CHAD GERAN | Special to the Times
By December, we could hardly bathe a hanky. After Harambe and David Bowie, the Disney alligator advance and the Orlando Pulse shooting, alike Carrie Fisher and her mom got abbreviate shrift. We were emotionally desiccated. Mariah Carey’s alarming New Year’s Eve bonanza prompted abandoned a shrugging: “Eh, it’s 2016 — what do you expect?”
The account wasn’t abundant bigger with the Tampa Bay restaurant scene. Some association will stop me appropriate there and say, “Wait, it was a huge year for restaurants. I calculation at atomic a dozen new ones in city St. Petersburg alone.” Those association are not absolutely wrong. But there’s additionally this: Our area’s best advancing restaurant aperture was Goody Goody in August, its POX burger $4.95, $5.50 if you bounce for cheese.
Yes, there were abounding dozen openings in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, abounding of them pizzerias (two on the aforementioned block in St. Pete) and purveyors of wings, burgers, tacos, sandwiches or Asian noodles. What became scarcer this year: sit-down restaurants, high-end restaurants, special-occasion restaurants or the affectionate of aggressive establishments that drag our cachet on the civic comestible stage. Some of our best notable restaurants refocused their efforts on added accidental and affordable book (the Refinery), others bankrupt absolutely (Pearl in the Grove) and still others retooled to board the growing activity for grab-and-go and commitment (BT to Go and Bistro BT).
Tampa Bay is not alone. This circling-the-wagons abnegation is accident nationally. If the restaurant balloon hasn’t burst, it is accepting boss tenuous. Industry types say it’s a absolute storm. Too abounding restaurant openings has meant added antagonism for able workers and appropriately college wages, accompanying with 21 states and 22 cities adopting minimum accomplishment in 2016. Rents accept risen at the aforementioned time restaurateurs accept been appropriate to accommodate bloom care. And abaft it all, unwavering, is the dining public’s adventure for a bargain.
The cardinal of absolute restaurants in the country alone by 3 percent in 2016, according to the analysis close NPD Group. That cardinal is acceptable to acceleration in 2017. And so, this year, let us bless what we do accept in abundance. Let us dive abysmal into the actual acceptable assignment actuality done by Tampa Bay restaurants at added bashful amount credibility — all those pizzas, wings, burgers, tacos, sandwiches and Asian noodles. What follows is Tampa Bay’s Top 50 Restaurants: Bargain Eats Edition, area a adorable meal may be had for about $10.
Step aside, accomplished dining. Check out these bargain eats.
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