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2 days and 2 nights in Tampa – Suggestions Please!

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Hello Tampa Hounds. We’re visiting from Miami during the first weekend in October. This will be the first time visiting Tampa/St.Petersburg in many years and we’ve never really dined here before. I’ve done some homework and have put together an itinerary based on popular suggestions. Please review our choices and suggest alternatives if you feel like we haven’t considered or over-looked something better. We are willing to drive – within reason – for a better meal.

Friday:
Dinner - China Yuan

Saturday:
Breakfast – Aguila Sandwich Shop
Lunch – Columbia Restaurant
Dinner – Bern’s Steakhouse

Sunday:
Breakfast – West Tampa Sandwich Shop
Lunch – Taco Bus

Also, coming from Miami, is it worth visiting the Cuban establishments in Tampa? I hear the sandwiches in particular are far better in Tampa…is this true?
Thank you all!

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  1. Looks like solid choices to me. At the Columbia for lunch you can take care of the Cuban sandwich. I always get a half Cuban and one of the soups and we share a 1905 salad. The breakfast sandwiches at Aguila are also excellent. I recommend getting there EARLY because it gets packed.

    1. I agree, solid choices! I would add another half-dozen or so, lol, but your list looks great as it is. (I am not familiar with the West Tampa Sandwich Shop. If it is a lot like Aguila I might suggest Pinky's instead for a different kind of place, but this is just a quibble.) Enjoy!

      1. I like the Columbia for dinner cause they have the flamenco dancers. Bern's is a must.

        1. Best place would be Nordstrom cafe unless you want pretentious Bern's or overpriced Side Bern's or just a show in Columbia. Miami restaurants are not that great compare to NYC or some other foodie places but well worth eating there before and after your trip to Tampa.

          9 Replies
          1. re: kvilia

            the idea of eating at a Nordstrom's while traveling makes me very sad.

            1. re: andy huse

              I agree with Andy, don't know if kvilla is being sarcastic, but Bern's is not pretentious, it's the real deal. Sidebern's is $$$, true, but quality all the way. And when was the last time kvilla ate at Columbia? They have improved greatly and they also are "the real deal".

              I guess it doesn't matter anyway since the OP visited three months ago....

              1. re: joan

                True, have not been to Columbia for many years, good to know they improved. Moved out from Tampa, visiting a few times a year. Once of our favorites, Pane Rustica, has lost its qualities, so not coming back. In general just tried to express Tampa is not a great dining scene, sorry whether you like it or not. And one time I was at Bern's? I'm making better steaks myself. But I guess if you still live there, that's certainly an option.
                P.S. Sidebern's was good last time but dinner for 4 $500 without bar (food and $100 in wine))? Com'n, this is not Manhattan.

                1. re: kvilia

                  There's plenty of great food to be had, especially if one throws out the need for "fine dining" and stops obsessing about what might be available elsewhere. I don't see the point in asking for advice on CH or offering it, if Nordstrom's is the best we can do for local flavor. I'd rather pig out at La Cabana Antioquena!

                  1. re: andy huse

                    I usually judge by food quality, ambiance, and service. In this case Nordstrom is one o the better options in Tampa. Of course, half a loaf is better than no bread.
                    For consolation, Tampa food scene is much better than Little Rock :)

                    1. re: kvilia

                      The people who live here that posted in this thread don't appear to need consolation.

                    2. re: andy huse

                      Hey Andy, I will take La Cabana Antioquena anyday!

                      1. re: RibDog

                        That's the only chicken I actually crave. So good.