Knowing where to find the best restaurants in a city is just as important as knowing where to find something like a bank or a hospital; It’s essential information for anyone whether you’re a full-time resident or just visiting on vacation.
Luckily, the best restaurants in Tampa won’t be hard to find thanks to this handy guide that we’ve put together to help you find the meal of your dreams, no matter the cuisine, by searching the city up and down on a hunt for exquisite food. Looking for some prime, dry-aged black Angus steak? How about some seared scallops and oysters Rockefeller? There is an amazing restaurant for any kind of food you can imagine, so you’re bound to find something that will make your night out simply divine. Just use this list as a roadmap for whenever you’re out and about in Tampa Bay and you’re looking to really treat yourself to a special lunch or dinner that is sure to impress.
1208 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Bern’s steak house takes the number one spot on our list, and once you’ve eaten there, you’ll understand exactly why. Located on the corner of South Howard Avenue and West Marjory Avenue, Bern’s steak house is well-known for its wide variety of expensive, high-quality cuts of prime steak in a cozy, upscale atmosphere with countless varieties of wine to accompany them. They have been serving the best steak in Tampa Bay since 1956 here at Bern’s steak house so they’re essentially a fixture of this beautiful city. Come and experience Bern’s for yourself to find out why they are our number one favorite restaurant. If you love steak restaurants like this one, then you’re in luck because the city is full of them.
1501 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Right on the corner of South Oregon Avenue and West Swann Avenue is our second favorite place to eat, On Swann, and it’s one of our favorite restaurants in Tampa Bay for a very unique take on classic American cuisine. On Swann is very modern and they offer a wide range of tastefully crafted menu items like their charcuterie boards which come in three variations, perfect for sharing among friends and family over a bottle of wine or one of their many craft beers and cocktails.
CW’s Gin Joint
633 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
CW’s Gin Joint is one of Tampa’s best places to eat when you’re in the mood for some gorgeous craft cocktails, small gourmet meals, and live music all in one stylishly retro lounge. Located off of North Franklin Street in the heart of upbeat Downtown Tampa, CW’s Gin Joint specializes in premium liquors, especially Gin, but they have many more hand-crafted cocktails to choose from that are made by experienced bartenders. They often have live jazz to enjoy with your drinks here at CW’s, and if you get hungry you can order one of their incredible entrees like an intense Moroccan lamb tagine.
2117 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
Located off of East 7th Avenue and North 22nd Street in the beautiful Ybor City, Columbia Restaurant is one of the best spots in Tampa Bay to hit when you’re craving traditional Spanish fare. This authentic, family-owned restaurant is truly one of Ybor City’s oldest and most treasured jewels. You can come here for both lunch and dinner where you’ll find some of the absolute tastiest paella you’ve ever had. If tapas is your thing, then this is the place for you. Columbia Restaurant has a huge tapas menu for both lunch and dinner and it is definitely worth checking out when you’re here.
2900 Bayport Dr, Tampa, FL 33607
Oystercatchers is tucked away in the mangroves off of Bayport Drive, inside the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay hotel, and it’s one of Tampa’s greatest restaurants, especially if you want a beautiful waterfront view while you eat fresh seafood. They have an incredible raw bar to get started with here at Oystercatchers, and then you can head over to their delectable selection of meats and seafood like steak, pork chops, grouper, lobster, and much more. We always have to recommend the decadent lobster mac and cheese to anyone considering eating at Oystercatchers because it is utterly phenomenal.
Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse
1108 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33629
Right on the corner of South Dale Mabry Highway and West Jetton Avenue is Tampa Bay’s top dining destinations, hands down, for all-you-can-eat meats, seafood, and salads in a white-tablecloth ambiance. Terra Gaucha is the only place to come when you’re craving an unbelievable amount of grilled meats. For a true rodizio experience, they will just keep bringing you grilled meats and seafood until you tap out and say “no more”, all for a fee of just $48.95, so be sure to bring your appetite when you come here so you can really get your money’s worth.
700 Harbour Post Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
For another one of our favorite restaurants in Tampa, head back downtown to Watervue Grille where they offer elegant waterfront dining for a reasonable cost. Located right off of Channelside Walk Way, you’re granted a scenic view of Amalie Arena just across the channel through your window while you eat. You can never go wrong with ordering seafood in Tampa, especially here. They offer both lunch and dinner at Watervue, with classic dishes like a grouper sandwich or a macadamia-crusted Mahi filet that are both equally delicious.
930 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Another SoHo favorite of ours is Bulla Gastrobar, located off of South Howard Avenue, and they are one of the top restaurants in Tampa where you can find an exquisite prix fixe brunch.They also offer lunch and dinner here at Bulla, so you can enjoy a unique Spanish dining experience for all three meals of the day.We always like to start with their chef’s board charcuterie assortment and then dive into one of their amazing entrées like their churrasco or paella for dinner. For lunch, I recommend the Cuban sandwich since it’s a Tampa classic.
