For this year’s Metro’s Best, we looked at some of the best hot spots in town. Between arts and entertainment venues, shopping boutiques and dining destinations, we have yet again found reasons why we are proud to call the Bay area home.
Arts & Entertainment
The Mahaffey Theater
Best Bayside Broadway
The Mahaffey Theater’s glass-walled lobby overlooks a spectacular view of the St. Petersburg waterfront. European style box seating set the stage for performances by The Florida Orchestra, Broadway shows and national touring musicians.
Call (727) 892- 5767 or visit www.mahaffeytheater.com.
Best Fame Factory
Six years running, children and adults have received training from theater professionals and artists, in disciplines ranging from performing arts to design and production. Call 813.222.1002 or visit www.patelconservatory.org.
Best Place For The Classics
Step back into time at Tampa’s landmark Tampa Theatre built in 1926. Enjoy black-and-white films and indie movies in the classic theater. For an extra treat, ask about a tour of the building. Call 813.274.8981 or visit www.tampatheatre.org.
St. Pete Times Forum
Best Multi-Use Venue
Whether hosting The Black Eyed Peas or giving those with hockey fever some relief, the Forum is definitely a multi-purpose venue. The Forum will be the home of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Call 813.300.6500 or visit www.sptimesforum.com.
The Florida Aquarium
Best Fish Tank
The Florida Aquarium hosts the most aquatic animals in one place in Tampa. A great place to see the sharks, fish, stingrays and seahorses and numerous kinds of sea life on display. Be sure to ask about meeting the penguins and feeding the sharks. Call 813.273.4000 or visit www.flaquarium.org.
Best Local Art Gallery
The Baisden Gallery features the best of contemporary glass artists, painters and photographers. The Gallery also displays sculptures, wall art and vases from more than a dozen artists, including Dale Chihuly. Call 813.250.1511 or visit www.baisdengallery.com.
David A. Straz, Jr. Center
Best Broadway In Our Backyard
See the latest in Broadway without having to hop a plane to New York. The Straz Center offers the best in theater experiences with a variety of artistic performances. Call 813.229.7827 or visit www.tbpac.org.
Morean Arts Center
Best Educational Art Center
Showcasing a variety of exhibitions, the opportunity to participate in visual arts classes including the upcoming glass blowing classes are offered for children and adults, and a great way to nurture undiscovered talents. Glass art fans will enjoy the upcoming Chihuly Collection opening in mid-July. Call 727.822.7872 or visit www.moreanartscenter.org.
Salvador Dalí Museum
Best Surreal Museum
St. Petersburg’s Salvador Dalí Museum hosts the most Dalí paintings outside of Spain. Family events, look-a-like contests and serious art discussions are part of the continual events the Museum hosts. Get surreal in the museum’s new location opening in January 2011. Call 727.823-3767 or visit www.salvadordalimuseum.org.
Museum of Fine Arts
Best Comprehensive Collection
Renowned artists such as Monet and Georgia O’Keefe are only a part of what this museum has to offer. Admire the Torso of Aphrodite marble sculpture from second century Rome or take in the sight of a shrine from 18th-cenutry India. Enjoy lunch in the café or a concert during the Summer Jazz series this summer. Call 727. 896.2667 or visit www.fine-arts.org.
The Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College
Best Local Theater
This is where the rising stars in the Bay area theater community reside. In addition to the continual line-up of stage performance, check out their Side Door Jazz series. Call 727.822.3590 or visit www.mypalladium.org.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Best Place to Let The Kids Go Wild
The zoo offers fun for the whole family. Lowry Park Zoo has 2,000 animals, ranging from bears, tigers and apes to giraffes, tropical birds and penguins on 56 acres in the heart of Tampa. Call 813.935.8552 or visit www.lowryparkzoo.com.
Best Beachfront Pool
Clearwater’s Sandpearl defines luxury at its best. The pool area offers a great view of the sands, shore and sunsets of Clearwater Beach. Reserve a room and escape right in town. Call 877.726-3111 or visit www.sandpearl.com.
