Best Of 2011

BEST RESTAURANT: The Refinery

BEST RESTAURANT

It’s a classic tale of the little restaurant that could. After years in the catering biz, dabbling with blogging and an online cooking show, chef Greg Baker (above) and partner/wife Michelle Baker decided to open up their own place, focused more on their culinary philosophy than mass appeal. The result was The Refinery in Seminole Heights, a restaurant that uses local ingredients whenever possible, changes its menu weekly and serves the kind of food that chefs like to eat. It also happened to garner a semi-finalist spot on the James Beard Foundation’s nationwide Best New Restaurant list, as well as a cease-and-desist order from McDonald’s because of Baker’s take on a McRib. With the constant menu tweaks and the influx of new customers, the restaurant has had some consistency issues, but for some folks that’s part of the charm. Call me charmed. 5137 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-237-2000, thetamparefinery.com.