Bern’s Is the Hot Ticket in Tampa

Watching the Republican National Convention on TV this week served as a reminder that it has been a long time—far too long—since I have had a meal at Bern’s Steak house.

Bern’s has been a Tampa tradition since 1956. Many carnivores consider it the best steak house in the country, and it certainly ranks among my top five.

It’s hard to beat Jocko’s in the California Central Coast town of Nipomo, just north of Santa Maria, for value. But if I’m salivating for the flavors of an aged steak, my mind’s eye glances toward the other side of the country—to Florida, home of Bern’s.

There’s a lot to love about Bern’s even beyond its amazing selection of tender, juicy, palate-pleasing cuts of beef.

Kids, as well as kids at heart, love the upstairs dessert room. It’s a great concept in that it positions dessert as a truly special part of the meal, while freeing up tables in the main dining area for later-arriving guests. In the restaurant business, prompt table turnover goes right to the bottom line.

The dessert room wasn’t created for that purpose, however. Kids weren’t the motivating factor, either. You can read about the genesis of the dessert room here.

There’s another reason to visit Bern’s during a stay in the Tampa area: The restaurant claims to have the largest collection of wine in the world (and I’ve yet to hear of anyone challenging that contention).

Diners can spend well under $10 for a glass of wine from an extensive by-the-glass list (spanning more than three pages), or upwards of $10,000 on a bottle. Dependable favorites are joined by numerous hard-to-find gems, both domestic and imported, and often available in multiple vintages.

Because the list can be daunting, Bern’s allows guests to select their wine in advance of their visit by writing to the restaurant’s wine staff at

A friend who lives just outside Tampa tells me that Bern’s has been the hottest ticket in town during the convention. But that’s pretty much the case throughout the year, even when Tampa isn’t packed with visitors armed with generous expense accounts. Thus, a reservation always is a good idea, and you can make one by calling 813-251-2421.

If you have a wining-and-dining “bucket list,” Bern’s should definitely be on it.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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