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Pipo's has been around for over 30 years, so they definitely know what they're doing when it comes to Cuban food. Not the best I've tasted in Tampa, but definitely satisfactory if you're looking for some authentic cuisine.
Pros: Great, quick-serve Cuban food. Sandwiches, roast pork, black beans, plantains, the works.
Cons: Parking was a little tough during their crowded lunch hour.
This place is built on a manly concept much like Hooters or similar places - attractive, all-female wait staff, huge portions of meaty meals, tons of TVs for sports - but actually serves up some pretty damn good food. It's all fresh, creative stuff like duck wings, huge burgers, etc. but miles beyond the bland, pre-frozen crap you'd usually find at a chain like Hooters. Awesome craft beer and cocktail selection too.
Pros: Great atmosphere for hanging out, watching the game, eating/drinking that's definitely a step up from the typical sports bar. Tons of parking. Right down Dale Mabry from Raymond James Stadium.
Cons: Wives and girlfriends may roll their eyes at the concept, it can get a little loud inside when its packed, but other than that, no complaints.
Favorite park in Tampa. Great views, awesome architecture within and around the park, and tons of free, cool events throughout the year.
Pros: If you like the city landscape, this is a great urban-style park with a cool style, convenient location, and a pretty sweet dog park for all the hounds.
Cons: Parking will most likely cost you money, especially if there's an event going on. Nothing ridiculous, just not free.
Seriously good burgers. These guys aren't messing around and it shows with their use of Akaushi Kobe beef, challah buns, and more.
Great little shopping/restaurant spot in Hyde Park. They host a ton of cool community events throughout the year like concerts and festivals that are usually free to attend.
Pros: Great location, nice variety of things to do, tons of community events.
Cons: Parking can be a little rough in Hyde Park
Surprisingly great little bar and restaurant right on Bloomingdale and Kings in Brandon. Went in for lunch and had some seriously delicious tacos and a few craft beers for a really good price. It's small, but has a cool little interior you can tell they put a lot of time into.
Pros: Great, affordable, and creative food selection. Same prices (maybe even cheaper) and a nice change of pace from the usual Chili's, Friday's, Applebees kind of places.
Cons: It is a little small, but I'd call it intimate more than anything else. Crappy strip mall surrounding it, but makes it a nice hidden secret.
Solid spot for some well-priced and portioned Chinese food in Tampa. They've definitely been around a while for a reason.
Pros: Great prices, huge portions, and not the best, but solid execution.
Cons: Fried rice could pack a little more punch. Some dishes aren't the best I've had in comparison to the same at other Chinese places in Tampa.
Not a zoo expert by any means, but Lowry Park is pretty cool. Love the nighttime events like WaZoo and their holiday lights. Never too crowded, at least when I've been, and enough rotating exhibits to come back for repeat visits.
Pros: Big, well-maintained, ample parking, great fundraiser events.
Cons: Tickets can get a little pricey if you've got a big family, but they do a solid job of trying to make them worth it.
Love Ferg's. Great place to stop by and watch the game, drink, etc. Plenty of room throughout the whole place, so it never feels too cramped. Great bar food as well served quick.
Pros: Right next to the Trop, so great place to hang out before, during, even after the game.
Cons: Parking can be a little rough, especially on gamedays.
Kojack's definitely lives up to its reputation as one of the best barbecue restaurants in Tampa. The ribs are a must.
Pros: Great barbecue. They definitely know what they're doing.
Cons: Parking is a little sparse.
Great on its good days, but sometimes I've been disappointed to say the least. Huge selection of sushi, tons of hot entrees, and desert for a great price if you're going during lunch. Just go during peak hours for your best chances.
Pros: Great, huge spread of Asian fare that's arguably the biggest in Tampa. Great lunch prices.
Cons: Gets real "left out a long time" and very small after the lunch hour.
Went to Austin for SXSW and this was the first place we stopped for some grub and drinks. It was pretty (understandably) packed, but they manage it well with a numbered ordering system where you can just order straight from the bar. Pulled pork sandwich was massive and out of this world. Same with the chipotle bacon burger. Oh, and waffle fries to die for.
Pros: Cool, weird little Austn/restaurant bar. Great drink selection and bonus points for featuring local breweries.
Cons: DON'T sit under the tree in the courtyard. My girlfriend got pooped on.
Cool little hangout spot in Downtown Tampa. I've been a handful of times and like how Fly Bar shines in both the drink and food department. Ample, creative menus on both ends and a great craft beer selection. The atmosphere is great; a big open space with a cool rustic kinda vibe. Check out the rooftop bar too if you're there at night.
Pros: Great drink selection, plenty of space, relaxed nightlife atmosphere.
Cons: A little pricier than the neighborhood dive, but they prove their worth.
The place to be if you're looking for an Authentic New York slice. They actually ship water from New York down to make the dough, which is noticeably great, especially for a local pizza. Gets a little crowded, but they've expanded with a gelato shop, so there was ample seating when I visited.
Pros: Nice spot for a great slice of quality pizza without breaking the bank.
Cons: Expect to pay for parking if you're driving.
Great casual lunch spot. Ate there last week and the Grillsmith burger was quite on point.
Pros: Nice, eclectic lunch menu. Very affordable, and an nice, laid-back atmosphere.
Cons: Not as fast as a fast-casual or fast food restaurant, but the wait's worth it.
Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 best U.S. airports for a reason. Not a big fan of airports, but at least TIA eases the tension with a nice variety of shops and newly-added native Tampa restaurants like The Columbia and Cigar City Brewing.
Pros: About as good as airports get in my small experience. Nice to see more places to eat than the standard junk you usually find around the country.
Cons: Security, baggage, waiting, delays... you get the point.
A classic. Everyone's got to visit Magic Kingdom at least once.
Pros: Amazing atmosphere. Truly a huge, spectacular park with tons of great rides, attractions, and more.
Cons: Lines can be pretty rough sometimes, but fast passes will get you in the front pretty quick.
The spot to be on a Thursday night in Ybor. Big, open club, nice variety of music with five different levels, and great drink specials, especially if you're a college student. Bar is always well-staffed so the drinks come out pretty quick even if the place is packed.
Pros: Great bang for your buck. Really nice nightlife atmosphere with good drink specials throughout the week that won't leave you broke.
Cons: Parking and crowds can be a little tough in Ybor on the weekends, so get there early if you're looking to party without a hassle.
This place is the sandwich king of Brandon/Riverview as far as I'm concerned. Great, creative, and equally delicious sandwiches. Palomila steak sandwich is massive with nice, soft bread, and good breaded steak inside. Beer selection is great too.
Pros: Awesome sandwiches that are a nice change of pace from Firehouse, Subway, Quiznos, etc. and about the same price. Easy location right off Bloomingdale.
Cons: Wish they delivered!
Mel's is a Tampa dining legend, and after eating there a handful of times throughout my childhood and adolescence, it's easy to see why. The name of the game at Mel's is hot dogs, which might sound a little off-putting to some refined palates, but these are like the Rolls Royces of hot dogs - 100 percent beef, Chicago-style, and cooked to perfection. Chicago classics like Italian beef sandwiches and sausage make Mel's a must-visit for any Chicagoans, or anyone really, in Tampa.
Pros: Great dogs, quick service, modest prices.
Cons: Mel's gets PACKED on certain weekend nights which, in itself, is a testament to Mel's greatness, but can be a pain if you're impatient and hungry.