Welcome to Tampa! (a dining primer)

As I jet off for a week in the Caribbean for work, travel PR pros from around the country are arriving into Tampa for the PRSA 2014 Travel and Tourism Conference. It figures that the timing would be that I’ll miss seeing some old friends, and making new. But I really can’t complain… the gorgeous island of Bonaire awaits!

I’ve seen tweets come through for dining suggestions for those visiting the area, and thought I’d throw out a few suggestions of some of my favorite places to grab a bite, from downtown Tampa to over at the beaches.


  • The Refinery – menus change weekly to feature the freshest and best of the best locally, created by James Beard nominee Chef Greg Baker (dinner)
  • Mise en Place – don’t miss the cheese grits! (lunch and dinner)
  • Ella’s Americana Folkart Café – good food in a fun atmosphere (dinner and Sunday brunch)
  • Rooster & the Till – just 40 seats (dinner)
  • Boca – local and good! (lunch and dinner)
  • Bern’s Steak House – a Tampa institution when it comes to steak and seafood
  • Bamboozle Café – walk to this downtown restaurant and dine on Asian-inspired dishes made with the freshest ingredients (lunch and dinner)
  • Cappy’s  Pizza – they don’t deliver, but it’s worth the short drive to South Tampa or Seminole Heights for a slice – New York- or Chicago-style. Try the Greek salad with potato salad… that’s how we do in Tampa. (dinner)
  • Edison food + drink lab – haven’t been, but have heard rave reviews! (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Epicurean – dine inside a hotel dedicated to food, or have a drink on the rooftop bar (lunch and dinner)
  • Fly Bar & Restaurant – eat, drink, relax (also has a rooftop bar; lunch and dinner)
  • Taco Bus – be adventurous and catch the bus! Veggie options, too. (Original is on Hillsborough Ave., but there’s one downtown, too; lunch and dinner)
  • Columbia Restaurant – serving up Spanish and Cuban dishes for more than 100 years; try the Cuban sandwich/1905 salad combo for real flavor. Locations in Ybor City (trolley ride from hotel – ask about the speakeasy!) and a short walk about at the Tampa History Center. (lunch and dinner)
  • Ybor City – the historic cigar factory district has loads of dining options (trolley ride from hotel)
  • The Hub – dive bars don’t get much deeper than this (not for eating, but rather, drinking!)
  • The Independent Bar and Café – for a quieter scene to grab a beer or glass of wine, check out this converted gas station
  • Cigar City Brewing – grab a pint of award-winning craft beers that you probably won’t see at home

St. Petersburg

Clearwater Beach

I hope you enjoy your time in Tampa – I’ll catch you when you’re back in town another time!