Top Restaurants of Tampa Bay

Top Restaurants of Tampa Bay

Photo of Tampa Bay Times

It was the Year of Beer. Also the year of pork belly and kale and bourbon cocktails. It was a year in which trends seemed to spread like wildfire, fueled by social media (cronut, anyone?).

9 Places
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    Kelley's sugar-crusted butter cake with brown butter ice cream and a toffee sauce was one of the best things I tasted in 2013, the top of the perfect, moist cake just crunchy.
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    Ponte and chef Tony Bonanno still do great work with the trumpet mushroom soup, the Yukon gold and bacon flatbread and the foie gras with brioche, but I look forward to seeing some all-new dishes this year.
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    Here's a secret - Monday to Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. the bar offers $6 appetizers and $5 wine and cocktail specials. Run don't walk for their barrel-aged cocktails, which seem to pair amiably with the house charcuterie.
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    Every Thursday it's all new. I love how Greg can get wiggy (barbecued fried chicken livers with chocolate-beet gumbo and pickled okra) but also do things that have serious classical French underpinnings.
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    Lunch fare is a little more straightforward than dinner, where Blitz delves deeper in his quest to parry tangy with sweet, meaty with blips of acid and herbal notes.
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    Whether it's the monthly special theme dinners (I went last week to a middle-of-the-last-century dinner that was a hoot) or the regular menu of sophisticated, Southern-inflected New American cuisine, they aim for excellence.
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    A James Beard semifinalist in 2009, the majorly tattooed chef has set about ditching his burrito and taco past, taking the menu in a more upscale and globe-trotting direction.
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    Birch & Vine the jewel of Chuck Prather's new Birchwood inn. The sleek dining room is glamorous, and by all accounts the kitchen is a chef's dream of contemporary tools and toys.
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    Restaurant reviewing requires constantly eating someplace new, so I sometimes fantasize about having a regular spot where I could order "the usual" and the bartender would know my name.
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