Tampa has come a long way since its long-lived reputation as the #1 strip club capital of the USA (so I hear). This city rocks and its food scene – give it to me! There are so many amazing places here, we only tackled a few, but here are some solid suggestions from yours truly!
Option 1: Edison: food + drink lab: YES YES YES. If you find yourself passionate about gastronomy and unique dishes, please make your reservation now and get your yourself to this restaurant. Apparently this awesome establishment started off as a pop up and was so gosh darn good, they decided to keep it open. WAHOO, go Chef Pierola–5x James Beard Best Chef Semifinalist! This awesome spot was voted #1 on OpenTable Diners’ Choice “Fit For Foodies” restaurant in Tampa, and it’s not hard to figure out why! They offer unique, flavor experiments and modern interpretations of popular dishes, with the menu changing frequently. Furthermore, their staff is fantastic! Well, I can only make remarks on Richard, the bartender, he was such a rock star. We ordered…
Panko encrusted oysters (a staple on their menu) …a picture equals a thousand words right here…
Exhibit B…Foie gras + prosciutto nigiri...a must do. Sweet, salty and umami make love together in this dish…
Short rib crusted bone marrow…what an explosion of flavors, holy cow! The kimchi on top…mind blowing! Salty meet spicy, you’ll get along just fine (and that they do!)…
AND after all this, we ordered dinner (where we fit all this food, I have no idea!)
Duck confit. OH. MY. GOD. The duck was cooked SO perfectly & the crab enchilada tamales were so unique. The micro greens with mushrooms were a nice touch too. We loved it so much, we ordered a second (no judging!)
Last dish the seared scallop + pork belly peanut jam – the coconut flakes on top were a very unique touch. The yuca fries were fun and tasty as well. What a fun filled experience – I would drive across the state for this place all day every day!
Option 2: On Swann. What an awesome, trendy spot in popular Old Hyde Park Village district. It’s a perfect little date spot or for a fun filled evening with friends. Sadly, my crew chumped out the evening we arrived, and did not order for an army of hungry 10-year-old boys like the previous evening. How dare you, team?! Nonetheless, the following starters were very enjoyable!
Foie gras | “butter” | port gelee | financiers: the little warm muffins were a unique addition to this dish. The foie gras had a lot of flavor – interesting combination with the port gelee! Seriously – who can pass up warm muffins? Not I!
Mussels green curry | coconut | coriander | garlic toast: the garlic toast and the broth alone made my tastebuds do cartwheels. Lots of flavor in this one!
Zeppole | ricotta | pepitas | buttnernut squash | honey: a play on butternut squash soup introducing itself to the zeppole. The dish makes you think of fall time for sure (in 90-degree Tampa weather, no less!)
Option 3: Timpano Hyde Park
What gorgeous restaurant! I was mesmerized the minute the Uber arrived to drop us off. The outside area of the restaurant is ‘grade A, Instagram worthy’, with its adorable wood swing and tons of fake greenery all around. They deserve bragging rights as apparently, they were ranked, Best Hot Spot, Most Vibrant Bar Scene and Best Italian restaurant for 2022, according to OpenTable. As soon as you enter the restaurant, you’ll want to pop on the team moped and drive it away, thinking you’re headed off to the Italian countryside. The rest of the inside is trendy, swanky, and sexy.
The ambiance is young and fun, and the bartender makes a killer espresso martini (apparently, they have won awards for this cocktail!) She also put together a KILLER whiskey sour for me with Basil Hayden and egg whites. Spectacular. The burrata with pistachio was also amazing.
Honorary mention – a MUST do while in Tampa…(drumroll please)…Oxford Exchange.
Do you enjoy books, brunch, coffee, champagne cocktails, and relaxing in a nice ambiance on your days off? If so, bang bang, this is your jam! There’s a really nice, little bookstore in the front where you can snag something to read if you like in their bookstore of new, popular reads and then head on into the ornate hallway where you will be mesmerized. There’s a coffee bar and tea bar, so you can grab a beverage while pretend to read (or actually read), and people watch. Adding to the beauty of it all is the magnificent floor to ceiling wall of framed pictures of famous historical figures on the wall leading up to their upstairs balcony. (Major browning points if you can figure out who the heck they are!) Not feeling coffee? Ok…how about a glass of champagne? (Who doesn’t love that my friends?) Well well well…head over to their champagne bar inside their adorable, luxury home goods shop next to their brunch atrium. They have a glorious list of champagnes to offer, and you can drink a glass while relaxing on the couches or drooling over the $60 candles, and giant dining table books on the Hamptons, or the gorgeous kitchen trinkets. (Be careful, too many champagnes, and that buzz might have you thinking you absolutely must have the $200 champagne flutes, and making desserts with truffle cookbooks!
And if you decide to make the trek to St. Pete, do check out The Library – perfect for brunch! Be sure to make reservations though – whew, does this place jam up on the weekends! The floor to ceiling bookshelves will have you wanting to start on that Charles Dickens novel you’ve had sitting in your apartment collecting dust for ages! All joking aside, the portions are HUGE, they have a nice wine menu and it’s perfect for people watching.
What are your favorite spots?! Where should I go on my next visit to Tampa/St. Pete?