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Sep 19, 2009 03:40 PM

Tampa for 3 days - What are the best places to eat? Best places to see?

Title says it all. We are willing to drive within an hour for food from Tampa and are looking for some delicious food. It doesn't have to be fine dining, but the food and chef have to be awesome! Price is not an issue.

We are also looking for sunset cruises or other different things to do for the 3 day weekend.


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  1. Bern's is the best steakhouse in the US. Dry aged prime beef, and the largest wine cellar in the US with great prices. If you like steak or wine, or better yet, both, you should go by all means.

    1. Agree that you shouldn't miss Bern's. Pane Rustica is the best restaurant in Tampa, IMO, great for lunch, even better for dinner.

      1. Last night I had one of the best meals I have had in years at Massimo's in Palm Harbor. It is about a 25 minute drive from my house in Tampa. Massimo was the chef at Armani's at the Grand Hyatt for years but opened up his own restaurant several years ago. I now wish it had not taken me so long to go try this restaurant!

        11 Replies
        1. re: rhnault

          nice menu. those appetizers have me salivating. i've never noticed the place, where is it in Palm Harbor? between what streets? on the east or west side of 19? (i'm from NY, i'm used to the old "on 30th St between 1st and 2nd"; lol, that's how we nail down a location)

          1. re: Manderley

            If you are headed West on Tampa Rd you turn left on 19 and it is about .3 down on the right in the same plaza as Outback. We had the pate and the Mozzarella Napoleon, and lobster bisque for apps. I had the batutta di vitello and my husband had the veal ossobucco special for entrees. For dessert he had the chocolate raspberry cake and I had a new ice cream creation that was made with zabaglione and dried fruit and nuts. Everything was perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. Fantastic service as well.

            1. re: rhnault

              thanks, rhnault! will definitely check it out asap. mmmmm zabaglione, haven't had that in ages...there goes the diet, out the window!

              1. re: Manderley

                We went Friday night and I don't think I was hungry again until about 3 yesterday ;-)

              2. re: rhnault

                Our 16th wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend...
                It's gonna be Massimo's (one nite) after reading this....
                Can't wait.

                1. re: Mild Bill

                  We had a fantastic waiter. His name is Bertrand and he is French. Apparently he worked at the space prior when it was a French restaurant and stayed on when Mossimo and his wife opened their restaurant . When you make your reservation, request him.

                  1. re: rhnault

                    Thanks for all of the responses. Berns looks amazing. I am thinking maybe we will go there just for the dessert room though. I think we are definately going to go to Massimo's.
                    Anyone been to Billy's Stone Crab or Gallaghers Steak house?

                    What about some great breakfast spots?

                    1. re: taz123

                      you'll love the dessert rooom but you might have to wait. they give first seating to those who have dinner there. i don't know if you can make a reservation just for the dessert room.

                      brunch hands down is "Kelly's For Just About Everything" in Dunedin.

                      1. re: taz123

                        Gallaghers Steakhouse is mediocre at best, i would definitely refrain from there.

                        Also, what area are you staying in Tampa and I will guide you to best breakfast...

                      2. re: rhnault

                        Reservations are made for tomorrow night.... Weees Bertrand...

                        1. re: Mild Bill

                          I am excited for your review. Happy Anniversary!

              3. if you like authentic chinese, don't miss China Yuan. it's on Armenia in Tampa. Go early for the dim sum. okay now my mouth is watering.

                i'm sure there are great sunset cruises in st pete and in clearwater; i've only done the ones in tarpon springs, and my favorite is Sun Line Cruises. nice, small, relaxing, beer or wine, listening to reggae, watching the dolphins play as the sun sets, really nice.

                if you like sushi, Mike's Sushi & Sake in Palm Harbor is incredible.

                if you do go to Bern's steakhouse, don't miss the dessert room upstairs. their cappuccino is so fantastic it will make you scream out loud. seriously. coffee beans roasted in kahlua, if i remember correctly...just blew my mind totally. :)

                1. for the cruise part, i took a sightseeing cruise on starship a few years ago. I opted out of the meal and just took the cruise for $15. It is a great way to go for several reasons. First, you get to skip the meal and have something better in the city. second, we had the entire upper deck to ourselves while everyone else ate downstairs. it was really nice to have the deck to ourselves for 30 minutes or so. we toured tampa bay for a while, probably between two and three hours. very pleasant on a good weather day.

                  for dining in Tampa, the recs here have all been solid. I especially agree about Pane Rustica, China Yuan, and Bern's is a trip. you could go just for dessert and drinks if you wanted. get the tour.

                  i'm also a big fan of Brocato's for monster sandwiches (Italian sub, meatball, roast pork are faves), awesome deviled crabs, onion rings, stuffed potatoes with boliche, and the salads are good, too. don't miss the sweet tea and the sweet, very short lady who fills it. go for a big lunch that screams Tampa.

                  another great lunch option is the Columbia. my faves are the Cuban sandwich (better than ever!), 1905 salad, and spanish bean soup. the caldo gallego is also nice--- and rich. for entrees, i love the snapper adelita with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, and heart of palm. wonderful. they also make dependable mojitos, and the premium sangria is excellent (not the lower priced stuff). the spanish wine list is very impressive. even the mango daiquiri is winner, and that isn't normally my thing. the restaurant itself is worth seeing. ask for a tour. the restaurant is massive, expanded over the course of century. it is undoubtedly Florida's oldest family ruin-restaurant. disclaimer: i've written about the place quite a bit. processed the family's archives, and am generally in love with Tampa's history. for dinner, I avoid the paella and go for any fish or the filet mignon chacho, flambeed in bourbon. lunch or dinner special are often quite good.

                  stop by la segunda bakery on the outskirts of Ybor if you're there in the morning or afternoon. excellent cuban bread, pastries, and sweets. the almond crescents are divine, as is anything with guava. the pecan pie is also very good. get some treats to take back to your room.

                  go to El Molino cafe/Naviera coffee mill for some good java in Ybor.

                  osteria natalina is a quaint, lovely dining spot for great italian food, a relaxed atmosphere, and an owner who is ready to please. I found it affordable and simple, with exquisite food. dinner only, all entrees underr $15 or so. reasonable and consistent.

                  besides Columbia and bern's, for sightseeing, Tampa Theatre is also very impressive.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: andy huse

                    I just went to theYbor City location of Columbia a month ago for lunch and was very pleased with my meal. Not only the quality of the food but the ambiance of the eating establishment and all. This is old-style Tampa eating. If you go for lunch there, I stronly recommend eating in the bar. Wonderful windows to watch all the goings-on, the beautiful bar, etc...

                    1. re: andy huse

                      i know it was a slip-of-the-fingers typo, but "family-ruin" restaurant tickled my funny bone. i totally agree about Columbia's was over a year ago, but i still was white, with sparkling wine, a kind of spanish champagne. i found the recipe on their website and made up a batch myself at home. Lip-lickin' good.

                      1. re: Manderley

                        It was probably Spanish Cava as that is Spain's sparkling wine. It is produced in the champagne style and is named after the caves where it is produced.

                        1. re: RibDog

                          you're right, RibDog. It was truly divine. :)

                        2. re: Manderley

                          Their tableside mojitos are awesome as well. I am planning a trip there soon as I really want to try the re-worked classic Cuban.