Trackback this entry:

Read entry:
TAMPA AS A CULINARY DEAD END (opens in new window/tab)

10 Feedbacks »
  1. What of The Garden in St. Pete. Saigon Bay near USF, the many good Thai restaurants all over Tampa, the Cuban or Jamaican. How about Spain. There’s about three things I haven’t found here; good chinese, tibetan and Ethiopian (oh how I miss Ibex). We even have fresh Main lobster flown in from Scarborough at Monstah Lobstah (though I recommend going to the Chowder House in Portland ME).

    Tampa’s food scene has a problem, that’s Tampa Bay. Like most scenes in the area it suffers from the fact that no one in their right mind is going to drive from New Tampa to downtown St. Pete for dinner and vice versa. Since the area is very low density when you consider the bay (which affects driving time) it does make things difficult. That’s no excuse for someone who’s looking for something in particular however to not find it.

    The other problem that Tampa has is that there is not a service mindset in this area. It’s difficult to find people who really understand what it means to provide good service. The easiest way to see this is to shop at Nordstroms in International Plaza, then shop at one anywhere else in the world. The difference is amazing. With the exception of Burns the lack of service mentality generally transfers to the food service and hospitality industries. This, I think, does detract from the dining experience, but doesn’t detract from the actual food.

    There is a very small amount of high class high dollar dinning, but that doesn’t equate to a lack of good dining choices.

    And with that I’m going out to get some food.

    Comment by Michael Conlen — 05/06/2021 @ 05:18:52 PM

  2. I appreciate the fact that you checked my website to read my take on the article. Yes, I am frustrated by the “chain restaurant mentality” and I believe that the dining scene is being hindered by said restaurants. However, there is good food, it’s just really tough to find.

    I didn’t write the article, I was just used as a catalyst to help the writer prove her point and/or portray a somewhat controversial viewpoint. Remember, don’t believe everything you read in the paper!


    Comment by Kevin Lacassin — 05/08/2021 @ 07:45:50 AM

  3. Michael: Wow, Ibex… Going wayyyyyyyyyy back there. It’s been shuttered for, what, a dozen years now? I recall politically-incorrect jokes in the late ’80s-early ’90s, suggesting that Ethiopian cuisine was nothing but a famine-reduced bowl of UN-issued rice.

    But seriously, you listed a few winners there (although it’s hard for me to think of The Garden as a distinct restaurant, when The Lobby cocktail lounge overshadows it). The Thai joints on both sides of the bay are probably one of the area’s best-kept secrets.

    Indeed, quality of service affects the dining experience. You’ll find top-shelf service at the local resorts, and by extension their in-house restaurants (particularly at the Don CeSar’s Maritana Grill, at least the last time I was there a couple of years ago; and the Vinoy). Beyond that, forget it; everyone else is slumming.

    The I-don’t-wanna-drive-there mentality affects a lot of things in Tampa Bay, and this is one of them. Frankly, it plays into what I said: Familiarity counts for more than innovation when it comes to regular (2-3+ times a week) eating out.

    Kevin: Well, I didn’t see anything in the article that would cause too much of a stir. And as per your post, it doesn’t seem that Steinhauer went too far astray.

    Tampa Bay’s used to being trashed for one thing or another. I’m sure the prevailing attitude will be to just pass the Bloomin’ Onion ;)

    Comment by CT — 05/08/2021 @ 11:23:04 AM

  4. Hmmm, I think there’s plenty of great food around here - lamb at Bella Brava, seafood at Mangroves, roast beef at Seven 17, fruit platters at Cafe Alma, ceviche at Ceviche, surf-n-turf at O Pescador, pasta at Bellas, burgers at Carmines, Thai at The King and I.

    Why in God’s name would someone complain about a place they obviously just got to and even more obviously don’t know their way around for sh*t? What a stupid article.

    Comment by Rachel* — 05/08/2021 @ 04:00:01 PM

  5. I never did get around to trying O Pescador before I left; I’ll have to make a note of hitting it on my first visit back.

    Not to speak for Kevin, but certainly, I’d guess he’s still feeling out the terrain. I’m sure he’d appreciate any pointers toward the more out-of-the-way gems…

    Comment by CT — 05/08/2021 @ 08:55:22 PM

  6. original tampa restaurants

    The New York Times recently wrote about the dearth of original dining in Tampa.  It basically says all we locals want to do is eat big portions of decent flavor at the chain restaurants.  For this story, they contacted displaced Katrina victim and f…

    Trackback by Sticks of Fire: a Tampa blog — 05/11/2021 @ 09:32:04 AM

  7. the nola guy didnt write that tampa is glutted with chains. the nyt did, you doofs.
    either way, its correct. sure there are plenty of independents, but how often do you really go to tired old berns? gimme a break. the place looks like a funeral parlor.
    many independents arent bad, just not good enough to be bothered going back to again and again. and if they are good, they tend to be absurdly overpriced.

    Comment by Anonymous — 05/11/2021 @ 11:59:50 AM

  8. “6 tables” in south tampa and “savant fine dining” across the bay are both excellent, and artisan.

    Comment by Todd — 08/04/2021 @ 06:04:04 PM

  9. Still plenty of inspirational cuisine in Tampa! For Asian, try BT’s in Old Hyde Park Village, Thai Sweet Basil on Northdale. Good chinese at TC Choy. Also I echo previous suggestion Saigon Bay for great, inexpensive Vietnamese. Byblos on S. Macdill is excellent Mediterranean/Mid-East. I miss IBEX too!

    Comment by Lisa — 08/15/2006 @ 12:49:26 PM


    Any budding restauranteurs in Tampa Bay? If so, I think I have a winning concept for you: Ethiopian cuisine.

    What do I base that on? Extremely anecdotal evidence, as gleaned from this blog. Ever since this post about the shortcomings of the Bay ar…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 09/14/2006 @ 08:16:48 AM

RSS feed for feedback on this post.

Leave a comment

PLEASE NOTE: Various types of comment moderation may be triggered once you hit the "Say It!" button below. Common causes for this are the inclusion of several hyperlinks and/or spam words in the comment field. Please do not hit the "Say It!" button more than once. If you feel your comment is being blocked without cause, feel free to email me about it.