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December 15, 2018

Top 200 Restaurants - Introduction

Robert W. Tolf | 2/1/1999
Price Key

Price of complete dinners for two, including appetizer, entree and dessert (excluding drinks and tips): $ = Less than $40; $$ = $40 to $60; $$$ = $60 to $80; $$$$ = More than $80

Top 20 Best New Restaurants In Florida

Ashley Street Grill
Radisson Riverwalk
200 N. Ashley St.
Tampa 813/223-2222
Executive chef Kurt Taylor has an enviable reputation as pampering practitioner of New American Cuisine, emphasizing not only freshness and local ingredients but also reductions to extract the essence of natural flavors to flatter his meats and seafood.
Dinner: $$$

Blue Gardenia
231 Main St.
Safety Harbor 727/712-0645
Tom and Emily Golden have magically elevated a simple storefront into a bloom of beauty, an eclectic kind of trattoria. Start with eggplant soufflé cheesecake and end with brandy-spiked tiramisu, ordering anything in between. Dinner: $$

China Grill Cafe and Zen Sum
Las Olas Riverfront
300 S.W. First Ave.
Fort Lauderdale 954/462-9006
Modified clone of SoBe's over-achieving China Grill, with robotic carts, pizzas with pizazz and a conveyor belt bar loaded with freshly assembled Asian fusion fare. Lunch and dinner: $$

The Fisherman
551 E. Palmetto Park Rd.
Boca Raton 305/391-0000
Fort Lauderdale's famous Fisherman who first landed in 1970 is back on shore with the same owners and a super executive chef, Joseph Reuter, who has a great menu of sensational salads, peerless pastas, giant shrimp scampi, crab-crawfish griddle cakes, seafood jambalaya and mouth-stretching sandwiches. Lunch and dinner: $$

Grand Finale
1101 1st Ave. N.
St. Petersburg 727/823-9921
Before you define the name at dessert time, spoon into a bounty of fresh-brewed soups -- the pumpkin bisque is heavenly -- followed by a slab of seared top grade sushi tuna or the porterhouse pork chop delivered by a great staff that's all smiles.
Lunch and dinner: $$

Hot Chocolates Restaurant
& Nite Club
3101 N. Federal Hwy.
Oakland Park-Fort Lauderdale 954/564-5552
Master chef Ulrich Koepf returned to
the scene of previous triumphs and in snazzy setting with great service hits the same high ground with veal, duck, seafood and outrageous desserts. Dinner: $$

Jackson's Bistro
601 S. Harbor Island Blvd.
Tampa 813/277-0339
Leading light of riverfront resurrection complete with patio, reasonably priced wines, excellent selection of sushi and the likes of Ahi tuna bathed in pepper. Lunch and dinner: $$

Jillian's Bistro & Piano Bar
13575 58th St.
Clearwater 727/538-7776
Chef-owner Robert Masson moved here from Tarpon Springs where his Masson's restaurant was one of last year's Top 20 Newcomers, and he's collecting the same kind of kudos for his salads, cashew-coated tuna, and portobellos layered with parmesan and provolone. Lunch and dinner: $$

Joe Allen
1787 Purdy Ave.
Miami Beach 305/531-7007
One of my favorite pre and post theater stops in Manhattan made it all the way to SoBe thanks to partners Lauren Bacall and Tommy Tune, and it has all the appeal of the parent with great salads, pizzas, meat loaf and lamb shank and a staff that just might be the friendliest in Greater Miami. Lunch and dinner: $$

Matthew's at San Marco
2107 Hendricks Ave.
San Marco, Jacksonville
904/396-9922
Sensational chef Matthew Madure, multi-award winner at Amelia Island's Ritz-Carlton, joined forces with brothers Jack and David to create this jewel with changed-nightly menus fusing the cuisines of the world.
Dinner: $$$

Maui Grill
5022 N. Federal Highway
Lighthouse Point 954/571-7788
The happiest of Hawaiian havens with chefs Kalani and Stuart Hirsch ranging across the Pacific Rim and our 50th state's "upcountry" for inspiration and ingredients, including some of the wines. Lunch and dinner: $$

Max's Grille
Las Olas Riverfront
300 S.W. 1st Ave.
Fort Lauderdale 954/779-1800
A sophisticated refuge in the heart of the bustling complex of food, flicks and fun, specializing in the same kind of salads, pastas, grilled entrees and great breads found in other outlets with Max in the name. Lunch and dinner: $$

Old Calypso
900 E. Atlantic Ave.
Delray Beach 305/279-2300
The same team responsible for Boynton Beach's Banana Boat and the pair of Fifth Avenue Grills in Delray Beach and Lighthouse Point opened this Caribbean plantation house with executive chef Joe Calandro, an 18-year veteran of the group, in charge of a menu sparkling with such gems as fried green tomatoes, crawfish croquettes and cornmeal-coated catfish. Lunch and dinner: $$

Palm Grill Key West
16145 Biscayne Blvd.
North Miami 305/949-8448
Key West's loss was Miami's gain when owners Wayne King and Michael Gallagher, alums of Manhattan's Quilted Giraffe, moved with chef Willis Loughhead, who's defining with brilliance what he has labeled "Modern Global Cuisine." Dinner: $$$$

Purple Rooster
1096 Old Highway 98 C 102A
Destin 850/650-8999
Chef-owner Jeffrey McDonald is a make-from-scratch perfectionist, veteran of the area's incomparable Harbor Restaurant Group and skilled in the fine art of fusing Asian and California, French and Mediterranean experience and exposure. Service and spectacular gulffront setting measure up to his menu. Dinner: $$$

Redwoods Restaurant
247 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg 727/896-5118
Christmas gift to downtown St. Petersburg from Emmanuel Roux and Frank Bouvard of the Garden restaurant, complete with bakery, sushi bar and a Hawaiian chef who's a master of his state's "lau lau" banana leaf cooking, adding that to the other tastes and techniques from the Pacific Rim. Dinner: $$

Reed's River House
301 S.W. 3rd Ave.
Fort Lauderdale 954/525-7661
The century-old setting provides the best possible surrounds for the Carolina and coastal Low Country cuisine -- she-crab soup, fried black-eyed pea cakes, jalapeño-spiked chicken, Savannah red rice and watermelon relish. Lunch and dinner: $$$

Restaurante Botin
2101 Coral Way
Miami 305/856-6030
Madrid's parent Botin is listed in Guiness as the oldest restaurant in the world, and now it has one of the youngest, a baby Botin where the roast lamb and suckling pig are as slow roasted delicious as they've been in Plaza Mayor's Sobrino de Botin for three centuries.
Lunch and dinner: $$

Seagar's
Sandestin Beach Hilton
Sandestin 850/622-1500
Downtown dining at its prime steak house finest from the eye-popping prologue to the grand climax soufflés, with lobster monsters and gargantuan porterhouses, Dover sole and Caesar salads prepared tableside.
Dinner: $$$$

Tuscan Steak
431 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach 305/534-2233
Yet another successful spinoff from the ambitious China Grill across the street, this one more SoBe mod than Florentine, featuring humungous portions of pasta and beef -- order the "piu grande" T-bone for a real eye-popper. Lunch and dinner: $$$$

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