HATTRICKS TAVERN 107 S Franklin St., Tampa, 813-225-4288; hattrickstavern.com
Conveniently located down the street from the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa's answer to Ferg's sports bar showing just about every major sports game on their flatscreen TVs. Their appetizer and sandwich-heavy menu features the typical sports bar fare and is served by friendly, not to mention attractive, waitresses.
HOT DONUT 301 N Franklin St., Tampa, 813-221-1313
I'll bet you can guess what Hot Donut sells. The doughnuts here are made fresh daily in the "donut robot" and start at only 75 cents a pop. Get 'em while they're hot paired with one of the gourmet coffees offered.
JACKSON STREET BISTRO 401 E Jackson St., Tampa, 813-472-5777
"One of the reasons for the crowd might be the prices. Despite the Bistros appearance, its a decidedly mid-range spot for breakfast and lunch. Two eggs, home fries and toast will run you $5.50, while the most expensive lunch entrees top out at $11.95. The menu also features a litany of American standards, lunchtime comfort food familiar to anyone who doesnt brown bag it." -Brian Ries
JERK HUT DOWNTOWN CAFE 207 E Twiggs St., Tampa, 813-223-4473; jerkhut.com
Another location of the well-known Jerk Hut near the University area. In the mood for curry goat? Then look no further. Also featuring classic Jamaican and Caribbean favorites like jerk chicken and pork, Jamaican beef patties and oxtail soup.
L'EDEN 500 N Tampa St., Tampa, 813-221-4795; facebook.com/ledenrestaurantandbar
Visit in the morning for fresh pastries, crepes, quiches and to partake in their full espresso bar or stop by for dinner and savor the array of internationally-inspired dishes like Indian biryanis, Greek dolmades, and classic French Ratatouille. A hidden gem in Downtown Tampa.
MALIO'S PRIME STEAKHOUSE 400 N Ashley Dr., Tampa, 813-223-7746; maliosprime.com
Meat is the star at Malio's, offering USDA Prime beef, fresh seafood, and a selection of over 300 wines.
MOXIE'S CAFE 514 N Tampa St., Tampa, 813-221-4510; moxiesdowntown.com
Not just another cafe and deli downtown, Moxie's has an espresso bar menu to rival Starbucks, as well as a large menu consisting of breakfast items, sandwiches, salads and wraps with many options available on crusty Cuban bread.
OLE STYLE DELI 110 E Madison St., Tampa, 813-223-4282
This downtown deli serves up a wide array of sandwiches and breakfast options, as well as chicken, tuna, and egg salad that is made fresh daily. Get your morning bagel and lox or Nova or a heaping Polish sausage hero on Cuban bread for lunch.
ORIGINAL GRILL STATION 508 N Franklin St., Tampa, 813-221-5338
Another hidden gem downtown, unknown to most of us in the Bay area but very popular with the locals. Offering a simple menu with only six entrees, like their famous Bourbon Chicken, but its a case of simplicity done well because the crowds keep coming back for more.
PANINOTECA MEDITERRANEAN CAFE 519 Franklin St., Tampa, 813-341-2525
A popular spot for Greek in this area, for its affordable prices and massive servings. serves homemade Greek food for lunch and dinner. It's also one of the few restaurants open after dark in Downtown Tampa.
PIZZAIOLO BAVARO 514 N Franklin St., Tampa, 813-868-4440 or pizzaiolobavaro.com
The Neopolitan-inspired menu revolves around their wood-fired brick oven which, besides being the star attraction at the restaurant, puts out thin, crispy pizzas and calzones. Their pasta and desserts are homemade. All ingredients are either locally sourced or imported straight from Italy.
THE POINT BISTRO AND LOUNGE 777 N Ashley Dr., Tampa, 813-422-5220; pointtampa.com
Located in Rawbar's former spot, this new incarnation has been described as "Manhattan meets Tampa" because of its sleek decorating and hip vibe. The menu offers everything from sushi to Italian ravioli and paninis. By night the place turns into more of a club scene with live DJs and an array of bar specials.
PRIMO'S DELI CAFE 101 N Franklin St., Tampa, 813-221-3354; primo2u.com
It would be hard to find something not homemade on the Primo's menu. Offering the usual deli fare as well as stuffed baked potatoes, frozen yogurt and decadent desserts. Primo's is open for lunch and offer free delivery.
RIGATONI ITALIAN EATERY 3437 W.Kennedy Tampa, 813-879-7000; cateringbyrigatoni.com
If the name didn't tip you off, they specialize in Italian food known for seafood specialities like Tuscan seafood casserole and oysters Pomadoro. And of course they have rigatoni, as well as an array of other pasta dishes and New York-style pizza.
ROJO TACO 309 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, 813-307-9000
Fairly new to the Downtown Tampa area, this Mexican eatery is similar in style and price to Moe's with a simple menu of tacos, burritos, a salad, and fajitas. On Taco Tuesdays, get 2 tacos for $2.
SECRET GARDEN 505 N. Florida Ave, Tampa, 813-228-0598
Healthy soups, salads, sandwiches and sushi and many vegetarian options to try in this cozy little eatery. Create your own salad at the salad bar. Open for lunch only.
SONO CAFE 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, 813-274-8130 or tampamuseum.org
Operated by Mise en Place, this 75-seat cafe is all about fresh, seasonal, local fare. The highlight of Sono Cafe is their Italian gelato. "On any given day, a dozen flavors of artisanal gelato (known for its intense flavor and low fat content) beckon to visitors from behind glass and stainless steel among them pristine vanilla, rich chocolate hazelnut (aka, bacio), pale lemon, and deep garnet Fruit of the Forest (the latter both dairy-free sorbets, but no less orgiastically delicious)." -Megan Voeller
SPAIN 513 N. Tampa St., Tampa, 813-223-2831; tomaspain.com
"With breakfast starting at 7 a.m., Spain could provide a full day of satisfying food. Ropa vieja during your brief lunch hour, tapas and sangria for dinner, then a greasy egg, cheese and chorizo sandwich on crusty Cuban bread with café con leche after you stumble out of whatever after-party you found the night before." -Brian Ries
TAPS WINE & BEER MERCHANTS 777 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa, 813-463-1968; tapswineandbeer.com
"Page after page of brews are divided by style like a progressive wine list, dipping into both the standard alt-brew faves and the occasional hard-to-find connoisseurs' pick. There are 20 draft selections that cover the bases well without delving into truly rare selections, a hefty variety of bottled Belgians and Germans, and a limited array of American craft-brews."..."Simpler items do better at Taps, like sliders of luscious Italian sausage topped by more of that gooey mozzarella. Sandwiches are uniformly tasty, from turkey and brie with fruity chutney to grilled chicken with muted pesto and bright goat cheese." -Brian Ries
URBAN CANTINA 200 E. Madison St., Tampa, 813-221-8226; urbancantina.com
"...like most restaurants, Urban Cantina has high points. The appetizer tacos topped with seasoned meat, shredded cheese and hunks of iceberg lettuce are built on a surprisingly toasty and flavorful corn tortilla. That foundation works even better in entree tacos that forego the lettuce for cilantro and onions. Tender hunks of pork and rich beans are paired with a bright burst of chile in Urban Cantinas burrito, a seriously filling and satisfying plate of food for $10." -Brian Ries