Where to Eat in Tampa, Florida: Must Try Restaurants in the Area

If you’re looking for bomb food in Tampa, you’re gonna want to bookmark this post stat.  We spent the last week eating all the food to find the best eats in Tampa Bay, and we’re so excited to share our recommendations with you guys.  We’re discussing everything from kickass breakfast buffets to authentic Korean food, so definitely make sure to stick with us until the very end.  You’re welcome in advance, but also sorry…because you’re gonna go broke buying everything we feature, ha.

1.  Bake’n Babes

Nestled inside The Hall on Franklin, Bake’n Babes is heaven for anyone with taste buds.  They’re a local Tampa bakery that’s been killing the game since 2013, and they source all their ingredients locally so you know you’re getting quality in each and every bite.  They first gained street cred after scoring first prize at the Ybor Saturday Market’s Cupcake Contest – they won with their French Toast Maple Bacon Cupcake.  How freakin’ delish does that sound?

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try it, but that just means we’ll have to go back…as if we needed a reason.  In all seriouness, we have no doubt it’s FIRE because everything we tried there blew us away.  Must-tries include their salted chocolate chip cookie ($4), their sleazy brownie ($7), and any of their shakes.  We got one with a liège waffle on top, and it was pretty epic.  Open M-Th from 7:30AM-11PM, Friday from 7:30AM-12:30AM, Saturday from 11AM-12:30AM, and Sunday from 11am-5PM.

bake'n babes shake

2.  Chop Chop Shop

Located in Old Seminole Heights, this food truck-turned restaurant will leave you completely and utterly satisfied.  They’re open W-Sa from 5PM-10PM and Sunday from 5PM-9PM, and their food’s SO good that people literally wait in their cars for them to open.  They serve asian inspired cuisine that’s super affordable, and we’re not exaggerating when we say “super affordable.” Everything on their menu’s under $10 (!!!!)

chop chop shop bowl

They’re famous for their bowls, and they start at $8.97 a pop.  Their standard comes with white rice, a choice of kara-age or ginger roasted pork, purple slaw, and a sauce of your choice.  Ermergerd, their sauce – don’t even get us started!  Their Shop Sauce is straight up obscene, like we want to buy it in bulk and put it on everything we eat.  It’s really tough to describe, but it’s tangy with just the right amount of heat, and it makes everything taste exponentially better.

We could talk about their Shop Sauce for hours so we’re just gonna move on for your sake.  Think of them as an Asian Cava of sorts – you start with a meat and base and then choose a sauce + add-ons.  A lot of things cost extra though so keep that in mind when ordering – it’s easy to go crazy when everything sounds so damn good!  And if you’re not feeling bowls, they also have burgers, sandwiches, nuggets and fries.

kara-age nuggets

We tried their Kara-age Nuggets ($7.01), their Seoul Burger ($8.41), their Kara-age Bowl, and their Pork Belly Bowl (+1.64 upcharge).  Everything we had was good, but the pork belly was life-changing.   Braised and seared with a crispy salt and pepper crust?  Oh hellll yes.  This was quite possibly one of the best things we’ve ever had, like ever in our lives, and we’re pissed we have to fly all the way to Tampa to get our fix.  If you’re in the area, this is an absolute must.  No ifs, ands or buts!

pork belly bowl tampa

3.  Gelatys

gelatys tampa

Gelato lovers unite!  If you’re looking for delish ice cream that will seriously satisfy, head to Gelatys.  They have over 60 flavors so we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find something you love.  They have different categories like creamy, fruit, yogurt and light so you can indulge or keep things healthy!

This shop’s located inside International Plaza (aka a ginormous mall), so things can get a little crazy, but their noms are worth the wait.  You can customize your pop however you please – dip it in chocolate, top it with oreos, [insert whatever you heart desires] – or enjoy it as is! We recommend their cookies and cream paw with chocolate and oreo or their pistachio nutella gelato pop.

SEE ALSO:  4 DC Cocktail Crawls You Need to Experience

artisanal gelato pops

4.  Grain & Berry

Who says clean eating can’t be delish?  There’s a reason why Grain & Berry rose straight to the top in record time.  They opened their first location in the summer of 2017, and they were voted #1 bowl by the Tampa Bay Times soon afterwards.  They’re known for their beautiful acai bowls, fresh pressed juices, and avocado toasts.

Everything’s made to order so you’re getting the freshest product possible, and they’re open from 9AM-9PM, 7 days a week so you can hit them up any time for a guiltless fix.  They have various different stores in FL, but we hit up their USF Tampa location for breakfast because we wanted to visit the Botanical Gardens after brekkie.

acai bowls with fruit

We got two bowls two share, an avo toast, and a yogurt parfait.  They have six different bases available for their bowls: acai (organic acai, banana), spirulina (bananas, pineapple, mango, spirulina, vanilla almond milk), pitaya (organic pitaya, banana, and pineapple), kale (kale, mango, banana, pineapple and almond milk), oatmeal (with either a plant power base or a kale power base) and yogurt.

granola bowl with pineapple

We went with their Grain & Berry Acai Bowl and their Seas the Day Spirulina Bowl.  The former came with acai, organic granola, banana, strawberries, bueberries, nutella, peanut butter, and coconut shavings, while the latter was topped with organic granola, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, hemp seed and honey.

