Family get-together, business meeting, birthday party, or just travelling with a large group, the reasons for needing a group friendly restaurant are endless. Finding one that meets your needs can be a challenge. Which of Tampa's many restaurants should you call? Listed here are 10 of the top options that provide delicious food and great service for a variety of different group occasions.
If you and your group are looking for a true Tampa experience and you have a good budget, then the Columbia Restaurant is the perfect choice. Great for special occasions of all kinds, the Columbia offers 15 distinct dining rooms to choose from that can accommodate from 10 - 400. Each of the dining rooms is beautifully decorated with hand-painted Spanish tiles, antiques, and architectural details. The staff is happy to work with you on customized menus or you can order from the banquet menu.
If you're looking for somewhere a little more casual and easier on the pocketbook, there are also several spots to choose from that are also reasonably priced. For an outdoor, waterside experience where the kids are free to run around a bit, then try Rick's on the River. A local favorite, this casual spot offers large tables in the main outdoor area, but also feature a separate covered patio for larger groups.
The Spaghetti Warehouse
The Spaghetti Warehouse in Ybor City is a fun, relaxed place to enjoy a plate of pasta and sauce. The interior is comfortable and casual with nostalgic decor, perfect for families exploring the historic district. Menu items include familiar Italian favorites including a mouth-watering 15-layer lasagne made using a special recipe house sausage and made-from-scratch sauce. Other favorites include spaghetti and meatballs, rich and creamy chicken Alfredo, and the ever-popular chicken parmigiana. Whether you're looking for a reasonably priced family meal or are celebrating a special occasion, kids of all ages will enjoy the Spaghetti Warehouse. ((813) 248-1720)
T. C. Choy's announces its presence in the SoHo neighborhood of Tampa with a large pagoda-style entrance. Elegantly appointed, this modern Asian bistro is a little fancy. Named for founders Tak and Chan Choy, Choy's plays to the desires and appetites of their hip, young clientele who tend to patronize trendy Tampa's SoHo area. The fare, while predominantly Cantonese, does issue forth a few delicious surprises like sushi, jellyfish salad, Japanese buckwheat pasta and clay pots. Those yearning for a bite of Chinatown should plan to stop by T.C. Choy's for lunch, when they feature marvelous dim sum specials. (813-251-1191)
Seasons 52 - Tampa
Season's 52 is a fresh grill and wine bar located adjacent to Tampa's Westshore Mall. Convenient to downtown and the airport, this is a great dining option for business or pleasure. With menus that are changed seasonally to reflect what's available at the farmer's market, flavors are fresh and unique. They specialize in using natural cooking techniques and artful seasonings to bring out the natural flavors. Portions are "appropriate" which means they may seem smaller than most restaurants, however, this can be a relief to many who are tired of getting massive portions at restaurants. They even serve mini desserts for those who wish for a taste, but don't want to overindulge. (813-286-1152)
Rick's on the River
If you want to get off the beaten path, try Rick's on the River. Located on the Hillsborough River just north of downtown, Rick's is a popular local hangout catering to the river boating community. Amenities include a boat ramp and marina with docking space for visitors and overnight guests. Ample outdoor seating and a large bar area provide great vantage points for enjoying views of the river and downtown skyline. Combine that with three fully-stocked bars, good food and affordable prices, and you have the perfect recipe for a good time. There is also live entertainment every night starting at 5pm. ((813) 251-0369)
Maggiano's Little Italy
Fine Southern Italian cuisine comes to your table family-style at Maggiano's, their generous portions guaranteeing that you'll leave at full capacity, perhaps ready for a nap. Specializing in traditional favorites such as J. Cammarrari's Roast Chicken Vesuvio, Picatta-Style Veal Scallopine, and Baked Shrimp Oreganata - how to decide? The atmosphere is distinctly old-world Italian, with cozy tables, red-checked tablecloths, and family portraits hanging on every wall. You can almost hear Mama telling you to "mange, mange." Although part of a chain, the charm of Maggiano's restaurants is that they always manage to make you feel like part of the family. (813-288-9000)
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
A rich, welcoming environment of wood, leather, and subdued lighting greets visitors to this upscale establishment. Along with great ambience, they come for impeccable steaks and chops, cooked to perfection. Each steak is seasoned only with kosher salt and black pepper before being broiled at 1600 degrees. The New York strip is fantastic (try it with Bearnaise sauce!), but Australian lamb chops and veal or pork chops also elicit raves. Main courses are served a la carte. Fleming's is also well known for their by-the-glass "Flemings 100" awarding-winning wine list. If you're not sure which wine to choose, try a Wine Flight – a trio of 2-ounce servings. (813-874-9463)
The first thing you notice as you enter Oystercatchers is the amazing view. This seafood restaurant, nestled among lush, tropical landscaping, takes full advantage of its location at the edge of Tampa Bay. Inside, the decor is bright, simple and modern, serving as the perfect backdrop for both the views and the expertly prepared food. The star of the lunch menu is a selection of locally sourced fish served wood grilled, blackened or sauteed. Not only are the dishes inventive and fresh, they are also gathered with conservation in mind. While the food and the view will cost you (around $20 for a fish entree), the experience cannot be beat. Part of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Oystercatchers has cemented itself as one of the great restaurant spaces in Tampa. (813-207-6815, 813-874-1234)
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)
Yacht Starship sails from Tampa's Channelside neighborhood and is billed as America's first three diamond rated dining yacht by AAA. Perfect for an intimate night out or a group celebration, Yacht Starship provides a three-course dinner while cruising the waters of beautiful Tampa Bay. Prepare for a sophisticated night out - there are spectacular views, private seating, table service and dancing under the stars. The menu changes seasonally, and although limited, takes advantage of many regional flavors and takes into account both gluten-free and vegetarian lifestyles. Public dinner cruises are offered most weekend nights, but there are also lunch cruises, party cruises and special event cruises on their schedule. ((813) 223-7999)
More than just a restaurant, the Columbia is a Tampa institution. Since 1905, this living history lesson has been serving some of the most authentic Spanish/Cuban food in Tampa Bay. The menu is expansive, spanning a wide array of traditional beef, pork, and seafood dishes made in the same way for generations. Today there are several locations in Florida, but the flagship restaurant is still located in the heart of Tampa's historic district, Ybor City. The building is a beautiful Spanish revival with Moorish influences and features hand-painted tiles, ornate antique furniture and rich fabrics throughout. The restaurant has been added on to over the years and now features 15 dining rooms that seat over 1,700 patrons and encompasses an entire city block. The Columbia even hosts Flamenco shows every evening except Sundays. No one forgets a night at the Columbia. (813-248-4961)
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.
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