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10 of the Best Downtown Restaurants in Tampa, FL

Ulele
Oxford Exchange
Columbia Café
Edison Food + Drink Lab
MISE EN PLACE
Rooster & The Till
Yeoman's Cask & Lion
On Swann
Oak and Ola
Bern's Steak House
Ulele
Oxford Exchange
Edison Food + Drink Lab
MISE EN PLACE
Rooster and Till
Rooster & The Till
Yeoman's Cask & Lion
On Swann
On Swann
Oak and Ola
bern's steakhouse
Bern's Steak House

Sitting in southwestern Florida, Tampa is home to top-rated white sandy beaches and winning sports teams. Yet, it also harbors top-rated restaurants and incredibly good food for anyone who ventures here. When it comes to some of the best Tampa restaurants, head downtown. Surrounding the Riverwalk, you’ll find everything from a simple sandwich to fancy dishes, top wines, and special cocktails. Whether you prefer sitting inside or outside, you can enjoy the bay view, city view, or a restaurant’s interior artwork, here are some Tampa restaurants downtown to try the next time you visit.

 

Photo Credit: Facebook

Ulele

1810 North Highland Avenue, (Tampa Heights) Tampa, FL 33602
(813)999-4952

A uniquely Tampa experience, Ulele combines the best ingredients from Florida waterways with those found on land that once housed Native Americans. Offering specialized appetizers, entrees, and desserts, you’ll bound to want to experience something new prepared on their 10′ diameter barbacoa grill.

Start with an appetizer of alligator hushpuppies or crab mac-n-cheese and follow up with the Gouda Grouper entrée. Try the chargrilled oysters or stick with the specially created Ulele Burger, named after a young Native American princess.

For dessert, choose between a Key West Lime Stack, Flourless Chocolate Torte, or Candied Bacon Maple Ice Cream.

A favorite of visitors and local residents alike, you can’t go wrong stopping in at Ulele for lunch or dinner.

 

 

Photo Credit: @datgirleats

Oxford Exchange

420 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 253-0222

Just a leisurely walk or a short drive across the bridge from the Riverwalk and downtown business district, you’ll find the Oxford Exchange, another unique find in a city like Tampa. A restaurant combined with a bookstore, coffee and pastry bar, champagne bar, and tea bar, it’s more of a destination for lulling away the afternoon.

Try to catch a seat in the peaceful interior courtyard where greenery surrounds you, and a fountain in the center serenades you as you eat. Another option is to stay indoors and enjoy the contemporary dining room filled with unique art.

Voted as having the best weekend brunch by residents, you can’t go wrong here any day of the week. Stop in for their afternoon tea menu or full lunch. Peruse their bookshop full of books on design and cooking, among others. You can even pick up gift items from the trinkets and items they include on the shelves.

 

 

Photo Credit: Facebook

Columbia Café

801 Water Street, #1905, Tampa, FL
(813) 229-5511

Ask anyone to name a restaurant synonymous with Tampa, and you’ll most likely hear Columbia Café. Owned and continuously ran by the same family since 1905, the restaurant is touted as the oldest restaurant not just in Tampa but the entire state of Florida.

While the original restaurant is located in nearby Ybor City, the smaller café version is in downtown Tampa and located within the Tampa Bay History Center on the Riverwalk. Sit outside on the wide patio to enjoy the spectacular water view.

Order a Spanish-inspired dish or enjoy the Tampa treasure, a Cuban Sandwich. Columbia Café uses an original 1915 recipe for their sandwich, layering on equal portions of Spanish ham, Genoa salami, Mojo marinated Roast Pork, along with the best swiss cheese and mustard available. The bread is from the local bakery, La Segunda Central Bakery, and is brushed with butter before pressing to a crispy outcome.

For dessert, give the White Chocolate Bread Pudding topped with a rich rum sauce a try.

 

 

Photo Credit: Facebook

Edison Food + Drink Lab

912 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 254-7111

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.