Best Blank Canvas
This multi-purpose space encompasses both the historic and the modern. Whether you need an art gallery, a place for live music or anything else you can think of, this futuristic and classic venue will have what you need. Call 727.821.6682 or visit www.nova535.com.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Best Place For A Full House
In addition to the slots, roulette tables and card games, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino also has fine dining. Council Oak is worth a walk thru the casino. Call 866.502.PLAY or visit www.seminolehardrocktampa.com.
Best Flash Back Venue
If you want some fantastic seafood in a quirky environment, head to Skipper’s Smokehouse. Serving meals ranging from alligator and grouper to oysters and Mahi Mahi, this venue is one of the best places in the area to hear blues and roots music under the stars. Call 813.971-0666 or visit www.skipperssmokehouse.com.
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa
Best Walk On The Beach
The brand-new Hyatt offers one of the best places for those who like long walks on the beach. Across from the Beach Walk, the Hyatt offers great views. Call 727.373.1234 or visit www.clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com.
Tampa Bay Rays
Best Boys Of Summer
The Rays are bringing pride to area residents with one of the best records in baseball at press time. What better way to spend an evening or afternoon than to visit Tropicana Field and cheer on our Rays! Call 888.FAN.RAYS or visit www.raysbaseball.com.
Best Cosmo & a Movie
Enjoy a premium cocktail or enjoy the dinner menu as you catch one of the latest blockbuster movies. Call 813.514.8300 or visit www.cobbcinebistro.com.
Best Surfer Chic Hotel
The retro-chic, fun hotel is one of the trendiest spots on the beach. Rooms at this beach boutique hotel feature vintage lamps, surf photos and hip furniture. Head to the beach bar for a drink and soak in the sun and surf of St. Pete Beach. Call 727.367.2711 or visit
Tampa Museum of Art
Best Public Art
Tampa’s newly opened Tampa Museum of Art overlooks the Hillsborough River and neighbors a vibrant Curtis Hixon park. Between the Greek and Roman antiquities, the paintings and the exterior lighting of the building, this museum is the crown jewel of Tampa’s art culture. Call 813.274-8130 or visit www.tampamuseum.org.
Florida Holocaust Museum
Best Museum to Honor and Educate
The Florida Holocaust Museum honors those affected by the Holocaust, and also regularly educates about human rights issues affecting the world, and is vocal about global genocide awareness. Call 727.820.0100 or visit www.flholocaustmuseum.org.
(back to top)
Best Classic Dining
One of Tampa’s landmark restaurants, Bern’s Steakhouse offers everything from top-of-the-line steak to lighter foods in the Cave Du Fromage. For a nice treat, indulge in the sumptuous treats in the dessert room. Call 813.251.2421 or visit www.bernssteakhouse.com.
Best Romantic Dining
Enjoy a panoramic view of the city skyline and gourmet menu featuring Northern Italian cuisine. The antipasto bar offers fresh, delicious items of meats, vegetables and cheeses. The perfect spot for date night. Call 813.207.6800 or visit www.armanisrestaurant.com.
Best South Tampa Spot
Located in the heart of the SOHO district, this delicious restaurant serves up the best of Italy and the Pacific Rim. Owner Michael Stewart gives back to the community with monthly Celebrity Bartending Nights with proceeds going to charity. Call 813.250.1661 or visit www.seven17south.com.
Best Classic BBQ
For down-home Southern food in a comfortable environment, head to Kojak’s. Everything is homemade with the meat cooking for hours. Enjoy your meal on the veranda with a side of ice tea and don’t forget to save room for dessert. Call 813.837.3774 or visit www.kojaksbbq.com.
Marchand’s Bar & Grill
Best Special Occasion Dining
Try this elegant dining inside St. Petersburg’s luxurious and historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Ask about their prix fixe program in celebration of the resort’s 1925 opening. Reservations are recommended. Call 727.824.8072 or visit www.marchandsbarandgrill.com.
