American Social is a casual, contemporary restaurant that does triple duty as a sports bar and nightclub as well. This small Florida chain is quickly making a name for itself as a great spot to meet with friends or colleagues to enjoy a meal and drinks. The menu focuses on a wide variety of shareable appetizers and small plates featuring familiar comfort food favorites including a delicious mac and cheese option and tasty chicken skewers with walnut hummus. The open-plan restaurant facilitates group dining with large booths and community tables. Outside, the spacious terrace features a large bar area with high top seating and lounge spaces with beautiful views of Garrison Channel and the city skyline.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: American Social is quickly becoming an established favorite with locals and visitors alike featuring shareable menu items and a great water view.
Skye's expert tip: They offer a delicious brunch on Sundays with bottomless mimosas for the ladies between 11 am and 2 pm.
Fresh seafood is on the menu at Harpoon Harry's Crab House in downtown Tampa. Conveniently located in the Tampa Convention Center, Harry's is close to most downtown attractions, businesses, and hotels. The large restaurant features seating for over 500 with both intimate and group seating, a large bar area and upstairs outdoor patio. The extensive menu features a wide variety of seafood specialties and crab pots, in addition to a good selection of USDA steaks, chops, and chicken dishes to choose from. Make sure to save some room for dessert as they also feature a delicious selection including several that are served in homestyle jars.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Located in the center of all the downtown action, Harpoon Harry's is a large restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating that serves up seafood specialties.
Skye's expert tip: Parking is available in the attached Convention Center parking lot, but it is actually cheaper to use the valet. Just pull up to the front door!
Salt Shack on the Bay is an open-air restaurant with terrific views of Tampa Bay. Featuring two large covered pavilions, one for the bar and one for the restaurant, there is plenty of shady space in which to enjoy the Caribbean-inspired menu. In keeping with the location, seafood is the main attraction on the menu featuring Gulf-caught fish and shrimp prepared in a variety of ways. For starters, try the daily variety of Caribbean Fritter - check their board for details - or the locally made Mahi fish spread. There are several sandwiches and burgers to choose from including their own take on Tampa's ubiquitous Grouper sandwich. For an entree, try their fresh catch of the day prepared just the way you like it.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Salt Shack on the Bay is a Caribbean-inspired restaurant and bar with wonderful views of Old Tampa Bay and fresh from the Gulf seafood.
Skye's expert tip: The west-facing view of Old Tampa Bay makes this a premier spot to enjoy Tampa's beautiful sunsets.
Yet another riff on the food hall concept, Sparkman Wharf offers the culinary stylings of ten of Tampa's top chefs as they experiment with new concepts. Dubbed a dining garden, visitors sample from specially developed street food menus. The twist is that the restaurants are all working out of renovated shipping containers. Dining options run the gamut from raw oysters to French Vietnamese, to gourmet popsicles. The first finished project of Tampa's billion-dollar Water Street development, this open-air meeting space features dining options, live music, comfortable seating, lawn games, and of course, a beautiful view of the waterfront.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Sparkman Wharf is an open-air dining garden featuring the culinary talents of top Tampa chefs in a park-like setting with water views.
Skye's expert tip: Long lines can form during peak dining hours. Visit mid-to-late afternoon, especially on weekdays, for a more leisurely dining experience.
Located in historic Ybor City, 7th + Grove is a welcome new addition to the area's restaurant scene. Featuring a laid back, funky vibe, there are two separate sections, one that focuses on being a restaurant and one that is focused on being a lounge and late-night dance space. On the restaurant side, the simple, neutral furniture and floors perfectly frame the colorful murals that dominate the walls. On the night side, plush velvet seats in hot pink steal the show in the night-clubby interior. However, it's the menu filled with Southern soul food favorites that keeps people coming back. To give it an added cool factor, each dish is named after a popular song, so "Everyday People" is shrimp and grits, and "Awaken My Love" is fried chicken.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: New to Ybor City are the funky vibes of 7th + Grove that is quickly becoming a favorite for their Southern soul food specialties.
Local Expert tip: Social hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday only and features $7 cocktails and small plates.
