Tampa Bay is not only known for its picturesque beaches, pristine parks, and spirited sports scene but also for its burgeoning food scene that is impressively diverse and full of character. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Yelp’s list of “2023 Top Places to Eat in Tampa Bay” is the treasure map for a delectable adventure in this city.
A Dive into Yelp’s Top Places to Eat
Yelp’s Curated Collections
The beauty of Yelp is its ever-evolving collections curated by enthusiastic Yelpers, local influencers, and even the Yelp team. This list, in particular, is an all-encompassing blend of trending places, crowd-favorites, and hidden gems.
Diversity of Choices
One of the striking features of this collection is the diversity. From high-end restaurants to casual eateries, food trucks to age-old establishments, the list speaks volumes of Tampa Bay’s culinary richness.
For seafood lovers, there are spots that serve the freshest catch from the Gulf, cooked in ways that can range from traditional to experimental. Craving something international? Tampa’s restaurant scene boasts global flavors – from authentic Italian to spicy Thai, zesty Mexican to rich Indian.
Tampa’s Unique Flavors
Tampa Bay has its own set of unique flavors and traditional dishes. No trip or culinary exploration in the city is complete without indulging in a classic Cuban sandwich, devouring a plate of savory grouper cheeks, or getting a hint of Spain with some tapas from a local Spanish eatery. These, among others, have made appearances on the list, further reinforcing the authenticity of Tampa’s offerings.
Making the Most of Your Culinary Expedition
Plan Ahead: Given the array of choices, it might be overwhelming to decide where to head first. It’s a good idea to shortlist places based on proximity or cuisine preference.
Weekdays vs. Weekends: Some of these top places might be crowded, especially during weekends. If possible, consider weekday dining.
Don’t Skip Desserts: Tampa Bay’s dessert scene is as vibrant as its main courses. Whether it’s a slice of key lime pie or a scoop of artisanal ice cream, always save room for desserts.
Engage with the Community: If you’re unsure about a place, don’t hesitate to ask the Yelp community. Engage through comments, check ratings, and even message users for personal recommendations.
Tampa Bay Top Places to Eat Restaurants Making the National Top 100 List
Uptown Eats, St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg Top Places to Eat: Downtown St. Pete’s quaint coffeehouse and bakery is where locals gather for sumptuous breakfasts and lunches. The owners have plans to expand this charming spot soon. Choose a cozy spot inside or soak in the ambiance alfresco while indulging in delightful dishes such as the Gouda Cheddar Grits bowl – a melody of fried egg, bacon bits, collard greens, and a hint of smoky maple butter. Or, the Hot Hot Heat sandwich, an explosion of fried egg, chorizo, jalapeño-Jack cheese, topped with spicy jalapeño aioli. The Malted Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Waffle is a sheer pleasure with its luscious lemon mascarpone whip, fresh berries, and bananas. On weekends, their Scone & Gravy Bowl is a must-try – a delightful vegetarian gravy dish that Yelp Elite Tanner M. boldly compares favorably to its meat-based counterparts. The menu also caters to diverse dietary preferences with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings.
Featured Dishes: Local coffee aficionados and fans of homemade pastries cherish their unique ‘Jam on It’ sandwich – a delightful pairing of fried egg, Gouda, spinach, and Canadian bacon enhanced with a layered raspberry jam (intertwined with black pepper, honey, and lemon) served on a toasted brioche bun. The ‘Uptown’ bowl is also a crowd-favorite, blending fried egg, collard greens, bacon, tomatoes, and cotija cheese atop roasted potatoes.
Yelp Reviews Highlight: “It’s a compact gem that fills quickly, yet offers ample outdoor seating. The coffee is top-notch, and their menu is pure magic. Don’t miss out on their biscuit bombs – each is a burst of flavor. There’s something for everyone here. A true hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle.” — Vanessa T.
Izakaya Tori, Tampa, Florida
Tampa Top Places to Eat: Though Michelle Du is originally from China, she has masterfully replicated the ambiance of Japan’s quintessential izakayas – cozy taverns renowned for their petite dishes. This inspiration stemmed from her personal journeys across Japan. In the heart of Tampa, Michelle delights patrons with classics like sizzling pork skewers, crispy fried chicken, comforting tonkotsu ramen, hand-rolled sushi, and an array of Japanese craft brews. For the daring diner, the Kimchi Cream Udon noodles (infused with tantalizing kimchi and shrimp), Mentaiko Fries (drizzled with a unique cod-roe mayo), and Takoyaki (octopus-filled dumplings) come highly recommended, especially for their “crunchy exterior with a melt-in-the-mouth core.”
Step inside and be greeted by snug booths, nostalgic signage featuring Japanese inscriptions, whimsical paper lanterns, and the crowning glory – an illuminated samurai armor set. As Michelle puts it, “For those longing for a slice of Japan, Tampa’s got you covered.”
Highlighted Dishes: Delectable pork belly and chicken thigh yakitori kebabs, ramen dubbed as “Tampa’s finest,” and intricate sushi rolls are crowd favorites. And if sharing’s on the agenda, the generous serving of Mentaiko Fries (a sensation back in Japan) won’t disappoint.
Yelp Reviews Chime In: “Izakaya Tori stands tall as one of Tampa Bay’s culinary gems. The dishes are unparalleled in flavor, offering a taste of Japan that’s unmatched locally. While they could shine solely as an izakaya or a sushi haven, it’s their fusion of both – set against an upbeat, convivial backdrop – that truly sets them apart.” — Yelp Elite Coty S.