Splurge-worthy restaurants

Dining Guide

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click to enlarge Max & Sam's menu based on steakhouse classics that fits the elegant throwback vibe of the place. - James Ostrand
James Ostrand
Max & Sam's menu based on steakhouse classics that fits the elegant throwback vibe of the place.

CL regularly presents focused listings of the best dining options in Tampa Bay. This week we're giving you a guide to restaurants worth splurging on.

BERN'S STEAK HOUSE 1208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, bernssteakhouse.com. Despite the throwback bordello-esque interior, Bern's is a Tampa Bay classic and not to be missed. The quality food and service is well worth the price tag. Don't pass up visiting the Dessert Room!

CAFE PONTE 13505 Icot Blvd., Suite 214, Clearwater, 727-538-5768, cafeponte.com. The artfully crafted food and tranquil atmosphere make for a very memorable dining experience. Café Ponte is a great spot for celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Keep an eye out for celebrity diners who are in town doing stints at nearby HSN.

THE CAPITAL GRILLE 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, 813-902-2911, thecapitalgrille.com. A chain steakhouse without the chain feel, Capital Grille's classy interior alone makes one feel guilty for donning the usual Florida attire of shorts and flip-flops. And rightly so, because with their perfectly cooked dry aged steaks, remarkable wine list, accommodating service and classy atmosphere, one should feel almost compelled to get all gussied up when paying them a visit.

MARCHAND'S BAR AND GRILL 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Pete (inside the Renaissance Vinoy), marchandsbarandgrill.com. Even though they're known for their indulgent Sunday brunch, Marchand's is definitely worth a visit for an elegant dinner experience. The refined menu is a mixture of Mediterranean and Floribbean influences, the wine list is fairly extensive and the service is attentive without being overbearing.

MALIO'S PRIME STEAKHOUSE 400 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, 813-223-7746; maliosprime.com. Meat is the star at Malio's, which offers USDA Prime beef, plus fresh seafood and a selection of over 300 wines at the iconic Rivergate, aka the Beercan Building.

MARITANA GRILLE 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach (inside the Don CeSar Beach Resort), 727-360-1881, loewshotels.com. This is about as fine dining as you can find in the beachside areas of Tampa Bay. The modern fare keeps with the restaurant's theme of New American cuisine with Mediterranean and Floribbean accents. Prepare to drop some serious dough for a night out at Maritana Grille, but the experience will make it worthwhile.

MAX AND SAM'S BAR AND GRILL 1700 Park St. N, St. Pete, 727-360-6525. There's food, sure, a full menu based on steakhouse classics that fits the elegant throwback vibe of the place. And though the bar is the focus at Max and Sam's, the food can hold its own well enough to fortify visitors before a night of low-key dancing in back.

MISE EN PLACE 442 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 110, Tampa, 813-254-5373, miseonline.com. Twenty-five years old and still going strong, Mise is elegant without being pretentious, offering fine dining with a creative edge.

OCEAN PRIME 2205 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, 813-490-5288, ocean-prime.com. Ocean Prime is a gorgeous place that feels more like an entertainment complex than a restaurant. You also may forget the steaks and seafood that form the core of the menu, especially after downing one of the innovative and expertly constructed cocktails on the Ocean Prime martini list.

PARKSHORE GRILL 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Pete, 727-896-9463, parkshoregrill.com. Parkshore's menu is built around a core of classic steakhouse fare — meat and fish and a variety of large sides meant for sharing — many utilizing local, organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.

THE PENTHOUSE CLUB 1801 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, 813-288-9200, thepenthouseclubtampa.com. A place you can enjoy a perfectly cooked steak while watching topless women dance on stage. The prices are steep, but nothing comes cheap here (in every sense of the word). The à la carte side dishes are worth trying by themselves, especially the to-die-for jalapeño au gratin potatoes.

ROY'S 4342 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 813-873-7697, roysrestaurant.com. If Hawaiian fusion is your game, then Roy's has a luau for you. Roy Yamaguchi has planned a wonderful menu combining some classic (as well as some lesser-known) Hawaiian dishes with contemporary North American tastes. The next time you're feeling like you ought to "pass the poi" (and drop $170 on dinner), stop at Roy's.

SALT ROCK GRILL 19325 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-593-7625, saltrockgrill.com. While the menu is simple, consisting of a raw bar selection, in-house aged steaks and fresh seafood cooked over the open wood fire grill, it's the gorgeous view of the Intercoastal that makes this spot worth visiting.

SIDEBERN'S 2208 W. Morrison Ave., Tampa, 813-258-2233, sideberns.com. SideBern's has a decadent six-course tasting menu that changes with the seasons as SideBern's Chef Chad Johnson utilizes local and sustainable sources whenever possible. But if you can't find someone to take you to dinner, the lounge menu boasts items such as spiny lobster lettuce wraps and Catalan tuna tacos averaging $8 a piece.

TEXAS DE BRAZIL CHURRASCARIA 4112 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 813-871-1400, texasdebrazil.com. Texas de Brazil sets itself apart from other Brazilian steakhouses with its attentive service, sleek bar area and attractive (albeit noisy) Moorish-style dining room complete with wrought-iron fixtures. No room for dessert? Take a pick from the cigar menu and enjoy a stogie and glass or port on the spacious patio.

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