33830
1604 SE 46th St, Cape Coral, FL 33904
Loved the Sushi Spot in Largo. We arrived after dinner hour in Clearwater and headed to Largo for Sushi based on a post in this thread.
Thanks for the recommendation, it was a fabulous place to eat! Great specialty rolls. My husband was a little leary of the strip mall it was located in, but worth the try!
3655 E Bay Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
Mike's Sushi & Sake Bar on 19 in Palm Harbor...well, it was enough to make me change my mind about moving back home to NY. 'nuff said.