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Dining Guide: Where to eat in Tampa’s Uptown (University Area)

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

Quickly USF

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

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White chocolate strawberry latte with almond milk

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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

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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

Enjoy!

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Dining Guide: Great local restaurants to eat at in Brandon

Full disclosure: I have performed sponsored work for Kiwami Ramen Sushi. These opinions on this list are strictly my own and do not represent any sponsors or paid work.

Brandon has been transforming over the years from a quiet suburban town to a busy place with tons of apartment complexes and subdivisions rising around the area. There is now a Top Golf, Dave and Buster’s, and the Westfield Brandon Towncenter has exploded with traffic. People are moving south to Riverview and East to Valrico. The new Riverview GDX and Xscape Riverview theaters further prove the population growth of this area.

Many people complain that there are not local options in Brandon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll find a wide-variety of food from a variety of cuisines around the area, if you know where to look. Most places will run you around $10-20 per person for a meal. The options continue to grow, here is a list of some of my recommendations.

Allegria Italiana: Your old school Italian eatery with white table covers and a romantic vibe, Allegria Italiana has a great variety of gourmet Italian food that is better than many places around the bay. The servers have been friendly on my visits and prices are about what you would expect for this kind of concept. Everything from the appetizers and pasta to dessert is great. $$ 518 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 651-1166 allegriaitaliana.com

La Cubanita: Great Cuban sandwiches and steak sandwiches. You can’t really go wrong with their cafe con leche and a sandwich. They also have great deals on platters of food and have specials daily. There are many places around Brandon with sandwiches and coffee, but this is one of the best. They serve La Segunda bread which is of course the best. $ 723 W. Lumsden Rd., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 661-2253. 

Kiwami Ramen and Sushi: Newcomer serving quality, gourmet ramen and sushi. The perfect marriage no matter what your mood is. Prices are fair and far less than the options in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Lunch specials on weekdays and happy hour deals make Kiwami and even better choice. The rolls are different from you’ll find in most places in Tampa. 10262 Causeway Blvd., Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 393-0683. kiwamiramensushi.com

Ploy Thai: Ploy Thai has been serving Thai food for over a decade on State Road 60. The restaurant has changed and evolved over the year from more of a sushi concept and then back into a more Thai-focused restaurant. The menu is large and they have transitioned more into a finer dining concept. $$ 1941 W. Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 684-5007.

Sushi Kampai: If you like some simple rolls or great deals, Sushi Kampai is for you. The rolls are affordable and they also have lunch combos and bento boxes. You’ll find some Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food options on the menu as well. Service can be slow when they get busy so plan ahead. They also offer delivery and take-out if you’re feeling lazy. $ 10312 Bloomingdale Ave. #111, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 620-3717.

Taste of Berlin: This German eatery is owned by some German expats and has a great schnitzel. Most items on the menu are made from scratch down to the sauces. The German beer selection isn’t quite as expansive as Mr. Dunderbak’s in Tampa, but there are some decent options on the menu for those looking to wash down their food. The owners regularly host events here especially for Oktoberfest. $$ 526 Oakfield Dr, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 685-9392.

LC’s Cafe and Supper Club: LC’s Cafe is a nice little spot for a lite breakfast or brunch. They have some Cuban food options and also some breakfast options. It isn’t anything fancy, but the decor feels like home and it is a great place to go and catch up with someone. It is a family-owned small business. $$ 1602 Oakfield Dr #103, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 526-9395.

Shrimp Boat: If you love seafood, you will love Shrimp Boat. This busy local restaurant on Bloomingdale serves quality seafood dishes and even their regular American dishes scream quality. It gets very busy, but there is usually some space in the bar area. They have happy hour deals and specials regularly and you also cannot go wrong with their soups. $$ 1020 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, FL 33596. (813) 571-5858. shrimpboatgrille.com

Green Island Frozen Yogurt & Tea Bar: Green Island has been around for over a decade if I’m not mistaken. They were one of the first boba shops and frozen yogurt shops to open in Tampa Bay. It’s a nice option if you’re on State Road 60 and heading to the nearby M.D. Oriental Market. Their bubble tea isn’t my favorite, but their Thai tea is pretty good and so is the coconut smoothie or watermelon smoothie (when available). $ 10047 E. Adamo Dr, Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 374-9006. 

Smokin Pig BBQ: Smokin Pig serves some great barbeque options and has plenty of space inside for those who want to dine-in. They have family deals as well as specials and combos. My favorite thing here is their Mac and Cheese, it is incredibly cheesy and delicious. Their brisket tastes great and I like their corn bread. $$ 3834 US-301, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 512-2500 smokinpig.com

Chicago’s Best Burgers: If you want some truly amazing burgers do not miss Chicago’s Best. They maintain a low profile online, but they serve one of the best burgers I have enjoyed in Tampa Bay. You’ll spend a little more than some other shops, but the taste is well worth it. I highly recommend it. $$ 1925 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 654-3232.

 

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USF Dining Guide

Hungry by USF and wondering where to eat? Then check out my Dining Guide! A list of some of my favorite restaurants within a few miles of the University of South Florida Tampa Campus. Don’t waste money at disappointing restaurants again. Enjoy!

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/10/22/dining-guide-university-area-eats/