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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Tampa's Rick's on the River is a casual, waterfront spot with large tables and a separate covered pavilion for larger groups.
Skye's expert tip: If you're an oyster fan, Rick's brings them in fresh and local. Try their "Jacked-Up" version.
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 â" a trio of 2-ounce servings.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Fleming's, located near Tampa International Airport offers several private dining areas, perfect for business meetings.
Skye's expert tip: For those with a lighter appetite, Fleming's offers a selection of "small plates."
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Dining aboard Tampa's Yacht Starship is perfect for special group celebrations and private rooms are available.
Skye's expert tip: The cruise schedule varies so call for up-to-date information.
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.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Behind the bookcase at Ciro's, a speakeasy themed restaurant and bar, is a hidden lounge area perfect for birthdays or bachelor/bachelorette celebrations.
Skye's expert tip: Well known for their carefully curated selection of artisan cocktails and skilled bartenders.
Located in Brandon, a 15 minute drive from downtown is Topgolf Tampa. This unique entertainment complex offers a 3-level golf range for players of all ages and abilities to hone their skills playing target-oriented games. A state-of-the-art gaming system logs players in and keeps track of both the game and the score using microchipped golf balls. There are 109 golf bays that can accommodate up to 6 people and are rented by the hour. Each bay has a host that provides full food and beverage service. In addition, there is a large restaurant and bar, games lounge and outdoor patio. If you're on a budget, try and visit on Tuesday which is half price for the hourly bay rental.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: The perfect place to host a fun-filled party or event, Topgolf Tampa offers the services of dedicated party-planners.
Skye's expert tip: Weekends are very busy and you may have to wait as golf bays are assigned on a first come first serve basis unless you have a priority membership.
The Rusty Pelican is a classic Tampa seafood-and-steaks place located directly on the waters of Tampa Bay. This casually elegant restaurant serves up fresh-from-the-water fare that does for the taste buds what the restaurant's panoramic views do for the eyes. Yes, the Rusty Pelican makes a memorable first impression. But what truly keeps folks coming back is the food, and you'll understand why once you've had the Rocky Point Grouper topped with fresh asparagus, Beggars Salmon wrapped in phylo and stuffed with crab, or Shrimp Scampi Rustico with angel hair pasta. Even the steaks, a handful of which are prepared table-side, garner high praise! It's also a well-known event location, hosting weddings and other events for up to 300 guests.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: The Rusty Pelican is a Tampa favorite for their fresh seafood and water views, also a popular event venue able to host up 300 guests.
Skye's expert tip: Check out their popular Sunday brunch, but call for reservations to ensure a table with a view.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Bern's is legendary for its great steaks and stunning wine list. They also offer 3 dining rooms of various sizes that can be booked privately.
Skye's expert tip: The staff at Bern's welcome you into their kitchen and wine cellar. Just ask your server for a tour.
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 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, 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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: With magical water views, a celebration at Oystercatchers is sure to please. Private dining with custom menus is offered for groups up to 48.
Skye's expert tip: Oystercatchers offers the the finest brunch in town. Reservations are recommended.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Traditional Tampa dining at its best, the elegant Columbia Restaurant also offers a complete selection of group services and amenities.
Skye's expert tip: The unique Flamenco show runs twice nightly except for Sundays.