Best Restaurants near the Cruise Port in Tampa

Best spots for hungry cruisers close to the Port of Tampa

If you are embarking or disembarking from a cruise at the Port of Tampa, there are many delicious dining options close by. Listed here are ten of the best spots to choose from. Many are conveniently located just next door in the Channelside Bay Plaza, while others are just a short walk away.

If you’re disembarking early in the morning and need some fuel to get you on your way, Zelda’s Café and Deli opens early and serves all your breakfast favorites.

If you have the time, it is well worth the effort to make the short walk to the Columbia Cafe. A downtown version of the famous Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, where you can enjoy amazing water views while sampling the dishes that have made the Columbia a local legend.

For a fun, casual evening, check out Splitsville. With a full bar and menu filled with American favorites, it’s probably the coolest bowling alley you’ll ever see. Your options don’t end there as there are many other great restaurants close by ready to satisfy almost any craving from Mexican to Thai. 


City Dog Cantina brings south-of-the-border favorites to the Channelside neighborhood. Located within blocks of Channelside Bay Plaza and the Port of Tampa, City Dog is popular with both locals and visitors to the area. The décor is modern and contemporary featuring an outdoor patio area for when the weather is good. Their fresh and spicy Tex-Mex dishes include tacos and burritos, a selection of appetizers, and salads. Many agree that the Rollin Nolan Nachos are huge, delicious and a great value for your money. There is a full bar and a good selection of beer on tap. They also offer an all-day Mexican-inspired breakfast menu for late risers.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: City Dog Cantina is a popular local Mexican restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, located a few blocks from the Port of Tampa.

Skye's expert tip: Be prepared, almost all the dishes served here are spicy. If you like hot food, you'll like it here.

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Maloney's is a popular Irish pub located in Tampa's Channelside neighborhood, close to downtown and the cruise port. With a comfortable atmosphere, friendly service and perfectly poured pint, you can't go wrong in this welcoming pub. Their menu features all the usual favorites from an extensive selection of chicken wings to their version of the ubiquitous shepherd's pie. There are also a few dishes that cater to the healthy eating crowd including a good selection of salads and trendy "bowls." Bowls feature rice and a selection of proteins and veggies. They offer daily food and drink specials that are worth the visit and live music on the weekends. The kiddos are welcome too!

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: For a friendly atmosphere, tasty pub grub, and a perfect pint, Maloney's Local Irish Pub is just a short walk from Tampa's cruise terminals.

Skye's expert tip: This is a popular college football hangout and during the season Saturdays are packed with Ohio State fans!

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Splitsville Southern & Social
Photo courtesy of Splitsville

Conveniently located at Sparkman Wharf, Splitsville is a chic restaurant and gaming center with modern decor and comfortable seating. Dining at Splitsville goes far beyond the ordinary with a full menu focused on classic Southern dishes developed by two-time James Beard Award winner Chef Art Smith. Check out their delicious fried chicken or pulled pork sliders. There are also a selections of flat breads and salads to choose from. The full bar serves up a good variety of craft cocktails as well as a comprehensive selection of beer. Games include 10 pin bowling, lawn and Belgian feather bowling, ping pong, billiards, foosball, darts, and shuffleboard.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: Located close to the Port, Splitsville offers the unusual combination of great food, a full bar, and 12 lanes of bowling.

Skye's expert tip: There is a dress code enforced after 9 pm Saturday and Sunday and only those over 21 are admitted after 10 pm.

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The District Tavern is a neighborhood bar and gastropub serving the young, urban professionals living in the centrally located Channelside area. As with any great bar, the beverage menu takes center stage. The outstanding cocktail list highlights modern takes on the classics as well as new creations. There is a carefully curated wine list setting this pub apart from most others in town, and the selection of craft brews rotate based on the season. Complimenting the comprehensive drinks menu is a tasty menu of casual pub food that includes staples such as chicken wings and burgers as well as a selection of healthier options including salads and flatbread. The atmosphere is casual if a bit upscale and the decor features rustic brick, a long wood bar, and tons of TVs for the sports fans.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: District Tavern features upscale pub grub and an extensive cocktail, wine and beer menu just a few minutes walk from the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: Weekend warriors might want to check out their all-day Sunday brunch with bottomless Mimosas.

