Living in Tampa Bay, we can take advantage of outdoor dining options during the winter months that those in, say, Boston wouldn’t even dream of until May. So on the next beautiful March day or evening, enjoy the mild climate (before it becomes unbearable) while savoring a delicious meal at one of these restaurants with outdoor seating.
400 BEACH SEAFOOD AND TAP HOUSE 400 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 727-896-2400, 400beachseafood.com. A huge range of sea-going cookery with an inviting patio next to the Chihuly Collection.
ANNASTELLA CAJUN BISTRO 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 727-498-8978, annastellacajunbistro.com. You need beignets and cafe au lait but you can’t make it to N’Awlins? Here’s a good substitute.
ANTHONY’S COAL-FIRED PIZZA 13020 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa, 813-265-2625, anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com. Specializing in specialty gourmet pizza and Italian soul food. This eco-friendly establishment cooks its pizza and roasted wings in an 800-degree coal-burning oven, fueled with super-clean, “green” anthracite coal.
A TASTE FOR WINE 241 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-895-1623, tasteforwine.net. A lovely wine bar perched above the passing throngs on Central.
THE AVENUE 330 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-851-9531, theavenuedtsp.com. A wide array of specialty burgers, sandwiches and snacks, conveniently located in walking distance of World of Beer (and the brand new Wood-Fired Pizza!)
BELLA BRAVA 204 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 727-895-5515, bellabrava.com. Slick yet unfussy Italian fare at a prime see-and-be-seen location on Beach Drive.
CARMEL CAFÉ AND WINE BAR 2548 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, 727-724-4228, carmelcafe.com. Enjoy dishes of modern Mediterranean cuisine and glasses of fine wine while listening to live music. Carmel offers several weekly events, including Tuesday Trilogy (trios of wine) and Wine Wednesdays (two featured wines) and Sunday Prix-Fixe Dinner for Two. Or, visit earlier in the day for weekend brunch.
CASA TINA 369 Main St., Dunedin, 727-734-9226, casatinas.com. Visit “Tina’s house” when you’re craving Mexican food in a charming downtown setting. Animal stock and lard are nowhere to be found in the dishes at this vegan-friendly destination. But don’t despair, meat lovers. Order Arroz Cabezon and get a double-dose of meat (pork and chicken). Enjoy organic, free-range eggs in one of the brunch selections.
CASSIS AMERICAN BRASSERIE 170 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, 727-827-2927, cassisab.com. A lively urban French brasserie with classy outdoor seating under rows of umbrellas.
CEVICHE TAPAS BAR AND RESTAURANT 2500 W. Azeele St., Tampa, 813-250-0203, ceviche.com. Check out this new location, just minutes from the SoHo nightlife scene. Enjoy live music on the poolside patio while munching on tapas and sipping on sangria (what else?). If you’re a total tapas fanatic, take advantage of Tapas Tuesday specials, featuring $4 items. Lunch menu is now available Monday through Friday. Daily happy hour and weekend brunch are offered as well.
DATZ 2616 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-831-7000, datzdeli.com. A gastropub with a big-city vibe, featuring regional comfort food selections, in addition to craft beer, boutique wine and artisanal cheese. Don’t forget to stop by Foodie’s Market on your way out.
ELLA’S AMERICANA FOLK ART CAFÉ 5119 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, 813-234-1000, ellasfolkartcafe.com. Folk art is a main attraction for folks visiting this funky food establishment. Visit on a lazy Sunday for Soul Food Sunday, and select from items such as Muddy Water Crawfish and fried catfish. If you’re not in a soulful mood, Kansas City-style barbeque menu is also available. Listen to live music from various local acts several evenings a week.
GREEK TOWN GRILLE 1230 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-447-7800, greektown-grille.com. In the heart of downtown Clearwater is this authentic Greek restaurant, owned by the Karamountzos family. For a twist on traditional French Fries, try the Greek Fries, which are covered with feta cheese.
LIVING ROOM 487 Main St., Dunedin, 727-736-5202, thelivingroomonmain.com. The fare here is better than most people consume in their own living room. Living Room’s menu features cuisines from around the globe, with small and large portions to accommodate every appetite. Experience a culture clash by pairing Chicken Tagine, a Moroccan dish, with Grilled Grape Leaves wrapped with goat cheese, a Greek appetizer. Brunch is also available.
MOON UNDER WATER 332 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 727-896-6160, themoonunderwater.com. You will be able to gaze at the moon (but not under water) at this prime spot on Beach Drive. Downtown is just a few steps away, so enjoy one of the trademark curry dishes or British specialties, such as British Bangers and Mash and head to one of the nearby bars. Or, kick back with a cocktail and people watch. Express lunch menu is available Monday through Friday until 5 p.m., perfect for downtown employees.
PARKSHORE GRILL 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 727-896-3463, parkshoregrill.com. Fine steaks and seafood in a prime people-watching spot on Beach Drive.
RED MESA CANTINA 128 Third St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-896-8226, redmesacantina.com. Located seconds from popular nightspots such as Push, this is an excellent spot to hit before a night out on the town, or the morning after. Try the Chorizo Burrito with Chihuahua cheese during weekend brunch. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3-7 p.m. Owner Peter Vetyia also owns Red Mesa in St. Petersburg.
THE REFINERY 5137 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-237-2000, thetamparefinery.com. This dinner and brunch destination obtains its ingredients from local farmers, and ethical suppliers, whenever possible. The menus change weekly, every Thursday night. All items, from the sausage to the salad dressing, are made on the premises. The Rooftop Deck is quite popular, and serves the full menu. While sipping your favorite beverage at the bar, you can enjoy an item from the limited menu.
TRYST GASTRO LOUNGE 240 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 727-821-4567, trystgastrolounge.com. A chic hangout on Beach Drive’s restaurant row. The outdoor seating has a Chillounge-y feel.