Pané Rustica Bakery & Cafe
Best Cafe for Baked Goods
Pané means bread in Italian. In Tampa, Pané Rustica means delicious baked goods. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, this eatery offers up tasty pizza, scones and focaccia. Call 813.902.8828 or visit www.panerusticabakery.com.
Best Foodie Fix
With more than 150 kinds of cheese and 20 style of bread, Datz lives up to its high-end sandwich status and so much more. The newly remodeled back bar offers great wines and beers on tap. Call 813.831.7000 or visit www.datzdeli.com.
The Café offers some of the best Lebanese food in town. In addition to the spicy home-style dishes, there is our favorite The Gyro Lunch. There is also an international market to shop. Ask about the belly dancers on the weekends! Call 813.805.7977 or visit www.bybloscafe.com.
Best California Casual Dining
Creative cuisine that is unique, but not fussy located at base of Signature Tower in downtown St. Pete. The Dr. Pepper ribs are a popular starter. Hip interior balances industrial-tech with natural materials. Outside patio offers view of the city. Call 727.822.9600 or visit www.zgrille.net.
Best Beach Bar On The Beach
Located right on the beach, this St. Petersburg restaurant offers beach bar food including fried seafood and wings. Escape from the hot sun with a cold drink. Call 727.368.9000 or visit www.undertowbeachbar.com.
Best Fast Food Burger
These burgers and fries joints have the President’s seal of approval. Five Guys uses fresh ground beef and has multiple locations throughout the Bay area. Call 866.345.GUYS or visit www.fiveguys.com.
Best Rooftop Deck
This locally owned restaurant is a great place to relax and catch local musicians. Located in the North Franklin Historic District, this trendy spot’s rooftop deck shows off the best of Tampa’s architecture. Call 813.274.5000 or visit www.flybarandrestaurant.com.
Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro
Best Waterfront Dining
Gaze at the boats sailing by on downtown St.Pete’s waterfront as you kick back, relax and enjoy dinner on the deck of Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro. Call 727.894.4429 or visit www.frescowaterfrontbistro.com.
Salt Rock Grill
The place to go for fresh, local seafood. Salt Rock Grill offers one of the best wine cellars on the beach and has a captivating view of the Gulf. Call 727.593.7625 or visit www.saltrockgrill.com.
Best Spanish Cuisine
An Ybor mainstay for over 105 years, this family-run restaurant offers the best of Spanish cuisine. Try the famous 1905 salad at Columbia’s Bistro at the Tampa History Museum. Call 813.248.4961 or visit www.columbiarestaurant.com.
Best Piano Bar
Ocean Prime, located near International Plaza, offers a large selection of prime seafood and salads, as well as cocktails and wines. The nightly piano bar is great entertainment and a prime spot for the South Tampa scene. Call 813.490.5288 or visit www.ocean-prime.com.
Best Mexican This Side of the Border
Red Mesa specializes in both Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. Try traditional favorites like chorizo, chipotle, poblanos and plantains. The homemade chips and salsa are a great starter. Call 727.527.8728 or visit www.redmesarestaurant.com.
Best New World Cuisine
Located in South Tampa, SideBern’s offers the best of the Mediterranean. The recently remodeled dining room is the perfect home for SideBern’s delicious offerings. Call 813.258.2233 or visit www.sideberns.com.
Pelagia Trattoria serves up the best of modern Italian cuisine using fresh ingredients in a classic setting created by Chef Farizio Schendari. Call 813.313.3235 or visit www.pelagiatrattoria.com.
Best Spot to Dock the Boat in Downtown Tampa
A great spot along the River Walk in downtown Tampa to pull up the boat and grab a snack or drink with friends. Also, pet friendly, so bring Rover and ask to see the Doggie Menu. Call 813.274.7317 or visit www.tampagov.net.
Mise en Place
Best Spot for Private Party
The new American cuisine by Chef Marty Blitz reflects the season and offers the opportunity to delight guests with an innovative menu. The lounge area is perfect for before-dinner cocktails. Call 813.254.5373 or www.miseonline.com.
