Delight your taste buds by exploring Ybor City's best dining

By day, Ybor City is a tourist mecca, inviting visitors to walk its cobbled streets and explore its fascinating history. At night, it’s an entertainment hot spot with bars and clubs lining the streets. However, at any time of day, you can find delicious dining options to choose from. To help you decide, 10 Best has scoured the charming streets of Ybor City to find the top ten dining spots.

Many restaurants in Ybor City feature Cuban, Italian, and Spanish dishes. This reflects the area’s rich and colorful history. First settled in the mid-1800s, the original residents were workers in Tampa’s cigar factories. These families have shaped the cultural fabric of this vibrant and diverse neighborhood since its beginnings.

The Columbia Restaurant is a must-visit, not just for the food, but for the dining experience as well. Opened in 1905, the cuisine at this family-owned restaurant is primarily Spanish, using recipes that have been handed down for generations. You can also try Carmine’s, another Tampa institution that serves popular local Cuban and Italian dishes. Wherever you dine, try and get a view of the street - the quality of people watching in Ybor City is second only to its flavors.


Carmine's is an old-school, locals favorite in Tampa's historic Ybor City neighborhood. Family owned and operated by Carmine Iavarone, the restaurant is named after his grandfather who opened the family's first restaurant in the 1940s. This restaurant with its fun, historic ambiance is a favorite spot for visitors and locals alike to indulge in traditional Tampa favorites. Make sure to check out their deviled crab, made from local blue crabs, and the Cuban sandwiches. Both of these specialties are Ybor City inventions intended to feed hungry cigar factory workers and are well worth trying for yourself.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: Carmine's is an old-school Tampa institution that serves Cuban and Italian favorites as well as traditional Ybor City dishes.

Skye's expert tip: Some say they serve the best deviled crab in Tampa. Taste for yourself!

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The Stone Soup Company is a friendly and casual neighborhood eatery located in historic Ybor City. The eclectic decor is enhanced with colorful local artwork that adorns the walls. Inspired by the "Soup Nazi" episode of "Seinfeld," the menu offers an array of - you guessed it - soups, but there is also a delightful selection of sandwiches, flatbreads, empanadas, and entrees to choose from. The restaurant has received several awards, both for its soup and for its rendition of the classic and iconic Cuban sandwich. They also serve beer and wine. Be sure to ask your server about new selections, daily specials, and special chef's creations. Whether you're in the mood for casual dining or a special occasion, The Stone Soup Company is sure to please.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: Known for their made from scratch soups and friendly, eclectic ambiance, the Stone Soup Company is the perfect spot for a casual meal.

Skye's expert tip: Try their award-winning version of Tampa's iconic Cuban sandwich that is served with a slight twist on the original.

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El Puerto Restaurant and Grill is located just off the beaten tourist trail in Ybor City, Tampa's historic district. El Puerto is one of Tampa's hidden gems and well worth a visit. Just make sure you're very, very hungry as the portions are huge. Chef/Owner Nelson Umana has over 20 years' experience creating delicious Latin American specialties using traditional recipes from countries like Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru. Their specialty is beef prepared with an Argentinian flair with their skirt steak always drawing rave reviews. Another good choice is the Parrillada or mixed grill. There is also a good selection of seafood items and their Ceviche is a popular choice.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: El Puerto is a hidden gem serving fantastic Latin American specialties in Tampa's historic district, Ybor City.

Skye's expert tip: Allow plenty of time to enjoy your meal as speed is not a priority here.

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Samurai Blue
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Samurai Blue has two locations in Tampa, one in Ybor City and one in Westchase. The Ybor City location gets the thumbs up for cool ambiance, but both locations get high marks from savvy diners for the outstanding lunch choices. Their bento boxes, for example, carry everything from beef short ribs to sushi. If you're looking for something more visually familiar, their panko-seared crab cakes or teriyaki-salmon wrap sandwiches pose tasty alternatives. Though prices elevate some at dinner, these fun-loving joints pack folks in, thanks to sleek design, good service, and fantastic nigiri, sashimi and maki creations.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: One of the trendier Ybor City restaurants, Samurai Blue is a "go-to" spot for locals to get their sushi fix.

