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Tough one - Best Restaurant in Florida?

Heck it's a question worth asking. There are just about too many factors, it's nearly too difficult of a question. Maybe it's been asked (search didn't turn one up right away though). Does one spot stand out in your mind? If you had to choose where to eat your "last meal"?

My criteria:

-Creative. First and foremost. Changing menu, imaginative and thoughtful.
-You can get out of there for $100 per person or less, with some (being reasonable) wine/beer/booze.
-Good service, doesn't have to be amazing, but the people have to enjoy what they do and where they work.
-Consistence, even in the most trying, busy periods, their commitment and diligence shows in the dependable quality of their food and proper preparation.

I would love to get everyone's input. For me it's Pane Rustica, hands down.

Thx guys!

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  1. And Pane Rustica is . . . where, again?

    For someone wanting a 'sticky' about naming the city or area of interest, you seem a little lax.

    6 Replies
    1. re: southocean

      Haha, well done man! I'm sorry, of all people I shouldn't be guilty of that sin :)

      Pane Rustica
      3225 South MacDill Ave
      Tampa, FL 33629

      1. re: askdrtodd

        Dr. Todd: I hope Kevin is giving you some kickbacks for all this promotion. You are obsessed. ;)

        1. re: Old E.

          hahaha I actually never even met Kevin until a few months ago, he's a pretty busy guy. Honestly I've eaten at that restaurant well over 100 times and less than 5% of the time has the food been any less than excellent. and in that 5% it's still good, but the bar is so high... :) I hope the expansion works out well for them.

          1. re: askdrtodd

            I'm sure they will be fine. Half the reason I don't go in there is due to the crowds. I can't take it.

            1. re: Old E.

              That's why when I eat out, I eat early. 11:15 or 11:30 for lunch, 5:45 or 6pm for dinner, the staff & kitchen is always less stressed, and the meal is typically more relaxed, and the food usually comes out promptly and with fewer errors. This has served me extraordinarily well for a few years now.

              1. re: askdrtodd

                I completely agree. Great policy.

    2. not based on your criteria...but the subject line: it's a toss up

      Joe's Stone Crabs
      Bern's Steak House

      2 Replies
      1. re: netmover

        I'd agree with you for sure as far as fine dining, and I could list a dozen places I could run up an astronomical bill and have an amazing meal, but I'm thinking a place like Pane Rustica, or Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, somewhere that most people could afford to eat at frequently (not special occasion type places), A+ food on an B+/A- budget :)

        1. re: netmover

          No question; no need to look further. Hands down Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa.

        2. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

          1. I don't know if this meets your criteria, but if we're talking about the best restaurant in Florida for my mouth, my absolute fave is a tossup between Memories of India in Lake Mary and Samba Room in Orlando. (used to be a tossup between Jephanie Foster's Midnight Blue and Blue Bistro, but they have both closed) I've eaten at most of the highest end places in Orlando and one or two in Miami, and they are super, but my favorites just aren't those.

                1. re: HotMelly

                  Going on 35 years old, I guess they must be doing something right.


                    1. re: pdpredtide

                      Raindancer is probably the best steak house in SF. Okeechobee Steak House just up the street is pretty good, too.

                    2. re: freakerdude

                      That looks delish, but not quite a creative and changing menu?

                  1. Been away from FL for several years but myy favorites were always Berns and Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: joeysmom220

                      chalet suzanne is cool and is somewhat creative for what it is (only place I've had baked grapefruit). I'm thinking NYC type places, which don't typically flourish in Florida but if done right get a great customer base and can do well.

                    2. My last meal would have to be an all-out, nose to tail, meat & offal celebration-- involving creative and insanely delicious preparations of tender tripe, grilled crispy sweetbreads, & other porky and beefy meats and parts...

                      You guys can name the place....

                      Did you see the Tony Bourdain 'No Reservations' episode when he went to Michael Symon's restaurant Lola?
                      Where Chef Symon kept delivering plate after plate of genius and madness till Tony and Marky Ramone practically passed out?


