Downtown Tampa

From amazing bakeries and casual eateries to historic cafes and elegant restaurants, Tampa, FL, offers many great places to dine. Plan a romantic lunch or dinner at one of these unique places which serve some of the most delicious seafood, pizza, steaks, barbeque, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Foodies can look forward to tasting flavors from around the world on their weekend trip to Tampa, including American cuisine, Creole and Cajun food, Mexican, French, Italian and Mediterranean favorites. Here are the best restaurants in Tampa. Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/Fotolia

»Columbia Restaurant

Columbia Restaurant

The original Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood is a Florida legend and the oldest still-operating restaurant in the state. It is also one of the largest, with space for 1,700 guests in 15 beautifully decorated dining rooms. The restaurant was established in 1905 by the Hernandez/Gonzmart family, who still own and operate it. Columbia is famous for its traditional, authentic Cuban and Spanish food. Its wine list has over 1,000 labels and more than 50,000 bottles. There are several wine labels created in honor of various family members. Columbia’s sangria is mixed at the guests’ table and is extremely popular. In the evening, the floor shakes from the beat of the flamenco dancers while traditional music fills the rooms.

2117 E. 7th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605, 813-248-4961 Photo: Columbia Restaurant

»Columbia Cafe

Columbia Cafe

Columbia Café is the world’s largest Spanish restaurant and Florida’s oldest restaurant, founded in 1905. Relax on the waterfront terrace as you enjoy incredible dishes like Shrimp & Crabmeat Alcachofas, Mahi Mahi Cubana, or Columbia’s Original “1905” Salad. Wine, spirits, and cocktails are also available. You can even dock your boat while you grab a bite to eat.

Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. and his family founded the original Columbia in 1905 as a corner saloon in Ybor City. Today, it is run by fourth and fifth generation family members. This charming eatery is located in the Tampa Bay History Center on the Tampa Riverwalk. If you are looking for best restaurants in Tampa with a view of the water, this is a great place to try. Contact: 2117 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-248-4961 Photo: Columbia Cafe

»Mise En Place

Mise En Place

Mise En Place has become one of Tampa’s premier restaurants for Modern American cuisine. They boast innovative dishes such as the Chipotle-Crusted Softshell Crab Sandwich, Seared Pork Belly, or Coriander Fennel Rubbed Duck Breast. An eclectic wine list and selections from a full bar are also offered.

A “Get Blitzed” tasting menu is available if you feel like putting all your trust in Mise En Place owner Chef Marty Blitz. He owns the restaurant with renowned restaurateur Maryann Ferenc. They opened the place way back in 1986. Find it just outside of downtown Tama, across from the University of Tampa. Contact: 442 West Grand Central Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-254-5373 Photo: Mise En Place

»Bern's Steak House

Bern's Steak House

Bern's Steak House serves some of the best steaks and meats in the city. Sample exquisitely prepared dishes like the Delmonico Steak or the Goat Cheese & Portobello Ravioli. The produce the kitchen uses is either locally sourced or comes from Bern’s Farm. In addition to their internationally renowned dessert room and 21 choices of caviar, Bern's Steak House is also home to one of the world’s largest wine collections.

Bern Laxer founded Bern’s Steakhouse in 1956 with the help of his wife Gert. Their son David now owns and operates the restaurant. Bern's Steak House is nestled between the Hyde Park and Parkland Estates areas. Contact: 1208 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-251-2421 Photo: Bern's Steak House

»Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

The award-winning Tampa Bay Brewing Company offers some of the city’s best beer and classic American pub fare. Try the Beer Battered Cod Sandwich, Wild Warthog Spicy Curry Mussels, or TBBC’s Famous Cheese & Ale Dip and wash it all down with a selection from their line of eight core and 38 seasonal proprietary beers.

