We are visiting Tampa on business for the weekend Friday January 23 to Sunday January 25. We need a tasty local restaurant for Friday night near the Rennaissance International Plaza hotel and do not necessarily want to be tied to the restaurants at the hotel. OUr palates are extremely open-minded and well exposed to virtually every cuisine. Any recommendations for a short cab ride?
I'd take a short cab ride to South Howard Ave and there you will find a great selection of restaurants. 717 South for a cross of Italian and Pacific Rim, Water for Sushi (casual but good), Royal Thai, Ceviche for Tapas. Steer WAY clear of Bern's or Side Bern's, just not that good.
Something with a little more local flavor might be Arco Iris. AI is a nice little cuban restaurant on Columbus Dr. It is relatively casual and usually has many from the Latin community eating there.
With a little bit longer cab ride, there is the Crab Shack on Gandy Blvd. in St. Pete. Excellent seafood and a nice drive across the bay. CS is very casual also! And they have a lot more seafood in addition to crabs. Keep in mind that down here stone crab claws are in season right now and fairly resonable price-wise at the moment.
Just some other thoughts for you.