Downtown Tampa Is Now A Destination To See When Visiting Tampa
My out of state friend kept reading and hearing about all the things going on in Downtown Tampa. He has visited Tampa many times over the years, but has not been to Tampa for at least 10 years. During past visits, Downtown Tampa was never a destination to consider. Now he wanted to see what all the hype was about. He recently came down for a weekend and I planned a loose itinerary to see as much as possible, with some flexibility to change it up if something not on the agenda piqued his interest.
He arrived in the early evening on a Friday so we wanted to keep it simple after a long flight. We left the airport and headed straight to Armature Works. I felt like this was a great way to show that Tampa, specifically Downtown Tampa, has become a foodie city. We strolled around to check out all the options. We had a hard time agreeing on anything so we decided select two items each and share everything. I went with the award winning Cuban sandwich and yuca fries from Hemingway’s and the crispy wings from Chismis and Co. He went with a couple of empanadas from Empamamas – The Tampa Girl and Cheeseburger. For his second choice he went with 1/2 lb combo pork/brisket from Butcher and Barbecue. We grabbed a couple of beers and headed outside to enjoy the awesome fall weather. The food was absolutely spectacular, but of course, way too much. We walked out to the Tampa Riverwalk to take a quick look around. We called it a night to get some rest for a long Saturday.
We got a little bit of a late start due to the food hangover from Friday. My buddy’s a history dude so we headed straight to the Tampa Bay History Center. Before entering the exhibits, we grabbed a Cafe con Leche from the Columbia Cafe. After spending a couple of hours in the exhibits it was time to eat. Once again, the weather was great so we wanted to eat outside. We walked down the Riverwalk to the Sail Pavilion. We enjoyed some tasty drinks, great food, awesome views, and relaxed a bit. From there, we walked a bit more down the Riverwalk. We made it all the way to Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park and enjoyed some cold brews at Four Green Fields. We drank a few and did some people watching at the park.
Now it was time for dinner. I provided a few options:
- What I think of as high end bar food at Taps.
- Pizza – either healthy at Tampa Pizza Company or NY style Eddie and Sam’s
- Authentic Spanish cuisine at Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar
- Super delicousness at Anise Global Gastrobar
After several minutes debating the options, we finally decided on Spain. We sat at the bar and started with some delicious mojitos and complimentary tapas. Once my friend had the tapas, he wanted to try as many different tapas as possible. I simply asked the bartender to hook us up with some of the most popular tapas and every one of them was awesome. The we grabbed a nightcap (maybe two or three) at Taps before heading home for the evening.
My friend had an afternoon flight home so we needed to keep it simple. I decided the best option was The Hall on Franklin. This way, my buddy could try a few different items. I went with the Shrimp and Grits from the Fork and Hen. My friend went with the Jimmy Two Times sandwich from Heights Melts. Both of us could not be happier with our choices.
And that was it. The quick weekend was over, but we did some serious eating, a little drinking and took in as many of the sites as possible. I took him to the airport and he said he’ll be back very soon so we can hit up Sparkman Wharf and whatever we missed on this visit.