Tampa is well known for their cornerstone restaurants. Despite the growing city that is ever expanding, there are still a few places that have been in Tampa for decades and are not going anywhere. A lot of these restaurants are quite famous bakeries and small cafes that have now expanded into huge buildings that purely create the culture that defines Tampa including a variety of sandwiches and Tampa's own version of the Cubano.
Alessi's was founded in 1912 in a little shop by a man named Nicolo Alessi. Nicolo grew up in Italy before crossing the sea to bring his incredible cuisine to Tampa in the form of pastries, bread and sandwiches.
Surprisingly, although an Italian based bakery, this bakery has one of the best cuban sandwiches in Tampa Bay. They actually offer two different versions: the Hand Carved and the Classic. The handcarved cuban is quite special as it is made with their housemade mojo pork, handcarved ham, salami and of course on homemade cuban bread. It is absolutely incredible. Their classic cuban does not include the mojo pork but that does not stop it from being my personal favorite. This cubano is quite simple in nature and allows you to truly taste every component. They offer it cold or you can get it pressed.
If you are not in the mood for a Cubano, do not worry because they have so many other options as well.
- Their beef and chicken philly is served with provolone cheese, grilled onions and served on a fresh baked sub roll
- They have a sandwich called Mr. Corned Beef which I have not tried yet but it is absolutely what I plan on ordering next because Alessi's corned beef looks absolutely incredible. This is served on rye bread with swiss cheese.
- For a bit of a spicier option, go for the buffalo chicken sandwich. This grilled chicken is tossed with hot sauce, topped with blue cheese and then served on a fresh sub roll.
- If you love their mojo pork, you can order their mojo pork sandwich is made of their mojo pork, grilled onions and then topped with and swiss cheese.
The bakery also sells a variety of other items including sicilian style pizza that is ready to just take home, throw it in the oven and then dinner is ready in 15 minutes. What is perfect is that they sell it in all sizes as well from quarter, half to full size sheet so if you are just cooking for yourself, you do not have to buy the entire pizza. They sell large loaves of cubano bread for you to bring home, make some cuban avocado toast or even cuban french toast. If you live in Tampa, you probably have heard of Alessi's for their gorgeous and incredible cakes and cupcakes. They are not only some of the most aesthetically gorgeous cakes but sooo good as well. They sell these adorable little decorated mini 12 packs of cupcakes that are decorated to season. When I last visited, the Tampa Buccaneers were playing over the weekend so the cupcakes were decorated with red frosting and helmets. They also had some perfect drip cakes (which is a very difficult thing to master) which are the best party pleasers for a birthday or celebration!
Wright's Gourmet House
Wright's gourmet house is known for their outstanding sandwiches and cakes and well so, for they are some of the absolute best in the city. They were founded in 1963 by a couple that wanted to bring a gourmet food shop to Tampa. One of the things that I love about the foundation of Wright's was that the owners guaranteed to make sure to listen to the customers. So if the customers wanted something new, then they would put it on their menu. The bakery and sandwich shop is now run by a third generation of the Wright family and has expanded tremendously to a 60 person staffed house. Sometimes in our crazy busy lives, we are frustrated when restaurants are not open at the times that we want them to be but I think that these times truly show the character of that restaurant. Wright's, to this day, is not open on Sundays. This allows their staff to spend the day with their families and give the Wright family day of rest as well.
One of our personal favorites at Wright's is their world famous Beef Martini sandwich. This sandwich is made with rare roast beef, white wine marinated mushrooms, crispy bacon slices with a garlic and herb. This sandwich was designed in 1976 by the owner's grandmother and sister. No matter how hard you try, this is not something you can make at home so you might as well pile into the car and head over now. They serve the same type sandwich with turkey instead if you are looking for a slightly lighter option or you do not eat beef!
The grilled monte cristo is also a personal favorite. When I was little, my dad always ordered a Monte Cristo when it was on the menu so of course we had to try it here. This Monte Cristo is so unique because it is a double decker so it is absolutely humongous. It is served with ham, salami, turkey breast, dill pickles and cheese. They even ask that you give them a couple extra minutes so they can make it fresh just for you.
Wright's has an entire menu of other sandwiches as well including:
- Reuben: Thin slices of well marbled coned beef, sauerkraut, and Jarlesberg cheese from pumpernickel with mustard suace
- Hot Corned Beef: Very well-marbled and it melts in the mouth. I highly recommend ordering a sandwich with their corned beef.
- The New Yorker: Corned beef, pastrami, genoa salami, provolone, and red onions.
