Tampa conference: help an out of town 'hound
Traveling from Baltimore to in Tampa in 2 weeks, and was hoping for some help: I'm here for a conference in downtown, no car - if you only had 2 days, where would you go for 1. very nice dinner (but not on an expense account!) and more importantly 2. for a "local find" dinner or lunch? Much obliged.
Very nice dinner downtown - id recommend Cafe Dufrain over on harbour Island, a nice walk across the Channel, great food, even lunch is good there. SPAIN is also very good. Check out Paninoteca on Franklin Street for lunch too. Fly Bar is delicious small plates and lively atmosphere.
For more local flavors, hop on the streetcar next to the Conv Center and head to Ybor City for lunch at Tropicana or Columbia for lunch or Dinner.
I completely forgot about the streetcar option -- thanks for mentioning it. The streetcar will take you directly from the convention center to Channelside or Ybor for $2.00 one way. You can stroll Ybor (others may disagree, but I would not go alone at night as a single female) and check out the Columbia. Or, stop off and walk around Channelside, where you can also get wine by the taste, 1/2 glass, or full glass at the wine shop on the first level (30+ bottles).
tampa, fl, tampa, fl
For your "very nice" dinner, I would recommend Restaurant BT, if you're up for the (shortish) cab ride and $20.00 to $30.00 entrees. In two weeks, the weather should be back to spectacular and you can sit outside and people watch. Or, if dining solo, I believe you would be able to eat at the bar inside.
Although I have never eaten at Spain, I came from an event there tonight and loved the atmosphere, the bar, and the music. Even if the food is half as good as the other things it's got going for it, I think it's worth the walk (it's only a few blocks from the convention center).
I don't know that I can help with "local finds" in downtown. As you have probably gathered from other threads, most of the cheap 'n tasty action in Tampa takes place outside of downtown. If you are willing to potentially pay more for a cab ride than your meal, there are a slew of places on Armenia or Columbus. But I don't know if you want to go that route, so to speak.
I would recommend you not go to Lucky Dill deli. There are equally mediocre places much closer to the convention center.
You may find a few interesting things to munch on and look at in Channelside -- and it's only a ten to fifteen minute walk from the convention center. Despite the overwhelming, um, cheesiness of the concept, I almost always end up at NYPD Pizza there, and I rarely leave disappointed (my expectations for pizza 'round here are rather low, however). I don't know that I would send you out of your way to go there, but if you find yourself jonesing for pizza, it's a good option (they also deliver to the hotels in the area of the convention center).
Another option for lunch, if you have the time, is Cafe Dufrain on Harbour Island. It's a pleasant walk from the convention center, and the lunch includes a small gelato dessert. I have eaten there three times for lunch and three times have I ordered the hamburger with gorgonzola. While not the greatest burger you will place in your mouth, I consider it well above average and will also order it tomorrow (I am sure we will end up there again for lunch). I have not ordered anything else off the menu, but I hear good things about the other selections. This is no budget option, however.
If you would like to refine your request or specify what types of foods you enjoy the most, I would be happy to recommend other options.
Tampa, FL, Tampa, FL
615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602
Tampa, FL, Tampa, FL
I know it's irritating when visitors post questions you think are answered ad nauseum! (In B'more we get requests for crabs near the inner harbour all the time!) However, when I looked through before posting I couldn't really get a sense of if places recomended were anywhere near the conference center area (except those recommended to take clients (and sadly I don't have an expense account)). Any recs on places w/in a walk or short cab ride would be much appreciated. . .