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Clear winner as far as best fun food neighborhood around Tampa for vacation?

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We will be spending two nights on Clearwater Beach for a wedding. We are currently debating extending the trip with another stop or two within an hour or so of Tampa.

We love staying in places with great restaurants and bars within walking distance of each other that are good local spots and not just tourist traps.

I came across one article featuring Seminole Heights as a good food neighborhood, but I don't know if it is destination worthy.

Sorry if this is a bit vague, I am usually good at doing my own research, but I am having a hard time getting a feel for the area. Thanks!

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  1. The term 'tourist trap' is bothersome. All restaurants need tourists and locals to stay in business and all restaurants provide jobs for people trying to make a living.

    Restaurants have provided my family's livelyhood for three generations so I'm a bit touchy. That said, I really love Ybor City and especially the Paella and Sangria at Columbia. Plan on forty minutes for the Paella, Sangria is made tableside.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BlueHerons

      I didn't mean to offend you.

      I just meant places that chowhounds wouldn't recommend because they get by on their location and novelty, not on their great food and/or drinks. Not that I want to avoid all tourist friendly places.

      Thanks for your comments.

      1. You might want to consider the downtown St. Petersburg area. In the last few years it has grown somewhat organically into an area of various levels of restaurants and bars. Beautiful bay views, museums, etc. for other entertainment. Renaissance Vinoy Hotel is a great place to stay in the area.

        2 Replies
        1. re: fdobbs1

          I will check that out. I came across Gulfport as an option for a smaller area with vacation rental options, but will definitely look up the resort you recommend in St. Petersburg.

          Thank you.

          1. re: bte576

            I think Gulfport or St Pete Beach are both viable alternatives in that they offer the beach itself. Not an option in Ybor or Downtown St Pete.

        2. I am going to agree with fdobbs; Downtown St. Pete is probably closest to what you're looking for. I live in Seminole Heights and while I love the neighborhood, it doesn't have a dense concentration of restaurants like you are looking for (not to mention, there are no hotels here and it's not particular safe for walking around at night.)

          Downtown St Pete definitely has tourists milling about, but plenty of locals are there as well; and it's not a chinzy tourist area like, say, Clearwater Beach. There are areas of South Tampa that have a good concentration of restaurants (Hyde Park/Soho), but the area is not really scenic or unique enough to warrant a two-night stay.

          Have a great trip.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Agent Orange

            I see you've confirmed by impression of what I feared Clearwater Beach is going to be like, but I am sure that leg of the trip will still be fun. Thanks for your thoughts.

          2. Just wanted to update this--going with two nights in Tampa.

            We had decided on St. Petersburg, but then were thrown for a loop when a favorite artist announced a concert in Ybor City during the dates we're in town.

            With just two dinners and a lunch to really plan for, I think we should have plenty of options. We should be renting a car, so we can explore a bit further during the full day we have there.

            I will look up Columbia as mentioned. I also came across a few places that sound interesting--Boca, Fly, & Edison-- and it looks like there are some good beer bars/breweries in the area.
            Thanks for the help.