Roux brings a little bit of New Orleans to Tampa. Once you step inside and leave the nondescript strip mall exterior behind, you are transported to historic Bourbon Street, complete with brick walls, a pressed tin ceiling and gaslight fixtures. The atmospheric bar/lounge area in particular is evocative of the Latin Quarter with a wonderful selection of Crescent City cocktails. Of course what really takes you there is the cuisine. Roux's carefully curated menu brings the best of Creole cuisine to your plate. Appetizers such as the char grilled oysters and their classic Boudin Balls are raved about by local diners. For the main course, guests might want to try the delicious Andouille crusted Wahoo with cream cheese grits or the Boudin stuffed pork tenderloin. Whatever your dinner choice, make room for the decadently delicious bread pudding for dessert.
Bella's has been a favorite of locals in South Tampa for over three decades. Featuring home-cooked flavors, everything is prepared from scratch here including their pizza dough and pasta. Diners return often to tuck into the delicious wood-fired pizzas and full menu of classic Italian favorites. Although the decor could easily seem overdone, thanks to subdued lighting and gracious details, Bella's greets guests with a relaxed charm. The open kitchen provides a hint of what's to come for inside diners, and there is also a patio with outdoor seating. Late hours and favorable prices heighten Bella's appeal with the after-clubbing crowd.
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.
Conceived by the culinary tour de force behind Tampa Palms and Daily Eats, this ultra-contemporary eatery fits in well with the SoHo vibe, featuring big city style. Bright, fanciful cocktails and a cool, underwater motif recall Pan Asian spots you might find in a place like South Beach, and the menu gives the concept of sushi a few surprising twists and turns. For example, the rolls, called "water rolls" are clear - everything is rolled in thin rice paper with an emphasis on perfect pairings of fresh fish and seafood. Overall, it's sexy and cosmopolitan, popular with young professionals and the perfect place to be seen.
Edison Food + Drink Lab is the popular creation of Chef Jeannie Pierola, a 4X James Beard Best Chef Semifinalist. From dishes to decor, an industrial science theme invades all aspects of the restaurant. Patrons enjoy an ever-changing menu of "engineered" food "experiments" such as jalapeno Cracker Jacks and a fried oyster and bacon po-boy with kimchee. Expect to be surprised by the flavor combinations on this menu. The decor is fun as well, with an entrance disguised by corrugated metal fencing and the interior featuring polished concrete floors. The industrial look is cleverly broken up by colorful, graphic word art and pops of color on the tables.
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
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. 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 as evidenced by their 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.
Mise en Place is an intimate, well-appointed restaurant located across from the University of Tampa. As a pioneer of the chef-driven restaurant model a signature of this bistro is the ever-rotating menu specializing in New American cuisine. You are almost guaranteed to find something you've never had before, like sous vide venison loin or mustard pecan crusted rack of lamb. The flavors reflect the Chef Marty Blitz's creativity and love of food and the region. Mise en Place also offers a substantial cheese and charcuterie selection, as well as a decadent dessert menu listing creations such as the molten chocolate beignet.
The wildly popular On Swann restaurant is located in Tampa's Hyde Park neighborhood. Led by well-regarded Chef Chris Ponte, the restaurant's cuisine is contemporary American with seasonal menus that incorporate locally sourced and locally grown ingredients. The focus is on small artisan businesses, heirloom varieties, organic cultivation, and sustainable farming techniques. The bar menu includes an impressively large and creative array of craft cocktails and a carefully curated wine and beer list. Although it can be a little noisy due to all the hard surfaces, the quirky combination of industrial and vintage decor creates a comfortable and casual ambiance.
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. Not to mention their astounding wine list, consisting of one of the largest private wine collections in the world. Guests rave about the aged, charcoal-grilled steaks, which are ordered according to weight and thickness. Going against the current "al a carte" trend, Bern's serves full meals complete with soup, salad, and sides, so bring your appetite. As an added plus, many of the restaurant's vegetables are locally grown on the Bern's farm. After dinner, head to the Harry Waugh room for decadent desserts, after-dinner drinks and dancing. The dress code is business casual to semi-formal and reservations are required.