Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa that was founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and housed thousands of immigrants, most notably from Cuba, Spain and Italy. Take a walk down 7th Avenue, which in the past has been rated one of the ‘Great Streets in America’ by the American Planning Association. Also, eat here – the food is fabulous. Here are some of the best places to have a meal in Ybor City.
On the bustling 7th Ave is Columbia, Ybor’s historical restaurant and one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world. With 1,700 hundreds seats in 15 dining rooms, Columbia takes up almost an entire city block. This restaurant has been in the same family for five generations and have nightly live flamenco shows as well as jazz music five times a week. With a large menu with options varying from tapas to paella dishes, Columbia is a must visit in Ybor City.
With a daily happy hour, a weekend brunch and rotating food specials, Acropolis is a perfect slice of Greek home cooking in Ybor City. Acropolis has a wide variety of food options – from classic greek gyros to seafood platters and shish kabobs. Acropolis also provides nightly entertainment and belly-dancing to add atmosphere and authenticity.
Right down the street is Carmine’s, a classic Ybor restaurant that showcases dishes from Spain, Italy and Cuba. The space is large and bright, refurbished from an industrial space but keeping all the best features such as exposed brick walls and large windows. Come here for a lunchtime Cuban sandwich or stop in at night for a plate of oysters or roast pork.
Just around the corner from Carmine’s, La Terrazza Ristorante lies on 7th Ave and is another Italian restaurant heavy on tradition. Here you can enjoy Northern Italian classics in a friendly and cozy atmosphere. Salads, ravioli and pasta dishes are the main treats in this small hidden gem in the middle of the bustle of Ybor City.
On the plaza level of Centro Ybor is Tampa Bay Brewing Company. Family owned since it opened in 1995, this stylish brew-house with open-brick décor will not disappoint. Its eight core beers and 38 seasonal rotating beers grab your attention, but the food makes you stay. Featured on Food Network’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,’ try the award-winning cider chicken wings and the spicy curry mussels.
Also on the historic 7th Ave is Bernini of Ybor, an Italian bistro named after Renaissance era artist Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. Described by themselves as ‘an eclectic eatery where the cuisine compliments your surroundings without compromising your wallet,’ Bellini certainly delivers when it comes to beautiful, authentic cuisine for a reasonable price Come to Bernini for more fine-dining options in Ybor, such as the multiple duck entrees or the classic Italian pasta dishes.
A treat for the eyes as well as the tastebuds, Al’s found its home at a colourful bungalow, converted into one of the best Tennessee-style BBQ joints this side of the US. Opened in 2009, Al’s speciality is dry-rub meats that are smoked for many hours at a time. A real family affair, the dishes are named to reflect that homely feel such as Aunt Ruza’s Pecan Pie and Aunt Nita’s Black-Eyed Peas. One of the top rated restaurants in the city of Tampa, Al’s takes pride in serving quality barbecue to customers who come from all over the state. Come here for a sit-down meal and some southern charm.
Just on the outskirts of 7th Ave is The Bricks, truly a one-of-a-kind place. All of their sauces, desserts and dips are made in house and the vegetables used are grown in their rooftop garden. Their menu has a lot of creativity to it, with options spanning from café standards, to barbecue, to food truck cuisine. Come here to try the Bird and Pig – a roasted chicken, bacon, apples, brie and agave concoction, and the Deluxe Grilled Cheese with mozzarella, spinach, pesto, tomato and red onion.
In the heart of Ybor is King Corona Cigars, a café that serves all day breakfast, Cuban coffee and to top it all off, cigars as well as tobacco accessories. Come here to read La Gacete, the nations only trilingual newspaper (Spanish, Italian and English) and enjoy the food and daily regulars who come to this special Ybor spot.
El Puerto Restaurant and Grill is a family-owned restaurant off the main strip of Ybor City. A popular lunch spot, the menu showcases dishes from Peru, Argentina, Mexico, El Salvador and Cuba. This mom and pop style joint is known for fabulous appetizers and Cuban rolls, but save room for the many delicious entrées the restaurant has to offer too.