Perhaps you’re wondering what is a bistro, anyway? How does it differ from a typical restaurant? Bistros have their roots in Paris, where chefs served small, simple meals at a moderate price. In the United States, bistros are more than just French food. Bistros encompass all types of cuisine, from Chinese to Italian to vegan fare. Here is a sampling of some of the best bistros in Tampa Bay.
Liang’s Bistro
17515 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33647
(813) 978-1225     Tasteful decor, comfortable seating, delicious food and beautiful presentation will make you feel like you’re dining at an upscale restaurant. You can build your own entree by selecting your choice of meat — either chicken, shrimp or beef — and adding your choice of starter and side. Or, you can choose a house specialty such as sesame chicken, Buddha’s delight or Thai basil tofu. Pair your meal with tea, wine or a fountain drink and you’ve got the perfect lunch or dinner.
 Jackson’s Bistro Bar and Sushi
601 S. Harbour Island Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 277-0112     This charming bistro has options for everyone — vegetarian choices, gluten-free choices, even a children’s menu. Here, you can find succulent small plates of tempura lobster, heirloom tomato salad, pan seared sea scallops and a house-made vegetarian burger, among many others. And, of course, there is a large selection of sushi, a dessert menu and even a coffee and bakery menu. If you have to accommodate many dietary preferences, Jackson’s is the place to be.
6661 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 381-1212     Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, O’Bistro serves food that can best be described as a mixture of American and Mediterranean cuisine. During breakfast, you’ll find selections like the Mediterranean Benedict, which comes with spinach, feta, sun-dried tomatoes and hollandaise sauce, as well as French crepes and pecan waffles. Lunch and dinner offerings include dishes like seafood crepes, insalata Caprese, all-natural burgers and sandwiches like the grilled salmon BLT.
 Pazza Bistro
7210 U.S. Highway 19 N.
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
(727) 329-8813     Pazza Bistro describes its cuisine as “fresh, casual Italian.” Everything is made fresh from scratch, including house-made breads and thin-crust pizza dough. Its rather large menu includes appetizers such as garlic knots and fried mozzarella, freshly made salads, New York-style thin-crust pizzas, pasta entrees and both hot and cold sub sandwiches. Whether you are craving a chicken parm sandwich, baked manicotti, pasta fagioli or a Margherita-style pizza, you can find it on the menu at Pazza Bistro.
 Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro
300 2nd Ave. NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 894-4429     This beautiful dockside bistro is perfect for a relaxing night out with friends or a romantic date. Aside from the incredible view, you can also enjoy a selection of cocktails, such as a key lime-tini, margherita, mojito or Creole bloody mary. If you’re in the mood for some typical Florida fare, you’ll find that here as well. Some of Fresco’s specialties include garlic mussels, black and blue ahi salad, grouper sandwiches, seafood pesto pasta, flatbread pizzas and burgers.

Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at