John G. Doble, III founded the Brewing Company in 1995, and it is now owned and operated by the Doble family – John, Vicki, David, and Mike. Their original joint is located in the historic Ybor City, and they opened a second location in Tampa’s Westchase neighborhood in 2015. Contact: 1600 East 8th Avenue, Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-247-1422; 13937 Monroe’s Business Park, 813-247-1422

Romantic ideas: 25 Best Romantic Getaways in St. Augustine Photo: Tampa Bay Brewing Company

»Ocean Prime

Ocean Prime

Ocean Prime is an upscale restaurant that specializes in steaks, seafood, and cocktails done right. Savor exquisitely prepared dishes such as the White Truffle Caviar Deviled Eggs appetizer, Dutch Harbor King Crab Legs, or the Pork Porterhouse. Be sure to check out their delectable raw bar and honored wine list.

Renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell originally founded Ocean Prime in 2006, and the establishment has since expanded to 14 locations nationally, including the Tampa site, which opened in 2009. Stop in to Ocean Prime, located at the entrance of the International Plaza Shopping Center, for a sophisticated and delicious dinner. Contact: 2205 N. West Shore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-490-5288

Great hotels & resorts: Unique Romantic Weekend Getaways Photo: Ocean Prime

»Gourmet Pizza Company

Gourmet Pizza Company

Gourmet Pizza Company has something for everyone, but pizza is their specialty. Create your own pie or try a signature classic like the Mellow Yellow (curry-infused garlic oil base, capers, garbanzo beans, sweet red grapes, fresh cauliflower, and drizzled with peanut butter sauce) or the Cajun Crawfish pie.

Numerous vegan and gluten-free options are available, and they also offer pastas, calzones, and more. Owner Kristina Lima opened Gourmet Pizza Company in 1999 and has committed to serving only the finest local ingredients and making everything in house from scratch. You will find this delicious pizza place in Tampa’s Hyde Park district. Contact: 610 S. Armenia Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-258-1999 Photo: Gourmet Pizza Company

»Al's Finger Lickin' Good Bar-B-Que

Al's Finger Lickin' Good Bar-B-Que

Al’s Finger Lickin’ Good Bar-B-Que serves up some of the best Tennessee-style BBQ in the Tampa area. Stop in and treat your taste buds to Sparky’s Pulled Pork Sandwich, a half slab of ribs, or Ericka’s Spicry Collard Greens. All meats at Al’s are smoked for hours at a time.

A daily special is also offered, as is beer. Al started his business out of a concession stand in 2003 and expanded it into a sit-in restaurant in 2009. His wife, Jackie, and daughter, Tia, help him run the joint. Al’s Bar-B-Que is located in a bungalow off 7th Avenue in historic Ybor City. Contact: 1609 Angel Oliva Sr St., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-956-0675 Photo: Al's Finger Lickin' Good Bar-B-Que



Besito (“Little Kiss”) serves authentic Mexican cuisine with bold flavors. Enjoy the intimate, romantic setting as you delight in incredible dishes such as the Pescado a LA Parilla, Chile Relleno Con Hongos, or Costilla Torta (with braised short ribs, queso asado, avocado jalapeno salsa, pickled jalapenos, and frijoles refritos).

Wine, beer, and cocktails are always available. John Tunney, who spent years traveling Mexico, originally founded Besito in 2006. In partnership with restaurateur Chris Sullivan, Tunney expanded the restaurant into a chain with seven locations in five states. The Tampa site, located in the Westshore Plaza, opened in 2015. Contact: 205 WestShore Plaza, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-287-4800

More trip ideas: Best Things to Do in Denver Photo: Besito

»Lee Roy Selmon's

Lee Roy Selmon's

Named for the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, Lee Roy Selmon’s sports bar and grill serves classic American cuisine with heavy Southern influences (including many Selmon family recipes). Start your meal off with the Buffalo Chicken Nachos before diving into Mama’s Meatloaf or the Twisted Southern Chicken.

Beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails are also available, as is a gluten-free menu. Lee Roy Selmon himself founded this popular restaurant in 2000, but today, it the founders of the Outback Steakhouse chain own the establishment. Enjoy a tasty meal in this lively eatery located in Northwest Tampa. Contact: 4302 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-871-3287

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The iconic, award-winning Datz is a retro American gastropub that serves comfort foods with flair, as well as craft beers, handcrafted cocktails, and gourmet groceries. Dive into incredible signature dishes such as Roger’s Rockin Reuben or the Cedar Plank Shimburger. The Fusion Fries (with black truffle-infused oil, San Joaquin cheddar, and sea salt) are also delicious! Stop in early and try the Sriracha Egg Sammie.

