Favorite New Restaurant
1. The LIVING ROOM
2. The Grill at Morris Bridge
3. Miller’s Ale House
4. Carrabba’s Italian Grill
5. Chuck Lager America’s Tavern
One of the most anticipated new restaurant openings in Wesley Chapel in 2022 was the opening of the second location of Dunedin favorite The Living Room in the Shops at Wiregrass.
And, it would appear that our readers were not disappointed, as The Living Room (see ad on pg. 26) dominated the “Favorite New Restaurant in New Tampa & Wesley Chapel” category in this year’s survey, despite (because of?) the opening of so many new places to eat at The KRATE Container Park at The Grove.
Obviously, the locals are enjoying the food, craft cocktails and ambience owners Christina and Zach Feinstein (with scissors above) have brought to Wesley Chapel.—GN
1. FIRST WATCH
2. The Brunchery
4. Keke’s Breakfast Café
5. Cracker Barrel
We thought the addition to the Wesley Chapel and New Tampa area of more local breakfast joints the past few years might make repeating as Favorite Breakfast a tough task for perpetual survey champ First Watch.
Well, we were wrong.
First Watch’s breakfast, brunch and lunch items continue to be popular with our readers. From avocado toast to pancakes (banana nut crunch, yum!) to omelettes, frittatas and skillet hashes, you can throw a dart at the breakfast menu and hit something delicious, decadent and healthy or indulgent. And, you can wash it all down with a Kale Tonic, Morning Meditation fresh juice or even a Bloody Mary or Mimosa. — JC
2. Provisions Coffee & Kitchen
3. Bean Bar Co.
4. Dunkin’ Donuts
5. Coffee Speaks & Tea Talks
We’d be lying if we told you that we thought Starbucks had the best coffee around, but what they do offer is unmatched — a variety of hot and cold coffees, mochas, lattés and frappuccinos with never-ending options.
Because of that variety, ordering drinks at Starbucks is truly an art form. Order just a plain old cup of hot coffee and you have a choice of 20 syrups (sugar cookie syrup? Yes, please!) or sauces to add to it, eight different sweeteners and 10 different kinds of milk — like soy, oat, almond and coconut (and you can get any of them steamed…or not.)
That may not be for everyone, but try telling that to the lines of folks in every Starbucks drive-thru. — JC
1. NOTHING BUNDT CAKES
2. Crumbl Cookie
4. Bakery X
5. Urban Sweets
Sometimes, a restaurant or eatery can get caught up in trying to do too much.
But, that’s not the case at Nothing Bundt Cakes. It does bundt cakes and nothing but (duh!). Delicious, moist, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cakes.
Since opening at the Shops at Wiregrass in 2017, Nothing Bundt Cakes has been a perennial favorite in our dessert category, previously winning top honors in 2018.
You can choose between 11 flavors (including one gluten-free) in different sizes — bite-sized bundtinis, mini bundtlets or special-order full-sized bundt cakes — and, well, boom: perfection. — JC
1. TWISTEE TREAT
2. Ice Dreammm Shop
3. Bruster’s Real Ice Cream
4. Cold Stone Creamery
It should probably come as no surprise that an ice cream place that is actually shaped like an ice cream cone would be our readers’ Favorite Frozen Dessert, unseating last year’s winner — the Ice Dreammm Shop.
Twistee Treat has locations in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, and serves up 30 different flavors of soft-serve ice cream in cups and cones, dipped and topped with more than a dozen different kinds of cookies and candy. It also makes Waffle Tacos, Cookiewiches and sundaes to order. The twirl ice cream cones are a favorite of customers.
What truly separates Twistee Treat from the rest, however, is the convenience of the drive-thru, especially when you have a carload of kids. The “big ice cream cone building” is great for making visits quick and hassle free. — JC
Favorite Indian Restaurant
3. Ice Spice
Due to the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel’s ever-growing Indian population, as well as the slew of new Indian restaurants popping up in the area over the past few years, we decided this would be a good time to add a Favorite Indian Restaurant category, and we’re not that surprised that Minerva is our first winner — and only three Indian places garnered enough votes to even make our list.
Minerva, located in the New Tampa Center at the corner of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and New Tampa Blvd., opened in June 2016, and many instantly became fans of the restaurant’s authentic Indian flavors, ambiance and lunch buffet (photo, right).
Minerva tries to hit all the right notes with its popular butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and chicken, goat/lamb, fish and vegetable biryani (mixed rice) dishes. Be sure to check out the biryani specials Thursdays and Sundays and, of course, the impressive lunch buffet for dine-in only.
