Classic Tampa Restaurants

by Shannon

With an explosion of restaurants over the past decade, Tampa’s culinary scene has so much to offer. Whether you’re new to town or just passing through on the way to the beaches or theme parks, there are a few restaurants you can’t miss! These tried and true, classic Tampa restaurants are some of the best in the bay area.

Rusty Pelican

Located right on the bay, the Rusty Pelican is the perfect fine dining spot for date night or a Sunday brunch splurge. The views, especially at sunset, are amazing. From steaks to seafood, you can’t go wrong. My personal favorite has to be the Crab Stuffed Grouper- you don’t get any more Florida than that!

Rusty Pelican Classic Tampa Restaurants

Wright’s Gourmet House

Wright’s Gourmet House is a classic for it’s delicious sandwiches and baked goods. There are sandwiches, then there are Wright’s sandwiches! Other specialties include quiche and fresh salads. Don’t miss the cream cheese brownies! They sell whole cakes, and it can get very busy around holidays!

Wright's Gourmet House Classic Tampa Restaurants

Shells Seafood

Shells Seafood has locations in Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon and Lakeland. It’s a casual place, the kind where you throw peanut shells on the floor, and the fried seafood and fresh oysters are excellent! I grew up going here with my family, and Bobby and I make a point to visit when we’re in Florida.

Shells Seafood Classic Tampa Restaurants

Skipper’s Smokehouse

The place for live music in Tampa, don’t overlook this hidden gem on first appearances! Skipper’s has a renaissance faire, hippie vibe and features unique musicians- everything from Celtic to Reggae. Concerts take place under the huge live oaks, draped with lights.

I was so sad when it closed its doors in 2020, but it reopened in 2021 under new ownership. The eclectic, yet Floridian menu, has been featured on the Travel Channel for its gator chili, crawfish and more.

Skipper's Smokehouse Classic Tampa Restaurants

La Segunda Bakery

Classic Tampa Restaurants- La Segunda Bakery

You can’t talk about the Tampa food scene without mentioning Cuban cuisine! For me, it’s love at first bite.

La Segunda Bakery makes the best Cuban bread the old fashioned- baked on palm fronds. The loaves are almost as long as I am tall, but you’ll want an entire one just to yourself! La Segunda has been at it since 1915 and also serves traditional guava pastries, ham croquettes, deviled crabs and Cuban sandwiches.

Cuban sandwiches occasionally appear on gastropub menus across the country, but you haven’t had the real thing until you have one here!

The bakery has three locations in Tampa Bay, but they all close at 3pm. The baked goods can sellout by end of day, so don’t wait around!

Columbia Restaurant

If you only eat in one restaurant in Tampa, make it the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City! Opened in 1905, it’s officially the oldest restaurant in Florida. Serving Spanish and Cuban cuisine, everything on the menu is divine! From arroz con pollo to boliche, I could order one of everything.

The Columbia has multiple locations across Florida, but Ybor City is the original. Each dining room is unique, although my personal favorite is the Patio Room. The Ybor location also offers flamenco shows Tuesday through Saturday at 7pm, reservations required.

The Columbia location on Sand Key is a runner up, with its waterfront deck.

Columbia Restaurant Classic Tampa Restaurants

Bern’s Steakhouse

Bern’s Steakhouse is the place in Tampa for a fancy night out! I’m not even a red meat fan, but I love a steak at Bern’s. It’s not just about the food either, it’s the entire experience from start to finish.

The staff are top notch, offering experienced suggestions on steak cuts and type, as well as input on Bern’s world famous wine selection. They have one of the largest wine selections in the world, with over 200 wines by the glass, plus over 6,000 by the bottle. Wine cellar and kitchen tours are available on request.

The upstairs Dessert Room offers private alcoves for enjoying exquisite desserts.

Oh, and did I mention that Bern’s grows their own greens and many of their own vegetables?

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Linnea July 23, 2022 - 10:48 am

I love how all these restaurants are unique to Tampa! The Oysters at Shell Seafood sound amazing!

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:09 pm

Nothing beats local restaurants!

Brittany July 23, 2022 - 3:12 pm

Yum, Skipper’s Smokehouse sounds right up my alley! Although, all the seafood sounds spectacular too. Thanks for sharing!

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:08 pm

Skipper’s always has a great music lineup!

Nadine Arab July 23, 2022 - 4:31 pm

These all sound awesome! Berns steakhouse in particular looks right up my alley!

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:08 pm

It’s one of my all time favorite restaurants!

Rachel - Rays of Adventure July 23, 2022 - 5:34 pm

These restaurants look great! I think the view from the Rusty Pelican looks amazing, I’d love to have dinner here and look out over the sea.

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:07 pm

It’s beautiful!

Wendy July 23, 2022 - 7:27 pm

Sounds like there are plenty of great restaurants in Tampa, especially for seafood lovers life myself!

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:07 pm

Yes, lots of great seafood!

Krista July 23, 2022 - 9:24 pm

It looks like there are a lot of great places to eat in Tampa! I’ll have to check some of them out next time I’m in the city.

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:07 pm

You can’t go wrong with these!

Erin July 23, 2022 - 10:05 pm

Columbia is one of my long time favorites! Can’t beat their sangria and 1905 salad! I’ll have to make it to Bern’s eventually!

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:07 pm

The best sangria!

ANUKRATI July 24, 2022 - 10:42 am

Loved your suggestions.

Shannon July 24, 2022 - 9:06 pm



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