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A Week of Waterside Restaurant Wonders: Tampa’s Top Waterfront Dining Spots

A Sunset Behind A Fence

Ahoy, foodie traveler! If you find yourself in Tampa with an insatiable appetite for both breathtaking waterfront views and mouth-watering cuisines, then my friend, you’re in for a treat! Tampa's waterfront dining scene is as vibrant as its sunsets. Pack your sunglasses, some beachy attire, and a hearty appetite; this is your definitive guide to seven days of culinary coastline ecstasy.

1. Ulele - Riverside Delight 

Location: Near Water Works Park

Price Range: $$ - $$$

Top Picks: Charbroiled Oysters and Native Chili

Known For: Rich native-inspired flavors

Named after a native Florida princess, Ulele offers delicacies that pay homage to Tampa's indigenous roots. With views overlooking the Hillsborough River, their menu is as diverse as the river's ecosystem. If seafood tickles your fancy, don't miss their charbroiled oysters. For meat lovers, the Native Chili with alligator is a brave choice! Toast your Tampa journey with their Ulele Lager, brewed in-house.

 2. The Rusty Pelican - A Dose of Elegance

Location: Rocky Point Drive

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$

Top Picks: Blue Crab and Lobster Cakes, Prime Rib-Eye

Known For: Romantic sunsets and event space

Imagine this: fiery Tampa sunset, shimmering waters of Tampa Bay, a glass of chardonnay, and plates filled with delectable seafood. The Rusty Pelican promises all this and more. Perfect for those special occasions, their seafood delicacies, especially the crab and lobster cakes, are crowd favorites. If you're celebrating, consider one of their private rooms.

 3. Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill - Barefoot Bliss

Location: Courtney Campbell Causeway

Price Range: $ - $$

Top Picks: Coconut Rum Chicken, World Famous Barefoot Tiki Bar

Known For: Casual, sandy beach bar vibes

Feeling beachy? Roll up your pants, take off your shoes, and relish the barefoot dining experience. Whiskey Joe's offers a relaxed ambiance with sandy floors and boat pull-ups. Their coconut rum chicken is an absolute must-try. And for the parched throats, their Tiki Bar offers a plethora of beachy concoctions.

4. Jackson’s Bistro, Bar & Sushi - Where East Meets West

Location: Harbour Island

Price Range: $$ - $$$

Top Picks: Jackson's Roll, Braised Short Rib

Known For: Sushi with a view

Jackson's marries the finest sushi with panoramic downtown views. Perched on Harbour Island, it’s a sushi lover's dream. Try the Jackson’s Roll, a delightful amalgamation of tempura shrimp, cream cheese, and avocado. Not in a sushi mood? The braised short rib melts in your mouth.

 5. Columbia Café - A Historical Bite

Location: Tampa Bay History Center, Riverwalk

Price Range: $$ - $$$

Top Picks: The Original "1905" Salad, Cuban Sandwich

Known For: Over a century of dining history

Nestled on the scenic Riverwalk, Columbia Café offers diners a taste of Tampa's rich history. Operating since 1905, it brings Spanish flair to the waterfront. The iconic "1905" Salad is a timeless favorite, and no visit to Tampa is complete without trying a traditional Cuban sandwich, and Columbia’s version is iconic. 

6. Armature Works – Heights Public Market - Culinary Kaleidoscope

Location: Tampa Heights

Price Range: $ - $$$

Top Picks: Whatever your palate desires, from poke bowls to churros!

Known For: Food hall variety with a riverfront setting

This refurbished trolley barn now houses a multitude of food stalls, each with its unique flavor signature. Whether you're in the mood for an Italian pizza, Vietnamese pho, or Southern BBQ, Armature Works has got you covered. The scenic outdoor seating by the river amplifies the dining experience.

7. Oystercatchers - Seaside Splendor

Location: Within the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$

Top Picks: Oysters (of course!), Gulf Grouper

Known For: Panoramic views of Tampa Bay and fresh seafood galore

Hidden behind a mangrove-lined causeway, Oystercatchers is a gem that shines brightly with its emphasis on fresh, local seafood. As the name suggests, you shouldn’t pass up their selection of oysters. Paired with a view of Tampa Bay, it’s the perfect way to conclude a week of waterfront wonder.

Ready to savor Tampa’s eclectic waterfront restaurant scene? 

Tampa’s waterfront dining scene is a sublime blend of views, vibes, and victuals. Each venue captures a unique facet of this coastal city, from its indigenous roots to its vibrant modern-day culinary culture. As the sun dips below the horizon and reflects off the shimmering waters, there's a certain magic in relishing a meal that's been crafted with heart and soul. Dive into Tampa's waterfront dining scene and let the waves of flavor engulf you!

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