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The perfect dining guide for those new to the area or looking for an unfamiliar haunt.

click to enlarge TASTE OF TAMPA BAY: Don’t miss out on the truly delicious (and cheap) Viet-French cuisine at Alesia in St. Petersburg. - CHIP WEINER
TASTE OF TAMPA BAY: Don’t miss out on the truly delicious (and cheap) Viet-French cuisine at Alesia in St. Petersburg.

If you’re visiting, new to the area, or a curious resident, these are the places you’ve got to try. Whether it’s ethnic cuisine, modern dining, or old school Florida food, we’ve got you covered.

ALESIA RESTAURANT 7204 Central Ave., St. Pete, 727-345-9701, alesiarestaurant.com. A newer spot in St. Pete’s Pasadena neighborhood focused on casual French and Vietnamese cuisine. Serving everything from Vietnamese Pho and banh mi sandwiches, to croque monsieurs and crepes at prices that won’t hurt your wallet and will definitely keep you coming back for more.

CADDY’S ON THE BEACH 9000 W. Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-360-4993, caddysotb.com. This is one of Treasure Island’s hot spots for catching some rays (if you can find a spot to set up camp), enjoying a cold brew, people watching and partying. Live music is featured frequently; check the website’s calendar for event details.

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, 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, craft beers, boutique wines and artisanal cheeses. Don’t forget to stop by Foodie’s Market on the way out.

DOONERS 21 Third St. N, St. Pete, 727-623-4848, doonersus.com. Located in the spot formerly occupied by Athenian Garden in Downtown St. Pete, Dooners is an interesting mix of cuisines, serving fresh, made-to-order German- and Mediterranean-inspired salads and sandwiches with plenty of veg-friendly options. Great prices for fresh and healthy fare.

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 barbecue menu is also available. Listen to live music from various local acts several evenings a week.

FLY BAR 1202 N Franklin St, Tampa; 813-275-5000, flybarandrestaurant.com/tampa. Fly’s lounge menu, featuring gourmet small plates and desserts, is available until close (3 a.m. on most nights). The ropa vieja and roasted garlic frites would make for great pre-hangover fare.

FRENCHY’S ROCKAWAY GRILL Seven Rockaway St., Clearwater, 727-446-4844, frenchysonline.com. This is Frenchy’s largest location and offers daily live music from local musicians, two bars and lounge area. Happy hour is weekdays from 4-7 p.m. and features discounted drafts, pitchers, Wells and house wines. Check the website for beer of the month and bartender specials.

GEORGIE’S ALIBI 3100 Third Ave N, St. Pete. 727-321-2112, georgiesalibi.com/stpete. It’s a sports bar, it’s a restaurant, it’s a dance club! A restaurant by day that transforms into an alternative lifestyle club by night, Georgie’s offers an extensive menu of tasty finger foods, sandwiches, salads and homemade dinner specials late into the night. Great drink specials every day and the bartenders definitely don’t skimp on the liquor.

LA TERESITA 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa, 813-879-9704, lateresitarestaurant.com. Is there a better place for people-watching than that winding counter? Is there a better time for people-watching than late night? Best of all, the food is cheap, arrives fast and always comes with pressed Cuban bread. Open 24 hours on weekends.

MR. DUNDERBAK’S 14929 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, 813-977-4104, dunderbaks.com. This German beer garden and restaurant offer a wide selection of beers and sausages. Don’t forget to check out Mr. Dunderbak’s one-of-a-kind beer bottle collection.

MUNCH’S RESTAURANT AND SUNDRIES 3920 Sixth St. S, St. Pete, 727-896-5972, munchburger.com. A ’Burg staple and self-proclaimed “gossip center,” Munch’s has been serving South St. Pete since 1952 (and the prices probably haven’t changed drastically since then). From pancakes and burgers to spaghetti, this joint has it all. Open for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.

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.

TACO BUS #2 2324 Central Ave., St. Pete, tampatacobus.com. The sister to the original bus-turned-kitchen in Seminole Heights, serving freshly prepared, authentic Mexican fare — tacos, burritos, tamales, etc. Do yourself a favor, skip Taco Hell and head over here instead.

TRYST GASTRO LOUNGE 240 Beach Drive NE, 727-821-4567, trystgastrolounge.com. A chic hangout on Beach Drive’s restaurant row. The outdoor seating has a Chillounge-y feel.

YANNY’S 1258 S. Highland Ave., Clearwater, 727-446-5797, yannys.com. For a belated Thanksgiving-inspired breakfast, try the cranberry pancakes. If you’re into enormous portions, your best bet is “One Pancake,” which is “the size of a Frisbee and one inch thick.” Omelets are made with farm-fresh produce and the leanest of meats. Owners Sylvia and David are so confident that you will be pleased with your meal that it’s on them if you’re dissatisfied. Serving breakfast and lunch.

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