I've lived in Tampa for a few years now and I want to share some of my absolute favorite local restaurants I've come across, from little family owned sandwich shops to pizza bars to homemade bakery items! Tampa is such a unique area due to the strong cultural influence from all over the world and we can see that in all of the different little places that we find throughout the gorgeous city.
1. Brocato's Sandwich Shop
This is a small shop established in 1948 in Tampa and still to this day serving the best cuban sandwiches from anywhere around. Everytime I go, there is a line out the door. They serve a huge variety of sandwiches as well as deviled crabs and stuffed potatoes. However I always go for the Cuban sandwich. The Cubano is a Tampa classic, derived from the huge Cuban population that Tampa hosts, however Tampa makes it their own by adding sliced salami. The sandwich is served on cuban bread, drizzled in Mayo, layered with their housemade pork, salami, swiss cheese and then finished off with tomato. You can order it pressed or cold, both are absolutely amazing and the footlong sandwich is only $12.99.
The deviled crabs and stuffed potatoes are also very popular here. Deviled crab is a croquette of crab that is deep fried and served hot. Similarly the stuffed potatoes are a ball of mashed potatoes that are filled with a protein and then deep fried as well. Both of these are perfect additions on the side to a meal and can be ordered as a mini or big.
Take note that this is a family owned restaurant and they limit their hours until 5:30 on the weekdays and 4:00 on Saturdays so stop in early!!
Brocatos Location: 5021 East Columbus Dr. Tampa, Fl 33619
2. Lee's Grocery
Located in the middle of a neighborhood outside of downtown Tampa, there is a little restaurant that was such a treat to find. This historic spot is named Lee's Grocery. It was originally built as a grocery store and provided small goods and items to Tampa Heights for 132 years until it was recently converted into one of the best Pizza spots in Tampa by Ms. Jennifer.
Lee's grocery makes stone baked pizzas, wings, and pairs them with a variety of beers and seltzers that are served off tap or directly from the coolers that are located right in the dining room. The atmosphere alone is a reason to come here. Outside on the patio are a bunch of tables set up are that are perfect to come out with your friends and enjoy some amazing beer and pizza. Lee's has every variety of drink from local craft beers to beers on tap as well as ciders. You can order the beers to drink in and if you find one you like, be sure to buy a case to take home.
The Pizzas are what Lee's Grocery is now famous for. Every Pizza has a unique name such as "the Garden Party" which is loaded in veggies such as spinach, mushrooms, and peppers. Some of their other popular pizzas include
- Bring the Noise: Pepperoni, Sausage, Bacon, Ham , Meatballs, Black Olives, Green Peppers, Red Onions, Mushrooms, and Fresh Basil
- Dead Man's Party: Pepperoni, Sausage, meatball, ham and bacon
If you head into Lee's Pizza on the back of the menu is a Secret Menu (Shhhh...) and it has some outstanding options. I won't spoil it for you so head on over and check it out to try them!! Each of these pizzas are sold in a small, medium or large and are very well priced at $8.99, $12.99 and $15.99 respectively.
Lee's Grocery also serves chicken wings (10 for $11.99) that are absolutely fantastic and pair perfectly with one of the local craft beers. You can sauce them up with mild, hot, sweet thai chili, BBQ, Sriracha, or Garlic Parmesan! So if you are looking for a local spot to plan a night out with your friends, definitely check out Lee's Grocery.
Lee's Grocery Location: 2210 N. Central Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602
3. King of the Coop
Further north, off of N. Florida, is one of my absolute, go-to, favorite restaurants. King of the coop is famous for their Nashville Hot style fried chicken tenders and I promise they will not disappoint. This crispy chicken is battered in a Nashville hot breading before dropped in the fryer. They come in several heat levels from
- Naked: salt and pepper (0/10)
- the Biddy which is "all flavor and no spice" (2/10)
- Midway: Biddy Oil and Nashville Spice (6/10)
- Nashville hot (8/10): Their Signature heat
- the Coop's fury which is blended with Habanero powder for an extremely fiery kick. (12/10)
It's served with their housemade King's sauce, a slice of potato bread and homemade pickles. King of the Coop also has a variety of Handhelds such as the King Mac which is a large Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich layered with a hefty amount of Mac n Cheese or if you are in the mood for something other than chicken, they serve a mean cornmeal breaded Mississippi Catfish. I highly recommend going on a Friday where you can add Tenders (up to 3) to your order for only $1.00 each!! I always add 3 extra for lunch the next day:)
They are now even offering some sweeter options for those of us with quite the sweet tooth. Drizzle some maple syrup all over your chicken and waffles for the classic southern sweet and savory combination or end your meal off with some of "not your mama's nana pudding" which has blown everyone's minds. It is made with nilla wafers, bananas, vanilla creme and bourbon banana jam and it is absolutely droolworthy. Pair the meal with some sweet tea, kool-aid or lemonade and you have the best ever southern fried chicken meal.
King of the Coop: 6607 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
4. Thinh An Kitchen and Tofu
This is the most recent of the restaurants that I have tried on this list, and it did not disappoint. This quite modernized local spot has a very fun indoor restaurant filled with plenty of tables, a boba/ice cream counter, and even a little bakery. The menu is absolutely humongous and boasts everything from Pho to fried rice, to bahn mi and even some noodle dishes and vegetarian options. The restaurant is always popping with tons of people, the food comes out wicked fast and always taste delicious. I highly recommend ordering the BBQ pork spring rolls which are amazing and the seafood pho which is perfectly seasoned. The Bahn Mi are only $4.00 per sandwich and absolutely loaded with pickled veggies, a protein and slathered in a unique buttery sauce. The dishes are all extremely big and definitely well worth their super low cost.
The Boba Bar provides the perfect spot to make a quick Boba order to go or even satisfy your sweet tooth with an ice cream covered waffle. The bakery sells a variety of vietnamese goods including croissants that are filled with cream cheese, chocolate, and even some savory ones with ham. There is a cold bar where the spring rolls and some other small menu items are sold so you can take it to go as well as hot bar! The hot bar has a huge variety of dishes including fried spring rolls, fried pork puns, and some sesame balls. So don't worry, just because your meal is gone because you couldn't stop eating, there is plenty more for you to take home!
Thinh An Kitchen and Tofu: 8104 W. Waters Ave Tampa, FL 33615
So next time you want to try something new, look for one of these Local Tampa Restaurants to try out! They are all worth your money with huge portions and bursting flavors. Follow me for more foodie content like this. Go out and enjoy yourself!!