In the last few years, Tampa Bay has really developed some fine restaurants. Here are some of Tampa Bay’s top restaurants.
Anyone who lived in Tampa a good 20 or 30 years ago knows that while the beach was close by, the city’s downtown wasn’t known for a really diverse and expansive list of fine dining options.
And that’s one of the things that made the recent opening of Sparkman Wharf in the Channelside District so exciting. It’s another indication of why Tampa is becoming a genuinely recognized foodie destination.
Yelp recently compiled a ranking of the top places to eat in Tampa Bay, recognizing restaurants that offer casual and upscale meals alike. They didn’t rank three or five restaurants but the top 50. Yelp’s guide showcases that in recent years, Tampa’s restaurant scene has grown significantly.
The list covers a remarkably diverse list of food options: everything from vegetarian meals to comfort foods like pizza and burgers. And it isn’t just Yelp, either. Tampa’s restaurant scene has been profiled in articles in Bon Appetite Magazine and Food & Wine.
It’s been said that for a city to really succeed, it needs a high quality of living – things that local residents value having in their back yard.
Today, Tampa has a lot to offer residents, from a strong jobs base to a vibrant housing market, to a thriving arts and cultural scene.
Now we can add something else to the list: Tampa’s rapidly expanding restaurant scene.
Because these days, the eating in Tampa is so, so good.
Tampa Bay Top Restaurants: What’s New in Tampa’s Restaurant Scene?
There are tons of new delicious restaurants popping up in Tampa. Here are just a few that you should check out.
Sparkman Wharf is an exciting new addition to Tampa’s burgeoning restaurant scene. Located at 615 Channelside Drive in Tampa, it offers nine pop-up style restaurants and an outdoor Biergarten serving up more than 24 taps. On weekends, there’s live music.
The pop-up restaurants in Sparkman Wharf would appear to offer something for every imaginable taste bud.
Included on the list are restaurants like:
- Boat Run Oyster Co., which serves fresh oysters.
- Gallito Taqueria, a Mexican street food restaurant.
- Montados Tapas and Wine by Mise en Place, offering a Spanish tapas-style menu.
- Whatever Pops and Bowls, serving handcrafted ice pops and bowls.
- BT In A Box with a French Vietnamese Fusion menu.
- Flock & Stock Chicken and Burgers with traditional servings of burgers, chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders.
- Foundation Coffee, a local favorite for coffee.
- Edison’s Swigamajig, a fresh fish restaurant that’s all about the catch.
- The Corners brings Detroit Pizza to the area.
Sparkman Wharf, which is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Mondays and Tuesdays when there are events at Amalie Arena, has quickly become a real hot spot in Tampa Bay.
Best Foodie Cities
Sparkman Wharf, though, is hardly the lone example of why Tampa Bay is getting so much recognition these days for its exciting, up-and-coming restaurant scene. WalletHub has released a list of the best cities in America for finding good food, including meals that were diverse, affordable and of high quality.
Tampa came in at No. 11, just missing a spot in the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities in America. But it’s also worth noting that Tampa beat out cities like Chicago and Philadelphia for a top spot.
And the truth is that while Tampa has a very diverse and dynamic restaurant scene today, the city has always been known in some way for its food.
What Kind of Food Was Tampa Traditionally Known For?
For a long time, Tampa was really known for its ethnic food scene, one that combined Spanish, Latin and Caribbean cuisines. The city has a long and well-deserved reputation for serving Cuban food, including being home to the famed Cuban sandwich, thanks to the city’s historic Ybor City neighborhood and its many cigar factories.
In the minds of some people, you can’t visit Tampa and not eat Cuban food, which is why restaurants like West Tampa Sandwich Shop & Restaurant, with its menu of crispy empanadas filled with cream cheese and guava paste, Cuban espresso and the Cuban sandwich are so popular.
Cuban cuisine mixing Latin and Spanish cooking with Caribbean flavors really helped put Tampa on the map as a place to seek out excellent ethnic food.
But it’s not the only thing that helped build Tampa’s culinary reputation. A real legend in the city is Bern’s Steak House, which has been popular for decades.
Bern’s has an upstairs dessert room and private booths, along with a massive wine cellar and an equally huge wine list. Then there’s the menu of steaks, their signature house French onion soup au gratin with garlic and spelt toasts, and Caesar salad prepared tableside by your waiter.
Still, there’s no question that Tampa’s food scene has undergone a genuine renaissance in recent years. The newest restaurants don’t seem interested in offering what’s easy to find elsewhere, but something unique. Head over to the Seminole Heights neighborhood, for example, and check out Ichicoro Ramen, which serves ramen bowls.
Seminole Heights has become a real culinary destination. This is where you want to go to find local favorites like Rooster & the Till and Nebraska Mini Mart, or newer restaurants like the Boozy Pig and Armature Works, a former street-car warehouse that’s been converted into a food hall.
No wonder Thrillist, an online media website covering food and drink, featured Tampa on its roundup of the 15 cities that secretly have great food scenes.
Why Is This Important?
Study after study demonstrates that in addition to a healthy business climate and jobs base, cities need something else: a “Cultural capital,” if you will. Cultural attributes play as strong a role in a city’s appeal as economic factors. Tampa’s exciting restaurant scene helps to make Tampa even more appealing.
It’s no wonder Tampa Bay has a growing reputation as a great city to live, and the city’s dynamic restaurants only add to that appeal. And as more and more people relocate to the Tampa/St. Pete area, the housing market will continue to need new homes to accommodate them.
Domain Homes is the Tampa Bay area’s Urban Neighborhood new home builder. Domain Homes procures sites in Tampa Bay’s most highly desirable and sought-after neighborhoods.
That includes established neighborhoods like:
Domain Homes purchases older, dilapidated homes that are often badly in need of repair and replaces them with move in-ready new homes.
Domain Homes believes that buyers shouldn’t have to settle for a “used” home once they’ve discovered how beautiful Tampa Bay is.
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