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Downtown Tampa Restaurant Suggestions

I'll be in Tampa in early April for the Women's NCAA basketball Final Four. Staying at the Embassy Suites. Looking for restaurants within walking or a short taxi ride distance where I can entertain clients for dinner. Thanks.

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  1. Clients for dinner? Mise en Place, a short cab ride away. Great food with prices to match. Of if you want to save a bit but still have some lively atmosphere and good food, try The Fly, on Franklin Street. Valencia Garden on Kennedy Boulevard also is solid and a short cab ride, decent prices and good Spanish food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bergerman

      Malio's is THE hot steakhouse of the moment, right downtown. Spain is a tapas and paella place with cool atmosphere, also downtown. Agree that Fly is very hip. I would skip the Valencia, very tired food and atmosphere, unfortunately. Mise en Place is very formal, even a bit stuffy, and expensive, but the food and service are very good.

    2. How many clients, I have always had a great meal at Cafe Dufrain just across the bridge on harbour Island(about .05 mile).

      4 Replies
      1. re: rshally

        Maybe myself and three or four others. Does Cafe Dufrain have tables with water views?

        1. re: chowmensch

          Yep, the view is across Hillsborough Bay, of the Times-Forum. It's a very small place, so be sure to call ahead, but a party of five shouldn't pose a problem.

          1. re: Miss E

            Strongly second Cafe Dufrain, particularly if there are only 4-5 of you. Delicious food, great service, nice wine/beer selection, and outside tables right on the water (and right across the river from the Forum).

            Afterwards, head to Jackson's at the Westin for some drinks and people-watching (also almost right across the street from you). I've never been a big fan of the food at Jackson's, but great place to hang at that time of the year.

            1. re: kentski

              I agree. Cafe Dufrain's your best bet. I've lived in Tampa for many years and haven't found anywhere else that can remotely compare to their quality of food, ambiance & service. Plus, their prices are very reasonable & their waterfront location is ideal for entertaining out of town guests. When my husband and I dine their, we feel like we're on vacation. The words out though - so definitely call ahead.

      2. I'll second both Fly and Dufrain, and throw in Thai Corner on Franklin St. as well as The Spain on Tampa St. Dufrain is the only one on the list you'd need a cab for. The rest are all walking distance.

        I think both Mise en Place and Malio's Prime are overpriced and overhyped. Jackson's is a better place for lunch in my opinion and turns into a sort of freak show meat market at night.

        3 Replies
        1. re: maladrin

          I think Fly is overpriced and overhyped. It's definitely a "hip" place and fun for drinks, but don't go when you're hungry. You don't get much for what you pay, but it tastes good.

          1. re: rikkikm

            I don't think the food is any more expensive or portions are any smaller than most shared plate/tapas style joints, and I prefer the ambiance and location far over either Malio's Prime or Mise en Place - but you know, each to their own.

          2. re: maladrin

            Cafe Dufrain is a very nice walk(about 10 min) from Embassy Suites downtown, across the channel, and along the marina on Harbour Island. If its nice, I would recommend walking. They also ahve a great wine list which changes, and only serve beer and wine. One thing we do while waiting for our table is go next door to "Thats Amore" and order some cocktails and sit outside along the water.

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