South Tampa has been a prestigious address for the past century. Its residents are well-heeled and well-tended — on Swann Avenue, by the Howard intersection, a big blue banner advertises an indispensable elixir for the locals: "Botox $10." (A smaller green placard a few feet away reads "Hair Removal.") Stroll through the Hyde Park 'hood or jog down Bayshore Boulevard, and the results of privileged personal upkeep are most evident.
The South Tampa set dines on steak at Bern's or sushi at Ciccio & Tony's. Professionals wheel-n-deal over Ketel One martinis while students imbibe sink-or-swim drink specials down the street at MacDinton's. Hipsters lounge at the SoHo Starbucks with their $5 lattes and shop for vintage T-shirts at Squaresville.
The iconic minarets of the Tampa Bay Hotel — now a national historic landmark and part of the pricey, private University of Tampa — stand as a kind of ornamental gateway to South Tampa. Plantation-style McMansions and high-rise condominiums line Bayshore, a mix of old-money legacies and nouveau-riche trophies whose turf is invaded annually by the common folk during Tampa's Gasparilla parade.
Old Hyde Park Village, the neighborhood's wannabe town square, is an upscale shopping plaza that's struggled over the years — losing a movie theater and various eateries. But it's shown signs of rebirth of late, with newly opened restaurants, fashion boutiques, coffee shops, food specialty stores and spas. Its sidewalks are where stay-at-home moms exhibit their posh strollers and businesspersons meet for happy hour — or where couples go to purchase Godiva chocolates. Last month, Tampa City council approved the rezoning required for Hyde Park Village's proposed $100 million redevelopment.
SoHo, named after its main thoroughfare South Howard Avenue, hosts Tampa Bay's most famous restaurant, Bern's Steak House. The district also lays claim to nightspots like Hyde Park Café, where celebs like Derek Jeter secure private booths and order bottles of Cristal when they're in town. South Tampa, from its inception, has been home to both big spenders and $30K-millionaires.
George Steinbrenner, majority owner of the New York Yankees since 1973, lives in a $4-million manse that borders the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club; Randy and Paula White, divorcing founders of the Without Walls megachurch, moved into a home on Bayshore Boulevard in 2002 which, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser, is worth $2.1 million and is still owned by Randy A. White; Gayle Sierens, evening co-anchor at WFLA News Channel 8, lives with husband Mike Martin in a half-million-dollar home near Bayshore; David Laxer runs the Bern's Family of Legends, which includes the Tampa landmark Bern's Steak House, SideBern's and Bern's Fine Wine & Spirits, and lives with wife Christina in a Hyde Park home appraised at just under $1 million. It's a short stroll from the restaurants.
Thirty top draws in South-Tampa-by-the-bay.
"The natural beauty with the bay is very appealing