Council Oaks Steaks and Seafood
5223 Orient Rd, Tampa, FL 33610
Next up on our list of Tampa’s nicest restaurants is Council Oaks Steaks and Seafood which can be found off of Orient Road, inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, just across the street from the Florida State Fairgrounds. As their name suggests, Council Oaks knows steak and seafood the best; they offer delicacies like dry-aged prime steaks, Japanese wagyu, and even Osetra Russian caviar if you truly want to eat luxuriously.
Mise en Place
442 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606
Mise en Place is an amazing upscale restaurant run by one of the best chefs in Tampa, Chef Marty Blitz, an expert in French-inspired cuisine that is perfect for anyone whose palate craves something exciting and new. Located right off of West Kennedy Boulevard, directly adjacent to the Falk Theatre, Mise en Place is perfect for a night out on the town that includes dinner and a show. Each dish here at Mise en Place is on par with a piece of art in terms of beauty and creativity that blends together perfectly in delightfully unexpected ways.
2425 N Rocky Point Dr, Tampa, FL 33607
You can’t go out to eat in Tampa Bay and not stop in at the Rusty Pelican when you’re looking for the best view in the city while you enjoy your meal at this upscale restaurant. Rusty Pelican is a Tampa classic and they’re known for being one of the best waterfront restaurants around thanks to their location on Rocky Point next to Ben T. Davis Beach. Not only is Rust Pelican a fantastic place to go for dinner in Tampa, but they also offer a spectacular weekend brunch experience that you really don’t want to miss.
Rooster & the Till
6500 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Rooster & the Till is an amazing place in Tampa that has taken on the new farm-to-table trend by serving unique dishes made only with locally sourced ingredients, so you know everything here is fresh. You can find Rooster & the Till over in Old Seminole Heights off of North Florida Avenue, just a few miles from Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park, so it’s perfect for a nice dinner after a day of fun at the zoo.
Malio’s Prime Steakhouse
400 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
Nestled inside the beautiful Rivergate Tower at lobby level, Malio’s Prime Steakhouse is one of Downtown Tampa’s greatest restaurants for mouth-watering steak with an unbeatable view of the Hillsborough River. Restaurants like Malio’s are part of the reason we love Downtown Tampa so much, not to mention all of the other fun things to do like visiting the Tampa Museum of Art or the Tampa Theatre. Malio’s is the perfect place to go for lunch and dinner alike, so stop in anytime after 12:00 pm and treat yourself to something special like an Australian rack of lamb or one of their delicious burgers made from Prime filet.
2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Haven is an amazing place to eat and one of the nicest restaurants in Tampa when it comes to contemporary ambiance with a rustic flair and artfully crafted food and drink.Located off of West Morrison Avenue and South Howard Avenue, Haven is yet another SoHo jewel that is easy to miss due to its subtle appearance. The charcuterie boards here are mind-blowing, especially when paired with something from their expansive wine or whiskey selection.
1810 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Ulele is a huge, gorgeous restaurant nestled right into the bank of the Hillsborough River, just north of Downtown Tampa, off of North Highland Avenue. We love Ulele for both their lunch and dinner menus, but there is one dish that can be found on both that is so delightfully unique and tasty that we order it every time: alligator hush puppies. These hush puppies are unlike anything you’ve ever tried before, and it doesn’t get more Floridian than eating some delicious gator.
2109 Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606
Located off of South Howard Avenue in the beautiful Bayshore Gardens neighborhood, Ciro’s is one of Tampa’s top restaurants to go to when you want a very upscale cocktail bar experience that also serves incredible food. Ciro’s is primarily a cocktail bar, but you wouldn’t know that after tasting some of the cuisine they offer. Some of our favorite meals include their pocket burger trio with duck fat fries, their pan-seared crab cakes, and their pretzel monkey bread fondue. They even have a happy hour every Monday through Friday, from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm, so come grab a light meal and a craft cocktail and make it a special weeknight.
1208 E Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33602
Located off of East Madison Street in the gorgeous Channel district of Downtown Tampa, Cena serves up astounding Italian food as one of the best restaurants in Tampa Bay.The thing we love to order every time we go to Cena is their risotto because it is simply divine and there are three different kinds to choose from⸺each one more delectable than the last. Personally, we prefer the wagyu braised short rib risotto because we love any and all forms of ribs, but a close second would be their truffle mushroom risotto.
DeVito’s Italian Specialties
200 N Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602
Last but not least is DeVito’s Italian specialties, and they are one of the greatest restaurants in Tampa Bay when you want authentic Italian food downtown by the river. Some of our favorite dishes include their lobster ravioli and their linguine fra diavolo seafood, but you can’t go wrong with anything you order since it is all made fresh in-house. Save room for dessert when you come to DeVito’s because the tiramisu is unbelievably delicious, as is the New York cheesecake.