                      That's my last meal...
                      --------Or next weekend, if you know the place and want to meet up!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mild Bill

                        oh man that looked serious. my favorite no reservations spot was probably the sustainable sushi place in san fran, me being a sushi nut... nearly drown in my own saliva watching that haha

                      2. Mine definitely fits all of those criteria:

                        Creative: freshest Fla. seafood covering hog snapper, tripletail, yellowtail, grouper, mahi mahi, wahoo, tilefish, tuna, etc. all crusted in unique combinations of some starches that you may have never heard of. Some examples are boniato + calabaza + coconut, yucca + asparagus, plantain + garlic, sweet potato, vermicelli + basil+ parmesan, etc. The crusted fish combinations are typically served on a bed of greens with various vegetables and fruits topped with dressings ranging from orange to key lime to grapefruit and more. The menu changes on a daily basis.

                        The creative and changing appetizers rank right up their with their entrees. Panko fried oysters and the crab cake apps are the best I have had anywhere. The fried tuna and basil rolls are unique. Add to that various ceviches of Mexican inspired versions along with a filet mignon ceviche tostada on todays lunch menu. Also on today's lunch app menu was a pork tamale served on vegetables.

                        These items mentioned above are only on their daily hand written menu that is always in addition to their reguar menu. They also have international (Latin, Indian, Asian, Mediterranean, French) influenced offerings as well such as bouillabaisse and other seafood soups.

                        Cost: around $50 per if you gorge on app, entree, dessert, and booze

                        Great service: mostly younger staff with plenty on hand. Sit at the bar that faces the small open kitchen and just watch them go to work. These folks really enjoy what they do.

                        Consistency: I have eaten here over 30 times or more and each meal is as good or better than the previous. I have never once had 'just an average meal' at this place.

                        You could offer me my last meal at the best seafood spot in Miami on any level and I would take Leftover's Cafe in Jupiter on any day. You are always welcome here and you don't have to get spiffed up as it is very relaxed and casual.

                        Little Moir's Leftovers
                        University Blvd, Jupiter, FL 33458

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: freakerdude

                          Man consider Little Moir's on my list! Next time I'm heading down 95 I'll be making a stop there for sure!

                          1. re: freakerdude

                            Had a chance to try Little Moir's last night and was not disappointed. The Panko Fried Oysters starter was excellent and was enough for 4 who enjoyed it thoroughly. I had the Plantain & Chipotle crusted fish. Just the right heat from the chipotle without overwhelming the dish. Raspberry Key Lime pie was a raspberry mousse covered key lime and very good. As you said $50/pp with apps, entre, drinks, dessert. Service was top notch, young, engaging.
                            here is a review I found helpful and includes a peek at the eclectic menu: http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/20...

                            1. re: Bumstead

                              that raspberry KLP looks ridiculously good.

                          2. Where is Ravenous Pig in this list??? RP in Orlando rocks...Changing seasonal menu, Chef owned, Sustainable practices, creative menu.... The Charcuterie is outstanding. Love the sweetbreads with the truffle gnocchi. Outstanding service with exceptionally well informed wait staff. BTW make reservations. It is essential.

                            1. For that matter Where is Michael's Genuine in Miami?

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Rusyoak

                                Michael's Genuine- excellent. Ravenous Pig- last couple times I went I ended up with a pretty substantial bill and more than half our dishes were nowhere near the quality the were a year or so ago when I first went there. tacos were nothing but soggy breading and mayonaisey sauce, pate was too stiff, disappointing, and the po boy wasn't half the po boy that Pane Rustica produced for me yesterday (rock shrimp and crab cake Po Boy with lemon caper aioli on blackened olive loaf bread baked only hours before- droooooooooooool)

                                1. re: askdrtodd

                                  Wow! how things change! Orlando and central florida in general has this problem of inconsistancy. usually because the good chefs don't stay at places that don't increase their pay. Some one will come along ,open a place and steal them for more money. One place i heard that doesn't have that problem is le quc au devin(i think thats how its spelled) in orlando. The chef is the owner!

                                  1. re: mountdorahound

                                    le coq au vin? (I believe that's "the chicken w/ wine sauce")

                                    1. re: askdrtodd

                                      I completely agree with you on Coq au Vin (http://www.lecoqauvinrestaurant.com/). I'm in Orlando 2x/yr for business and always make it there at least once per trip. Consistently fabulous country French cuisine, excellent service and a calm, pleasant atmosphere that is the antithesis of the many circuses in the area. No disappointments.

                                      1. re: KinksFan

                                        Let me second Le Coq au Vin and Michael's Genuine Food, As to inconsistency at Ravenous Pig, I am sooooo sorry to hear that, but I have had the best meals of my life there so I would say take the risk,