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Order up: 3 Tampa Bay restaurants named among Florida’s most legendary

The local spots were selected by Southern Living.

A black and white photo of the signage outside Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. There are clouds above, and the iconic sign sits atop arches and pillars which surround the restaurant.

The Columbia Restaurant boasts a legendary tale.

It’s about time we re-named it the Sunshine Plate. Florida’s food scene is globally renowned, and as Southern Living put it, the state’s “iconic eateries serve as living landmarks of culture, history, and cuisine.”

On the magazine’s new list of Florida’s most legendary restaurants, three TBAY hotspots featured.

  • No surprises here. The Columbia Restaurant is the Sunshine State’s oldest eatery, opening in 1905. Its Ybor City location boasts 15 rooms + can host 1,700 diners, all chowing down on Spanish-Cuban cuisine. What we’re ordering: Florida’s best Cuban sandwich, the 1905 Salad, and a cup of Spanish bean soup.
  • South Tampa’s Bern’s Steak House also made the cut. With perfectly aged steaks in timeless surroundings, Bern’s serves as a unique culinary time capsule. What we’re ordering: A bottle of wine from the 500,000-strong selection, and a dessert in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. Any dessert.
  • St. Pete also got a shoutout, with Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish plating up Floridian charm since 1947. The family-run spot is Old Florida personified, is still cash only, and is famous for smoking fish over Florida red oak. What we’re ordering: Smoked mackerel and German potato salad.
An old-timey photo of Bern's Steak House taken around 1969. The white building is caked in sunlight, and its entryway has a car parked nearby.

This photo of Bern’s was taken around 1969.

Photo via Florida Memory

That got us thinking, which other TBAY restaurants deserve a place on the list?

  • City Editor Patrick believes Brocato’s Sandwich Shop is a worthy candidate. The East Tampa staple has fed locals superb deviled crab + Cuban sandwiches since 1948. ICYMI: Brocato’s recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Go grab a bite.
  • City Editor Bailey is a big fan of Pia’s Trattoria in Gulfport. The famed Italian eatery first opened its doors in 2006, at which time there were just eight tables to dine on pastas, paninis, and salads. Nowadays, we recommend a spot on the gorgeous patio with some chicken piccata, sour orange pie, and an espresso martini.

Which other local restaurants should have made the list? Let us know.

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