Neighborhood Dining Guide: Downtown Tampa

HATTRICKS TAVERN 107 S Franklin St., Tampa, 813-225-4288;

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 Bistro’s appearance, it’s 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 doesn’t brown bag it." -Brian Ries

JERK HUT DOWNTOWN CAFE 207 E Twiggs St., Tampa, 813-223-4473;

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;

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;

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;

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

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;

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;

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;

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

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;

"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;

"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;

" 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 Cantina’s burrito, a seriously filling and satisfying plate of food for $10." -Brian Ries

CL regularly presents focused listings of the best dining options in Tampa Bay's neighborhoods. This week we're giving you an updated guide to the restaurants in Downtown Tampa.

ASHLEY STREET GRILLE 200 N Ashley Dr., Tampa, 813-223-2222;

This waterfront spot in downtown Tampa, located in the Sheraton hotel, features classic American cuisine, and was named one of the "Top 20 New Restaurants" in Florida .

AVANZARE 211 N. Tampa St., Tampa, 813-222-4975;

Located in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Avanzare is an elegant eatery specializing in Italian and American fare. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from both the Performing Arts Center and the St. Pete Times Forum.

BAMBOOZLE CAFE 516 N Tampa St., Tampa, 813-223-7320;

"Bamboozle has an excellent concept: fresh, healthy ingredients combined in an homage to classic Vietnamese fare."..."Bamboozle turns into a Vietnamese Subway, those numerous veggie choices arrayed behind glass, plopped by a culinary engineer onto whatever dish you choose. They dip rice paper into warm water and slap it on a cutting board or scoop strands of vermicelli into a bowl or layer ingredients onto a split loaf of crusty french bread, all topped with protein in the form of grilled chicken, beef or pork, or steamed shrimp, or slivers of golden tofu." -Brian Ries

COLUMBIA CAFE 801 Old Water St., Tampa, 813-229-5511;

Another locale of the famous Columbia Restaurant, the cafe offers the same Columbia favorites (including the famous “1905” Salad™") in a waterfront setting. The bar is a replica of the original Columbia Restaurant bar on 7th Ave. in Ybor.

FLY BAR 1202 N Franklin St., Tampa, 813-275-5000;

A restaurant that turns into a nighttime hotspot serving global fusion cuisine, as well as great craft and import beers on tap and in bottle. Live music and events just about every night of the week. The rooftop deck gives a great view of Downtown Tampa.

FRESH 507 N Franklin St., Tampa, 813-229-5500; The menu of fresh, made-to-order salads and sandwiches with about a hundred different ingredient options makes this a great spot for lunch downtown, but it's the cereal bar that sets this place apart. Choose from an assortment of sugary cereals, plus toppings of candies, crushed cookies and fruit (if you want to make it somewhat healthy), and flavored milks, and you've got yourself heaven in a bowl.

Scroll to read more Food News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.