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Tampa Bay's Top 3, Expensive, Moderate, and Cheap

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I am getting ready to make a girls trip to NYC later this year, and I have been researching places I want to eat in each of the price ranges on the Manhattan board. I was viewing the Florida board and realized I didn't see anything (at least recent) that encompased all of these for Tampa Bay.

So I am going to start it off. My favorite restaurants for each price point are:

Expensive:
1. Bern's-forgiving their recent rash of bad service, the food more then makes up for it. It doesn't matter if you are going for appetizers, steak, dessert, or the wine list. You are going to find something you will never forget. If you are going for your first time, take the kitchen tour before you head upstairs for dessert.)
http://www.bernssteakhouse.com/bs_fra...

2. Mis en Place-I have been only once but my husband and I walked out knowing that we would go back soon. Very good presentation and if you just go with what your stomach tells you, you will be happy. Although we didn't chose it, the tasting menu is very reasonably priced.
http://miseonline.com/

3. Armani's- Great food, great view, and nice wine list. Can't really miss with this one. If you want to make an evening of it, get a room for the evening and have another bottle of wine.
http://www.armanisrestaurant.com/

Moderate:
1. Big City Tavern-Even though they got rid of my favorite dish, Veal Scallopini, the food is always great. You can never miss with the house specials. For dessert try the chocolate soufle.
http://www.bigcitytampa.com/

2. Red Mesa-This place has held a special place in my heart for 10 years now. I have never had a dish I didn't like and the sangria is great. If you like fish try any of their dishes.
http://www.redmesarestaurant.com/

3. T.C Choys-Some may put this in their expensive, because Dim Sum can really add up quick there, specially if you order some of the kitchen specials. I really enjoy going there for Sunday Brunch. Plan on waiting in line for at least 30 minutes.
no web site that I can find. 301 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL

Special Mention-Anyone out there ever make it to 3 Palms Grill before it closed? Jeff Williams was the part owner and Chef, and he made the place. His dishes had a caribbean flare. Does anyone know if he is at another restaurant now??? Please make my day. His foo-foo (sp) mashed sweet plantains were amazing.

Cheap:
1. La Cubanita-Great cuban food, like I have had it in Miami, cafeteria style, huge portions. At lunch a main dish with two side si 6.95.
723 W Lumsden Rd Brandon, FL

2. Jasmine Thai-Also in Brandon. Great dishes, I recommend the crab rangoon, and the PANANG CURRY with tofu. Lunch is great your get a spring roll, soup and your entree all for around 7.95.
http://www.jasminethaibrandon.com/

3. Shells-any location. great seafood with very good prices. Every time my parents are in town we have to go. My newest favorite is the Shrimp mezzo mezzo, spicy(with garlic) tomato cream sauce with mushrooms and penne. I am orginally from New England and their clam chowder beats the pants off of anything I have had in Boston. I also like the Jack Daniel's Buffalo Shrimp, and when in season the raw oysters are great with a great price. I have never had a bad oyster there in over 15 years.
http://www.shellsseafood.com/process....

So Let the Games Begin, I can't wait to see some other choices. I will also admit that most of my choices are on the Tampa side, simple because that is where I have lived most of my life in Florida.

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  1. Shells?!? Really?!? I don't know anyone who's been there more than once. I guess I wouldn't describe their food as disgusting, but with so many other options for fresh, creative fish dishes.....why bother?

    1 Reply
    1. re: debbed

      I guess it would depend on what you were looking for, notice they are in my cheap option. I get the pasta dishes a lot and I see them as a comfort food. Stick to the ribs good seafood. Again the oysters are always good and since I like them raw I don't need any fancy or expensive restaurant to charge me more for them.
      I know that they had just done a rehab of many of their locations to bring them up date.
      I suggest if you go back try the following: Oysters if you like them, the jack daniels shrimp, or the clam chowder. Then try the Shrimp Mezzo Mezzo, or ask them to substitute the langostino. If you go for lunch a salad is included. I always have almost half of my pasta dish left over for dinner later or lunch the next day. After you have done that then let me know if you are still not satisfied with Shells.