The oven-baked garlic naan is always a favorite, and Minerva offers a host of Indian drinks (including beers) and desserts. — JC
1. HUNGRY GREEK
2. Little Greek
3. Acropolis Greek Taverna
4. Cafe Zorba
5. El Prince Mediterranean
Although it hasn’t won this category every year we’ve asked our readers to tell us their favorite restaurants, The Hungry Greek on Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Wesley Chapel has never finished lower than second in this suddenly-more-competitive category.
And, there’s a good reason for that: Hungry Greek offers a consistently good product — from gyro sandwiches to kabobs to Greek salads — all at always-fair prices with outstandingly quick service. In fact, even though the line at the counter where you place your order can sometimes be long, especially at lunch time, you’re never kept waiting more than a few minutes.
And, Hungry Greek also offers a selection of decadent desserts and even Greek beer to go with the huge portions of delicious food.
Hungry Greek’s success here — and at the original location in West Tampa — surely has contributed to the rise of eight other locations in and around the Tampa Bay area, with the latest opening soon in San Antonio. — GN
2. Red Robin
3. Ford’s Garage
4. Bacon Boss HQ
5. Five Guys
6. Burger Monger
7. Bubba’s 33
9. Fat Rabbit
With arguably more competition than any other category, Burger 21 continues to dominate the Favorite Burger category of our annual Reader Survey.
Dating back to 2013, Burger 21 has never not won the category, whether it was just New Tampa or New Tampa and Wesley Chapel combined. In fact, Burger 21 has been such a force it actually finished as New Tampa’s favorite overall restaurant in 2015 (after finishing second overall in 2014).
That’s a pretty amazing feat.
Readers continue to flock to the local chain’s Bruce B. Downs Blvd. location, due to a variety of different ways to get their burgers, all served on toasted brioche buns. You can get anything from regular cheeseburgers to a variety of Burger 21’s specialty burgers, like the limited time chimichurri burger. There are chicken, seafood and veggie options, as well. The fries are always nice and crispy, and don’t leave without capping your meal without one of Burger 21’s creamy, hand-spun shakes. — JC
Favorite Asian Restaurant
1. LIANG’S BISTRO
2. Asian Buffet
3. Yamato Japanese Steakhouse
4. Zukku-San Sushi
5. Umu Japanese & Thai
When you speak of perennial favorite restaurants in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, there’s no doubt that few (if any) have been as dominant as Liang’s Bistro.
Since completely revamping a defunct Burger King 20 or so years ago, Liang’s has been voted — by a wide margin every year — as either your “Favorite Asian” or “Favorite Chinese” Restaurant (or both) every year since.
And honestly, while Liang’s isn’t a traditionally authentic Chinese or even New York-style Chinese restaurant, its combination of NY-style egg rolls and BBQ spare ribs — plus everything from Mongolian-style beef, chicken or shrimp to more Japanese-style teriyaki chicken or steak and fried rice, with a few Thai and Korean BBQ-style and even fresh fish and vegetarian dishes thrown in — have kept Liang’s at the top of our readers’ annual list.
Of course, the fact that it also is our only upscale sit-down Chinese restaurant, also serving beer and wine, hasn’t hurt, either. — GN
1. BACON BOSS HQ
3. Blush Wine Room
4. TJ’s Hot Dogs
5. The Fry Room
It was a simple concept started by Josh and Christy Norland in 2015 — let’s make something everyone loves…bacon!
In 2022, that one idea gave birth to the Bacon Boss HQ.
Rarely disappointing, what began as a food truck has now become the biggest hit at the new KRATE at the Grove, according to our readers.
Items like the John Gotti burger (with Gouda cheese and bacon jam), the Nicky Santoro spicy burger (mango jalapeño relish!) and Mafioso Patty Melt (bacon-infused burger inside a bacon grilled cheese!) are all favorites.
And, while the smoked brisket over creamy mac & cheese (above), chicken wings and Fat Tony tater tots topped with mac & cheese and bacon may not be good for your waistline, they are good for your soul. (But, if you tell your personal trainer we said that, we’ll just deny it.) — JC
1. STONEWOOD GRILL & TAVERN
3. Texas Roadhouse
7. Grill at Morris Bridge
When Stonewood Grill & Tavern opened in Tampa Palms 20 years ago, it was a more upscale version of an Outback Steakhouse, as its founders had previously been Outback executives. Our Tampa Palms location was the First Stonewood on Florida’s west coast, and it was an instant hit with New Tampa residents and, eventually, with residents of Wesley Chapel, too.
Now, however, despite so many new restaurant options in both of our distribution areas, Stonewood is still our readers’ favorite New Tampa eatery and this year, it officially also has your favorite steak in both communities.
The rest of your top-5 steak places appear below and none of them are in New Tampa. — GN
1. ZUKKU-SAN SUSHI BAR & GRILL
2. Sushi Cafe
Considering how many restaurants there are in both of our markets that serve sushi, it’s almost hard to believe that the five restaurants on this list put so much distance between themselves and any of their competition.