Both were phenomenal so go with whatever fruit you like best because you honestly can’t go wrong with anything you get here.  The price point was also crazy as well.  A giant bowl for only $9.81?  Almost too good to be true.

fruit yogurt parfait

The Feed the Soul Parfait ($5.99) was as tasty as it was beautiful, and it came with yogurt, organic granola, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, honey and hemp seed.  It’s definitely a solid option if you love yogurt and want to save a few bucks.  Their avo toast was the same price so we decided to try that as well.

caprese avocado toast

There were four different kinds available, but we got their Caprese Deliciousness because we love all things cheese.  It came with cherry tomatoes, avo, mozzarella, basil leaves, caprese herbs, and a balsamic drizzle.  Now, their toast was fine, but if you come to Grain & Berry, you need to get one of their bowls because they’re exceptional.  Unless you wanna get both…then we’re cool with you guys getting the Caprese, ha.

5.  Ichicoro Ramen

Who knew veggie ramen could be so good?  If you’re in the area, and you’re craving noodles, you need to hit up Ichicoro stat because their mushroom ramen is what dreams are made of.

Think perfectly cooked noodz in a roasted mushroom broth with shoyu tare, shiitake, kikurage, scallions, spinach and black truffle butter.  So much yum in our tum.  FYI: there were only 3 ramen options for lunch (veggie + chicken broths), but they have more in the evening so if you’re set on pork broth, wait to go until dinnertime!

mushroom ramen

6.  Maple Street Biscuit Company

Where do we even start?  We were SO beyond impressed with Maple Street Biscuit Co.  Literally everything we got was delicious so we’re legit bummed that there isn’t one near us.  We visited the location in Carrolwood, and we can’t recommend it enough.

If you’re in Tampa, and you DON’T try their food at least once, you are seriously missing out.  Their entire menu was gold so we had a tough time deciding what to get, but Troy, the owner, helped us out with his VERY yum recommendations!

cinnamon biscuit

First thing’s first though, let us tell you a bit more about MSBC.  They specialize in biscuits…if you couldn’t tell already, ha.  They’re made fresh from scratch in house daily, but that’s not impressive because they make everything in house including their sausage/shiitake gravies and their jams and jellies!  They even roast and ground their own coffee beans – their maple roast’s an absolute must try BTW.

SEE ALSO:  The Best of Maryland: 10 Dishes You Need To Try in Charm City

maple street grits

So, here’s what you need to get when you go:  the Squawking Goat (an all natural fried chicken breast with fried goat cheese and house made pepper jelly), The Five & Dime (chicken breast with pecanwood smoked bacon and cheddar cheese topped with sausage gravy and a fried egg), the Bluegrass Grits Bowl (stone-ground white hominy grits, cut with cream cheese and butter, topped with bacon, a sunny side up egg, cheddar cheese, chives and some hot sauce), and the Three Layer Cake (a fried hashbrown cake with smoked gouda cheese topped with chives, gravy and an egg).  And yes, it’s all as indulgent as it sounds so if you want to count calories, just don’t.

squawking goat biscuit

The photos just don’t do them justice.  The grits ($8) were super buttery, and the Squawking Goat ($9)?  No words.  A warm, flaky biscuit straight out of the oven with a perfectly fried chicken breast doused in their tangy pepper jam, topped with a creamy herbed goat cheese medallion.  Are you drooling yet because we are…again.

hashbrown cake with gravy

Anddd here’s the layer cake ($7) we were talking about.  If you love hashbrowns as much as we do, this  is an absolute must.  We asked them to keep the egg runny because we’re all about that yolk porn – hashtag food blogger life.

You’d think the gravy would be too much but nope – the crispy taters contrasted with the creaminess beautifully, and the egg was just the cherry on top!  They’re open M-F 7PM-2PM and Saturday 7AM-3PM so get here and crush some biscuits.

7.  Mekenita Cantina

If you’re in the mood for some kickass Mexican food, you need to check out Mekenita.  Located on 6707 N Florida Ave, they’re open M-Th from 11AM-9PM and F-Sa 11AM-10PM.  Words can’t even begin to express how much we enjoyed their food.  Prices were super reasonable and the food was amazing!  Must-try plates include their tacos ($11-13) and their grilled tender braised honey chipotle short ribs ($23).

mekenita tacos

The tacos come in a set of three and are served with shredded lime cabbage, red onions, mexican cheese, cotija cheese, cilantro, sour cream, guac and a side salad.  They have different kinds of proteins (think mahi mahi, tiger shrimp, smoked pork and more), and you can mix and match however you want with the exception of the Mahi Mahi.

