The RNC comes to Cigar City. What to eat while in Tampa

Thursday, August 23, 2012
Tampa is buzzing with the RNC. You cannot go anywhere without seeing decorated elephants, American flags and the word delegate posted on every billboard in town. I live within a mile of the heart of the RNC and the next few days will be very interesting and I am sure I will have plenty of photos to share next week. Although my cousin is in the State Senate, I am not making a political stand on my blog. It is one of the subjects that I stay far away from but with that said, this next week will be exciting, hectic, chaotic and interesting to say the least.

If you are in town for the RNC, make sure you are familiar with the road closures. Downtown and Channelside do not have a ton of parking. For the locals, Friday August 24th through Friday August 31st, new traffic patterns are set in Downtown. The parking garages in downtown have limited access.

I luckily live in Ybor City and will be taking the Teco Street Car to go see the madness. Street car service will only operate from Station 1 to Station 8. If you visiting, tke some time to see the history Tampa has to offer. You must visit Historic Ybor City. I have a Foodspotting Guide for Ybor City which you can check out here. As an Ybor resident, I strongly suggest the following.

El Puerto El Puerto Argentinean Grill on Urbanspoon
Grab a 22oz Churrasco steak at El Puerto. This place is as authentic as they come with the best chimichurri in town. The ceviche is also to die for. Wash it down with a pitcher of sangria or authentic cafe con leche. Note, while the food is great, service is a little slow. So if you are in a hurry, you can order yours to go. This is one location I always tell visitors and new residents to check out.
Columbia Restaurant Columbia Restaurant on Urbanspoon 
Tampa is home of the Cuban Sandwich and we just broke the world record for largest Cuban sandwich. Needless to say, you must have a Cuban sandwich while in town. Visit the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor for lunch (make sure you have reservations). I suggest lunch since it will be a little less hectic and this is one restaurant you want to see while in town. While there, if you can partake in adult beverages, grab a pitcher of house sangria. I demand that you ordedr the 1/2 cuban sandwich and 1905 Salad combo. I have dreams about that salad. The Sangria is pretty tasty as well.
Columbia Cuban Sandwich and 1905 Salad lunch combo
Pitcher of House Sangria
El Molino El Molino on Urbanspoon 
 Grab a cup of Cafe Ybor or Cafe con Leche at El Molino. They mill their own coffee here and (Note: they close daily at 2:30 and are not open on Saturday and Sunday). This is great coffee. Luckily for us, they sell it by the bag so we can make our own at home.

Demmi's Market on 7th Demmi's Market on 7th on Urbanspoon
For you late nighters, grab a slice of Pizza from Demmi's Market on 7th. Best pizza in town. This is a bar, not a pizza joint. You can get your pizza to go or eat it at one of the few tables. Demmi's is open daily at 5:00 and has live music and comedy shows. This pizza is out of control, with tons of garlic. Garlic in their sauce, garlic oil on the crust. This is one of the only pizza crusts I actually eat. My boyfriend and I can shamelessly put down an entire large pizza between the two of us. It is that good.
Demmi's Market Pepperoni Pizza
Datz Deli Datz Tampa on Urbanspoon 
Moving outside of Ybor and into Tampa, you must try Datz. This is the one place we take everyone when they visit Tampa. You can read my review of Datz here. I love their Tweet and Waffles (chicken & waffles). Their bar menu is also superb. They put Bacon in their bloody Mary's. Got your attention now?
Datz Chicken and Waffles
Bacon Bloody Mary - Datz a Mary

Yummy House Yummy House China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Check out the Yummy House on Hillsborough and start off with Salt & Pepper calamari. The garlic topping is addicting. For your entree, you cannot go wrong with Duck Fried Rice (you will thank me later) and Hot and Sour soup. Yummy House has Dim Sum on their lunch menu and everything I have tried has been wonderful
Salt and Pepper Calamari
Hot and Sour Soup

A few other notables in town:
Edison Food + Drink Lab A new restaurant with a well known chef in Tampa. The duck confit foie gras tacos are to die for.
Side Berns Beautiful restaurant who has one of the best happy hour in town daily from 5-7 + their menu changes monthly.
Oystercatchers Grab some oysters over an amazing sunset. They also have the best champagne brunch you will find in town.
Timpano's Where I go to feel like I was personal friends with Frank. Excellent martini list, live music and the food is always great. Twice I have seen Tampa Lightning players dining at the bar.

You can also click on the Tampa Dining page within my blog to see my reviews on Tampa Bay restaurants.

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