There are also lighter options on their deli menu including lots of salads, veggie sandwiches, tuna, grilled cheese and tomato, and roast pork. The golden gate sandwich is made with a peach chutney that sounds like the perfect sweet and savory combination.
To end your meal, even after you have stuffed yourself with a sandwich make sure to get a piece of cake because this cake is insane. Or better yet, get a slice of cake to eat while you are waiting for your hot and fresh sandwich to be ready. Their main cake flavors are: Alpine, Carrot, Hummingbird, Chocolate, Red Velvet, Hawaiian Princess and Strawberry. The Red velvet is my personal favorite as it is covered in a thick layer of the best cream cheese icing made with a little hint of almond. If you are not a fan of cake, they have a huge selection of other sweet goods such as cream cheese brownies, banana nut bread, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.
I love La Segunda's for their cinnamon rolls because they are batch baked so they are super light and fluffy and just absolutely melt in your mouth. And then of course they drizzle that gorgeous cinnamon roll icing over the top (did I say drizzle? I mean pour!!).
It was originally built in 1915 as part of a trio of bakeries but its still bustling to this day with everyone from business men on their way to work, to ladies out for lunch, families and of course college kids like myself. The original owner of La Segundas was a Spanish solider who learned Cuban baking while he served in the Spanish-American war. Soon after he brough these Cuban necessities to Tampa. There are more than 4 generations of family working in this bakery.
This Cuban bakery knows how to do Cuban bread right so of course, if you are struggling on what to choose from their menu, you have to order the Cuban Sandwich. It is made with mojo marinated pork, smoked ham, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickle & special sauce on Cuban bread. Tampa is known for their cuban sandwiches made with salami so I love that every single one of these shops has a Tampa version.
There are so many other options on the menu too including:
- Mojo Chicken Sandwich: mojo chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, caesar dressing & parmesan on Cuban bread
- Breakfast Sandwich with Eggs: This one sounds super simple but it honestly is one of my favorites. The simplicity of it makes it the best way to start off your day.
- Media Noche: marinated pork, smoked ham, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, special sauce & pickle on media noche bread
- Fire Bird: fire braised chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, fire sauce
- Ybor's Muffaletta: ham, capicola, mortadella, salami, provolone cheese & olive salad spread on Cuban bread
Brocato's Sandwich Shop
I may have had to save my favorite for the last because Brocatos is my go-to spot whenever I have someone visiting in Town. I always bring them to Brocato's because this restaurant is what being a foodie is all about. The lines can be super long because you see all of the locals making daily trips to grab their sandwich from here. Brocato's has remained a small little shop but they are busting out some of the best food you will ever eat. Every sandwich comes complementary with a drink and chips so the entire meal is so well priced.
They serve a huge variety of sandwiches as well as deviled crabs and stuffed potatoes. Deviled crab is a croquette of crab that is deep fried similar to a crab cake but crispier and absolutely delicious. The stuffed potatoes are a ball of mashed potatoes that are filled with a protein and then deep fried as well. I highly recommend adding on one (or ten) on the side with your sandwich.
The sandwiches include breakfast options including pretty much whichever meat you prefer, along with eggs and cheese. Warning, if you stop here for a breakfast sandwich, you may end up stopping every single day on your way to work.
- a bacon, egg and cheese
- a sausage, egg and cheese
- a turkey, egg, and cheese
- a ham, egg and cheese
But of course, if you grab breakfast here, you might as well grab lunch and then maybe dinner for later:) Of course, I recommend the Cuban sandwich which was the very first Cuban I ever tried. No matter how hard you try, you will never make mojo pork like this family does.
If you are tired of my love of Cuban sandwiches, don't worry because Brocato's still has something for you. They have a vegetarian veggie sandwich option. They also have a buffalo chicken sandwich, philly beef/London Broil and a beautiful Italian sub sandwich that is loaded to the max. While you walk along the line to order your sandwich, Brocato's also sells individually wrapped desserts to end your meal. And I definitely would suggest ordering a cafe con leche to drink!
I feel like everyone has their go-to sandwich that they order every single time it is on the menu. No matter what your sandwich preference is whether that be a Cuban, a turkey sub, a grilled cheese, a veggie sandwich or even something for breakfast. Each of these local Tampa spots has something for you. I can't recommend enough for you to stop here for lunch one day because the freshness, and love made with every slice of bread radiates. If you are looking for more local places to support (maybe for their baked goods or pizza!) follow me and check out my other articles!!
With love and good food,