We tried their shrimp, chicken and steak and all three were nomtastic!  The flavors were like a symphony of deliciousness, and we enjoyed every bite.  And if you can take heat, ask for their special house-made hot sauce because it’s the bomb.com.

mekenita short rib

The short rib was magic.  It’s one of their grande platos so you can only get it for dinner, but you need try it.  The flavors are insane, and the meat straight up melts in your mouth.  In fact, we’d go as far as to call it the BEST short rib dish we’ve ever tasted.  It comes with heirloom carrots, sautéed snow peas, white hominy, charred tomato guajillo lime salsa, and shaved radish jalapeño frisee salad.

best churros tampa

Also, remember to save room for dessert because their cinnamon dusted churros ($6) are everything you’ve ever wanted in life and then some.  They’re drizzled with dulce de leche and served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.  They’re made to order so they come out piping hot, and that hot/cold contrast?  SO good, like we were stuffed from our meal, but we still ate every bite.  You’re welcome in advance.

8.  Mr. Mango

mr mango tampa

Like Gelatys, Mr. Mango is located inside International Plaza.  Well, technically it’s located right outside the food court, but you get what we mean.  They’re open M-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM and Sunday from 11AM-7PM, and they’re a must-try if you love mangos or fruity desserts. Expect a wait though because everything’s made to order, and it takes a while to craft each nom.

SEE ALSO:  Top 3 Affordable Lunch Options at The Wharf

mango dessert

You can be as healthy (or as unhealthy) as you want!  We chose to go with El Diablo (think lots and lots of hot sauce and chili powder) this time around, but we’re definitely getting their standard Mango fave with condensed milk next time because this was a little too spicy for us.

mr mangl diablo

9.  Sa Ri One Grill

We’re not usually big on AYCE Korean barbecue places, but Sa Ri One Grill was legit.  We were expecting crappy cuts of meat, but nope, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of their food.  They specialize in KBBQ, but you can also get a bunch of different jjigaes (Korean stews).  Unless you can eat an obscene amount of meat, we recommend going with their combos!

korean bbq tampa

We got combo A ($46), and it came with cha dol bae gi (thinly sliced beef brisket), sam gyup sal (pork belly), ju mul luk (grilled prime steak), bul go ki beef (marinated beef), and jju gu mi gu e (marinated squid).  It was enough food to feed three people and it came with a steamed egg, miso soup, rice and two rounds of banchan.  The only con to this place?  They charge you for banchan and rice refills unless you go with their AYCE options.

sa ri one grill tampa

…but that didn’t stop us from going a second time, ha.  Their mandu (Korean dumplings) was SO good that we wanted to go back.  They’re made in house, and they’re some of the best mandu we’ve ever tasted.  We got ours steamed, and the texture was chewy perfection.  Think crepe thin with tons of pork and veggie filling inside.

Oh how we miss those dumplings.  The owner here also has another restaurant called Sa Ri One Korean Restaurant, but this location’s way better.  The other one’s a divey hole-in-the-wall kind of place (which is totally fine), but the food wasn’t as good in our opinion.  If you have time, try both and let us know what YOU think!

10.  Sweet Soul

sweet soul bowl

Everything about Sweet Soul is a do in our book!  They’re a plant based shop located on 1101 S Howard Avenue, and we can’t get enough of their healthy but delish noms.  They serve everything from vegan soft serve to smoothies, and their food’s almost too beautiful to eat.

Real talk though, like look at this pic – their ice cream’s actually SHIMMERING.  On top of being an instagrammer’s dream come true, their food will seriously nourish.  We highly recommend their matcha soft serve and any of their bowls.  So, do yourself a favor, and stop by this adorable shop to feed your mind, body, soul…and cell phone.

charcoal activated soft serve

11.  1823 Kitchen & Bar

Located in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay hotel, this restaurant is perfect for those of you looking to pig out for breakfast.  Their brekkie dishes are overpriced, but their buffet is so worth the money.  This AYCE deal is $21, and it’s worth every cent because food’s plentiful and on point.

Drinks are included (tea, coffee, fresh squeezed juice), and they have everything from smoked salmon and prosciutto to basics like scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, sausage and more.  You have the option of getting eggs however you want though so go wild!

We may or may not have gotten several omelettes, ha.  Their pastry selection is great as well so remember to end your meal on a sweet note with one…or five.  Also, they have a garage so parking’s free, and they have a to-go coffee station set up in front of the restaurant so you can take your caffeine fix on the road.

Alright Nomsters, that’s a wrap for today’s food guide!  We hope you enjoyed reading all about our favorite Tampa eats.  Definitely let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below, and check out other guides we’ve written in our travel tab.



  1. Janely Griffith Gonzalez
    April 22, 2019 / 6:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing on all the places I wish I knew about a year ago…it’s ok, better now than never. I found this article through ChopChopShop and have now tagged Sweet Soul for my vegan fix and Mekenita Cantina for my little one (12 yrs old) to eat churros. It’s her favorite.

    Thank you!

    • nomtasticfoods
      May 7, 2019 / 1:07 pm

      You’re so welcome! So glad you found this helpful =)

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