The gateway through North Tampa

The University Area, where students, commuters and amusement seekers converge.

The University Area is one of the most traveled corridors in Hillsborough County. Every day, tens of thousands of students rush to class at the University of South Florida, the country's ninth-largest state school. Jockeying with the hurried students are commuters from New Tampa and other neighborhoods north of the city. And then there are the vanloads of tourists navigating through it all, with final destinations of Busch Gardens and Adventure Island.

This daily influx of people marks the University Area's character. Dozens of fast-food joints line the three- and four-lane thoroughfares. Chain restaurants surround the hotels (and motels) catering to those visiting USF or nearby theme parks. Still, inside the strip malls that line area corridors, visitors can discover some oft-overlooked gems.

For one, the area boasts one of the highest concentrations of ethnic restaurants and groceries in the area — Mexican markets, Brazilian restaurants and eateries catering to a host of Asian countries can be found on Fowler and Fletcher avenues.

The neighborhoods surrounding USF are as diverse as the restaurants — the Hispanic population in the area almost rivals that of West Tampa. But they're also known as the some of the most dangerous in Tampa. Neighborhoods like "Suitcase City," the area directly west of USF, cannot seem to shake their seedy reputations, despite the investment of millions of federal dollars and a new $12-million community center.

And towering over all of this is USF. Nearly every establishment surrounding the campus caters to the school's 44,000 students and their drink of choice: beer.

See also

A walk down brewery lane

Located just off 30th Street, the bland exterior and modest signpost of the Yuengling Brewery

The don't-miss List

Twenty-one top draws in the University Area.

Local quotable

"This is an urban community.

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