Located in downtown Tampa, Mole Y Abuela is a trendy dining spot featuring simply prepared Spanish-inspired dishes using high-quality ingredients. There is a mixture of tapas and entrees so you can choose which route to take. Among the small plates, there are several must-trys including the Jamon & cheese croquettes and the lamb and beef meatballs. There is also a wonderful selection of Spanish cheeses and charcuterie selections are a real treat. There are several stellar seafood dishes, check out the braised octopus for something a little different. The decor featured in the restaurant and bar is contemporary with an almost mid-century flavor. There is plenty of outdoor seating with a sidewalk patio out front and a rooftop lounge with comfy seating and a great view. This is the second restaurant concept to open in Tampa from celebrity Chef Fabian Viviani and his partners at Nocturnal Hospitality Group.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Mole Y Abuela is the second of Chef Fabio Viviani restaurants in Tampa featuring Spanish-inspired cuisine with a mixture of tapas and larger plates.
Skye's expert tip: Make sure to try one of their delicious craft cocktails as well - the pomegranate caipirinha is a fan favorite.
Located in the heart of downtown Tampa is Osteria Bar & Kitchen. The result of a synergistic partnership between local restaurant entrepreneurs and celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, this sophisticated concept presents diners with rustic, yet refined Italian cuisine. Chef Viviani has transformed traditional recipes and elevated them to please the increasingly erudite palates of today's diners. A few items to try include the Kobe meatball appetizer, the Chianti-braised short rib with light-as-a-cloud polenta, the unique and complex chicken marsala, and any of the desserts. At once a spot for casual snacks, upscale dining, and a late-night bite, the stylish and modern decor translates well from day to night, complemented with pops of tradition and humor.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Osteria Bar & Kitchen is Tampa's newest take on rustic Italian cuisine and features the culinary direction of celebrity chef, Fabio Viviani.
Skye's expert tip: This is not the restaurant to skip dessert! Make sure to save room a decadent Dolci to pair with a delicious Amaro or digestif.
Fresh Kitchen is a healthy fast food option for lunch and dinner located in Tampa's SoHo neighborhood. On offer is a full range of fresh and delicious ingredients that are combined in a handy bowl to eat in or take out. Set up cafeteria-style, diners head to the counter and order their bowl ingredients from the menu, picking a base such as noodles, rice or Quinoa, then veggies and a protein, topping it all off with a delicious house-made sauce. There is also a range of yummy, but healthy, desserts to choose from and they cold-press a variety of juices made fresh each day.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Fresh Kitchen is a wildly popular fast-casual option that features healthy and convenient customizable protein and veggie bowls.
Skye's expert tip: Not in South Tampa? This popular local chain has already expanded to 5 other regional locations. Check their website for the latest.
The Heights Public Market is located in Armature Works, a beautifully renovated, historic building that faces the scenic Hillsborough River. With 22,000 sq-ft, the open floor plan food hall features communal seating surrounded by 15+ of the most innovative and up-and-coming dining concepts in Tampa. Designed as an incubator for area talent, there are a wide variety of tasty treats to choose from, including coffee and tea at Union by Commune + Co., modern Cuban fare at Hemingway's, cocktails from Fine & Dandy, breakfast at Graze 1910, and of course, ice cream at Astro Ice Cream Co. Guests are free to grab and go, settle in at an indoor table, or take your goodies outside to the large outdoor lawn area with river views.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Located in a renovated maintenance barn, Tampa's Heights Public Market is a communal dining hall that features the innovative cuisine of over 15 vendors.
Skye's expert tip: If you're looking for table service, Armature Works also hosts two restaurants and a rooftop lounge, all of which offer extensive outdoor seating.
Located in beautifully renovated, historic Armatureworks, Oak and Ola is a stand-alone restaurant featuring the culinary stylings of James Beard Award-Winning Chef Anne Kearney. The menu she has created is at once traditional and modern, evocative of a European bistro, featuring a carefully curated selection of seasonal dishes. Each one is carefully prepared with attention to every detail and features a beautiful balance of flavors. Despite the impressive pedigree, the food here both delicious and accessible, from the satisfying crunch of the perfectly salted Pommes Frites (french fries) to the moist and flaky Gulf fish topped with toasted almonds and served with haricot vert (green beans). The decor is impeccable and perfectly matches the European-inspired cuisine while also fitting in with the industrial, rustic vibe of the historic building. The restaurant overlooks the Hillsborough River through a wall of floor to ceiling glass that can be opened in good weather.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Tampa's most popular new restaurant is Oak and Ola that features the cuisine of Tampa's only James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Anne Kearney.
Skye's expert tip: The cocktail menu features creative combinations and artful presentations, each inspired and named after a famous woman. See if you can identify them all!