25 hidden gem restaurants only found in Tampa Bay strip malls

With expansive sprawl, comes near never-ending strip malls, and Tampa Bay has quite a few.  And while standalone restaurants often get a…

By Sofía García Vargas, Brandalynn Nuñez Cepeda

Taj Indian Cuisine
2734 E Fowler Ave., Tampa, 813-971-8483
Open since 1991, Taj specializes in butter chicken, chicken madras, chicken tikka masala, fish tikka and many more Indian meals willing to test your spice tolerance. Its authenticity makes it stand out from its competition around the university area.
Photo via Google Maps
25 slides

The 25 best Tampa Bay restaurants when you have $15 or less

Great food doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. From delicious empanadas and sub sandwiches to burgers, tacos and even…

By CL Staff

Brocato’s Sandwich Shop
    5021 E Columbus Dr., Tampa
    In 1948, Brocato’s began as a grocery store, then it was a meat market, and finally, a sandwich shop. According to the website, the stop is home of the best devil crabs in town. A big crab is $13.95, as are the 15-inch subs and sandwiches.
    Photo via Google Maps
26 slides

20 classic Tampa Bay diners, delis, and cafes you should have tried by now

These diners, delis, and cafes serve up delicious renditions of time-tested recipes. From buttermilk pancakes to corned beef sandwiches to the perfect…

By CL Staff

    41 Baymont St, Clearwater Beach, FL
    What if we told you that a Canadian man fell in love with Clearwater Beach and decided he’d open a restaurant in 1981 and name it after his childhood nickname? Well, then we’d be telling you the story of how Frenchy’s Original Cafe was established and now, they’re still serving up fresh seafood for the family. 
    Photo via frenchysonline.com
20 slides

24 under-the-radar restaurants you must try in Tampa Bay

Maybe its hard to find, out of the way or just looks straight up sketchy, but certain restaurants have a way of…

By CL Staff

Lolis Mexican Cravings
    8005 Benjamin Rd., Tampa, 813-886-7467
    Just of the Waters Avenue drag, down Benjamin Road, the chain restaurants and big box stores begin to fade in favor of houses and one hot pink building, Lolis Mexican Cravings. This hidden gem is serving up some of the best Mexican food in town including, sopes, tamales, tortas, quesadillas and tacos made with your choice of 11 proteins like ribeye, fish, lengua and a vegetarian option.
    Photo via Google Maps
22 slides

The 25 most beautiful restaurants in the Tampa Bay area

It's a common saying among chefs, you eat with your eyes first. Now while this usually applies to plating a dish, there…

By CL Staff

The Library  
    600 5th St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-369-9969
    Inspired by the legacy of Baltimore’s historic George Peabody Library, The Library’s hardwood floors, plush wing-backed chairs and rows upon rows of blue-spined works of literature lining the walls and balcony create an inspiring and rejuvenating atmosphere for lunch or coffee.
    Photo via thelibrarystpete/Instagram
24 slides

25 new restaurants opening this summer in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay area's restaurant scene has been exploding with new concepts over the last few weeks. If you haven't had a…

By CL Staff

Pete’s General Store  
    495 7th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 727-440-6183
    Since its opening in April, locals have been raving about Pete's General Store's signature bagels. The general store, which aims for waste consciousness as well as convenience, is inspired by the weekend markets in Tampa and the bodegas of New York. While the store is mainly grab-and-go, outdoor seating with string lighting and picnic tables are available if you want to kick back with a beer and stay a while.
    Photo via Pete’s General/Facebook
21 slides


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

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

The 25 best things to do in Tampa Bay when it’s hot AF outside

If you live here you know it can be brutal outside all year round. So, if you're too burnt to spend another…

By CL Staff

Swim in a giant fake lagoon at Epperson Lagoon
    Epperson Lagoon, 31885 Overpass Rd, Wesley Chapel, 813-527-0775 lagooninformation.com 
     Epperson Lagoon’s purified, bright blue waters opened to the public late last year. The 7.5-acre, man made lake and beach has a little something for all ages and activity levels, featuring a waterslide, swim-up bar, floating obstacle course, concert area and kayak rentals. 
    Photo via Epperson/Facebook
26 slides

25 classic Tampa restaurants to put on your bucket list

Whether you're a local or just passing through, these local joints are a must-go. Either chosen for their cult following, ridiculous flavor,…

By CL Staff

Columbia Restaurant
    2025 E. 7th Ave. Tampa, 813-248-4961
    Founded in 1905, this Spanish restaurant’s ornate tile work, lofty arches and intricate chandeliers make the Columbia feel like a perfectly preserved relic of the past. Recipes for  dishes like Chicken and Yellow Rice “Valenciana” and their signature, tableside tossed 1905 salad have been passed down through five generations of family ownership.
    Photo via Photo via columbiarestaurant.com
24 slides

Historic photos of Tampa's Columbia Spanish Restaurant, Florida's oldest eatery

They say it's a milestone when a restaurant makes it past its first year, but it's something entirely different when you've been…

By CL Staff

Couple standing in front of entrance to the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, published sometime before 1969
40 slides

The 25 most hard-to-get restaurant tables in Tampa Bay that are totally worth it

No matter the time of day, these restaurants attract mad crowds, and you'll want to be one of the people waiting for…

By CL Staff

Red Mesa Cantina  
    128 3rd St. S., St. Pete, 727-896-8226
    Always a brunch hotspot in DTSP, expect a wait if you don’t call ahead. Grab the fat brunch burritos along with one of their margaritas that you can get in a variety of tropical flavors.
     Photo via Red Mesa Cantina/ Instagram
25 slides

20 woman-owned Tampa Bay restaurants you should've tried by now

These Tampa Bay restaurants range from cocktail bars serving elevated small plates to decadent pastries and floats, and they all have one…

By CL Staff

Ella’s Folk Art Cafe  
    Melissa Deming
    5119 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa
    Seminole Heights hotspot, make sure to download the OpenTable app to avoid a wait. 
    Photo via Ella’s Folk Art Cafe/Facebook
12 slides

20 delicious photos from Tampa's Sparkman Wharf

Wondering what the verdict is on Tampa's Sparkman Wharf? According to CL Food Critic Jon Palmer Claridge, the dining garden gets it…

By CL Staff

The Corners manager James Maldonado prepares a classic red Detroit-style pizza.
19 slides

Every Tampa Bay restaurant featured on the Food Network

Tampa Bay restaurants have welcomed the Food Network to their tables many times over throughout the years. (Especially the spiky-haired host of…

By CL Staff

Buya Ramen
    Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Food Network)
    911 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-202-7010.
    Photo via Facebook
48 slides

The best Tampa Bay restaurants of 2018, as chosen by our readers

CL's annual Best of the Bay is finally here for 2018, and it's a big one. To celebrate, peruse this assortment of…

By CL Staff

Best Cheese Course
    RUNNERS-UP: Bern’s Steak House, Cheese Please and Clooney’s Wine Bar
    Photo by James Ostrand
122 slides

And now, 17 photos of Tampa chef Chad Johnson eating wings and drinking beer

Flip through the slideshow above for nearly 20 photos that hit one CL editor's inbox this week (it was mine). They accompanied…

By CL Staff

And now, 17 photos of Tampa chef Chad Johnson eating wings and drinking beer
18 slides

Restaurant review: Keep calm and lobster on at Frankie's

Frankie's Lobstah Trap 3 out of 5 stars 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa. Appetizers: $9-$14: entrees: $12-$24; desserts: $6; beer and…

Frankie's lobster roll features chunks of claw meat lightly tossed in lemon garlic aioli on a toasted split-top brioche bun.
12 slides