Travel With Your Tastebuds: 48 Food-Filled Hours in Tampa Bay

© Gabriel Alcala
© Gabriel Alcala | © Gabriel Alcala
Maxine Sheppard

Tampa Bay has enjoyed an unstoppable rise to foodie prominence over the past decade, shaped by its subtropical climate, waterfront setting and rich history of Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigration.

Loved by over 40s

Tampa Bay, Florida, is home to some of the most creative chefs, bartenders and small-batch brewers in the USA, whose innovative dining and drinking concepts have won plaudits across the board. With such an ever-evolving scene to explore, here’s how you can get a taste of Tampa Bay’s culinary landscape in one full-on, flavor-filled weekend.

The colorful past of Tampa Bay has shaped its cuisine as we know it today

Day one

For a rapid intro to all that is up and coming, head straight to Heights Public Market at Armature Works on the revamped downtown riverfront. Housed within a former streetcar warehouse, this cavernous food hall hosts an eclectic line-up of purveyors, producers and restaurateurs in one communal space. From street tacos to salchipapas, gyoza to guava cream cheese ice cream, there’s something to tempt even the most adventurous food-lover. Once you’ve chosen, find a spot on the lawn for views of the Hillsborough River.
If the revitalised waterfront is all about the new, a short jaunt east will take you to the Ybor City Historic District, where long-standing culinary traditions are preserved. Tampa’s best-known export, the Cuban sandwich, originated here in Ybor City, and today its authenticity is so well guarded, the ingredients – Cuban bread, ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, dill pickle and mustard – are enshrined in a city council resolution. Grab one to go at the family-run La Segunda Bakery or dine in at the Columbia Restaurant, a Ybor City landmark and the oldest restaurant in Florida.
If all that savory goodness has made you thirsty, you’re in the right place. Florida’s first commercial brewery opened here in Ybor City in 1896, and Tampa Bay today has one of the top craft beer scenes in the country. Kick things off on hip 7th Avenue, where the industrial-chic Zydeco Brew Werks is one of the newer entrants to the scene. Spread across two floors in a former nightclub, the brewery serves an inventive range of lagers, stouts and malty ales, best sampled alongside a pile of baked oysters from the Cajun-inspired menu. Next stop, Coppertail Brewing Co., lies a few blocks east, with a choice of 20 rotating pours to try in the buzzy, reclaimed-wood tasting room.
On the other side of town, Cigar City Brewing is another essential hotspot. The award-winning brewery is easily the best known in the city, partly due to a relentless focus on ambitious new beers brewed with tropical ingredients such as lime essence, cacao nibs and chili peppers. And if those flavors are your jam, but you’re not that into beer, get yourself over to Mexican taco joint JoToro at Sparkman Wharf for a signature tequila flight or golden margarita.

Sip on tequila cocktails at the local hotspot JoToro (left) or hit up Zydeco Brew Werks for craft beers and New Orleans-inspired plates

Day two

Kick off the day in retro splendor at Goody Goody in upmarket Hyde Park Village. This Tampa Bay icon lasted 80 years in its former downtown location, before a welcome revival by local restaurateur Richard Gonzmart breathed new life into this much-loved slice of local heritage. Known for gigantic, straight-off-the-griddle pancakes, the resurrected diner offers the best breakfast in Florida according to Southern Living magazine. Smother in homemade cracker maple syrup and tuck in.
With portions like these, we wouldn’t blame you for skipping lunch in favor of afternoon tea. Twenty minutes’ walk away, you can do just that, in a venue inspired by the elegant clubs and libraries of London, England. Oxford Exchange is set in a former stable block and offers a bookstore, retail store and restaurant under one roof. Served in a plant-filled conservatory, the tea experience (champagne optional) is everything you’d expect, including scones with cream and a fancy selection of sweet and savory treats.
Your Tampa taste-fest might be nearly over, but you can’t leave town without dining at one of the finest restaurants in the city. Back in Ybor City, Casa Santo Stefano reflects the food traditions of the thousands of Sicilian immigrants who moved to the area in the early 1900s, with most of its ingredients imported directly from family businesses in Sicily. Alternatively, don your finest attire for a night at Bern’s Steak House, a local institution since 1956. Known for seafood, cut-to-order steaks and a monumental wine collection, this legendary venue is also home to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, where flawless handmade desserts are served in wine-barrel booths.
Need a convenient place to stay? Few options can beat the Epicurean Hotel. Not only is the hotel within stumbling distance of Bern’s, its food-focused amenities include a culinary theater offering everything from mixology lessons to coffee roasting demos. And if a return trip is on the cards, check out Aloft Midtown, whose swish rooftop pool and tapas bar feature fantastic panoramas.

The produce served in Casa Santo Stefano is imported from other family businesses in Sicily

Get your tastebuds at the ready and start planning your delicious trip to Tampa Bay by heading to

Places to stay

Epicurean Hotel

Spa Hotel

Stylish lobby with polished floors and reception area built with wine crates and wine racks at the Epicurean Hotel, Tampa
Courtesy of Epicurean Hotel / Expedia

Just a three-minute walk from Tampa Bay itself, Epicurean Hotel is the ideal place to stay for a relaxing getaway in Tampa. Take a coffee-roasting class or sharpen your cocktail-making skills at a mixology tutorial, you won’t be short on tasty things to do if you choose to stay here.

Aloft Tampa Midtown

Budget Hotel, Chain Hotel

Conveniently located close to many Tampa hot spots, Aloft Midtown is the perfect base for travelers eager to explore the best of Tampa Bay. It’s also ideal for those lazy hotel days, too – you’ll find a fancy rooftop pool and an on-site tapas bar.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.