Cassie American Brasserie
Best Place to be Seen
A new European-style brasserie finds a home in downtown St. Pete at the base of the Ovation town along Beach Drive. The décor of yellow walls and black and white checkered floor are reminiscent of an old Parisian diner. The outdoor seating is perfect for people watching. Call 727.827.2927 or visit www.cassisab.com.
Hula Bay Club
Best Place to Howl at the Moon
Say aloha to this relaxed eatery. Hula Bay offers some of the best local seafood, including shrimp, grouper and Hawaiian fish. Their burgers are also especially delicious. Don’t miss the monthly Howl at the Moon Party. Call 813.837.4852 or visit www.hulabayclub.com.
Best Mexican Grill
Formerly Mariposa’s, the company changed the name and kept the great food by chef-owner Rand and Tiffani Packer. Mekenita’s serves up tasty burritos and tacos. Call 813.264.1233 or visit
Best Home Cooked Meal
No need to worry about what’s for dinner when Dinner Done is in the freezer. Offering prepared meals to go or fix them in their kitchen, dinner is stress-free and delicious. Two locations Carrollwood 813.264.7700, Brandon 813.684.690 or visit www.dinnerdone.com.
Bahama Breeze Island Grille
Best Summer Cocktails
With a water view and outdoor patio, Bahama Breeze offers a great selection of summer drinks. Enjoy great live music on a hot afternoon with a cocktail of passion fruit mango chardonnay or pomegranate cranberry merlot. Call 813.289.7922 or visit www.bahamabreeze.com.
(back to top)
Shopping & Style
Kit’s Well-Heeled & Well-Dressed
Best Fashions With An Edge
In the heart of South Tampa on Swann Ave., Kit’s is opening at their new location in mid-July. From t-shirts and jeans to a cocktail dress, Kit’s is the place to shop. Call 813.250.1253 or visit
Best Neighborhood Boutique
Featuring classics as well as the latest contemporary styles of designer clothes, denim, accessories and shoes. For over 25 years, the South Tampa place to shop. Designer lines include Cambrio, Jagoda Kursa, Chic Mihara and Vicini. Call 813.259.1150 or visit www.deborahkents.com.
Best Stylish Home Designs
The eco-conscious can appreciate the organic elements and raw woods found among the simple, modern furniture and accessories in this chic design shop. Find the perfect gift or housewarming gift too. Call 727.822.6252 or visit www.shopbeing.com.
Best Fun, Flirty Fashions
Billed as a “unique boutique,” this fun little shop carries J Brand, BCBGMAXAZRIA and Anoname, among others. With all of these fashionable brands, you might even think you are in New York. Call 727.821.6905 or visit www.enjoytheshop.com.
Best Contemporary Couture Boutique
The best place in the Bay area to find couture clothing with fantastic service. Paradise Island carries labels like Tibi, Teri Jon and Ypsy. Pet friendly, there are usually a couple of dogs in the shop. Call 813.805.2060 or visit www.paradiseislandboutique.com.
The Pink Palm
Best Shop For Preppy Classics
For those who want to be chic and preppy, this boutique carries the best of Lilly Pulitzer, Jack Rogers and Lacoste. Call 813.259.9780 or visit www.pinkpalmflorida.com.
Georgette’s Boutique & Shoe Salon
Best Cocktail Dress
Whether looking for a prom dress or the perfect black tie gown, for a night on the town, Georgette’s has the dress selection for you. Paint the town red! Call 813.254.1141 or visit www.georgettesfashions.com.
Best Local Jewelry Designer
Creative hand-crafted jewelry designs inspired from travels around the world. Colorful semi-precious gems make statement pieces. Available at Deborah Kent’s in Tampa. Call 813.992.5395 or visit www.meredithhawsjewelry.com.
Best Ahead-of-the-Trends Boutique
This Pinellas Park clothing company features designs by Liquid Metal, LTB Jeans, Custo Barcelona, Milly, Otazu and more. Find the perfect outfit and all your friends will ask where did you get that? Call 727.545.4900 or visit www.parisisabella.com.
