Welcome to the Best of The Bay 2019

Our yearly issue celebrating the best Tampa Bay has to offer.

The 29th annual Best of the Bay issue is here. So are E-scooters, Sparkman Wharf, and a new mayor of Tampa. Even the Rays stuck around — and hell, the St. Pete Pier is almost done, too.

Please know that all the trees our paper provider killed to make this behemoth of an issue possible did not become newsprint in vain. My hope is that what you’re reading will become your guide to a year spent exploring this place we all love calling home.


I know that these pages are full of more Reader Picks than I can remember.

That’s because you all suggested what felt like at least a thousand categories, which we then culled down to just over 300 before our readers (plus their friends and family members) voted on them for weeks on end. This issue includes the winners of that poll, and it holds close to 200 Critic Picks which find our staff and longtime contributors reminiscing on so much of what made 2019 worth living.

Some things have changed at this office since last year, and even more has changed in your neighborhoods. The country at large, well, that’s another story altogether. What remains — and what always has — are the vibrant community members who continue to make this issue possible not just by voting, but by being out there running businesses, making art and sticking their necks out for the things that they believe in. It’s because of you that this issue exists.

Some of you provide us escape in the theater, a music venue, or on gallery walls. Others feed us mouthwatering dishes, and a few more at some of the nonprofits recognized feed our neighbors who don’t have the privilege of being excited about reading a Best of the Bay issue. A few of you are our elected officials who might’ve hung us out to dry or someone who held an umbrella over our heads when it was proverbially pouring rain.

Every single one of us is connected, whether we like it or not, and our job at CL is one of the best in the Bay area because we get to try to capture it all as it happens.

Thanks for helping us take note of what’s been great (and not so great) about the last year, Tampa Bay. We can’t wait to begin doing it with you, for the 30th year in a row, starting right now. —Ray Roa

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