Tampa, FL

Discovering the Beef in Tampa- Top 3 Historic Steakhouses

Gayle Kurtzer-Meyers

Finding the beef

Life in Tampa, Florid offers sun and pleasant weather all year, beautiful turquoise blue skies, spectacular waterfront vistas, and family entertainment. Of course, Tampa is a laid-back city, so flip-flops and shorts are the norms, but Tampa is above the bar with extraordinary selections when it comes to steakhouses.

The food scene here is vibrant, with fabulous seaside cafes, elegant bistros, and authentic Cuban restaurants. With Florida ranked 11th nationwide in beef cattle production, there is no scarcity of outstanding steakhouses around the state, and Tampa unquestionably has its fair proportion. But, as an avid food connoisseur, I can tell you they are all good in their unique way.

In my analysis, after dining in almost two dozen steakhouses in Tampa, these are my top three favorite historic steakhouses.

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Steak with pepper and garlic rub/Photo by José Ignacio Pompé on Unsplash

#1: Bern's Steak House

  • Address: 1208 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606
  • Phone: 813-251-2421
  • Hours: Sun - Thu: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Fri & Sat: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Bern's Steak House, a renowned, old-world institution, can be located in the trendy SoHo district. Bern's, one of Tampa's best-known restaurants, is an essential part of the area's history. It is the town's most popular place to grab a thick, flavorful steak. In addition, the locals flock to experience special events; Bern's is also globally recognized for its world-class wine selection. So a visit here is sure to be a memorable one. My family loves this place, so many of our special occasion moments we celebrate here. I have never been disappointed at Bern's and tonight was no exception. The meal was a delicacy to my taste buds, and the ambiance euphoric.

Bern and Gert, the proprietors of Bern's Steak House, got married in 1950. After visiting Bern's aunt, who owned a Chinese restaurant in Tampa, Florida, in 1951, Bern swore to himself to never run a restaurant business as he watched his aunt toil tirelessly for over 40 years. Unfortunately, lack of finances turned a visit into a permanent home – they never intended to stay in Tampa. The business initially meant to be an ice-cream parlor started as a luncheonette due to limited resources; later on, they added other meals. After running this business successfully, they then moved to their current location, 1208 S. Howard Ave.

Having started as a beer haven, the landlord's restrictions on alcohol sales had them convert the place to a restaurant, with both Bern and Gert working tirelessly, multi-tasking to run the business, seven days a week. They later grew from a 40-seater to a 350-seater guest capacity. In 2002, Bern passed on, and Gert followed 18 years later. To date, their son David continues the Bern's Steak House traditions.

This venerable steak house has been family-owned since 1956 and is devoted to providing its customers with a unique culinary experience. It is famous for its top-quality meals, exceptional attention to detail, and perfect service. With its expertly aged steaks, globally acclaimed dessert zone, and one of the world's most significant wine collections, you will embark on a culinary odyssey that personifies Bern's like an experience, not just a meal.

All of the steaks they serve, from T-Bones, Delmonico's to strips and porterhouses, are prime USDA, dry-aged in-house for just over a month, to two months. Then, the steaks are trimmed and chopped to order before being charbroiled over natural lump charcoal.

My steak of choice was the Delmonico. It was so tender I needed only a butter knife to slice it.

Another day another filet.

#2: Charley's Steakhouse and Market Fresh Seafood

  • Address: 4444 W. Cypress St. Tampa, FL 33607
  • Phone: 813-353-9706
  • Hours: Sun - Thu: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Fri & Sat: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Charley's Steakhouse, situated between Westshore & Lois, is locally owned and is family-operated. Charley's was nominated as America's #1 steakhouse and listed on the Top 10 Tampa Bay Restaurants List for Valentine's Day, Wine List, and Steakhouse Restaurants. Charley's Steakhouse, named after Charley Woodsby, the co-creator of Red Lobster, which he sold to General Mills in 1970, and the founder of Talk of the Town Restaurant Group, the steakhouses corporate parent.