Best Eclectic Furnishings
Snag the quirkiest furnishings around at Casa Nova. The shop offers home interiors, art, gifts and more. Neither too trendy nor too traditional. Call 813.837.8282 or visit www.shopcasanova.com.
Best Place to Add Charm
Discover the classics with a modern twist to complete or update any room in your home at Magnolia in Old Hyde Park. Home and garden treasures by Jonathan Adler, Jill Schwartz, Dransfield, Mariposa and more. Call 813.254.3337 or visit www.magnoliastyle.com.
Best Stylish Accessories
Whether you need the perfect pair of shoes or the perfect earrings, this stylish boutique has the small touches to bring any outfit together. The exclusive boutique for Virgin Saints and Angels. Call 813.902.0500 or visit www.lovethatonline.com.
The Silver Queen
Best Place to Complete the Set
Get all manner of flatware, crystal and china at The Silver Queen. From goblets to juleps and chests to candle ware, The Silver Queen is one of Tampa’s best. Bridal and gift registries are also available. Call 727.581.6827 or visit www.silverqueen.com.
Best Local Lingerie Boutique
Ooh la la! Looking for something sexy and fun? Stop at Maison Rouge in downtown St. Petersburg for fun and flattering undergarments available to spice up any occasion. Call 727.898.8400 or visit www.maisonrouge.com.
Best Place for a Dog to have his Day
Shop for some of the best collars, bowls and other pooch accoutrements around. Downtown Dogs carries organic and natural dog treats, play toys and dog beds for your dog to spend the dog days of summer in style.Call 813.250.3647 or visit www.shopdowntowndogs.com.
(back to top)
Health & Beauty
Red Bamboo Medi Spa
Best Aesthetic Enhancements
The board-certified doctors of Red Bamboo will do everything to make sure you look your best. Red Bamboo’s The Smart Lipo liposuction program improves all areas of the body and brings confidence to the mind. Call 727.726.6100 or visit www.redbamboomedispa.com.
Somers Salon & Spa
Best Place for a Makeover
Start all over at Somers Salon & Spa. If you are looking to reinvigorate your look, be sure to head to Somers. Between the hair treatments and pedicures, you are covered from head to toe. Call 727.726.8181 or visit www.somerssalonandspa.com.
Glow Day Spa
Best Spa Skincare Line
Begin your visit with a personalized skin analysis at this great spa. Follow it up with an herbal steam, and finish your visit with an exfoliation and facial message. Call 813.832.8000 or visit
Best Non-Surgical Treatments
Let the doctors at the Vein Center take care of your aging lines with non-invasive treatments. Some of the procedures available include skin smoothing and laser hair removal. Call 888.434.9192 or visit www.veincentertampa.com.
Best Place for LA-Style Cut
If you go to Salon Jack, people may think you just came back from a trip to the City of Angels! Salon Jack offers men and women’s haircuts that include a free consultation, shampoo and blow dry. Call 813.831.8955 or visit www.salonjack.com.
Pia’s Esthetics Day Spa
Best Spa for Waxing
Shaving is out. Waxing is in. The wax professionals at Pia’s can help you stay smooth with their specialty of a Brazilian wax. Offering additional spa services including massage, manicures and pedicures. Call 813.831.2418 or visit www.bypia.com.
After Hours Pediatrics
Best Late Night Kid Care
After Hours Pediatrics helps when you need to take your child to the doctor and it’s after normal hours. Open late 365 days a year. Call 877.538.0005 or visit www.afterhourspediatrics.com.
Best Relaxation Spa
Relax and unwind with European style massages, pedicures and facials in the charming 1920s bungalow on MacDill Avenue in Tampa. Enjoy treatments inside or out. Call 813.835.9549 or visit www.spajardin.com.
Best European-Style Spa
Located in New Tampa, this spa is a
hidden gem. Try the chocolate indulgence massage or pedicure with the caviar treatment. Call 813.971.4772 or visit www.spamoritz.com.
Compiled by By Ronda M. Parag and Evan Tokarz
(back to top)