PLACES TO EAT
The city of Tampa lies along Tampa Bay, amidst Florida’s west coast and less than 25 miles from St. Petersburg. Tampa features more than 330,000 residents, with close to 20 percent deriving from Latino origin. As a result, the city plays host to numerous eclectic restaurants, including a mixture of high-end and casual eateries, many of which feature full bars. Revered travel guides like Frommers, Fodors and Gayot provide the highest ratings to these 10 Tampa restaurants.
Bern’s Steak House
Located in the Hyde Park region, Bern’s Steak House (bernssteakhouse.com) serves up such fare as filet mignon, porterhouse and Chateaubriand. The upscale setting includes grand staircases, exposed brick walls, candlelight, a cheese cave, wine cellars and a dessert room outfitted with private booths.
Situated in the Historic Ybor neighborhood, the Latin-themed Columbia (columbiarestaurant.com) offers such tapas dishes as spiced ground beef empanadas, crab cakes and sauteed shrimp in chili pepper. The 1905 restaurant features 15 dining rooms equipped with such items as chandeliers, glass atrium ceilings and ornately tiled floors.
Restaurant BT (restaurantbt.com) lies near the Palms Ceia Golf and Country Club. The restaurant provides a host of Vietnamese dishes, including spring rolls, cabbage and herb salad and Vietnamese bouillabaisse with seafood like calamari and salmon. The interior includes white tablecloths, dark wood furnishings and earth tone colored accent walls.
Estela’s Mexican Restaurant
Located on Davis Islands, Estela’s Mexican Restaurant (estelas.com) features a casual interior complete with brightly colored walls and quilts hung from the ceiling, as well as outdoor patio seating. Combination dishes include rice and beans, while highlight such offerings as enchiladas, burritos and tacos.
Kojak’s House of Ribs
The family-owned Kojak’s House of Ribs (kojaksbbq.net) dates back to 1978, offering a laid-back setting amidst a wooden white shack equipped with outdoor seating. Barbecue fare includes spare ribs, chicken and hot links. Drinks include beer, wine and sangria. The restaurant lies in Tampa’s Bayshore Beautiful region.
Serving up Mediterranean cuisine like falafels, hummus, gyros and kabobs, Byblos Cafe (bybloscafe.com) sits in the city’s Palma Ceia region. On some evenings, the restaurant features belly dancers for entertainment. The setting includes earth tone colors, sheer fabrics draped across the ceiling and a fireplace.
Bella’s Italian Cafe
The Soho-based Bella’s Italian Cafe (bellasitaliancafe.com) features a relaxed interior outfitted with distressed walls, wood furnishings and patio dining. Menu items include spaghetti and meatballs, tortellini primavera and make-your-own pizzas or calzones. The restaurant also offers curbside delivery.
Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant
The upscale Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant (ceviche.com) includes brick tiled floors, dark leather chairs, mosaic tabletops and painted brick walls. Spanish fare includes various paellas, gazpacho and grilled and marinated squid. The restaurant also features a Sunday brunch and weekly discounted tapas and sangria nights.
Fly Bar & Restaurant
The Fly Bar & Restaurant (flybarandrestaurant.com) lies near the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Dinner includes such varied dishes as Kobe beef sliders, fish tacos and mac and cheese with truffles. The setting includes live musical acts, local artwork and a rooftop deck.
Mise En Place
Mise En Place (miseonline.com) offers American cuisine amidst a high-end interior complete with cherry wood furnishings, white tablecloths and gold-specked walls. The menu features gourmet cuisine like lobster risotto, Moroccan fried quail and barbecue grilled shrimp. The restaurant places diners across the street from the University of Tampa.
PLACES TO SHOP
Some great shopping can be found throughout the Tampa Bay area. The largest and most upscale shopping can be found at International Plaza (Westshore area near the Airport). In addition to over 200 shops on two levels, Nordstroms, Nieman Marcus, Dillards, there is an outdoor street area called Bay Street with over a dozen restaurants, bars, coffee shops. This area can be lively in the evenings (Blue Martini, Bar Louie, Cheescake Factory, Capital Grille, Bamboo Club).
Another unique shopping area is Olde Hyde Park Village (Swann and Dakota Avenues). This outdoor shopping area has some unique shops and art gallerys mixed in with popular favorites such as Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware. Great Dining with outdoor seating can be found here as well. This area also has the Sunrise Cinemas with 7 theaters showing mostly Independant Feature Films.
In Ybor City, you will find many funky and one of a kind shopping. Besides the Cigar lovers shops, and unique clothing and accesories/gift shops (La France, Metropolitan Deluxe, etc.) there is the International Bazaar. On Saturdays, checkout the Farmers Market in Centennial Park.
Westshore Plaza has Macy’s, JC Pennys, Sears and Sak’s with over 100 other retail shops. Also here is Maggioanos, The Palm Restaurants.
Outlet Shopping is in Ellenton (30 minutes from Tampa).
Flea markets can be found in North Tampa at Big Top Flea Market on Fowler Avenue, and the Wagon Wheel across the Bay in Pinellas Park.
PLACES TO EXPERIENCE
Tampa has all of the attributes and things to do that make Florida one of the world’s favorite destinations. Major theme parks and attractions? From mild to wild, we’ve got them here. The country’s top beaches? Three of the 10 best are just minutes away. Premier sports facilities and top notch teams? Olympic athletes, professional baseball players, and tennis pros can attest to the quality of our courts, fields, playing surfaces and pools.
In the mood for some arts or cultural enlightenment? Dramatic productions from opera to orchestras bring patrons to their feet in applause at our Straz Center for the Performing Arts and other cultural venues. Creative culinary artists? From flambé to flan, Tampa’s multi-national kitchen magicians work wonders with fresh seafood and locally grown produce. Want to hit the town? Our nightlife is full of hot spots to mix and mingle as you club hop.
Go to http://www.tampabay.com/tbt/ for information on what is going on in the community this week.