I found Charley's Steakhouse to be the place to go for the best surf and turf in Tampa, Florida. The only decision you'll have to make here is to order a Kobe, bison, or naturally organic steak. I recommend going when you're starving and getting all three! Oh, and their dessert is excellent too. Don't miss out on the sweet butter cake; it's tantalizing.

Charley's delicious and delicate steaks are all hormone-free, top quality, dry-aged in-house for a month to a month and a half, and manually cut by their management team daily. Their steaks are uniquely flame-grilled over a 1200-degree open pit and vary from delicate loin brochette to New York strip, T-bone, porterhouse, and filet mignon and satisfy even the pickiest of steak connoisseurs.

What makes their steaks unique is the 30-hour seasoning process they undergo before fire-grilling. Another signature is their wine menu, which is a $500,000 inventory stored in a private basement.

Chicken breast, lamb chops, pork chops, and veal are among the other meat alternatives available. Charley's seafood selection, whether blackened, bronzed, or oak-grilled, is fresh from the Gulf of Mexico and is sustainable, so go ahead and order their delicious lobster tail, crab, or shrimp to go with your steak.

And yet another steak.

#3: Ruth's Chris Steak House

  • Address: 1700 N Westshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607
  • Phone: 813-282-1118
  • Hours: Mon - Thu: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Fri - Sat: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Sun: 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Ruth's Chris Steak House, positioned in Tampa, Florida, on Westshore Boulevard, is a recognized steakhouse that consistently provides a pleasant and welcoming dining experience and brands itself as the "Home of Serious Steaks." So it was easy to see this was indeed home to some serious steaks. The specially seasoned butter made way for an extra moist Ribeye, but I think one of my favorites aspects was the sizzling sound from the too hot to touch platter that it was served on.

Back in 1965, when women couldn't make any fiscal choices without their husband's consent, single mother of two, 38-year-old Ruth Fertel, dubbed the "First Lady of Steak," took a tremendous gamble. She had seen an advertisement for a steakhouse for sale, and, against all counsel, she mortgaged her home to facilitate the purchase. As a result, Chris Steak House, with a seating capacity of 60, found a new owner.

She taught herself the ways of the restaurant business, redefining the hospitality industry as a result of the many challenges she faced along the way. To date, warm hospitality and perfect steak remain the mainstay of Ruth's Chris Steak House, one of the top steakhouses in Tampa, Florida.

With a happy hour on Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and on Sundays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, a single visit to the comfy Tampa edition is sufficient to have you experience this restaurant in its fullness. A dollop of butter produces the distinguishing sizzle of their steaks poured on the hot-from-the-oven slices, cooked in their iconic 1800-degree customized broiler. Plus, when your meal of choice, served on 500-degree plates, is placed on your table, it'll still be sputtering.

Entrees are presented à la carte, with side dishes ordered separately in a family-style format. So snuggle in with an old classic, such as their 3-course traditional dinner featuring a custom-aged, corn-fed USDA prime beef cut and one of the seasonal wines as an accompaniment. Or, you may select a "Ruth's Classic," which encompasses a limited selection of appetizers, entrées, sides, and desserts for a set fee.

"A mighty Porterhouse steak an inch and a half thick, hot and sputtering from the griddle; dusted with fragrant pepper; enriched with little melting bits of butter ofthe most impeachable freshness and genuiness; the precious juices of the meat trickling out and joining the gravy, archipelagoed with mushrooms; a township or two of tender , yellowish fat gracing an out-lying disrict of this ample county of beefsteak; the long white bone which divides the sirloin from the tenderlolin still in its place." -Mark Twain-

I found the beef.

Now, are you ready to toss that celery stick aside and devour some steak?

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I am a Licensed Community Association Manager for the State of Florida and a published author. My top articles are about Florida RE, property management, and the many beautiful venues and activities available in the Sunshine State. Thank you for reading my work and joining me on the journey.

Kissimmee, FL
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