• Melanie Loves Tampa Bay

Best Tampa Restaurants You Need to Try 🍽️ Top Eats from Fine Dining to Casual

Let's talk food, because (besides real estate, of course) one of my favorite things to do is eat.

The food scene here in Tampa is growing and changing - it can be hard to keep up with all of the new places to eat.

From the most well-known to hidden gems, I'm sharing recommendations for some of my favorite restaurants from casual to fine dining.

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An amazing experience! You should make reservations early, leave time for the kitchen and wine cellar tour, and check out the Harry Waugh Dessert Room after dinner.



Super hot right now and located at the north end of the Tampa Riverwalk. It is not only a beautiful restaurant with breathtaking views, but the native Florida cuisine is awesome. Make sure to get the charbroiled oysters and candied bacon maple ice cream. Trust me on that one!



Just down the street from Ulele, within Armature Works is the Heights Public Market - which can best be described as an upscale and hip food court. There are food and drink choices for every palate, and the building itself is so interesting. Make sure to look around when you're there. There is also a high-end sit-down restaurant called Steelbach that's a memorable dining experience.



Touted as "Florida's Oldest Restaurant" - since 1905, The Columbia has been well known for its original Ybor City location. There are several other locations, but the Ybor City address is the way to go for the authentic experience. Everything on the extensive menu is delicious, but you certainly can't go wrong with an original Cuban sandwich and the 1905 salad.



This amazing restaurant is located in Hyde Park Village - great place to go with friends to get some craft cocktails and enjoy its amazing seasonal menu. The shareable boards are awesome! I also love the fig tart. My favorite entree is the scallops and you can't go wrong with the daily cobbler for dessert. On Swann has a social and fun vibe.



If you're looking for a quiet, romantic, and kind of sexy place to eat and drink - check out Ciro's Speakeasy on Bayshore Boulevard. Now this is a true speakeasy, and you have to call ahead to make reservations - then call the day of to get the password. The entrance can be tricky to find as well, so hopefully you have a knowledgeable Uber driver. So here is the key to the true Ciro's experience - reserve a private booth by calling far in advance. Ciro's has great food and a prohibition-themed cocktail menu. Everything is great, but for me, Ciro's is all about the ambiance.



Staying on the retro theme for restaurants, CW's Gin Joint on Franklin Street in downtown Tampa is another great one. You don't need a password to get into this one, but you will appreciate the throwback vibe of the decor and staff. The bartenders are super friendly, have dinner at the bar and chat with them. Amazing menu overall, but two things you don't want to miss out on are the short ribs and lobster mac & cheese side dish.



This is my favorite casual, off-the-beaten-path lunch spot. Big Ray's Fish Camp on Interbay Boulevard offers mostly outdoor seating, so go when the weather is nice. The grouper sandwich is ridiculous and I recently tried and liked the hot chicken sandwich. Get fries on the side, and be prepared to eat more than you were expecting. Check it out between 11AM-3PM - you won't regret it!



This recommendation is pretty famous in Tampa, but not as talked about. Donatello is located on N. Dale Mabry Hwy. just north of Kennedy and serves authentic Italian food. I literally dream about it sometimes! This is the place that you take people who love true Italian cuisine served by a staff that makes you feel like part of the family. It has a piano bar and plays live music daily - wonderful date night!



For that down home, hearty breakfast head to Jimbo's Pit Bar B-Q on Kennedy.



Just down the road from Jimbo's is Metro Diner, another terrific breakfast option



Located on South Howard, there are awesome breakfast bowls and cheese tots that are definitely worth the calories.



Located on Kennedy just before approaching downtown Tampa, it's a beautiful place for a higher-end breakfast during the week or brunch on the weekends. If you miss the breakfast hours, you can still check out Oxford Exchange for lunch or afternoon tea.

Now that I'm good and hungry, I gotta go find a place to eat for lunch! There are still so many restaurants left to talk about in the Tampa Bay area, so I'll do another restaurant-themed episode again.



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Melanie is a Tampa Bay area Realtor with Smith & Associates. She loves Tampa Bay area area, houses, and helping clients buy and sell real estate. She can be reached at 813-368-6084 or matkinson@smithandassociates.com

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