Whether you’re chomping on chorizo in Channelside or binging on bok choy in Ybor, there’s something in Tampa for whatever you’re craving. In fact, Tampa has always been a culinary capital – the Cuban sandwich was invented there, after all. But now, with millions of folks – and flavors – flocking to the gulf coast city, they’re cooking up something good in Cigar City.
Let’s start with the local stuff. Tampa has some of the best seafood in the Gulf Coast of Florida. Between Ocean Prime’s prawns, Catch Twenty Three’s Tilapia, and more, you’ll find five-star seafood dining anywhere you go in Tampa. Plus, with great local snow crab and Tampa’s Cuban influences, Tampa has its own local delicacy, the Deviled Crab. Similar to a crab cake, deviled crab is sprinkled with bread crumbs and baked rather than broiled or fried, for an extra crunchy twist on the classic. It’s available everywhere in the Tampa area – from great Tampa seafood restaurants to local Cuban bakeries.
Speaking of Cuban bakeries, let’s talk about the Cuban sandwich. A simple pressed ham and cheese sandwich using freshly baked Cuban bread has been around forever. But as Cuban laborers came to Tampa’s Ybor City cigar factories, they meshed with other immigrant communities – specifically Spanish and Italian. Taking a quick, affordable lunch option from Cuba and spicing it up with roasted pork, ham and salami – along with mustard and Swiss – lead to the Cuban sandwich everyone knows and loves today. We cover the best Cuban sandwiches in the Tampa area and the best Cuban restaurants in general, for those looking for a little more than a sandwich. With so many incredible influences, how can the food scene not be popping here? For in the inside scoop on where to eat, check out this page to see what our favorite restaurants in Tampa, FL are!
1903 Market Street, Tampa, FL 33606
For magnificent sunset views of the waterfront, M.Bird does not disappoint. Perched above the momentous Armature Works, this classy lounge is among the best rooftop restaurants in Tampa. With uniquely crafted cocktails, we got to enjoy the refreshing Out of Towner (a mix of seltzer, lime, Tromba Blanco, cucumber water, and pineapple). Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will love the House Hummus and Baba Ghanoush. And for the seafood lovers, the Escabeche, which includes wonton chips, sous vide octopus and shrimp, heirloom tomatoes, herbs, cucumber, red onions, and citrus juices, absolutely hits the spot.
1212 Apollo Beach Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Circles Waterfront Restaurant is a cozy eatery with a great ambiance. They have a delicious grouper sandwich which is served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and tartar sauce, all of which come on a lightly toasted brioche bun. Get the grouper either fried, grilled or blackened, but we opted to have the blackened option. We also had the sandwich with kale slaw, which was a great addition. The menu has other great options such as pasta, grilled various seafoods, along with vegetarian options as well. Finish your meal off with the coconut ice cream and you’re set.
3. Luv Child
516 South Howard Ave Tampa 33606
The exotic, fresh and fun atmosphere at Luv Child helps it to stand out from most restaurants in town. This funky spot has Cuban vibes and even offers a Havana Happy hour in addition to their lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menus. A Late Night menu at Luv Child provides sharable plates, but the colorful cocktails flow all the time at Luv Child. Favorites here are the Cubano Sandwich, the Poblano Queso and the Shaved Brussels Sprout salad as well as the beautiful Frozen Watermelon Margarita.
4. Viva Napoli
4301 W El Prado Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629
There’s no doubt that Viva Napoli is one of Tampa’s most popular pizza places. This hidden gem is worth the trip despite its location in the quiet neighborhood of Virginia Park. The pizzas at Viva Napoli are cooked in a coal-fired oven and the crust is thin and crispy. They have traditional offerings and specialty pizzas such as the Hawaiian and Margherita. They also serve calzones and different types of pasta dishes. You won’t be disappointed no matter what you order at Viva Napoli. The pies are made to order, and the ingredients are fresh and delicious. The service is friendly and accommodating, so it’s a great place to go with family and friends when that pizza craving hits.
912 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602
If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Edison Food + Drink Lab in downtown Tampa. Not only is it led by a 5-time James Beard award-winning chef, but its unique offerings and unusual flavor combinations create a one-of-a-kind dining experience. You can’t help but notice and even appreciate the attention to detail the restaurant and staff take. Choose from a list of world-class wine offerings and sit back and enjoy the moment. Start with the Potato Crusted Oysters and then choose between a filet mignon, poached octopus, or caramelized sea scallops. Their menu is always changing thanks to their creative chef, and it’s always an adventure to see what might show up new on the menu each time you visit.
6. Daily Eats
901 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
These burgers are prepared in the classic style of smash burgers, ensuring a crispy yet juicy patty. In addition to a classic double, you can get a variety of toppings as well as turkey, veggie, and Impossible options. Some of the house specials include a southern fried chicken sandwich (plain or buffalo style), a two-cheese grilled cheese, and a BLTA+ (BLT with avocado on grilled sourdough). If you’re looking for something lighter, you can opt for the Shredder Bowls, where you can pick your mixed green, protein, and accompanying style.
516 N Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602
This place is ready to bamboozle you into healthy eating! Bamboozle was named one of Tampa’s best restaurants in 2021, and you’ll soon discover why. With their largely gluten-free and vegan menu, a customer with any nutritional goals will have a tough time narrowing down their options! Why not start with lemongrass tofu? Or maybe the Vietnamese green papaya salad tossed in a tangy citrus dressing with fresh red bell pepper (strike this for the true TB-12 method), cilantro, roasted shallots, cucumber, and roasted peanuts. If this doesn’t tickle your fancy, choose your own adventure with the BBQ jackfruit boozle bowl, in which you choose your base, five veggies, an herb, and a dressing. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Haas avocado roll with cucumber, mango, carrots, cilantro, and citrus vinaigrette, or maybe the vegan pho with tofu.
1015 S Howard Ave Tampa, FL 33606
Versatility would be the word we’d use to describe Water + Flour. They’ve got some of the best brick-oven pizza in all of Tampa. At the same time, you’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere with better sushi. Try one of their Ahi Tuna bowls if you aren’t sure where to start. That’ll impress even the most discerning of palates. This is a great place to stop for a bite to eat when you’re hanging out in the Hyde Park area.
5243 Ehrlich Rd, Greater Northdale, FL 33624
Ricky’s Cuban restaurant has great food, and the deviled crabs were no exception. The food was hot and fresh. We had a dinner of ropa vieja- shredded beef, Caribbean chicken, and a side of deviled crabs that came with a house sauce. The sauce had the perfect about of spice, which made for the perfect meal. A plus of the restaurant is that it is very clean, and the servers were knowledgeable and very helpful. Also, the portions were huge, which made it easy to go family style and try a little bit of everything.
4115 S MacDill Ave, Tampa, FL 33611
This is a local favorite and everything from the decor to the menu has English influences. Some of their pub favorites include shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and bangers and mash. Other entree items include several different pizzas, chicken skewers and thai curry shrimp. Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a super comfortable, laidback spot with a great outdoor patio that welcomes your furry four-legged friends. No English pub is complete without some tasty brews and they’ve got you covered. Tons of beers, wines, and cocktails to choose from. Pull up a chair, order a beer on tap, and enjoy some good eats.