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Tampa Foodies - where are they?

What's happened with Tampa food? I've been all over Florida (Tally, Jax, MIA, Orl, etc.) and can honestly say that Tampa food is overrun with chains and lacks originality.

Yes, I know the Columbia, Berns, Sideberns, Mise en Place, etc. are all great- but where are the truly avant-garde restaurants?

I'm looking for something on par with Kool Beans or Mosaic in Tallahassee; Abracci, Les Halles, or Romeo's in Miami; Big Pink or the Forge in Miami Beach; or BBs or Bistro Aix in Jacksonville.

Any suggestions would be most welcome!!!!

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  1. Drive up and down Armenia around Hillsboro

    1. I guess you'll just have to get out more, girl. Or leave town.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tandoori Girl

        LOL. Maybe do a Tampa search before asking for suggestions and slamming the town.

      2. Can't help you there. I find it refreshing that we don't have the pretensions of a Miami.

        1. Head over to Pinellas County... Cafe Ponte - Largo/Clearwater area, Cafe Alma - Downtown St. Pete, Black Pearl - Dunedin

          1. I think Pane Rustica at dinner is as good or better than anything I've had at Kool Beans or Mosaic in Tally, and I like them both (though I lean more towad Cypress). Not much French to equal Les Halles in Tampa, though the Gulf Bistro in Madeira Beach is excellent. But you asked about Tampa. It's true, though, Tampa is chain city, a point made in the St. Pete Times last week in an interview with San Francisco chef Scott Howard, formerly of Tampa. Lots of reasons for that, IMHO, including the ever-changing population, the lack of excellent produce and other local foods (compared to California, anyway), the influx of tourists who aren't really looking for cutting-edge food and, let's face it, an insufficient concentration of sophisticated diners (OK, you can start flaming me now!). You can read the intereview: http://www.sptimes.com/2007/07/25/Foo...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bergerman

              I agree with the thoughts on pane rustica- love that place. And yes- Cypress in Tally is awesome as well. I have not tried Gulf Bistro in Madeira, but I will now. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

              The Miami Herald recently published a similar article about Miami restaurants- so it's not just Tampa!