Eating. Obviously one of the basic necessities of life. But there’s eating, and then there’s eating.
Throughout history, breaking bread with family and friends has been a big deal. For us, many of our happiest memories are of special family dinners at home, and memorable meals with friends at great restaurants.
Wherever you live, finding those special places you love to eat has a lot to do with your quality of life. John and I really do enjoy good food, and frequently recommend restaurants to our clients as well as to our old friends. We especially want our friends who are new to the area to love it as we do, and knowing where to get a great meal is sure a good start!
Here are some of our favorites…and if your favorite isn’t here, send your recommendation to us!
Breakfast or Brunch
- Oystercatchers at the Hyatt in Tampa, just off the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Our favorite for a high-end, lavish brunch. Beautiful views of Tampa Bay.
- Lenny’s Restaurant on US 19 in Clearwater. Hands down the best place to get a terrific breakfast. Go on the weekend and “Mark the Balloon Guy” will delight your family with his fanciful balloon creations.
- Maggie Mae’s on West Bay in Belleair Bluffs. Excellent food.
- Clearwater Bagel on Gulf to Bay, near Clearwater High School. Just take out, but great bagels.
- Kelly’s on Main Street in Downtown Dunedin. Great food, fun atmosphere, creative breakfast cuisine in addition to the standards.
- Cafe Al Fresco on Main Street in Downtown Dunedin. Dine outside next to the Pinellas Trail, excellent food and service.
- Bascom’s Chop House on Ulmerton. Good value, great service and ambiance.
- Cody’s Original Roadhouse, on US 19 and also on West Bay in Belleair Bluffs. Peanut shells on the floor, very casual, family friendly restaurant.
- Bern’s in Tampa’s SoHo district. Famous for the highest quality beef and home made everything. Definitely big-night-out place…presidents and other VIPs have historically eaten at Berns. One of the largest (if not the largest) wine cellars in the area.
- Bobby’s Bistro & Wine Bar on Clearwater Beach. One of the better places to eat on the Beach.
- Kelly’s on Main Street in Downtown Dunedin. One of my favorites filets is prepared at Kelly’s, with Jalepeno Onion Rings on top and a carmelized garlic sauce. Ummm.
- Carabba’s on Gulf to Bay in Clearwater. Consistently good Italian food, nice selection and seasonal specials. Definitely warm and inviting…my comfort food.
- Cristino’s Coal Oven Pizza on South Fort Harrison Ave. Everything is made fresh, charming atmosphere and patio dining when the weather is nice. Not just pizza, lots of great Italian entrees and pastas.
- Maggiano’s in West Shore Plaza in Tampa. Yum. Great place for a celebratory meal, like a birthday. Make a reservation.
- Villa Bellini on Gulf to Bay in the old Tio Pepe location. This restaurateur has had several terrific Italian restaurants in the area, and I think this is the best. Fantastic food.
- Island Way Grill on Island Way (Island Estates). Great menu, aesthetic surroundings. In good weather sit on the deck to dine or have something nice to drink.
- Oystercatchers at the Hyatt in Tampa, just off the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Expensive but very high quality.
- Bonefish Grill, several locations including West Bay in Belleair Bluffs and McMullen Booth in Safety Harbor.
- Mystic Fish on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor. Nice decor with custom art glass pieces and large aquariums filled with exotic fish. Imaginative menu, consistent quality, chef-owned.
- Guppy’s on Indian Rocks Beach. Good seafood, chef-owned, nice patio dining.
- Frenchy’s on Clearwater Beach. There are currently four Frenchy’s locations on Clearwater Beach, and they have the best Grouper sandwich around. They have their own fleet of boats and catch their own fish. Very low-key, beachy vibe. The place to go for a fish sandwich or platter and a beer.
- Crabby Bills on Clearwater Beach and Indian Rocks Beach. If you want to get your fill (finally) of the freshest crab, this is the place to go. And lots of great fruity rum drinks. Go early, there is usually a wait.
- Copperfish on South Howard in Tampa. Interestingly, we’ve been eating at restaurants in this exact location for 25 years. We ate there recently and had a nice chat with the owner, and learned that she and her husband have owned each of the successive restaurants in that building, all of which were excellent.