Skye's expert tip: With food service available until 1:00 am on weekends, this is a good spot for a late meal.

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Gaspar's Grotto is a popular bar and restaurant located in Tampa's Ybor City historic neighborhood. Perfect for visitor's who have not had the opportunity to experience the annual Gasparilla Celebration, Gaspar's celebrates the famous pirate invasion all year long and everyone gets to party like a pirate. Three large bar areas offer patrons options for seating and entertainment and there is always something going on. If you get hungry, Gaspar's offers some very decent bar grub from Tampa favorites like the Cuban sandwich and Devil Crab to the hottest hot wings in the city. Gaspar's is also one of the few spots open for breakfast in Ybor City.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: While celebrated for their party-like-a-pirate atmosphere, Gaspar's Grotto also serves up a great selection of well-prepared and creative dishes.

Skye's expert tip: Sunday brunch is fit for a hung-over pirate with unlimited mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar.

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Perhaps best known for their handcrafted beers, the Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a family-run microbrewery located in Centro Ybor. However, beer also makes a great cooking ingredient and the hefty menu at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company includes many tasty dishes that incorporate their brews, including the Stout Iron Rat Shepherd's Pie and the Beer Cheese Soup. An alumnus of the Travel Channel program "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," the menu indicates the dishes featured so guests can taste for themselves. The place has a comfortable, welcoming ambiance, and there is plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors on their open-air patio.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: The Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a friendly, family-owned brewpub with a menu featuring many dishes inspired by their house-brews.

Skye's expert tip: Since it can be so hard to choose which of their delicious brews to try, order a flight of six house-brewed specialties.

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As you would expect from a place named after a famous Italian sculptor, Bernini is going for the classical vibe. Fine art and decorative columns may fill the space, but what we're really interested in is the gourmet food. The dishes include black Angus beef, orange-glazed duck, and fresh salmon. The highlight of the menu is the authentic wood-fired flatbread pizza and the opulent martinis. You're also going to need to save room for dessert featuring fresh spins on classic Italian favorites. Lunch is definitely more casual than dinner, which includes live jazz music. This is a great spot to fuel up before taking on the nightlife in Ybor City.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: Located in the heart of Ybor City, Bernini is a neighborhood favorite featuring elegant decor and authentic Italian cuisine.

Skye's expert tip: Their famous budget-friendly happy hour features $3 Stoli martinis and 1/2 off entrees.

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Maybe you're looking for a fun, casual setting for dinner, but burgers or pizza just won't do. Such situations are what places like Acropolis are for. Located in Tampa's historic Ybor City, this Greek taverna serves up an extensive list of traditional delicacies such as dolmades, souvlaki, gyros, and moussaka. Inside the decor is inviting and modern, but if the weather is good, you can sit outside at one of the tables that line the sidewalk and people watch. On weekend nights, crowds are entertained by live music and belly dancers, and guests are encouraged to join in the traditional Greek practice of plate-breaking during the performances. "Opa" indeed!

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: Ybor City's Acropolis restaurant features a traditional Greek dining experience complete with belly dancing and broken plates.

Skye's expert tip: If you can't make it to Ybor, Acropolis has locations in New Tampa, Riverview and St. Petersburg.

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7th + Grove
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

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 Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: Specializing in Southern soul food, 7th + Grove is a groovy new addition to the Ybor City food scene.

Skye's expert tip: Social hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday only and feature $7 cocktails and small plates.

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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 extensive, 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 Spanish revival with Moorish influences and features hand-painted tiles, ornate antiques and rich fabrics throughout. The restaurant has been added on to over the years and now encompasses an entire city block featuring 15 dining rooms that seat over 1,700 patrons. The Columbia also hosts Flamenco shows every evening except Sundays. No one forgets a night at the Columbia.

Recommended for Ybor City's Best Restaurants because: The legendary Columbia Restaurant is the heartbeat of historic Ybor City and offers an extensive menu of Spanish and Cuban favorites.

Skye's expert tip: The unique Flamenco show runs twice nightly except for Sundays - reservations are recommended.

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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