Don't have time for a sit down meal? Looking to pack a romantic picnic for lunch at the park? 10 Best knows sometimes time and convenience takes priority and has gathered ten of the tastiest and most convenient options for a take out meal. No matter what time of day it is, or what kind of food you're craving, Tampa has delicious options from gourmet delis to gourmet pizzas.
Grab Tampa's version of the all-American hot dog at legendary Mel's Hot Dogs. A great choice for a grab and go lunch if you're visiting MOSI or Busch Gardens. Try their famous Chicago-style dog. If you're looking for something a little more upscale, Pane Rustica in the fashionable SoHo neighborhood is a European-style deli with an Italian flair. Check out their extensive selection of deli items as well as fresh-made menu items. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Maybe you're craving some finger-licking-good barbeque with all the fixin's? Check out Jimbo's Pit BBQ. The beef and pork may be slow-cooked but it's served fast and hot with their special tangy sauce that is a favorite of locals. Jimbo's is also one of the best values in town.
La Creperia Cafe
The French art of crepe making is alive and well in Tampa's historic district, Ybor City. Locals and visitors alike flock to this authentic European-style bistro to enjoy sweet and savory breakfast versions of this classic French dish. As patrons look on in awe, the Chef pours, twirls and flips the crepes that are made using fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection. The savory breakfast offerings are filled with combinations of eggs, cheese, breakfast meats, and veggies while the sweet options are filled with fruit, jams, Ricotta, and syrups. The perfect spot to nourish yourself before a day of exploring the neighborhood. ((813) 248-9700)
Alessi Bakery & Deli
Since 1912 the Alessi's have been providing Tampa residents with quality baked goods. Today, the business has evolved from a horse and wagon to a full service bakery, deli, restaurant, catering and wholesale operation. It's a great spot for breakfast where you can taste the difference those one hundred years of practice makes. From fresh baked croissants filled with fluffy eggs and cheese to oooey-gooey cinnamon buns, Alessi's is the perfect spot for a grab-and-go breakfast. While the name of the game is cannolis and other traditional bakery items at Alessi, you may be surprised at just how broad their offerings are. There is even a small marketplace where you can pick up hard to find Italian groceries (813-879-4544)
Pane Rustica is a favorite local lunch spot in South Tampa. It is an European-style bakery, deli, breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant all rolled into one. The decor is trendy but comfortable with an Italian flair. Their crusty, flavorful breads are made from scratch using all-natural bread starters. A great base for creating one of their delicious sandwiches. Salads feature fresh ingredients creatively combined. If you're hungry, they also offer several lunch special entrees, the most famous of which is the daily "Shut up and eat, don't ask... You'll love it!!!" dish. The dish might be a surprise, but it won't disappoint. (813-902-8828)
EVOS is a local fast food chain that focuses on making your favorite fast food dishes more healthy, like using organic or vegan ingredients and air-baking their french fries instead of using the deep fryer. They use naturally raised beef and chicken and wild-caught Alaskan Salmon. The end result is a reduction in calories, fat, and processed ingredients and an increase in fresh, delicious flavor. There's also a wide selection of wraps, salads, smoothies, and shakes. Again, all prepared with fresh, organic ingredients. You will come out satisfied but without the guilt you normally have after a trip to a traditional fast food restaurant. ((813) 258-EVOS)
Eddie & Sam's NY Pizza
For some people, an authentic New York pizza experience requires a hole-in-the-wall setting. If you are one of those people, Eddie & Sam's is for you. The ingredients, including water shipped down from New York for the dough, only add to the authenticity. The pizzas come out crisp and hot from the oven and include such favorites as primavera, Hawaiian, and Sicilian, hot and cold sandwiches, and buffalo wings. Eddie & Sam's has been a lunchtime favorite of the nearby office crowd for years, but it's also nearby a few of the more popular hotels for a great nighttime snack. (813-229-8500)
Mel's Hot Dogs
Serving hungry Tampa locals since 1973, Mel's takes the simple concept of a hot dog and makes it as good as you could imagine. These dogs aren't the bland approximations you find at some fast food places. Instead, they're all-beef and come on poppy-seed buns, loaded with goodies like sauerkraut, onions, relish, pickles and hot peppers. They're offered in a variety of styles, too, so pick your favorite and taste what a hot dog should be like. If you're in the mood for something else, Mel's also has sandwiches, veggie burgers, corn dogs and more. A great location near Busch Gardens and affordable prices only add to the appeal of this Tampa institution. (813-985-8000)
Wright's Gourmet House
For 40 years, this cafe and deli has provided Tampa with the freshest, tastiest food imaginable. Everything is homemade, and Wright's is as quick to provide corporate catering as it is to make your individual lunch order. Soups, salads, and quiche are on the menu, as are a host of sandwiches. The signature dish, the Beef Martini, tucks rare roast beef, crisp bacon and marinated mushrooms between slices of bread buttered with a garlic and herb spread. You can't go wrong with anything you order – just make sure to save room for one of the sweets as their cakes and pies (made with real fruit fillings) are second to none. (813-253-3838)
What is notable about Precinct Pizza isn't necessarily the pie (which is great in itself), but the story behind it. A New York paramedic, after coming down with post-9/11 respiratory problems, decided to move down to Tampa and open a realistic New York pizza place. He has filled it with decorations and memorabilia from the city, enough to give even the strongest native New Yorker flashbacks. Precinct Pizza uses fresh, high-quality ingredients to prepare their pizzas combined with homemade marinara sauce and dough made from scratch each day. Then they are cooked in a brick oven that rotates to ensure a perfectly baked pizza every time. (813-228-6973)
Duckweed Urban Grocery
First opened in 2011 in a tiny spot on Polk Street, Duckweed Urban Market has recently moved into a much expanded space in the Element building on Tampa Street. Holding the distinction of being downtown Tampa's first grocery shop, residents and visitors are now able to pick up the daily necessities along with a few luxuries, without leaving the neighborhood. The market's food items focus on fresh, organic and local, as well as offering specialty items ranging from honey to olive oils. In addition, there is a small deli and spaces for sitting and enjoying the daily specials and creative fresh juices. There is also a good selection of wines and craft beers to choose from which can also be consumed onsite (license pending for end of September 2013). ((813) 221-3825)
The Taco Bus is Tampa's most famous contribution to the nationwide food truck movement; although when the first Taco Bus rolled into town it was 20 years ahead of its time. Serving authentic, affordable Mexican favorites, the Taco Bus continues to be immensely popular among locals. Owner and Chef Rene grew up in Mexico preparing street food for the local farmer's market. Today he continues this tradition with tortillas made in-house and all dishes made daily using fresh ingredients. Not something you can say about most fast-food outlets. Seminole Heights is the original Taco Bus location, but if that's not convenient, there are four other area locations to choose from. ((813) 232-5889)
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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