Best Food in Tampa

Naveen Joshi

4 mins read

Feb 26, 2024

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How to Find the Best Food in Tampa

Tampa is ranked as one of the best foodie cities in America for good reason. The city’s food culture is an exceptional combination of affordability and accessibility. It’s what makes it unique. It’s got a thriving culture around casual dining and fresh produce.

High-quality dining experiences is part of Tampa’s food scene. It’s home to MICHELIN Star restaurants as well as some of the nation’s best budget-friendly eateries. This diversity not only caters to the tastes of local residents but also attracts food lovers from all over. It’s this blend of upscale dining and affordable, quality food that makes food in Tampa such a hot topic.

What Food is Tampa Known for?

The best food in Tampa tells a story of Tampa’s history and culture. It’s a story of the influences that shape Tampa’s identity. Some iconic dishes define Tampa’s gastronomic identity, so these should be on your menu, wherever you are eating.

Cuban Sandwich

The Cuban Sandwich, Tampa’s signature dish, is a delicious blend of ham, roasted pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, all pressed between slices of fresh Cuban bread. Cuban bread is a specialty of the city.

Blackened Grouper Sandwich

The Grouper Sandwich is a testament to Tampa’s rich seafood tradition. The Blackened Grouper Sandwich is the culinary symbol of the region. Whether grilled, blackened, or fried, the grouper is served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and homemade tartar sauce in a fresh bun.

Deviled Crab

Originating in Ybor City, Deviled Crab is Tampa’s most popular street food. This handheld delight, a favorite among cigar factory workers for its affordability and flavor, combines crab meat with spices and breadcrumbs, creating a snack that’s both tasty and emblematic of Tampa’s culinary culture.

What are the Best Neighborhoods in Tampa?

A variety of food trucks, food festivals, and new concepts dot the Tampa food culture making it one of the gems of the state.

Tampa’s affluent neighborhoods are a sure bet for finding the best food in Tampa at its upscale restaurants. Plus, notable neighborhoods such as Temple Terrace, Ybor City, Hyde Park Village, and Water Street Tampa are hotspots for food lovers.

So, if you choose to visit one of these areas, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have plenty of great options to choose from for eating out.

Book a Chef

CookinGenie: an Exquisite Tampa Food Experience

There’s more than the traditional restaurants experience available if you want to enjoy Tampa’s food. CookinGenie can bring the Tampa food experience to your doorstep.

We’re a platform where you can browse and book local Tampa chefs near you. You just need a basic kitchen. Our chefs bring any special equipment they need.

Our chefs will shop for groceries, cook in your kitchen, and clean up afterward. It’s a unique way to experience Tampa on your plate.

The Best Food in Tampa

The Top Four Recommendations

  • Bern’s Steak House: Known for its high-quality steaks and extensive wine collection, Bern’s Steak House is a Tampa icon. Located in the upscale Hyde Park neighborhood, it offers a luxurious dining experience. Whoever you ask, chances are that Bern’s will make it to the list of restaurants where you can enjoy the best food in Tampa.
  • Columbia Restaurant: Florida’s oldest restaurant, this place is a veritable Tampa landmark. It’s located in the historic Ybor City and is famous for its Spanish cuisine and ambiance. This is another top recommended restaurant, so it’s a must-visit.
  • Ulele: Situated in downtown Tampa along the Tampa Riverwalk, Ulele is celebrated for its Native American and Florida fusion cuisine. Another top pick, the restaurant features innovative dishes and a brewery for specialty beer.
  • Rooster & The Till: This also makes it to most food blogger’s list of Tampa food recommendations. It’s got a Michelin Bib Gourmand, creative small plates, and a farm to table specialty. Rooster & The Till caters to both the gluten-free and vegan diets, and is located near downtown Tampa, so it is easily accessible.

The Failproof Mentions

If the top recommendations don’t cut it for you, then here are some honorable mentions. We’ve pulled together from every food connoisseur’s list of favorites place to grab food in Tampa. This list should simplify your hunt for the best food in Tampa.

You can’t go wrong picking out a place to eat in Tampa, if you stick to these.

  • On Swann: Offering upscale American cuisine with hints of Italian elegance, On Swann is popular for its seasonally rotating menu and craft cocktails.
  • Oystercatchers: This is the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay’s restaurant known for its fresh seafood and beautiful waterfront views. You can’t go wrong here.
  • Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse: Located in the South Tampa neighborhood, this place offers all-you-can-eat grilled meats and seafood. It’s a good value and a safe bet for great food.
  • Bulla Gastrobar: Exquisite Spanish dining, in the upscale Hyde Park neighborhood, highly rated, need we go on?
  • Spinners Rooftop Grille: Near St. Petersburg Beach, this place has a stunning 360-degree ocean view and good seafood.
  • Goody Goody Burgers: Located just north of Hyde Park, this place is a good bet for simple food and an ambiance that’s a throwback to the 1920s. PS. Try the iconic “Pox” burger when you’re here.
  • Oak & Ola: Located in the Heights Public Market area, it’s known for its American cuisine – from pizza and steaks to salads and fresh fish – and its rooftop terrace.
  • The Deviled Pig: It’s known for its signature barbecue twist on Tampa’s iconic Cuban sandwich, the Pitmaster Queban.
  • Rome + Fig: In North Hyde Park, come here for some globally inspired dishes with a Southern twist.
  • Watervue Grille: Waterfront dining with good food – ’nuff said.
  • Rusty Pelican: Near Tampa International Airport, this restaurant is known for its stunning views and upscale dining.
  • Ciro’s: Another upscale restaurant in an upscale neighborhood, this cocktail bar serves incredible food.
  • Council Oak Steaks and Seafood: Exclusive, hip, located in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. This restaurant personifies luxury dining.
  • Mise en Place: Fines dining at its finest, this restaurant offers French-inspired cuisine. It’s practically (culinary) art!

Food in Tampa is an Exotic Experience

Tampa’s food culture is a dynamic experience. People celebrate Tampa for its high-quality, diverse, and accessible culinary experiences. So, whether you’re a gourmet aficionado or a lover of simple, delicious fare, Tampa’s food scene has something to offer you.

Naveen Joshi

Chief Marketing Officer

A bookworm at heart, Naveen's love for stories seeps into his writing, adding a dash of creativity to every dish he explores. With a thoughtful and easy-going spirit, Naveen offers readers a blend of insightful and relatable food narratives. You will find him trekking through the mountains when he's not writing or reading.

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