I spent quite some time at USF in my late teens and early 20s. One of the interesting things about that side of Tampa, now called Uptown, is that many people seem to be unaware how multicultural the area is.
You can find food from most cuisines within a few miles of each other and some food that you cannot find anywhere else in Tampa Bay. Places have come and gone over the years and the neighborhood is still evolving from when I lived, studied, and worked there, but there are definitely great food finds in Uptown.
Here is what I recommend:
Tacoson Mexican Grill
The original founders of El Taconanzo which was sold and became the Taco Bus, Tacoson is the only entity to survive the numerous changes in the Mexican scene in Tampa. It remains a solid spot for the taco faithful in Tampa. It gets crazy packed (especially around lunch time) so come ready to wait, but the food is filling and tasty. Daily deals and breakfast specials are part of the rhythm here.
Tacoson Mexican Grill. 7521 N 56th St., Tampa, FL 33617. (813) 989-2080
Chuck’s Natural Fields Market
Chuck’s Natural has a few locations around Tampa Bay with vegan friendly food options. They opened a cafe next door called Windmill that serves food as well. The thing I notice the most about this place is that prices are still fairly approachable despite being organic, GMO-free, and healthy. The shakes are also excellent. This spot can easily rival local restaurants and is a good spot for when you need to detox.
Chuck’s Natural. 11301 N 56th St, Temple Terrace, FL 33617. (813) 980-2005
Soul of Korea
Korean restaurants are a rare find in Tampa, but Soul of Korea is a solid restaurant with a home-cooking feel to it. The owner previously owned a restaurant in Seoul and bought Soul of Korea this past year from some other proprietors. Most of the menu has stayed the same with some extra additions to the menu. I would call it comfort food.
Soul of Korea. 7612 N 56th St, Tampa, FL 33617. (813) 989-9030
Babushka’s Traditional Russian Cuisine
Russian food is pretty much unheard of in Tampa Bay. Babushka’s has a great menu with absolutely delicious pierogies, draniki, sweet kasha, blinchiki, and more. Service can be a little slow when they get packed so make sure you are not in a rush if you visit.
Babushka’s. 12639 N. 56th St, Temple Terrace, FL 33617. (813) 515-7415
When it comes to bubble tea and snacks, QuicklyUSF is where its at. They serve some lite Vietnamese food and Taiwanese-inspired dishes. My favorite drink on the menu is their Kiwi Lychee Fruit Tea which is a must-order for me. They have a huge menu though and the cafe is a great place to work out of and study at or meet a friend.
QuicklyUSF. 5731 E Fowler Ave, Temple Terrace, FL 33617. (813) 860-8841
Mojo Books & Records
Mojo is one of the last standing record stores in the Tampa area and they have great coffee and books for-sale as well. I just love drinking a coffee inside of a bookstore. It’s the best. They serve Zeal Coffee which is one of my favorites in Tampa. The baristas are super friendly and they also have a nice tea list as well. Support this great Tampa gem.
Mojo Books & Records. 2540 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612. (813) 971-9717
Mr. Dunderbak’s Brewpub
Mr. Dunderbak’s is a Tampa institution that goes back to when the University Mall once a busy and bustling mall. They are now their own restaurant and brewery in New Tampa just off Bruce B. Downs by USF. It is the best place to be on Oktoberfest and during the World Cup (if you’re rooting for Germany). The food is great and the beer selection is even better. They have one of the largest beer lists in Tampa and prices are fair. You haven’t experience Tampa until you go here on a busy day.
Mr. Dunderbak’s. 14929 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 977-4104
Tacos Gone Mobile
I’ve never really understood why Tampa lacks a taco truck phenomenon. Tacos Gone Mobile is the closest I have ever had compared to quality Mexican food in California. These tacos are affordable and delicious. It’s a take-out truck, but they do have seating if you want to eat there. One thing you’ll notice is that actual Mexican people eat here which you hardly see in Tampa’s popular places that have Americanized menus.
Tacos Gone Mobile. 1309 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL 33612. (813) 400-9439