Local Luxury: Top Six Fine Dining Restaurants in Tampa, Florida
As a Tampa resident for over twenty years, I've had the gastronomical pleasure of experiencing these fine dining establishments. Trade those beach shorts for something more cosmopolitan, and come hungry.
Here's my rating scale: $$ - Comparatively Inexpensive. $$$ - More Expensive. $$$$ - Very Expensive. Upscale = dress nice. Chic = dress to kill.
4444 West Cypress Street, Tampa, 33607.
Upscale $$$$. Charley's has graced Tampa since 1974 with a quiet, sophisticated ambiance. The service is as upscale as the clothes. Everyone should be waited on like this at least once in their lives. Cozy and elegant, chandelier-decked setting. The specialties are mouth-watering cuts of steak and Surf & Turf.
Rated number 5 out of the Top 10 Steak Restaurants in the U.S. at Prime Top 10, a list of America's Finest USDA Prime Steakhouses & Restaurants.
Reservations not usually needed.
Mitchell's Fish Market
204 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, 33609.
Upscale $$$. Mitchell's is reminiscent of the classy mid-nineteenth and twentieth century 'men only' dining clubs. But women are allowed, of course. All varnished wood and frosted glass with some miniature ships on display. Mitchell's hasn't been in Tampa that long (several years), but it's made a name for itself. The broiled tilapia is succulent, for one. The seafood-many varieties obtained from one coast to the other-is always fresh, never frozen. A relaxed, classy ambiance. Reservations not needed.
The View at CK's
At the Marriott Hotel, Tampa International Airport
Upscale $$$. CK's is a Revolving Rooftop Restaurant. Step out of the elevator to see scenic views of Tampa Bay from ceiling-to-floor windows all around. The restaurant rotates slowly as you eat so you can see every angle. Terrific European-style service. There's a live piano bar after 8 pm weekends. Excellent meat, chicken and fish including the choice of a sushi bar and signature breads. Reservations are needed. If it's time to "pop the question", this is the perfect place.
The Capital Grille
International Mall, 2223 North West Shore Blvd, Tampa, 33607.
Upscale and Chic $$$. Located in the outdoor setting called "Bay Street" at Tampa's very hip International Mall, the Capital Grille is top-knotch for aged steaks, chops, seafood, desserts and wine. A modern, elegant restaurant. Stroll around afterward to show off the clothes you never get to wear, and to see all the other restaurants with outdoor seating and entertainment. Reservations highly suggested.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
219 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, 33609.
Upscale and Chic $$ - But you can come casually dressed if you don't mind being shown up. I first "met" Chang's in Las Vegas, and was thrilled when they opened in Tampa. This location is very popular for drinks and Asian-style dinner. It's known for two-hour waits without reservations. The majestic stone warrior horses at the front entrance are enough to impress. Chang's serves Chinese-Szechwan food in a beautiful setting with hand-painted oriental murals and dark shiny woods. Generous portions with some Gluten-free menu options. No MSG. Outdoor patio option with a cosmopolitan view of three other restaurants. Make that reservation 4-5 days in advance.
1208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, 33606.
Upscale to Formal $$$$. Bern's, in business here since 1956, is the place that airline employees will tell Tampa first-timers to go. The romantic fine-dining setting can sometimes be taken as over-the-top. Bern's is known for many foods, including Chateaubriand for Two and a shamelessly wide variety of caviar. They have close to 7,000 dinner wines and 1,000 dessert wines. Ask for the separate dessert room where flaming sweet goodies are featured. Reservations are needed.
(Disclosure of material connection: http://cmp.ly/0 - This writer has not received any compensation for reviewing these establishments, and has no material connection to those mentioned herein.)
This post was contributed via Seed.com, AOL's new platform for freelance writers.