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Harbour Island

Quiet, casual, romantic; Café Dufrain represents all the qualities that make Harbour Island seem worlds away from Tampa's bustling downtown area. Set among high-rise condo and apartment developments, this award-winning restaurant quietly serves up some of the best dishes in town. With a focus on local, organic and sustainable ingredients combined in recipes that are changed seasonally, they have called this approach "new American comfort food cuisine" and are quickly making converts. Combined with great service and a carefully selected boutique wine and craft beer list, lunch or dinner at Café Dufrain is sure to please even the most discerning. For an added bonus, the views of downtown from the waterside patio leave quite an impression, especially at night.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: Located on downtown's Harbour Island, Cafe Dufrain offers a quiet respite and great food close to Tampa's cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: Watch for the reasonably priced daily specials that come paired with a glass of wine or beer.

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It's hard to believe that a former BP gas station downtown could be re-purposed into a truly one-of-a-kind dining establishment, but that's exactly what happened at Zelda's. With a casual atmosphere and fast but fresh food, they specialize in Southern classics and Jamaican flavors. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Zelda's serves the neighborhood well. The breakfast menu is comprehensive, lunch features a wide variety of deli sandwiches and wraps, and dinner offers a small selection of specialty dishes. This unique eatery is located in the Channel district near the Aquarium, the cruise terminal, and the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: Located close to the Port of Tampa, Zelda's offers a great breakfast menu, as well as lunch and dinner options.

Skye's expert tip: A great place to stop for breakfast after disembarking from your cruise.

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Sparkman Wharf
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

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 Restaurants near Cruise Port because: If you're looking for variety, Sparkman Wharf features 9 dining concepts from renowned local chefs just steps from Tampa cruise terminals.

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.

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Located in the Channelside, Fabrica Pizza is a busy neighborhood pizzeria. The star of the show is their wood-fired pizza oven that delivers the crispy, melty goodness of their Neapolitan-style pies. The restaurant features an assortment of specialty pizzas including a traditional Margherita, as well as more creative options including a mouthwatering Funghi pizza that is topped with oven-roasted mushrooms. You can also build your own pie. In addition, is a good selection of salad options and you can build your own salads as well. You can get your order to go, but this is no hole in the wall, eat in to enjoy the modern decor or sit on the patio and watch the people go by.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: Frabrica Pizza is a popular upscale wood fired pizza parlor located close to the Port of Tampa.

Skye's expert tip: There is free covered parking in the garage located behind the pizzeria.

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The Columbia Cafe is a picturesque dining spot centrally located in the Tampa Bay History Center on the downtown waterfront. Overlooking Garrison Channel and the Riverwalk, the views from the large outdoor patio are some of the best in town. The Cafe is part of the historic Columbia Restaurant Group with the original located in Ybor City. As with the Ybor City restaurant, the decor is Spanish-inspired featuring hand-painted tiles and custom woodwork. Menu options include some of the Columbia's most popular dishes including the original "1905 Salad" and a good selection of tapas. The cafe is open for lunch and dinner and features live music every weekend. Public boat docks are available if you're arriving by boat.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: The popular downtown edition of Tampa's famous Columbia Restaurant, Columbia Café is located a few minutes' walk from the Port of Tampa.

Skye's expert tip: One of the Columbia's claims to fame is their delicious white or red sangria made tableside.

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Tucked away in a corner of Tampa's Channelside district is Cena, a popular Italian restaurant that has gathered a loyal following despite a somewhat out of the way location. Chef Michael Buttacavoli presents simple, modern menu items that are elevated by expert preparation, creative presentation, and quality ingredients. Chef's mastery of rustic Italian cuisine shines in his risotto dishes, a definite must-try, as well as in his charcuterie and cheese selections. The wine and cocktail lists are very well curated featuring the classics as well as more modern options. The decor matches the cuisine and is also modern and minimal, but still very cozy and friendly, with diners raving about the great service.

Recommended for Restaurants near Cruise Port because: Located less than a mile from the cruise port, Cena is one of Tampa's best Italian food restaurants.

Skye's expert tip: The desserts here are anything but an afterthought and no one should leave without trying their take on a classic tiramisu.

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Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye