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Great Christmas Dinner in Downtown Tampa?

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We are staying at the Sheraton Riverwalk (not great I know, but we got it for $65 on priceline) and we want to go for a nice dinner on Christmas. Any recommendations for the downtown area woudl be apprecaited - need to be able to take a cab so we can enjoy some cocktails and wine. Do any of the nicer hotels near Channelside or Harbor Island have great restaurants?

Thanks very much!!

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  1. Hokay - so I'm replying to myself! I did see another thread about Christmas dinner in Tampa, and it seems like Pelagia, Donatello's and Oyster Catcher's were good recommendations. My concern is that all of those are a taxi ride away from the hotel. Will getting a cab on Christmas be difficult? I was hoping one of the restaurants on the waterfront - or Harbour Island - might have a decent restaurant. I don't see anything on Chowhound about the Westin Harbour Island restaurant '725 South' or 'Il Terrazzo' in the Marriott Waterfront- does that mean skip them? A friend suggested Chinese food restaurants might be open - any suggestions for a chow-worthy Chinese Christmas dinner in downtown Tampa? Thanks!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: kireland

      My suggestion would be to start calling restaurants to see what they have to offer. Christmas is the one holiday that a lot of places close unless they are a restaurant that supports a hotel. Like the Hyatt restaurants would be open so you could try Armani's or Oystercatchers. Pelagia is at the Renaissance and would also likely be open. But most of them would likely have a buffet or limited menu for the holiday. These places are about a 15 minute cab ride from downtown.
      Closer to downtown maybe check out Mise En Place to see if they are open. Downtown Tampa is not the type of place where you hail a cab unless there is an event at the forum. You'll need to arrange with the hotel concierge for a cab or call one yourself.

      1. re: kireland

        FYI, the St. Pete Times just gave 725 South (in the Westin) a rotten review--they just hated it. Personally, I doubt that any of the non-hotel restaurants are going to be open Xmas Day. I'd shoot for Armani's or Oystercatcher's if they're open, and arrange for a cab with the hotel staff at either end, since you can't usually hail a cab downtown at all.

        Long shots to be open Xmas Day, but IMO worth trying and near your hotel, are Cafe Dufrain on Harbour Island, Spain downtown, Taps downtown (not a restaurant but a cool wine bar).

      2. For cocktails try Malio's, Bamboozle is a newish place and casual but great food, Spain features tapas and Spanish and excellent (all are downtown Tampa). Not sure what the holiday hours might be but Amore over on Harbour Island is excellent, beautiful setting overlooking the water and Cafe Dufrain is good, also offers outdoor seating and waterfront views. Wouldn't recommend any of the downtown hotel dining spots. But cabs should not be a problem from a hotel.

        If you can get to Hyde Park Village, the Wine Exchange or BT's might be of interest as well.

        Pelagia is well worth the cab fare and is open year round for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know friends staying there over the holidays looked into the schedule and found out full menu available throughout the holidays with some special holiday dishes featured.

        1 Reply
        1. re: peanut

          About a 10-15 minute walk away, you might want to try Thai Thani in Channelside. Good but not great Thai food, but I remember eating there once and they told me they're open 365 days a year. You could also grab a movie right next door if you'd like.

          I would suggest renting a car just for the day and going to one of the outstanding holiday brunches at the Don Cesar or Belleview Biltmore ... car rental for the day would be much cheaper than cabs. If I'm not mistaken, Bern's might be open for Christmas dinner as well, as well as El Puerto or Carmine's in Ybor City. Mise En Place would be terrific and a reasonable walk, but I'd be surprised if they're open -- if they are, book NOW because they'll certainly fill up soon.

          Cafe Dufrain is great with beautiful outside seating, but avoid That's Amore at all costs -- beautiful location, bad food, TERRIBLE service (have heard this repeatedly).

          Do the Don Cesar though -- it'll make for a memorable Christmas brunch/dinner.

        2. I would try Malio's first b/c its right next to your hotel. I would stay away from pretty much anything in Channelside...except Gallaghers...which is a nice steakhouse and may be open for Christmas.