Restaurateur owners Roger and Suzanne Perry opened Datz in 2009, and they also own the next-door bakery Dough and local Creole joint Roux. You will find this fun eatery in the heart of Tampa’s Palma Ceia neighborhood. Read more Contact: 2616 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-831-7000

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For some of the best Creole and Cajun food Tampa has to offer, you will want to check out Roux Creole Nouvelle. Savor unbelievable dishes such as the Abita Beer-Battered Crab Beignets, Muffuletta, or Boudin Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. Alternatively, you can stop in for brunch and try the Rajun Cajun Skillet.

Beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails are also available at Toula’s, the bar inside Roux. Restaurateur owners Suzanne and Roger Perry (who also own Tampa’s Datz and Dough eateries) opened this charming eatery in 2014. Enjoy a casual lunch or a more intimate dinner at Roux, located in South Tampa. Read more Contact: 4205 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-443-5255 Photo: Roux

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»Wright's Gourmet House

Wright's Gourmet House

Wrights Gourmet House has been a Tampa staple for decades, and they serve hearty deli sandwiches, fresh salads, and desserts. Stop by and try their signature Beef Martini Sandwich (rare roast beef, mushrooms marinated in white wine, and crisp bacon) or the Golden Gate Sandwich (roast pork, crisp bacon, and Jarlsberg cheese). You might also enjoy the quiche or the Hawaiian Princess Cake.

Marjorie and Pete Wright founded the joint in 1963, and it originally started as a gourmet shop before expanding into an eatery. It is now owned and operated by their grandson, Jeff Mount. Visit this classic restaurant in the Golfview community. Contact: 1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-253-3838 Photo: koss13/Fotolia

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»Pane Rustica Bakery Cafe

Pane Rustica Bakery Cafe

Pane Rustica Bakery & Café is a charming artisan bakery that also serves delicious Italian cuisine from a menu that changes daily. Here, you will feel right at home, as though you’re in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Treat yourself to incredible dishes like Acorn Squash Salad, Ale-Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheeks, or Bacon, Smoked Cheddar, & Leek Risotto. Don’t miss the Sticky Buns! Pizzas are available too.

Owners Chef Kevin Kruszewski and his wife Karyn first opened Pane Rustica in 1999. Enjoy the warm, welcoming, and casual atmosphere at this adorable eatery located in the Palma Ceia area. Contact: 3225 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-902-8828 Photo: Pane Rustica Bakery Cafe

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»Restaurant BT

Restaurant BT

Restaurant BT serves light, subtle, and elegant French-Vietnamese cuisine in an equally beautiful and sophisticated setting. Your taste buds will appreciate exquisitely prepared dishes such as the Duck Pho, Beef Tenderloin Banh Mi Baguette, or Tuna Sashimi.

A lovely wine list is also available, as are beer, sake cocktails, and mimosas. They also offer a wide selection of loose teas. Restaurant BT was founded in 1988 by Vietnam native, Chef Bt Nguyen (who appeared on The Cooking Channel’s Emeril’s Florida). Enjoy the gorgeous garden patio at this classy eatery located in Tampa’s Palma Ceia neighborhood. Contact: 2507 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-258-1916

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»edison: food+drink lab

edison: food+drink lab

edison: food+drink lab serves creative New American cuisine, including appetizers, soups, salads and entrees. Delight in innovative dishes like Fennel Pollen-Seared American Red Snapper, Achiote Citrus-Seared Duck Breast, Buffalo Cauliflower, or Potato-Crusted Oysters. Craft cocktails, beer, and wine are also served.

