Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm Shocked...Simply Shocked

Urbanspoon has just published their list of Top New Restaurants of 2013 – US Edition. Two...just two Florida cities landed on that list, and just like last year, neither of those cities happen to be in Tampa Bay. Actually, that neither shocks nor surprises me. Many times I have suggested that this area lacks creativity and originality, or to put it in more polite terms, the Tampa area is the gastronomic armpit of the world.

So, who did make the list?


Another interesting tidbit offered by Urbanspoon that will undoubtedly be ignored by many restaurateurs in this area is this: "Expensive, fine dining was not popular again this year, with over 70% of our list falling in the $ (>$10) and $ ($10-15) price ranges on Urbanspoon. Restaurateurs are tapping into their traditional culinary skills, but presenting them in a casual, approachable style. Foams, French Champagne (unfortunately!), and tasting menus are out and barbeque and bourbon are in."

To experience restaurants in that 70% range the Oracle has been obliged to leave town for cities like Atlanta and New Orleans. Both cities made the Urbanspoon list and both have a plethora of acclaimed restaurants.

So, where do we dine in this part of the world? Looking at Urbanspoon Tampa Bay it appears that we dine at every Burger King, McDonald's, hole-in-the-mall pizza joint and sandwich shop that we can find. We rave over wings, food trucks and Publix Deli's, and some local foodies seem to love posting mouth-watering pictures of empty parking lots. Many of the so-called high end restaurants are high only in price while serving sub-par food because, as everyone around these parts knows, high prices mean high quality.

There are a few really spectacular restaurants in the Tampa area...really way too few. I have high hopes that one day Tampa Bay will land on the Urbanspoon Top Restaurants list, but 2013 is not our year.

If it was up to me, these are a few local restaurants that should have made the list:

Editor's Update 11/21/2013 at 6 PM: I may have to lighten up on Tampa Bay just a bit and suggest that Urbanspoon needs to reevaluate their standards for restaurant ratings.

I went to the websites and/or Facebook pages for each of the Florida restaurants that were included in the Top Restaurants listings. After perusing the menus and the blogger/reviewer comments, I didn't see anything that came close to the uniqueness or quality of the Tampa Bay restaurants that I suggested should have been included.

If those restaurants in Miami and Orlando are the best that Urbanspoon can come up with, then I think Urbanspoon needs to be rethinking their process.

I still stand by my opinion that too many Tampa Bay restaurants are simply boring. When dozens of menus are carbon copies, then there is a problem. As a consumer, why should I go to your to-die-for venue when there are a slew of places, much closer, who are serving essentially the same thing?

Personally, I am real tired of ahi tuna, mussels, and calamari.


  1. Ha! You beat me to Calamari! Carpaccio is beginning to hang around past its shelf-life as well, IMO. I like your list, too (except for Copperfish...which is really the only one that opened in 2013, right?).

    I am finding that more and more of my faves are NOT in Hillsborough county. I've had some of my most exquisite dining experiences over the past couple of years at The Black Pearl (Dunedin), Pearl (Treasure Island), Cafe Ponte (Clearwater) and Beach Bistro (Anna Maria Island). Oh, and let's not forget our little Gulf Bistro on Madeira Beach. None of them ever seem to get a bit of "buzz". I guess you have to shill your way to Urbanspoon's "Talk of the Town" list.

    I will say that the Smiling Bison menu has me ready to take a little road trip.

    1. I have to agree with you Sweet Polly, the Pinellas side of the bay does seem to be outdoing the Hillsborough County side. And, let us not forget Middle Grounds...also on Gulf Boulevard.

      Did you notice that I didn't include Datz or Datz Dough...the two most talked about venues the world has ever seen? Hmmm, was that a tad tacky?

  2. I figured that went without saying. Apparently, Datz is right up there with The French Laundry. ;)

  3. If Anonymous wishes to see his comment, he can go to the other web site where he posted the same thing. He should also look up the word "sarcasm" and try to understand the meaning. I will not post comments from idiots.