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 – a trio of 2-ounce servings.
Breakfast is a treat at First Watch. A departure from many local breakfast spots, it specializes in providing delicious, but light and healthy meal options. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and made from scratch baked goods and batters. There are no deep fryers here. This place is known for its varied omelet and waffle selections and their famous First Watch potatoes. Lunch options are also offered and available all day along with breakfast. With 7 area locations, chances are there is one near you.
Season's 52 is a fresh grill and wine bar located adjacent to Tampa's Westshore Mall. Convenient to downtown and the airport, this is a great dining option for business or pleasure. With menus that are changed seasonally to reflect what's available at the farmer's market, flavors are fresh and unique. They specialize in using natural cooking techniques and artful seasonings to bring out the natural flavors. Portions are "appropriate" which means they may seem smaller than most restaurants, however, this can be a relief to many who are tired of getting massive portions at restaurants. They even serve mini desserts for those who wish for a taste, but don't want to overindulge.
The Bamboozle Cafe is located in heart of downtown Tampa and features Asian Fusion and traditional Vietnamese cuisine. From their fresh Bamboozle rolls to their hearty Pho Boats, the ingredients are fresh and healthy, and the presentation shows great attention to detail. If you're not hungry for a full meal, you can visit the Bamboozle Tea Lounge that features smaller portions of the menu favorites as well as a selection of tea, Vietnamese coffee, fresh juices and smoothies. As part of the restaurant's commitment to health, they have teamed up with Sweatshop Urban Gym to provide free workouts at nearby Curtis Hixon Park. In addition to a free workout, participants get 20% off their tab at the end of the night.
Ulele is a popular restaurant located on the northern end of Tampa's Riverwalk. The menu is inspired by the indigenous people of Florida and brings together fresh and local ingredients in unique flavor combinations. While the menu is changed seasonally, past examples include a deconstructed seafood pot pie, Yellowfin Tuna crusted with pumpkin seeds, and alligator hush puppies. To accompany the delicious dishes is a selection of hand-crafted signature cocktails and house-brewed beers. Housed in the renovated city water-works building, the restaurant could be described as rustic, industrial chic, creating an open and airy dining space. Outside dining options include a patio, beer gardens and rooftop lounge.
This is the most inventive pizza place in town. That's not to say that Gourmet Pizza is supremely expensive, you need reservations, or there is a dress code to adhere to, only that the pizza you get is both interesting and superior. There is an emphasis on making eclectic pies that are fresh, made from local ingredients and health conscious. Specialties include a cajun crawfish pizza, a southwestern pizza, and quite a few vegan selections. Located between downtown and Dale Mabry Highway near the SoHo neighborhood, the location is the definition of a "hole in the wall", so make sure you are paying attention to your directions (or just have them deliver).
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 are also a range of yummy, but healthy, desserts to choose from and they cold-press a variety of juices made fresh each day.
Tampa's version of the popular Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant chain is located in the Westshore business district, close to the airport and shopping. As the name suggests, wine is central to the menu, specifically Cooper's Hawk wine made in their private winery. Dishes are designed to pair with selections of their very reasonably priced wines. The menu is large and varied with several styles of food, including Asian, Italian, and American, to choose from. The atmosphere is modern and sophisticated with friendly and efficient service.
This small and charming restaurant, housed in a converted Craftsman-style bungalow, serves up big flavors at reasonable prices. Chef/owner Greg Baker opened The Refinery in 2010 with a vision to provide good food, prepared by passionate chefs, at a price that wouldn't break the bank. Tampa residents are wholeheartedly on-board and have made the restaurant an award-winning favorite. The menu changes every week (dishes are rarely, if ever, repeated) based on the availability of local products and Chef Baker is always introducing new and innovative flavor combinations and cooking techniques. Add to that a thoughtful selection of craft beers and reasonably-priced wine and you can't go wrong.
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.