October 18, 2021


Simply The Best Food

How Tampa went from quick food badland to supercool trailblazer

a man sitting in front of a building

© Presented by Town AM

To tide us above until we’re equipped to journey once more, we’re republishing common journey stories from our archives. This 7 days we revisit Ashwin Bhandari’s trip to Tampa to see a food items scene revolutionised by a new generation of chefs.

Read through extra: Why yak hair is getting above our properties and wardrobes


On a Friday night time in Seminole Heights, The Refinery cafe is buzzing. Just about every seat is taken and diners spill onto the terrace, their tables heaving with vibrant food. This isn’t what I anticipated to locate in Tampa, a city that was once identified as the finest spot to trial fast food franchises.

“We opened in 2010 to the sound of crickets,” states The Refinery founder Greg Baker. “Locals weren’t exposed to very good meals back again then, but we have viewed a adjust. Now they want exciting flavours, from refreshing create, at affordable costs, and Tampa is ideal for it – most of our ingredients arrive from inside of 100 miles of listed here.”

Greg grew up on Tampa Bay and, after cheffing all in excess of The usa, introduced his craft again household. He is just one of numerous Tampa natives who have chosen to ply their trade here, somewhat than Miami or New York.

Nearby, in a refurbished firehouse that doubles as his home, is the gallery of scrap steel artist Dominique Martinez. Exterior his workshop stands a soldier carrying an wounded colleague it is a reward to the Wounded Warrior Venture, created from Harley Davidson fairings and exhausts. Inside of, his team use arc-welders on their most current function, and website visitors make small objects to acquire property.

“People want a memory of their journey to Tampa,” clarifies Dominique. “This way they can truly make a little something, using a skill that they learned here. Which is way cooler than acquiring some junk from a gift store.”

“This is a town that rediscovered its history, discovered to benefit its culture, and refurbished equally to develop a thing distinctively Tampan. Now talent is coming right here, alternatively than leaving for New York or Chicago.”

A lot more of Dominque’s functions are on screen at Ulele, a cafe housed in a refurbished waterworks, and named right after a princess of the indigenous Seminole individuals. The counter tops are embellished with arrowheads identified on the riverbank, and the food is centered on native delicacies (the alligator hush puppies are a should).

Up coming door, an aged tramshed is becoming converted into a food items hall, where chefs who manufactured their name with food stuff trucks will be provided everlasting pitches up coming to craft cocktail bars.

“It’s essential to give Tampans one thing local to root for,” states Jeff Houck of Ulele. “This is a town that rediscovered its historical past, discovered to worth its tradition, and refurbished equally to generate something distinctively Tampan. Now expertise is coming below, alternatively than leaving for New York or Chicago.”

Gallery: The world’s oldest places to eat (Espresso)

a dining room table in front of a window: In 1582, “L’Hostellerie de La Tour d’Argent” (Silver Tower Hostel) opened its doors to travelling noblemen. It claims the first usage of forks in France in the 16thcentury and shortly afterwards was granted its own crest by Henry IV. Now a Michelin-starred restaurant, this luxurious establishment caters to its original high-end clientele.See photo on Facebook

Past the nightlife and dining establishments of SoHo (South Howard Avenue), husband-and-spouse staff Jake & Cassie Greatens operate CASS Contemporary Gallery. The white-walled, concrete-floored place, whole of emerging artists, wouldn’t look out of put in Miami, and which is intentional.

a group of people walking on a city street

© Offered by Metropolis AM

“We’ve lived all more than the environment, from Berlin to LA,” clarifies Jake,” And desired to convey global art to our hometown: to feed the appetite, increase consciousness and introduce people today to additional than just paintings of birds traveling about h2o!”

The dynamo of Tampa’s initial increase, and current renaissance, is Ybor City, established in 1885 by a cigar company. Migrants flocked to function in the factories, generating a hybrid society which is ideal exemplified by the Cuban Sandwich. I tried out the initial at La Segunda Bakery, in which Italian salami is put together with Spanish pork, German mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese, served in Cuban bread, baked with palmetto leaf.

Ybor declined with the Terrific Despair and unsuccessful City Renewal, but vacant areas established new prospects.

“In the early 70s, it was a ghost town,” says art historian Susan Johnson, who has been in Ybor for over 30 a long time. “But by the conclude of the 10 years, dozens of artists were living in previous merchants and warehouses. In the 90s it was thriving with writers, film-makers and artists, and all the bars, punk clubs and tattoo parlours to go with them.”

Now, Ybor’s balcony-lined streets have drawn a new technology of nightlife: there is the cigar-and-whisky lounge Lion’s Den New Planet Brewery, with live audio and 50 beers on tap and Coppertail Brewery, with great pale ales. For the duration of the working day, The Bunker and Blind Tiger the two provide fantastic espresso, and you can even master taxidermy at Dysfunctional Grace.

Tampa is starting to be a great different to Miami. Not only does it have a buzzing foods scene and a regional vibe, but it’s also near to the gorgeous beach locations of the Gulf Coastline. Just make absolutely sure you go with an hunger.


Continue to be Gram’s Location was founded to permit artists and musicians to collaborate. It has a backyard garden, treehouse and rooftop eyrie, and every single room is styled close to a musical style.

Artwork CASS Modern Gallery is in South Tampa. Dominque Martinez gives welding workshops at Rustic Steel Creations. Dysfunctional Grace Artwork Business is in Ybor City dysfunctionalgrace.com

Food stuff The Refinery is in Seminole Heights. Ulele can be uncovered in Tampa Heights. La Segunda Bakery is in Ybor City.

Coffee The Bunker and Blind Tiger are in Ybor Town.

Drink Lion’s Den, Coppertail Brewery and New Entire world Brewery are all in Ybor Metropolis.

Having Close to Tampa is terrific for cycling, particularly with the new boardwalk that operates along the river from Tampa Heights, by means of Downtown and on to Bayside. Coastline Bicycle Share expenses from $8 an hour

Beach Clearwater Seashore is a 30-moment push from Downtown Tampa.

The put up How Tampa went from rapid food badland to supercool trailblazer appeared 1st on CityAM.