Top Local Restaurants in Tampa Bay, FL


Between being the third most populated city in Florida and its deep-rooted history, the city of Tampa hosts some of the best local restaurants in the southeast. Varying from Cuban cuisine to Native Floridian fare, this article will dig into some of Tampa Bay’s most cherished eateries.

It is important to note that the following restaurants are in no particular order:

Columbia Restaurant: Founded in 1905 in Tampa’s Ybor City District (aka Florida’s oldest restaurant), the Columbia Restaurant is credited as the restaurant who brought the “Cuban sandwich” to the states, although the menu extends much farther than the well-known sandwich. What keeps the Cuban cuisine authentic is that the same family has run the establishment for over 114 years. From hosting Babe Ruth to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, this restaurant is sure to please all sorts of taste buds. Be sure to make reservations to dine here though. The Columbia Restaurant’s hours are Monday thru Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday thru Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, and Sunday from 11:30 am to 9 pm.

Ulele: “Pronounced “You-lay-lee”, celebrates the vibrant fusion of ingredients from Florida waters and land once home to many Native Americans, including the young princess Ulele.” Ulele is actually owned by the Columbia Restaurant family, as mentioned above. Craving a cultural bay front fine dining experience? Ulele has got you covered. From fantastic local craft beers to fresh Florida Pampano, Ulele is a personal favorite that never disappoints. Expect to spend $25-$60 a plate here and also make a reservation. The hours for Ulele are Sunday thru Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm and Friday thru Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm.

Armature Works: Just a few hundred yards from Ulele, this 22,000 square foot repurposed industrial market located on the Hillsborough River is one of the most unique and innovative dining experiences in the nation. The open floor plan design invites guests to explore the 17 different top quality food and drink quick service vendors. Think an indoor trendy food truck rally on steroids. From a craft beer and cocktail bar to BBQ to specialty empanadas to Asian poke bowls, Armature Works is sure to have something for everyone. Armature Works also hosts “Show + Tell”, a large classroom where customers can learn trades from the best vendors. The classroom has a full cooking demonstration kitchen.

Rusty Pelican: Nothing beats waterfront dining in Tampa Bay, especially when the restaurant is practically SURROUNDED by water. Well since 1978, the Rusty Pelican has been pleasing Tampa locals and visitors food and drink desires alike from its iconic rocky point district location. Hosting a variety from Black Grouper to clams to swordfish, you can’t get seafood fresher than this. The Rusty Pelican is also known for its incredible steaks and burgers as well as its expansive bar selection. In addition to the every day eatery, the Rusty Pelican is widely known for its incredible venue, hosting weddings, corporate events, and private parties. It is important to note that the Rusty Pelican does not typically open until 4:30 pm daily.

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