The Taco Bus is Tampa's most famous contribution to the nationwide food truck movement; although when the first Taco Bus rolled into town it was 20 years ahead of its time. Serving authentic, affordable Mexican favorites, the Taco Bus continues to be immensely popular among locals. Owner and Chef Rene grew up in Mexico preparing street food for the local farmer's market. Today he continues this tradition with tortillas made in-house and all dishes made daily using fresh ingredients. Not something you can say about most fast-food outlets. This Taco Bus location in downtown Tampa now occupies a brick and mortar storefront, but the taste is the same. The original bus is still located on Hillsborough Avenue, and there are now two other area locations to choose from.
You can be assured of good barbecue when you see the pit smoking out back. Jimbo's keeps close watch over it, taking great pains to ensure that all the meat reaches that moment of perfect flavor. When it's ready, they pile it high, add baked beans, mustard slaw and hushpuppies and bring it out to you. Whether you get chicken, beef, pork or ribs, you'll smack your lips at the tender, well-seasoned meat and the tangy sauce. It's down-home food and as good as you've ever tasted. Once you've finished licking your fingers clean, make sure to order up a piece of the apple pie. It's homemade.
Since 1912 the Alessi's have been providing Tampa residents with quality baked goods. Today, the business has evolved from a horse and wagon to a full service bakery, deli, restaurant, catering and wholesale operation. It's a great spot for breakfast where you can taste the difference those one hundred years of practice makes. From fresh baked croissants filled with fluffy eggs and cheese to oooey-gooey cinnamon buns, Alessi's is the perfect spot for a grab-and-go breakfast. While the name of the game is cannolis and other traditional bakery items at Alessi, you may be surprised at just how broad their offerings are. There is even a small marketplace where you can pick up hard to find Italian groceries
EVOS is a local fast food chain that focuses on making your favorite fast food dishes more healthy, like using organic or vegan ingredients and air-baking their french fries instead of using the deep fryer. They use naturally raised beef and chicken and wild-caught Alaskan Salmon. The end result is a reduction in calories, fat, and processed ingredients and an increase in fresh, delicious flavor. There's also a wide selection of wraps, salads, smoothies, and shakes. Again, all prepared with fresh, organic ingredients. You will come out satisfied but without the guilt you normally have after a trip to a traditional fast food restaurant.
Serving hungry Tampa locals since 1973, Mel's takes the simple concept of a hot dog and makes it as good as you could imagine. These dogs aren't the bland approximations you find at some fast food places. Instead, they're all-beef and come on poppy-seed buns, loaded with goodies like sauerkraut, onions, relish, pickles and hot peppers. They're offered in a variety of styles, too, so pick your favorite and taste what a hot dog should be like. If you're in the mood for something else, Mel's also has sandwiches, veggie burgers, corn dogs and more. A great location near Busch Gardens and affordable prices only add to the appeal of this Tampa institution.
So Fresh is a fast, fresh, and healthy eating option for people on the go. They offer a variety of bowls, wraps, and salads containing nutrient dense ingredients to fill you up and fuel your day. Pricing includes chicken, tofu, or zoodles which is marinated zucchini cut into thin strips like spaghetti. For an extra charge you can upgrade to steak, shrimp, salmon or Ahi tuna. Dishes are topped with a variety of delicious sauces including a house-made balsamic vinaigrette, tomato sauce and tzatziki sauce. Also on offer are a few smoothie selections which are discounted when ordered with a meal.
Pane Rustica is a favorite local lunch spot in South Tampa. It is an European-style bakery, deli, breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant all rolled into one. The decor is trendy but comfortable with an Italian flair. Their crusty, flavorful breads are made from scratch using all-natural bread starters. A great base for creating one of their delicious sandwiches. Salads feature fresh ingredients creatively combined. If you're hungry, they also offer several lunch special entrees, the most famous of which is the daily "Shut up and eat, don't ask... You'll love it!!!" dish. The dish might be a surprise, but it won't disappoint.
For some people, an authentic New York pizza experience requires a hole-in-the-wall setting. If you are one of those people, Eddie & Sam's is for you. The ingredients, including water shipped down from New York for the dough, only add to the authenticity. The pizzas come out crisp and hot from the oven and include such favorites as primavera, Hawaiian, and Sicilian, hot and cold sandwiches, and buffalo wings. Eddie & Sam's has been a lunchtime favorite of the nearby office crowd for years, but it's also nearby a few of the more popular hotels for a great nighttime snack.
First opened in 2011 in a tiny spot on Polk Street, Duckweed Urban Market has recently moved into a much expanded space in the Element building on Tampa Street. Holding the distinction of being downtown Tampa's first grocery shop, residents and visitors are now able to pick up the daily necessities along with a few luxuries, without leaving the neighborhood. The market's food items focus on fresh, organic and local, as well as offering specialty items ranging from honey to olive oils. In addition, there is a small deli and spaces for sitting and enjoying the daily specials and creative fresh juices. There is also a good selection of wines and craft beers to choose from which can also be consumed onsite.
For 40 years, this cafe and deli has provided Tampa with the freshest, tastiest food imaginable. Everything is homemade, and Wright's is as quick to provide corporate catering as it is to make your individual lunch order. Soups, salads, and quiche are on the menu, as are a host of sandwiches. The signature dish, the Beef Martini, tucks rare roast beef, crisp bacon and marinated mushrooms between slices of bread buttered with a garlic and herb spread. You can't go wrong with anything you order â" just make sure to save room for one of the sweets as their cakes and pies (made with real fruit fillings) are second to none.