Hyde Park and SoHo are two of Tampa’s most trendy and fashionable neighborhoods featuring great shopping, delectable dining, and vibrant nightlife. SoHo is named for the street it is centered on, South Howard Avenue, and forms the western border of the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, which is bordered on the east by the waters of Tampa’s Hillsborough Bay. SoHo is also known as “restaurant row” with over 35 restaurants lining the street.
The challenge in creating a list of ten top choices was narrowing down the selections, but 10 Best has prevailed to bring you this list of guaranteed-to-please favorites. Featuring a mixture of dining experiences, from formal and upscale, to laid back and casual, there is sure to be a dining option perfect for you.
Adventurous diners will want to try Edison Food + Drink Lab to check out their latest food innovations. Chef Pierola and her crew create daily "flavor experiments" where everyday food is engineered into modern cuisine.
If you’re looking for a swanky night out you might want to try Bern’s Steak House, Tampa's legendary traditional steakhouse. After dinner, head upstairs to their intimate dessert room where diners enjoy decadent desserts and dancing.
Most of these restaurants are located with walking distance, so if you change your mind, just walk down the street a ways and you’ll find another tempting dining option.
Timpano Chophouse and Martini Bar - Tampa
Timpano Chophouse revives and celebrates the Chicago supper club with an emphasis on martinis, Sinatra and old-school table service. The restaurant specializes in preparing a wide variety of aged, hand-cut steaks, chops, veal and house-made pastas. Some other menu favorites include their delicious flatbread pizzas, the perfectly prepared Osso Bucco, and the simply prepared mussels. Next door the Starlight Lounge serves up live entertainment daily (in keeping with the Rat Pack theme) along with a good variety of martinis and specialty cocktails. On weekends they offer brunch with era-inspired favorites like the Chairman's Eggs Benedict, and suitable offerings from the bar including a "create your own" Bloody Mary bar with all kinds of fixins. (813-254-5870)
Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant
With so much Spanish influence in Florida, it's not surprising that tapas has a big place in the restaurant scene. One of the most popular options is the Ceviche Tapas Bar. This small, Florida-based chain of restaurants feature an intimate and trendy atmosphere that is popular with their young and sophisticated clientele. Tampa's version is located in SoHo and features a wonderful tropical patio area. They serve lunch and dinner daily featuring an extensive list of hot and cold tapas as well as a variety of cervices and paella. Brunch is served on weekends with a menu that mixes some fresh takes on classic breakfast foods, like their papaya pancakes, with a majority of their huge, famous tapas menu. (813-250-0203)
Bella's Italian Cafe
A favorite of locals in South Tampa, Bella's has been around for 28 years. Although it could easily be pretentious, thanks to subdued lighting and gracious details, Bella's prefers to greet guests with relaxed charm. In fact, it's a delightful place to dine throughout the day, and folks return often to tuck into wood-fired pizzas and a plethora of delectable pasta dishes. The open kitchen provides a hint of what's to come, and whether you choose a chicken entree, stuffed eggplant, an appetite-pleasing bowl of pasta, or a bit of tiramisu, you'll see the kitchen's skill immediately. Late hours and favorable prices heighten Bella's appeal. (813-254-3355)
Eclectic and sophisticated describes the scene at this South Howard address. The restaurant features an intimate atmosphere with décor featuring Art Deco paintings, stained wood trim, high ceilings and an open kitchen. But what visitors really flock to are the culinary creations of Chef Robert Masson. Expect modern takes on Italian classics – for example, manicotti stuffed with lump crab, scallops and shrimp, veal scaloppini, or penne with jumbo sea scallops and pesto. In keeping with the place's cosmopolitan feel, the menu also lists a handful of Asian-inspired dishes, sesame chicken and Szechwan duck breast among them. The hip young professional crowd also appreciates the extensive wine list, martinis and creative specialty drinks. (813-250-1661)
Ciro's Speakeasy and Supper Club