Even so, Zukku-San won the Favorite Sushi category by a fairly wide margin with our readers. We don’t know if that’s due to Zukku-San’s artistic interpretations of your favorite rolls, hand rolls and sashimi or if more people come to Zukku-San for its variety of other Asian-inspired dishes (you can check out Ato, the fast-casual concept from the owners of Zukku-San on pg. 32) and stay for the sushi, but we’re guessing it’s a combination of both factors. — GN
Favorite Full Liquor Bar
1. THE BRASS TAP
2. Florida Ave
3. Fat Rabbit
5. Joe Whiskey’s
6. Bahama Breeze
7. Noble Crust
8. Falabella Bistro
9. Glory Days
10 (tie) Peabody’s
10 (tie) Chili’s
Considering that it became popular as a place serving a huge variety of craft and micro-brewed beers on tap at lower prices than any of the beer-oriented restaurants located in the Shops at Wiregrass, we were surprised that The Brass Tap didn’t place in this year’s top-5 Favorite Beer/Wine Bar category (see pg. 28) with our readers, but finished first in the Favorite Full Liquor Bar category — as we separated the two types of bars for the first time.
There is no doubt, however, that The Brass Tap offers a cool vibe and is the choice of many of our readers, regardless of what type of alcohol they prefer to imbibe. It also allows you to bring in food ordered from the restaurants at the Shops. — GN
Favorite Latin Restaurant
2. Latin Twist Cafe
3. Las Palmas
4. Lima Peruvian Cafe
5. Mojo Grill
One thing we had noticed over the years of this Reader Survey was that restaurants serving Latin cuisines other than Mexican food weren’t being given enough credit by our readers.
So this year, with all of the new restaurants, especially at the KRATEs, serving a variety of Latin cuisines, we decided to ask our readers to pick their favorite Latin restaurant that didn’t focus on fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas and burritos.
The result was that virtually every Latin restaurant serving something other than Mexican food registered a decent number of votes.
There was no doubt, however, that the Puerto Rican cuisine served at the ever-popular Rice-N-Beans was the winner in this category. Serving authentic mofongo, chicharrons, pan-fried whole snapper and even a chilled octopus salad, Rice-N-Beans also offers an upscale atmosphere, a reasonably priced bar and evening entertainment that none of the other non-Mexican Latin places on our list can boast.
And, owner Cindy Cruz says the Rice-N-Beans Express on S.R. 54 in Lutz (west of the Tampa Premium Outlets) should open soon. — GN
2. Cantina (CC Blvd)
3. Señor Tequila
4. Cantina Laredo
5. Don Julio
Vallarta’s is coming pretty close to making us retire the Favorite Latin & Mexican Restaurant categories (don’t worry, amigos, we’ll give you another shot next year!).
Despite closing its New Tampa location a few years back, Vallarta’s is once again the most popular place our readers choose for Mexican food, even if the only local location is in Wesley Chapel.
The sizzling fajitas are always a hit, and the variety of tacos, nachos, burritos and quesadillas is impressive and can be served with steak, chicken or beef.
Or, you can go veggie with just beans and rice.
Vallarta’s also nails one of the most important attributes of a Mexican restaurant — the price, which absolutely is affordable, especially the lunch specials and combo plates; the atmosphere, which is festive and loud; and the drinks, which are always large (e.g., “big as your head” margaritas!) and are often on special. — JC
1. THAI LANNA
2. Arroy Thai
4. Palm Thai
5. Thai Ruby
A confession — I have been surprised for years that Thai Lanna hasn’t been named the Favorite Thai restaurant more often, because it really is superb.
It’s about time our readers agreed. (OK, rant over).
Tucked away in the corner of a gasoline-anchored strip mall on Cross Creek Blvd. in New Tampa, Thai Lanna may be hard to find — kind of like a treasure box for varied flavors — but it’s worth the effort.
The dinner menu offers a variety of authentic and traditional dishes like its top-selling Pad Thai, Pad Woon Sen and Massaman Curry. All of the fried rice options also are exceptional, and there are many curry dishes — red, green, yellow and even pineapple — from which to choose.
The expansive menu features a host of noodle, seafood, duck and vegetarian dishes, as well as fresh sushi and sashimi (photo).
And, save room for the Mango Delight (mango sticky rice). It might just be the best dessert in New Tampa. — JC
1. VIA ITALIA
2. Falabella Bistro
3. Noble Crust
4. Olive Garden 5. Frammi
7. Amici Pizza
One of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel’s most highly-regarded restaurants, Via Italia has been near the top of our readers’ favorites since Roberto Maganuco opened it in 2020.
And, why wouldn’t it? Via Italia mixes a great atmosphere with wonderful Italian food that is arguably the best you’ll find in our area.
But, the compliment that you hear most about Via Italia, and one that rings louder than any other when you’re talking about any ethnic restaurant, is authentic.
There are few, if any items on the expansive menu that don’t drip with authenticity, from more than 20 different kinds of wood-fired pizza to nearly just as many pasta dishes (like the tagliatelle Bolognese above). Just reading the menu is enough to get your mouth watering.
And, don’t forget to try out the variety of bruschetta options, or a high-end charcuterie board, filled with imported meats, cheeses and dried fruits from Italy. — JC
Favorite Beer/Wine Bar
1. FLORIDA AVENUE BREWING CO.
2. Blush Wine Room
3. Brew Bar (KRATE)
5. Double Branch
6. Fat Rabbit
7. Mr. Dunderbak’s
8. Brass Tap
9. Grill at Morris Bridge
10 Bru Growler Bar (BBD)
Although the menu has changed multiple times at Florida Avenue Brewing Co. since it first opened a few years ago, we were still a little surprised the former location of Sports + Field on S.R. 56 didn’t finish in the top-25 Favorite restaurant category with our readers this year.
However, Florida Ave. did dominate our first-ever “Favorite Beer or Wine Bar in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel” category.
No other local bar or tavern in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel offers both craft beer made on the premises AND full liquor, and the recent opening of Florida Ave.’s perhaps-largest-in-Florida on-site brewing operation at its Wesley Chapel location certainly has helped its popularity among our beer-drinking readers. And of course, cutely-named favorites like “You’re My Boy, Blue” and “Noggy By Nature” — and the opportunity to sample them all — haven’t hurt Florida Ave.’s popularity, either. — GN
1. 900º WOODFIRED & NY
2. New York New York
6. Via Italia
8. Noble Crust
10 (tie) Taste of NY
10 (tie) Best NY
It may be time to crown owner Steve Falabella the King of Pizza in the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel area, as once again his 900º Woodfired Pizza is the reader’s pick for Favorite Pizza in our distribution areas.
900º has developed a loyal following in Wesley Chapel, in part due to the omnipresent Falabella, who has two popular pizza locations in Wesley Chapel and also has opened the popular Falabella Family Bistro.
The Shops at Wiregrass mall location put Falabella on the map, as the only local eatery serving both woodfired Neapolitan-style and delicious New York-style pizza. Made with crispy crust and topped with a sauce made from six different tomatoes and Grande cheese, as well as any other toppings you might like, 900º Woodfired & 900º New York Pizza have been our readers’ choice for years.
Like a perfect pizza topping, though, the topping on Falabella’s success is the consistency of the product and the always-friendly efforts of those serving it. — JC
Favorite American Restaurant
1. CHUCK LAGER AMERICA’S TAVERN
4. Bubba’s 33
5. Texas Roadhouse 6. Cheddars
7. Glory Days
8. BJ’s Brewhouse
Not only is Chuck Lager America’s Tavern Wesley Chapel and New Tampa’s favorite American restaurant, it came very close to taking top honors for favorite restaurant in New Tampa & Wesley Chapel, finishing second to fellow Shops at Wiregrass favorite Noble Crust.
That’s likely a testament to the delicious food, crafted by celebrity TV chef Fabio Viviani.
The restaurant offers an impressive drink menu of wine, beers and craft cocktails, and its appetizers — especially the giant pretzel dusted in parmesan — are popular, too.
The burgers come in different varieties and sandwiches like the smoked brisket grilled cheese also are popular.
The pasta, chicken and seafood dishes also are generally highly praised. You can’t go wrong with the prosciutto, goat cheese and fig jam flatbread, but you can also get it with many different toppings. And, an added bonus is the weekend brunch menu! — JC
1. BUFFALO WILD WINGS
2. King of the Coop
3. Fat Rabbit
There are almost endless ways to get your chicken at Buffalo Wild Wings, whether you want it on a salad, on a sandwich, on a wrap or even on a bar pizza.
In fact, the Buffalo tender stacked burger, grilled chicken Buffalito and Nashville hot chicken sandwich are some of BWWs most popular items.
But, if we had to venture a guess, we’d say the most popular way folks eat their chicken at BWWs is via the mighty wing.
Whether you get your wings with the bone or without, Buffalo Wild Wings offers a long list of flavors to choose from, aside from just regular old Buffalo, teriyaki or BBQ sauce.
Some of the more adventurous (and tasty) options include Blazin’ (proceed with caution…and definitely have a beer in hand), Caribbean jerk, mango habanero and Thai curry. But, there’s never any shame if you choose the safer lemon pepper or parmesan garlic choices, either. — JC