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Sep 22, 2012 09:55 AM

3 Dinners in Tampa

Coming in town so the kids can go to Bush Gardens for a couple of days but need the three best, most interesting places to eat in Tampa or the area afterwards for the four of us.

Family of 4 with two kids ages 9 and 11 who eat everything, including raw foods. We love a great expereince, a great plate, interesting parings, cool foods.... Anything different is good. Price is not important. Prefer casual dress but can do better.

Coming from Miami area so no cuban or floribean unless it is something out of the world that we can't get here. Love small plates and asian. Italian isn't our favorite unless its uber interesting. Any help would be mucho appreciated.

Will be in town a fourth night and going to the sponge docks. I heard Mykonos and Hellas are the top 2 there.

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  1. Do you have a preference for any specific cuisine you'll like to try? My suggestions are:
    China Yuan - 8502 North Armenia Avenue Tampa, FL 33604
    Wimauma - 4205 South MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611
    Del Rios - 3210 North Armenia Avenue Tampa, FL 33607
    Terra Sur Cafe 5358 West Village Drive, Tampa, FL

    all are casual

    1. I know you're with kids, but if they are well-behaved and you really enjoy wine, I would say you cannot miss Bern's Steak House. I've been in their dining room as part of a party with a six-month old and people wearing jeans, so I think you'd be fine. Coming from Miami, I think this is one of the few places that could possibly give you an experience above/beyond/different from what you can get at home -- and certainly at a price that beats most comparable places back home.

      I also really enjoy Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe. It doesn't get as much mention on this board (or anywhere else) as the Refinery, but my meals/experiences at Ella's have been much better in comparison. Very casual, folksy/artsy with a dash of southern. If you are around on a Sunday, I'd say their soul-food menu (only available on Sundays) should be near the top of your list. Probably not something that's very common down your way.

      I second the reco for China Yuan. It won't change your life, but it's among the best Chinese here in Tampa. Staying on the Asian tip, I cannot reco any Japanese restuarant, and certainly not over anything you probably have in Miami. Vietnamese is probably the only type of (East) Asian that might be going out of your way for. I enjoy Pho Quyen and Trang, both up near USF. If you like Indian, I endorse Udipi Cafe.

      As far as small plates, you might want to try Ceviche, although Spanish-style tapas are probably pretty common in Miami. Many people like SideBern's, but while it tries hard, I have never thought the food worth the prices.

      Let me know if you need any further clarification or recos.

      1. A bit of research has led me to Cafe Ponte and perhaps Ted Peters.

        China Yuan certaily looks quite interesting as Chinese here in the Ft. Lauderdale is pretty much mall quality. Frog and Hot Pot can really hit the spot after a long day at Bush Gardens. i have to look at the wimauma a bit more. Looks very, very intresting. Del Rio cafe style food is quite prelevent in this area so i'll have to pass there. same goes for peruvian Terra Sur Cafe although I do love a great Ceviche.

        Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe looks quite interesting, especially with the pic of Elvis.

        Thanks for the recs so far. I'll chime back in later when we get close with our final choices and see who hates what!

        1. I know you requested dinner suggestions. But imo the most unique dining experience in the Tampa area is the Sunday market at the Thai Temple.

          The temple itself is a visual surprise. The market feels as though you are elsewhere. Huge woks full of oil frying taro & plantains, tables full of traditional sweets, a group of elders catching up on gossip while speedily shredding papaya. You purchase from individual stalls. There are picnic tables by the river. Delicious, reasonably priced and a great experience. Plus it starts at 10 am so there is still time for Busch Gardens!

          I've brought many people to this as a surprise. Watching them take in the visuals, aromas and flavors of such an unexpected experience is so much fun!

          2 Replies
          1. re: meatn3

            I second this recommendation.

            1. re: RibDog

              Definitely worth a trip and the kids should find it very interesting.