Ciro's is a 1920's style speakeasy and they take their prohibition-era theme very seriously. In addition to the discrete entrance that is void of external signage or advertising, you must call ahead to get the password in order to gain admittance. Once inside you are greeting by staff dressed for a 1920's night out who, for the most part, stay in character throughout the evening. As is befitting, specialty cocktails are their specialty with expert barkeeps creating mostly original concoctions that are both delicious and slightly dangerous. Their small but intriguing menu offers a variety of succulent entrees and some really interesting snack foods like their black truffle popcorn. ((813) 251-0022)
Datz is one of Tampa's most popular restaurants. At one time or another, almost everyone has visited this trendy gastropub and market. The interior is warm and inviting with a funky, industrial vibe and no one stands on ceremony here - flip-flops and shorts are welcome. The food is as comforting as the environment lifting America's favorite dishes to a whole new level. Looks for twists on the traditional such as their chicken and waffles served with jalapeno-maple syrup or their famous meatloaf stuffed with mac 'n cheese. They are known for their large portions, so bring an appetite. If you have room after lunch, wander next door to their new sister-restaurant, Dough, for some sweet treats and coffee. Brunch is served on weekends from 8:30am - 3:00pm (813-831-7000)
Élevage is located in the Epicurean Hotel, a boutique hotel that caters to guests wishing to experience life's indulgences, especially when it comes to food. Developed by the owner of Bern's, one of Tampa's most established restaurants, Élevage maintains the tradition of serving wonderfully prepared food. Featuring 2012 James Beard Best Chef South Semi-Finalist, Executive Chef Chad Johnson, the dishes are modern versions of classic recipes from around the world. While the quality of the cuisine may indicate a level of formality, the restaurant's ambiance is contemporary but casual featuring jean clad waiters. Dishes to try include the Duck, Duck, Goose, a foie gras & goose confit stuffed duck burger, or the Tuna Casserole featuring rare tuna, trofie pasta, peas, shimeji mushroom, and cantalet. (813-999-8726)
Mise en Place
Mise en Place is an intimate, well-appointed restaurant located across from the University of Tampa. A signature of this bistro is the ever-rotating menu, which intimidates some newcomers. They are missing out on one of the most inventive restaurants in the area. Specializing in New American cuisine, you are almost guaranteed to have something you've never had before, like sous vide venison loin or mustard pecan crusted rack of lamb. The flavors reflect the Chef's love of food and the region. Mise en Place also provides a substantial cheese selection and a ridiculous dessert menu with such creations as the molten chocolate beignet. (813-254-5373)
Edison Food + Drink Lab
When a former chef of the famous Bern's Steakhouse, as well as its spin-off SideBern's, starts a new restaurant in Tampa, people pay attention. Such is the case with Edison Food + Drink Lab, the latest effort from chef Jeannie Pierola. To say this place is unlike anything else in Tampa is an understatement. The science theme invades all aspects of the restaurant, including food "experiments" such as jalapeno Cracker Jacks and a fried oyster and bacon po boy with kimchee. The decor is fun as well, as long as you don't mind being surrounded by beakers. (813-254-7111)
Bern's Steak House
Bern's Steak House is one of Tampa's best-known restaurants. Family-owned since opening in 1956, this venerable steak house is legendary for its impeccable service, top-quality food, and incredible attention to detail. Guests rave about the aged, charcoal-grilled steaks, which are ordered according to weight and thickness. Each comes with a salad, onion soup, baked potato, garlic toast, onion rings, and organic vegetables, so bring your appetite. Many of the restaurant's vegetables are locally grown on the Bern's farm. In addition to steak, chicken, and seafood, vegetarian options are available. The wine list is astounding, consisting of one of the largest wine collections in the world featuring over 7000 vintages. After dinner, head to the Harry Waugh room for decadent desserts, after-dinner drinks and dancing. Jacket, tie and reservations are required. (813-251-2421)
About Skye Rodgers
Skye has lived in Tampa for over 16 years and spends much of her time exploring the region and discovering its hidden treasures. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no cold, no snow climate and enjoys basking on the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and navigating the waters of Tampa Bay.
When not out exploring Tampa, Skye is a freelance writer and public relations professional. She currently provides public relations counsel on a freelance basis to non-profits, social enterprises and small business.
Read more about Skye Rodgers here.
Connect with Skye via: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest