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One night in Tampa...

Heading to the Tampa area for the first time next weekend, and need to know what’s the one restaurant I shouldn’t leave Tampa without trying. Staying by the airport, but have no issue driving.

No preference on cuisine, and don’t really have a budget in mind. Thanks in advance!

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  1. We still need more. What's your fave? Where are you from? What can't you get back home? Do you want Steak? Fine dining? Seafood? Something creative?

    Bern's would be the best fine dining/steak (since Savant is now closed), Pane Rustica is my favorite all around creative and consistently delicious restaurant, Datz is a fun spot for sandwiches and a good beer, there are dozens of good places but we need to be pointed in the right direction first.

    3 Replies
    1. re: askdrtodd

      I have been loving Datz lately. I'm big on beer, and they have a better selection than most. That said, its not Bern's. Lots of chain type stuff around the airport.... Roys, Flemings, Ruth's Chris, Charley's, etc...

      1. re: Old E.

        OE, you'll have to swing by cigar city brewery sometime, they have amazing beer! Saturday night before dinner is a good time, they're right behind the home depot on Dale Mabry just north of 275.

        1. re: askdrtodd

          I know exatly where they are and have been meaning to do that for some time. It has been difficult to find time to do it, with a toddler around. He likes beer too. ;)

          I did try one of their beers at Smoke, and enjoyed it.

    2. Other than some of the Spanish restaurants, Tampa is known worldwide for Bern's on South Howard. Prime dry aged steaks, best wine list in the world (yes, seriously) everything done to perfection. If you can get in at this late date, you should

      1. and i might as well add my 2 cents, if you're going to Bern's, DON'T MISS the dessert room upstairs after your meal. i still dream about their unbelievable cappuccino. dessert was my favorite part of the meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Manderley

          Amen...its the Harry Waugh room. I always go for the King Midas....carrot cake topped with macadamia nut ice cream...and I opt for hot fudge as well. All home made, of course. Coffee roasted on premises. Wonderful selection of single malt Scotches.

        2. I live in Orlando now, but from Philly. Been doing some reading, and was able to score a reservation for 9pm on Saturday at Bern's, so I'm going to go for it.

          While I love steak, I don't ever really go to steak houses when I go out. But given all the raving reviews, I thought this would be a good time to check one out (I've been to them before, but not in the last 2 yrs).

          How does the dessert room work? After we're done our meal, we just request to go up to the dessert room? Other than obviously the steaks, is there anything on the menu I should leave without trying?

          5 Replies
          1. re: Corporate_40

            eat your steak (get the chateaubriand, it's killer) and take a tour of the kitchen and the wine cave and then head up there and you'll have a server, it's killer.

            1. re: askdrtodd

              After you sit down, your server will typically ask if your would like reservations in the dessert room. Your answer: Yes.

              1. re: askdrtodd

                just realized I over-killered this one haha. oops.

              2. re: Corporate_40

                Oh, you *must* do the tour of the kitchen and wine room on your way to the dessert room! Just tell your waiter and they'll set it up. The steaks at Bern's are outstanding, but their fresh seafood and veggies from their own farm are fantastic as well.

                1. re: Corporate_40

                  people who dine in the restaurant get first dibs at the dessert room. if you come in just for the dessert room, i think they put your name on a list, you're not guaranteed a time. can't reserve just the dessert room. it's a little piece of heaven :)

                2. By the way, don't over-order. You will not need an app. There are soup and salad with the meal, as well as potato and vegetables, all for the price of the steak. And the steak is closely trimmed. I would do the ribeye or NY strip. Take a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: steakman55

                    Good point, when my wife and I go we typically split a caviar app, a steak, and a desert and we are both beyond stuffed.

                  2. First off, thanks for all the recommendations. While I hate the now commercial term "foodie", I would consider myself a big one and someone who goes out to eat at great restaurants regularly. Just wanted to put that caviat before my review, so readers don't think it's coming from an uneducated diner.

                    Went to Burn’s this past Saturday night for dinner for two at 9pm. The bar area was surreally decorated; not sure how else to put it. Either way, had a couple cocktails waiting for our table which were nice.

                    Our waiter was very nice in explaining the LARGE amounts of food that come with each entrée, which is nice compared to other a la carte steakhouses I’ve been to. My SO ordered the filet medium and I went with the porterhouse med/rare. The French onion soup was nice, and not too much considering how much food was to come. The salad was completely forgettable, but again, I wasn’t there for the salad. Our entrees finally came and although both were perfectly cooked, there just wasn’t much to it. To be honest, the meat was little of tasteless after the garlic butter was gone. I think maybe getting a crust or sauce would have helped greatly, but given the quality of the steak, I didn't think that would be necessary. The onion rings and baked potatoes were really good, the veggies were pushed aside just b/c we didn't have room. We also ordered the creamed spinach which was terribly disappointing; just very watery and nothing going on.

                    After dinner we got the tour of the kitchen and wine room at the waiter’s insistence. It was everything I hate about living in Orlando (originally from Philly). I love eating out, and also love dining at the kitchen counter and even chef’s table in the kitchen. But being moved through a working kitchen in groups of ten made me feel like I was on a horrible ride at Disney. And you could tell the waiters were annoyed as we were blocking their every move. The wine cellar was impressive, I kind of wish that was all that was on the tour.

                    Went up to the dessert room which was not what I was expecting. I guess after hearing so much about it, I was expecting to see some Willy Wonka type room. However, it was nice none the less and we had some coffee and a nice dessert.

                    All in all it wasn’t a bad evening, but just nothing like I was expecting. Maybe it’s just I’m not in love with steakhouses, but either way, I don’t think I’d go back…

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Corporate_40

                      i must say i agree with your comments about the decor and the meal at bern's...but as i said, for me, the dessert was by far the best part of the meal. i've never had anything that comes close to their cappucino. i've had better steak, i've had better everything, come to think of it. but not the cappucino. not by a long run. wish it was possible to just make reservations for the dessert room.

                    2. We ate there recently (eaten there about a dozen times in 20 years) and it just ok...there is soo much more in Tampa that is over looked.I even enjoy the tasting menu at Side Bern's better that the steaks at Bern's....

                      I agree though that Pane Rustica is my favorite...since they were just a tiny bread shop...and there's a cupcake store in the same center. win-win!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cjanducci

                        cj, the cupcakes at Pane are worlds better than the cupcakes at the end of the plaza, trust me!! :)