Tampa Bay Restaurant Guide; Where To Eat From Coffee To Cocktails

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Got a craving for some good food while you are in Tampa Bay? You are in luck because the Tampa Bay restaurant scene offers something for everyone. From award-winning James Beard Chefs to casual modern day Diners and late night cocktail bars. You won’t go hungry for good food while you are in Tampa Bay, I guarantee it. There was one place in particular that I visited each day of my stay. If you guessed it was a coffee shop you are almost right. I did find a great coffee shop but I discovered it towards the end of my stay. No, the place I kept going back to was a doughnut shop that served some of the best I have ever had. Thank God I don’t live in Tampa Bay, I’d be 400 lbs in time at all.

Charbroiled Oysters at Ulele Tampa Bay Restaurant

Datz 2616 S MacDill Ave – Want to eat at a place that has been on Good Morning America? This is it. Come early or be prepared to wait as this hot spot will get busy. I came for Brunch and could barely walk out after I was done. I started with the Funnel Fries & Caramel dipping sauce. OMG!

Funnel Fries with Coffee at Datz Tampa Bay

The main artery-busting dish is the one that put them on the Map. The Cheesy Todd is a hamburger that has two Bacon Jalapeno Macaroni & Cheese fried patties as buns. For fries, there are potato chips drizzled with a sour cream crema and green onions. You can’t eat this the traditional way. It is a knife and fork burger.

The Cheesey Todd at Datz Tampa Bay

It is a Mac & Cheese Bun Hamburger

Right next door to Datz is Dough. This is where they bake all the desserts etc… for Datz and the best place to get a doughnut in Tampa Bay. I should have taken a photo of the varieties I tried, but I couldn’t wait to eat them so no photos. BTW, they are massive!

Datz Donuts Tampa Bay

edison:food+drink lab 912 W Kennedy Blvd – You never know what’s on the menu at Chef Pierola’s Tampa Bay restaurant. This 4x James Beard semi-finalist excels at reinterpreting everyday dishes and transforming them into modern culinary masterpieces. For example, take the Korean Fried Chicken & Waffles. A southern classic with a twist of Kimchi in the waffles and a spicy sweet Gochujang Syrup. A Sugar Crusted Butter Cake is divine for desert and as for cocktails, put yourself in the hands of the mixologist. He made me a “few” Smoking Gun cocktails. Elevated everyday dining at it’s best.

Korean Fried Chicken & Waffles from Edison Food + Drink Lab

Sugar Crusted Butter Cake at edison food + drink lab

The smoking gun cocktail at edison food + drink lab

Ulele 1810 N Highland Ave – Along Tampa’s reinvigorated Riverwalk is Ulele. Housed in an original water plant building this restaurant is the perfect place for a fun casual evening with great food and friends. The ingredients are local, the beer is brewed in-house and the Oysters are charbroiled right in front of your eyes at the Barbacoa Grill. Check out the size of the Crackling Pork Shank I had for dinner. Only slightly smaller in size is the Candied Bacon & Maple Ice Cream. Some seriously good east to be found here, and it is right on the river.

Charbroiled Oysters at Ulele Tampa Bay Restaurant

Crackling Pork Shank at Ulele Tampa Bay restaurant

Candied bacon Maple Ice Cream from Ulele Tampa Bay

Fodder & Shine 5910 N Florida Ave – Craving southern fare? Look to Fodder & Shine to satisfy your craving. This is a place the locals eat at and I can certainly see why. Great cocktails, an appie platter of housemade spreads (I chose Pimento & Cucumber Benedictine) and their take on a southern dish called Pilau. It’s pronounced per-loo and includes a rice cake, fried egg, sauteed shrimp and tomato gravy. It’s all kinds of awesome.

Inventive cocktails at Fodder & Shine

Housemade Pimento cheese spread appie platter

Pilau a southern classic at Fodder & Shine Tampa Bay

Sono Cafe 120 W Gasparilla Plaza –  Whether you visit the Tampa Museum of Art or not you will want to lunch at Sono Cafe. It’s right on the river and has an amazing view of the Riverwalk and of course, people watching. I highly recommend their coffee and the Baked Ham with Aged Cheddar sandwich. It is grilled to golden goodness.

Coffee & a view at Sono Cafe Tampa

Baked Ham Grilled Cheese at Sono Cafe Tampa Bay

Oxford Exchange 420 W Kennedy Blvd – It is a boutique, a coffee and a Tampa Bay restaurant. Oxford Exchange is that and so much more. It’s a great space to be inside of. I only had the opportunity to have breakfast here and it was fantastic. Called the Oxford Scramble they don’t skimp on the ham cheddar or spinach. Grab a coffee to go here as well. Totally on point!

Inside the Oxford Exchange Tampa Bay

Oxford Exchange Scramble

Caffeine 212 E Cass St – Need that shot of caffeine to get your day started? Aptly named Caffeine will deliver it with a smile. This small local coffee shop is located downtown walking distance to the Tampa Museum of Art and the Riverwalk. This is where I got my coffee every day after I discovered them.

Caffeine to go at Caffeine Tampa Bay

While not exhaustive, this Tampa Bay restaurant guide should give you plenty of options for where to eat when you visit this Gulf Coast city. I can’t wait to come back and explore more of the culinary scene that I know is there. I may need more than 4 days though…

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Visit Florida and Visit Tampa Bay for hosting me and making this travel series possible. My views and opinions are 100% my own.


About Author

Marc Smith is a single, 45-year-old, gay urbanite, living in high-rise heaven in Vancouver’s chic Yaletown neighbourhood. After a ten-year career as one of Vancouver’s pre-eminent event planners, he decided it was time for a change and posted on his Facebook page “I am ready for a change. What shall I do with my life?” 30 Day Adventures was born from that status update.

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