Did you know that Tampa invented the Cuban sandwich? And that’s not all. Tampa is home to many culinary stars, such as Greg Baker, Jeannie Pierola, Chris Ponte, and Ferrell Alvarez. And of course, big names like Top Chef star Fabio Vivani and James Beard Award winner Art Smith are both from Florida’s third-largest city.
And so, if you’re visiting Tampa, it is imperative that you make time to try out most, if not all, of the Downtown Tampa restaurants we’re listing here. Whatever your palate is craving, you’re sure to leave this dining destination full and very satisfied!
- Built in 1905, Columbia Café is said to be Florida’s oldest restaurant and one of the most historic restaurants in the United States.
- This is one of the most picturesque Downtown Tampa waterfront restaurants.
- The café serves the most popular dishes from its flagship in Ybor City, including the Original 1905 Salad and chicken and Chicken and Rice “Ybor”.
- Try its bestsellers: Miranda’s Ybor City Devil Crab Croquettes, Mahi-Mahi Cubana, Picadillo “Criollo”, and Calamares Fritos “A La Romana”.
- Located at the Hilton, 211 is known to serve the best breakfast and lunch in Downtown Tampa.
- Some of the patron favorites include the Bavarian Pretzel with Beer Cheese Fondue, Ybor Cuban, Turkey Club, and Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich.
- Some of the flatbreads you must try: the Margherita or Buffalo Chicken.
- If you want to indulge with a hearty meal, try their NY Strip or the Fettuccini Alfredo.
Ulele, located at the northern end of Tampa’s Riverwalk, is one of the most iconic restaurants in the area.
The menu is inspired by the indigenous people of Florida, changing seasonally and combining fresh and local ingredients in new, exciting flavor fusions.
Some of the crowd favorites are the Ulele Burger, Ribeye Steak Sandwich, Seafood Risotto, Chargrilled Chicken, Lobster Roll, Flank Steak, Alligator Hush Puppies, and Okra Fries.
The restaurant also offers gorgeous views of the Hillsborough River as you dine.
- Oxford Exchange, popularly called OE, is a bookstore, boutique, coffee shop, tea bar, champagne bar, and restaurant all rolled into one.
- At the restaurant, they serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch items.
- If you want to be seated in the most serene part of OE, request for a table in the beautiful conservatory filled with creeping vines, a central fountain, and a glass roof.
- Some of their bestsellers include Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes, Smoked Salmon, Tomato Cambozola Soup, Crispy Avocado Wedges, Smoked Salmon Dip, Grilled Chicken Paillard, Steak Sandwich, and Buffalo Cauliflower Flatbread.
- 220 East is one of the biggest mainstays for the past decade as one of the best downtown Tampa restaurants.
- All of their soups, sauces and desserts are made fresh daily from scratch in their kitchen.
- Some of the crowd favorites at 220 East include pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and pasta.
- You must also try: Baked Brie, Fried Green Tomatoes, Bavarian Pretzel, Fish and Chips, Fish Tacos, Homemade Quiche, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Piccata, Smothered Steak, and Asian Chicken Salad
Eddy and Sam’s
- If you’re craving pizza, Eddy and Sam’s is the best place to go to for authentic New York pizza prepared with imported New York water.
- Aside from having wide, foldable slices, Classic New York pizza is known for its thick, flavorful crust made possible by the minerals in New York City tap water.
- Pizza flavors you must try Lasagna, Eggplant Parmigiana, LG Sicilian, and Greek.
- They also offer classic appetizers like Mozzarella Cheese Stix, Cheese Fries, French Fries, and Chicken Wings.
Farmacy Vegan Kitchen + Bakery
- Farmacy Vegan Kitchen + Bakery serves the best vegan food in Tampa.
- Everything on the menu is 100% plant-based, including the Farmacy Burger, Philly Cheesesteaks, California Cuban Sandwich, Cashew Mac, Avocado BLT Wrap, Feisty Lasagna, and Mushroom and Lentil Stroganoff.
- Delectable baked goods are made fresh daily: Gaia Donuts, Banana Breads, Chocolate Avocado Brownies, and Whoopie Cream Pies.
- Taco Bus was the original food truck before street food was became a big trend.
- Now, Taco Bus is one of Tampa’s best Mexican restaurants, with trucks and brick-and-mortar food venues all over the Sunshine State.
- If you’re craving tacos, burritos, chimichangas, and burrito bowls, there’s no better place to get them than from Taco Bus.
- They also offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free selections.
Boat Run Oyster Company
- Boat Run Oyster Company is one of the best seafood restaurants Downtown Tampa has to offer.
- Now one of the most decorated Downtown Tampa restaurants on the water, Boat Run’s menu includes fresh oysters served raw from various locations: Cedar Key, FL; Plymouth, MA; New Brunswick, CA; Halibut Cove, AK; and Mood Canal, WA.
- Aside from fresh oysters, they also serve Oyster Roll, Shrimp Roll, Conch Fritters, and Nori Fries.
- Located at the north end of Harbor Island is American Social‘s largest bar and restaurant.
- This restaurant is over 15,000 square feet of waterfront property, comprised of intimate dining space, an indoor and outdoor VIP bar, patio space for private events, four full-service bars, and a raw bar.
- Some of the patron favorites you must try: Goat Cheese Croquettes with a Red Chili Guava Glaze, Fried Brussel Sprouts tossed in a Bacon Mustard Vinaigrette, Key West Shrimp Cakes, Buffalo Chicken Fries, Horseradish Cheddar Burger, Ribeye Sandwich with Melted Provolone, and Pepperoni Pizza.
- On Swann is aptly named after its location – Swann Avenue.
- The restaurant features an open kitchen where dishes meant for sharing or constructing your own coursed meal are prepared.
- Some of the bestsellers on the menu include Egg White Frittata, Pasta Genovese, Winter Squash Bisque, Sirloin Burger, Steak Frites, Beef Carpaccio, Crostones, Lamb Meatballs, and Ribeye.
No doubt, Downtown Tampa, FL is brimming with lots of fantastic restaurants. This area is indeed a bustling food scene worth visiting. Save this list for the next time you come to the downtown area, so you’ll know exactly where you can have the best gastronomic experiences.