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Recommendations for Tampa/St. Pete

  • m

I will be delivering my son for his freshman year at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg in a few weeks and would welcome any and all recommendations for the area. I remember there were some very good Cuban restaurants in Tampa (Ybor City?).

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  1. My favorite Cuban restaurant is not in Ybor but in West Tampa on Colunbus Dr. It is called Arco Iris. Excellent food. And frequented primarily by the cuban natives.


    1. Cuban food in Ybor - Tropicana on 7th ave. Great cubans and deviled crabs. It's a very casual sandwhich shop. For more upscale in Ybor there is the Columbia, which is a staple of Tampa. Not far from Ybor is Hyde Park and there is a knock your socks off pizza place - Gourmet Pizza Company www.gourmetpizza-company.com - they are a must try.


      1. All good options, but if you want to find the real Latin section of town with a half dozen very good Cuban and Latin restaurants, check out west Tampa. This is generally considered the area north of Kennedy Boulevard and south of Waters Avenue between I-275 and Dale Mabry Highway. You'll find restaurants like La Teresita - 3246 W Columbus Dr, For roast pork, would highly recommend one of the Pipo's locations.

        1. Being Cuban - try to avoid La Teresita - it used to be good but not so much. Try Las Margaritas 4031 West Hillsborough Avenue. Nothing too fancy but just like my mother and grandmother's cooking

          1. My favorite is Black Beans on Hanley Road in the Town n Country area. We had dinner there Friday night so I can give a recent review that everything was wonderful. I had roast pork with yucca and plantains and my husband had churrasco steak with moro rice and yucca. They also have excellent tres leches cake, sangria, and mojitos.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rhnault

              How was the service at Black Beans? I took my Cuban mother once and still had awful service there.

              1. re: rikkikm

                Service was much much much better! The silverware is already on the table and they have tablecloths now so the lack of a bev nap is not an issue ; )
                Our service was actually good last time we ate there. I know in the past it has been pretty bad so we always went with low expectations in that dept. There was also a manager on the floor the whole time we were there who seemed to be keeping things running smoothly.

            2. Where are you staying?
              Eckerd College is quite a ways from Ybor. Nearby Eckerd, two recs that come to mind: La Habana in Gulfport, on 22nd Avenue South. And on Treasure Island, the Floridian, on 107th Avenue (also knowsn as the TI causeway) has great Cubans. These two restaurants are within ten minutes of Eckerd.

              Also, check out the Crazy Conch Cafe on Tierra Verde, open for dinner Tues-Sat. I love that place.


              1 Reply
              1. re: joan

                I forgot about Habana Cafe. Very good. Try the "papa rellena"!

              2. Hi Mike. We are taking our daughter down to Eckerd also. We will be having dinner at the Crazy Conch Cafe tonight (Wed. 8/8) and looking around for more restaurants to try and places to stay on subsequent visits. This is my first visit to this site; couldn't find a way to email you directly so I apologize for the not strictly food focused post. My husband is from FL and we love to have fish when it's fresh. Crazy Conch was recommended by a fellow foodie and also is not to tourist-y. Good luck with your son! Pam

                2 Replies
                1. re: PamP

                  How was Crazy Conch? We're going next week.

                  1. re: rikkikm

                    We liked it; almost went a second time before we left the area. Service was friendly and the environment just right; not too fussy but nice. I liked the simplicity of the decor. I had seared tuna with the jicama slaw. The slaw was very spicy; I liked it a lot; the tuna was a little lacking in flavor but was cooked right. Needed more seasoning. Someone at our table had the pork chop which was great. My husband had a grouper special and sweet potatoe side; both very good. Hope you enjoy.

                2. There are lots of good restaurants in Gulfport, which is a hop skip and a jump from Eckerd and has kind of a laid back Key West feel. Backfin Blue cafe has excellent crab cakes and also a great corn chowder. Habana cafe is good for cuban, and Pia's is great for pasta....plus they have really good cannolis (most of the seating is outside, though-- but covered).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JB222

                    Another vote for Habana Café.

                    We've shifted allegiance from Backfin Blue to the Peninsula Inn, next door to it in Gulfport--just has a nicer feel to it and lawsy, what's with the nasty rags for wiping tables hanging out of wait staff pockets at Backfin?! That was a bit much and helped propel us to Peninsula.