Winners! Photos by David Warner, except where noted below.

Friday Food Fight: Best of 2021

We have now published 10-count ’em-10 Friday Food Fight posts since the feature debuted in October.

Since lists of 10 are all the rage in Listicle Land, especially at year’s end, we’re listing all 10 winners here and linking back to our writeups and the contenders’ websites — all tasty options for your holiday and post-holiday noshing!

Next week, just in time for New Year’s Eve, we head back into the arena for The Battle of the Bubblies: May the best Prosecco win!

FRAY’S DONUT HOUSE

Three from Fray’s.

Story:Fray’s or Daddies: Who does donuts better?” (10/1/21)

The runner-up: Daddies Donuts & Delites (since renamed Pink Daddies)

Key quote: “While Daddies scored big on appearance and creativity (and fun), Fray’s edged them out on flavor (and value). “

Fray’s location: 649 34th St. N., St. Petersburg. (There are also Fray’s franchises on 16th St. and Park Blvd, but we bought our donuts at the 34th St. location.)

SHAKE SHACK

Shackburger and fries.

Story:Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger! El Cap vs. Shake Shack(10/8)

The runner-up: El Cap

Key quote: “Believe it or not, this cheeseburger melts in your mouth” (re the Shackburger).

Shake Shack location: 1011 Gramercy Lane, Midtown Tampa.

BETTER BYRD

Better Byrd’s THE Number One.

The story: “Popeyes vs. Better Byrd: Who’s the chicken sandwich champ?” (10/15)

The runner-up: Popeyes

Key quote: “There are many things to recommend about the Popeyes Classic, not least of which is the price. But Better Byrd’s healthy-eating approach made its chicken sandwich that much more appealing.”

Better Byrd location: 4447 4th St. N., St. Petersburg (in the On the Fly Food Hall).

SAMMY + PACO’S

Sammy + Paco’s Croque Madame.

The story: “What a croque! La Croisette vs. Sammy + Paco’s” (10/22)

The runner-up: La Croisette

Key quote: “These are both excellent renditions of a classic sandwich… but the extra dabs of creativity in Sammy + Paco’s version translate into layers of flavor that make it that much better a dish all around.”

Sammy + Paco’s is no more, but… The owners have decided to close S+P’s in order to devote more time and space to their catering business. But don’t fret: They plan to extend the hours of their popular Lolita’s restaurant to include brunch, and I’ll bet the Croque Madame will be on the menu. Lolita’s is at 16 18th St S. in St. Petersburg.

UPTOWN EATS

The D.G.C. (Dan’s Grilled Cheese)/Uptown Eats Instagram image

The story: “The Grill of Victory: Fo’Cheezy vs. Uptown Eats” (10/29)

The runner-up: Fo’Cheezy Twisted Meltz

Key quote: “I like the vibe at Fo’Cheezy and definitely want to try some of the more over-the-top choices…But Fo’s most basic trademark sandwich couldn’t quite match the subtle, savory version at Uptown Eats.”

Uptown Eats location: 689-D Dr. MLK Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg.

THE COLUMBIA RESTAURANT

The classic 1905 Salad at The Columbia.

The story: “Salad Daze: The Columbia vs. Toss” (11/5)

The runner-up: Toss Salads & Wraps

Key quote: “The salads — the classic vs. the facsimile  — were just about equally delicious, but there’s just something about the 1905, and the Columbia, and the whole package at Sand Key. Maybe it’s the salt air, maybe it’s the romance, maybe it’s the Worcestershire sauce?”

Columbia location: There are many Columbias, but we did our salad taste test at the Sand Key location at 1241 Gulf Boulevard in Clearwater.

WILLA’S

The Omelette Classique at Willa’s.

The story: “O, Omelette! Willa’s vs. The Frog Pond” (11/12)

The runner-up: The Frog Pond (Corey Ave. in St Pete Beach)

Key quote: “Both restaurants do the omelette justice, albeit in very different styles. But I have to give the nod to Willa’s for an experience that was both innovative and supremely delicious… Get the rotisserie chicken as a side!”

Willa’s location: 1700 W. Fig St., Tampa.

MIKE’S PIES

A slice of Mike’s.

The story: “Pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake?” (11/19)

The runner-up: Pumpkin pie from The Fresh Market on 4th St. in St. Pete

Key quote: “If you’re looking for a straightforwardly delicious pumpkin pie, you can do no better than the one made in the bakery at The Fresh Market. But if you’re looking for a dessert that will make everyone swoon, ‘This is sooooo good,’ you’ve gotta go with Mike’s Pumpkin Cheesecake.”

Locations: Mike’s Pies are available at multiple local and national retailers (including The Fresh Market).

FABRICA PIZZA

A few slices of Fabrica’s pepperoni with chili oil.

The story: “Pizzas with heat: Fabrica vs. Colony Grill (12/3)

The runner-up: Colony Grill

Key quote: “Try Colony for its new-to-many-of-us bar pizza style. The only problem is that the taste of the hot oil tends to overwhelm any other flavors; there’s not the depth you get in the hot-oil (or hot-honey) variations at Fabrica. Fabrica’s pizzas just taste better — it’s as simple as that.”

Fabrica locations: 101 7th St. S. in St Petersburg and 142 S Meridian Ave. in Tampa.

BAKE’N BABES

A selection of cookes from Bake’n Babes.

The story: “Christmas cookie showdown: Alessi Bakery vs. Bake’n Babes” (12/10)

The runnerup: Alessi Bakery

Key quote: “If you’re looking to make a good first impression with your cookie displays, Alessi’s whimsical varieties will do the trick. But for a cookie that’ll wow your guests with its deep, rich flavor and satisfying texture, go with Bake’n Babes.”

Bake’n Babes locations: Armature Works and Davis Islands in Tampa.