Grabbing a good bite to eat always feels right, but finding less-crowded hidden gems where you can get a top-notch meal is all the more rewarding. Luckily, Tampa’s killer food scene means you have plenty of places to explore. Here are six under-the-radar restaurants worth tracking down.
Ebisu Sushi Shack
Some argue that the best sushi in town is at Ebisu Sushi Shack. A cozy, comfortable, and unassuming spot on Nebraska Avenue in Seminole Heights, this neighborhood joint delivers where it matters most, serving up high-quality, fresh fish for seriously good sushi. Dig into a Volcano Roll – a crab and cucumber roll elegantly topped with salmon, white fish, spicy mayo, and eel sauce – or savor every bite of the festive Orange Sunrise, featuring spicy yellowtail topped with salmon and ponzu sauce.
Chubby’s Super Subs & Pizza
For a hearty lunch or a low-key dinner, check out Chubby’s along the waterfront in Ballast Point. Choose from hot, cold, and oven-baked sub sandwiches, plus homestyle pastas and pizzas. Grab a Chubby’s Special Pizza or a Steak Bomb Sub to go, and eat up while enjoying the views over Hillsborough Bay. Go big and order up some Garlic Bites too. You can always walk it off strolling the waterfront!
Soul of Korea
Offering a comfortable environment for a delicious, family-style meal, Soul of Korea will make you feel right at home at their strip mall location in Northeast Tampa. You can expect an array of authentic Korean flavors, generous portions, and the welcoming service you would hope for at a mom-and-pop restaurant. From the mandu (homemade dumplings) to the kalbi (short ribs) and bulgogi (marinated grilled meat), every dish is made with heart – and soul, of course.
Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe
At Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, you’ll find a dining experience unlike any other in Tampa. This fun and inviting Seminole Heights hangout is “dedicated to nourishing your stomach and your soul,” offering quirky art and decor, live music, and rib-sticking comfort food. Their Soul Food Sunday menu is where they really shine. Tackle the Southern Fried Catfish or The Florida Man smoked sausage plate for your savory, and for your sweet, try their Fried Chicken and Waffles with bourbon caramelized honey or the Funky Monkey Belgian waffle with nutella and bananas. Take caution with their amazing cocktails, too: The inimitable Bloody Ella comes topped with a hickory-smoked rib. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it’s awesome.
Looking to enjoy a good, flavorful meal without breaking the bank? You won’t do better than Mandy’s Restaurant, where they’re serving up delicious Cuban comfort food at unbeatable prices. Their lunch and dinner specials range from $6.50 to $10.95, and the flavors are anything but cheap. Fill up on Latin favorites like black beans and rice, pulled pork, and Cuban sammies, plus homemade flan for dessert. For great food, service, and value – make a trip to Mandy’s.
It may not be hidden for long, but newcomer Willa’s will-a always be a gem. Their renovated industrial building in North Hyde Park near the University of Tampa features a cool, trendy interior with plenty of plants to keep you company while you dine. Every item is made fresh in the kitchen daily, starting with the standout Rotisserie Chicken, using Amish-raised free-range chickens slow-roasted on a spit and then served up with zesty salsa verde. Plus, everyone will find something to love on their vegetarian-friendly menu packed with fresh, small-farm produce. They’re currently serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday but will be expanding days and hours soon, so you’ll have more chances to sneak in.
Eat Well (& Don’t Tell)!
For more tips on where to eat, drink, and play in Tampa, make sure to visit our Olympus Harbour Island blog.