After heading south to Emily's neck of the woods, Boca Grande, last week, Emily came to see me in Tampa. Surprisingly, despite living just an hour and a half away, Emily had never spent much time in Tampa. So naturally, I had to show her the best Tampa had to offer, which turns out centers on food lol.
One of the things I love about Tampa is the food scene. Unlike other large(ish) cities in Florida with extensive urban sprawls (I'm looking at you Orlando), Tampa is not overrun with chain restaurants. In fact, we have an extensive and thriving independent food scene. Simply put, there are a ton of great restaurants in Tampa. There were too many to show Emily in just a day, but we definitely tried to taste as many as possible.
We began our day at my most recent obsession - The Mini Doughnut factory. These little wonders are equal parts adorable and delicious. You will want to try all the unique flavors, but I highly recommend the cotton candy (made with pop rocks) and the sweet pig (maple and bacon). But get there early, the line is intense!
Following our donut binge (we had to try them all) we needed coffee and headed to another one of my favorite places in town, the Oxford Exchange. The OE as locals call it is part book store, part home goods store, part Warby Parker, and restaurant. Oh and there's a Buddy Brew coffee inside. After caffeinating and shopping we met up with our friend Rechael and had brunch in the atrium of the restaurant.
After mini donuts and brunch we were thoroughly stuffed. I showed Emily around town a bit and gave her a little history on the historic Plant Hotel (now part of the University of Tampa). We then headed to see the Tampa Museum and Riverwalk. It was scorching outside so we didn't last long on the riverwalk before escaping to Foundation Coffee for iced coffee. But trust me, the riverwalk is delightful when the weather cools.
We finished our day avoiding the afternoon thunderstorms in Hyde Park sipping cava and chowing down on tacos at Bar Taco. I told Emily she needed to return soon since I didn't get to take her to the local speakeasy or cajan restaurant, Roux. Should you ever find yourself visiting the Tampa Bay area here is a list of all of my favorite places:
Do & See: Hyde Park - This is a beautiful and historic neighborhood as well as a shopping center by the same name. Both are worth a visit!
Bayshore Boulevard - Bayshore is the longest uninterrupted sidewalk in the US! And we love it. You will find it full of people walking, biking, and rollerblading everyday. Not to mention it wraps around a section of the bay that is a stingray and dolphin preserve, so keep your eyes open.
Plant Hotel- This historical hotel is definitely worth a visit for its unique architecture (it has minarets). There is also a small museum that will give you a great intro to the history of the region.
Riverwalk- The riverwalk follows the Hillsborough River through downtown Tampa. It is a series of parks and paths that offer great views of the city and often host lots of fun events and festivals.
Ybor City- Ybor is a historic neighborhood in Tampa. It was founded in the late 19th century as a center for cigar manufacturing. Cigar rolling jobs attracted immigrants and the area became known for its vibrant blended immigrant culture. After decades of decline, the city is being revitalized and retains much of its unique culture and historic buildings. The Dali Museum- Technically this is in St. Petersburg, not Tampa. But, both are worth a visit since they are so close to Tampa. Believe it or not, this museum houses the largest collection of Dali's works outside of Europe.