American and Nouvelle Cuisine
- Cafe Ponte on Ulmerton in the ICOT center. Chef-owned (Christopher Ponte), great food, creative dishes, always prepared perfectly. White tablecloths and excellent service. Very nice for date night.
- Grillsmith in Countryside Square on US 19. Our go-to place for a nice meal when we want to be very casual but eat well. We love their Grillsmith Burger, the Napa Salad, the Caribbean Pumpkin Crab Bisque, the Wild Mushroom Meatloaf and their Filet. No “wings” on the menu! Very reasonably priced for the quality of the meal.
- Mise en Place in Tampa on Kennedy Blvd. Great food, a little pricey but the quality is always top-notch.
- Black Pearl on Main Street in Dunedin. Very intimate, no more than 10-12 tables, white tablecloths and exceptional service and food. On the expensive side, but such a treat!
- Caretta on the Gulf at the Sandpearl Resort. Expensive but extremely nice. We had Mother’s Day brunch there – fantastic!
- Green Springs Bistro on 4th Avenue in Safety Harbor. Very cute restaurant in a converted older house. Good food, creative.
- Edison in Tampa on Kennedy Blvd. Love their food, which is very innovative. John always get the chicken and waffles, which sounds very ordinary, but is to die for!
- Cafe Largo is our favorite in the area. A small, chef-owned restaurant, which has been in the same location for at least two decades. Intimate atmosphere, very attentive service, indulgent food. Order the souffle, it is out of this world.
- Parts of Paris is a new favorite. Located in a charming, vintage converted house just off Main Street in Safety Harbor. Great service, food was fantastic, romantic ambience. I can’t wait to go back!
Mexican or Tex Mex
- Red Mesa Restaurant in North St. Petersburg, on 4th Street North. High-end Mexican food, including fresh fish dishes and very elegant and creative enchiladas. And of course, we love the Margaritas!
- Green Lemon in South Tampa on MacDill. Wow – I love Mexican food, but this takes it to a new and highly creative level. Every time we show property in South Tampa, we have to stop and have lunch or dinner at Green Lemon! And they serve a nice weekend brunch with live music!
- Casa Tina on Main Street in Dunedin. Fun and festive atmosphere and great food. I’m totally happy with their taco salad, but have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve had.
Spanish or Cuban
- Columbia is a must! Many locations, but do go to the original in Ybor City in Tampa at least once. This is Florida’s oldest restaurant, established in 1905. The food is wonderful, lots of items are prepared table-side, including their famous Paella and Sangria. Locations also on Sand Key and in Sarasota, Celebration, etc.
- Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant in downtown St. Pete. This restaurant has an exotic feel featuring a decor of Spanish and Moorish details. We love to go to Ceviche and get a pitcher of Sangria and order one Tapas dish at time, just to stretch it out.
- Desi Tadka, in Oldsmar on Tampa Rd, and Deeya, in Clearwater on Gulf to Bay, are both owned by the same person. We LOVE Indian food, and this is our favorite.
- Laziz in Clearwater on the southwest corner of Enterprise and McMullen Booth. Very good food, and this was our favorite until we went to Desi Tadka.
- Greektown Grille on Cleveland Street in Clearwater. Love the food, good service, convenient location.
Thai, Chinese and Other Asian
- Thai Coconut on Missouri Ave in Clearwater. Very good Thai food. We love their Panang curry and their Pad Thai.
- Ban Thai on Enterprise in Safety Harbor. Our favorite – everything is top-notch
- Ha Long Bay Chinese & Vietnamese Cuisine on US 19 in St. Petersburg. Wow! Huge menu, everything is always good. You’ll want to order a lot of items, so go with friends!
- Frida’s Cafe & Bakery on Ulmerton. If you love sweets (like John does) this is one of the best bakeries in the area. They have seating inside and outside and serve coffee too. Go when you have time to sit and enjoy.
- Sweet Caroline’s Bakery on Tampa Rd in Palm Harbor (same strip mall as Mystic Fish). I’ve had my fair share of Key Lime Pie, but the version they do at this bakery blows away any others I’ve tried. They also make these great chicken pot pie turnovers, OMG. Plan to buy a dozen for the freezer. They are that good.