 

 

Photo Credit: Facebook

MISE EN PLACE

442 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 254-5373

By the name of this restaurant, you can probably guess it has French-influenced food offerings. You would be right, except that the owners prefer to call it modern cuisine rooted in French style.

Expect delicious Molasses Pecan Crusted Rack of Lamb served with trumpet mushroom bourbon lamb jus, Amish cheddar chili grits, and cayenne buttermilk onion rings. Or go for the delectable Berbere Crusted Scallops with creative sides. The restaurant also offers vegan dishes.

Finish your meal off with a Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake or Chocolate Pecan Toffee Mousse.

Succulent food in a contemporary setting, you’ll experience some of the best food and atmosphere downtown Tampa has to offer.

Rooster and Till
Photo Credit: RoosterAndTheTill.com

Rooster & The Till

6500 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604

(813) 374-8940

Rooster & The Till is an exciting restaurant by Chef Ferrell Alvarez, Ty Rodriguez, and Chon Nguyen with a constantly-evolving menu and an expanding dining room. Most people opt for the small plates, with the stars being the ginger tofu dumplings with “intense chili oil” (we’re not sure what makes it intense but there’s only one way to find out!), gnocchi with short rib and ricotta, and seared foie gras with huckleberry, cashew pear nutella, and vanilla pear. If you can’t make up your mind, don’t worry because you don’t need to! The tasting menu is a six-course food and wine pairing, including oysters, wagyu short ribs, and more. 

Photo Credit: Facebook.com

Yeoman’s Cask & Lion

202 N Morgan St., Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 224-9367

Since the late 1980s, Yeoman’s Cask & Lion has been the proud English pub of the Tampa area. You can get the usual British staples here, like fish and chips, but there’s plenty of other less Anglicized options too. Some of the biggest hits are the buffalo chicken mac and cheese and the Piped Up Philly Cheesesteak. If you’re going for brunch, you can’t miss no matter what you get, but make sure you also get the bottomless mimosas and bloody marys so you can drink during the day like a true Brit. 

On Swann
Photo Credit: Instagram.com

On Swann

1501 Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

(813) 251-0110

Chris Ponte’s contemporary American eatery is a devoted member of the community. They support numerous local partners, like Julius Meinl coffee, Jamison G. Breadhouse breads, and First Leaf Farms for microgreens. That fresh local flavor bursts through no matter what you eat. Start your meal with the rich saffron arancini with chorizo and manchego along with a kale salad, bursting with quinoa, brussel sprouts, bacon, corn, tart cherries, pecans, and ricotta salata. Then round out your meal with the steak frites drizzled with shallots-cabernet butter and bone marrow. Supporting local has never tasted so good.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com

Oak and Ola

1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602 

(813) 773-1901

The owners of Oak & Ola decided to embark on a journey to create a local independent Euro-American restaurant. The result is a place to gather where food and drinks are thoughtfully sourced, hand-crafted, and changed seasonally. The ultimate order is the Spanish fire-roasted octopus with “Boozy Pig” chorizo, white beans, kale, charred red onion, and hazelnut vinaigrette with an appetizer of wilted brussel sprouts with applewood smoked bacon, charred red onions, and apple cider vinegar, a delightful mix of salty, sour, and crunch in each bite. 

bern's steakhouse
Photo Credit: Bern’s Steakhouse

Bern’s Steak House

1208 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

(813) 251-2421

We’re HUGE fans of Bern’s Steak House, even naming it one of the best steakhouses in America. It’s not about what they do differently, but rather what they do well, which is just about everything. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better steak than their 100 day dry-aged Delmonico steak. Flank that with the French onion soup and the black truffle creamed corn and you’ll be a happy camper. Make sure to close out your meal with the roasted pineapple or the bananas foster.

 

Editors Note: This article was originally published on May 21, 2021 and last updated on December 7, 2021. Please refer to restaurant websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information.