The restaurant is intended to be a food and drink lab where a simple equation is used in their culinary creations: product + technique + creativity2. Chef Jeannine Pierola first opened the posh joint in 2012, and it has quickly become a favorite of many. edison: food+drink lab is located at the West Riverfront district close to the University of Tampa. Contact: 912 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-254-7111 Photo: edison: food+drink lab

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»Brocato's Sandwich

Brocato's Sandwich

Brocato’s Sandwich is a local favorite when it comes to gourmet sandwiches and warm, friendly service. You can’t go wrong with their Cuban or signature Nano Henry Sandwiches, or the Chicken Parmesan and homemade soups. Stop in early and try their Finger-Cut Breakfast Sandwiches.

The Brocato family founded Brocato’s in 1948. Over the years, it has transformed from a grocery store to a meat market and, finally, to the current sandwich shop. It is now owned and operated by Joe and Michael Brocato. You will find them near Ybor City, not far from Myrtle Hill Cemetary. Contact: 5021 E Columbus Dr, Tampa, FL 33619, Phone: 813-248-9977 Photo: artemiykas/Fotolia

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»Osteria Natalina

Osteria Natalina

Plan a casually intimate night at Osteria Natalina, which serves authentic northern coastal Italian cuisine. Savor the Polenta e Pesce (polenta with seafood ragu) appetizer before dining on tasty dishes like the Il Misto Alla Griglia (large shrimp and scallops lightly breaded and grilled) or the Ravioli All’Aragosta (lobster and ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli). Wine and beer are also available.

Osteria Natalina is named after the owner’s mother, who still resides in Rimini, Italy. Restaurateur and owner Spartaco opened the restaurant in 2009 and has been bringing his passion to the kitchen ever since. Visit his charming eatery in Tampa’s Palma Ceia area. Contact: 3215 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-831-1210 Photo: Osteria Natalina

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»Mission BBQ

Mission BBQ

Mission BBQ serves up delicious, classic, All-American BBQ foods in a very patriotic setting. Dive into the Tampa-inspired, Oak-Smoked Brisket, the St. Louis Style Ribs, or the Jalapeno & Chz Sausage.

Don’t miss the Green Beans & Bacon! Bill and Newt, two friends who are passionate about both barbeque and patriotism founded Mission BBQ in 2011. Together, they traveled the country in search of the nation’s best BBQ.

They used what they found and learned to start Mission BBQ, which has since blossomed into a popular restaurant chain. You will find Tampa’s site in the Town and Country neighborhood. Contact: 5602 West Waters Ave., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-999-0922

More vacation ideas: 22 Best Things to Do in Tampa, Florida Photo: ani Vincek/Fotolia

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»Fresh Bites

Fresh Bites

Fresh Bites serves some of the best Mediterranean cuisine (with strong Lebanese influences) – all made from the freshest, locally grown, organic ingredients. Pop in for a bite and enjoy a Fresh Mezza, Lamb Kafta Kabab, Mudardara (wrap), or the delicious Falafel. Organic and exotic beers and wines are also available.

Owners Samir Khalife and his wife Anissa opened this charming eatery in 2012, and their four children (Joey, Diana, Joyce, and Melissa) help them run the joint. Enjoy the refreshing, contemporary setting at Fresh Bites, located in the heart of the Westchester of Hillsborough community. Contact: 11665 Countryway Blvd., Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-336-4936

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Oystercatchers is an upscale, secluded seafood restaurant inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel & Resort. You can’t go wrong with any of their expertly prepared dishes, some of which include the Golden Calamari Fries appetizer, Salmon Tartare Tacos, or the Coconut Key Lime Mussels. If you’re feeling more turf than surf, try the Pistachio Chicken Piccata. An extensive wine list is available, as are beer and cocktails.

Chef de Cuisine Adam Schaffer is at the helm of Oystercatchers, which is named after the Florida State Bird. You will find this modern, elegant restaurant inside Tampa’s Hyatt Resort, very close to the Tampa International Airport. The romantic terrace is perfect for outdoor dining. Contact: 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-207-6815

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Best museums in Tampa: the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and the Contemporary Art Museum. Photo: Oystercatchers

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21 Best Romantic Restaurants in Tampa, Florida