7 Places In The Tampa Bay Area To Expand Your Foodie Experience

7 Places In The Tampa Bay Area To Expand Your Foodie Experience

Need help picking out where to go for dinner?
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Picking out a cool spot to dine out is always tricky, especially when there are hundreds of places to dine out in the Tampa Bay Area. In the past year I have been on the hunt to find unique and local restaurants that serve delicious food and provide a great atmosphere to get together with friends, family or your significant other. Here’s a list of some great food places in the Tampa Bay area.

1. Datz- Tampa, Florida

Datz is probably one of my favorite finds in Tampa. With an eccentric menu with things like burgers with mac 'n' cheese buns, or a doughnut burger. The atmosphere is unique and gives off an urban and hip feeling.

2. Dough- Tampa, Florida

After an amazing meal at Datz you can stroll on over next door to Dough and end the night with a delicious treat. Dough is owned by Datz. Dough has a bright and colorful interior. You can make a choice of a variety of unique and delicious treats such as Lucky Charms Cheesecake, S’more’s Doughnuts and Fruity Pebble ice cream. If you do stop by what all the hype is about on the ice cream doughnut cones. If you really want to expand your taste buds, Dough is the perfect place to go with friends, family or your significant other.


3. Chocolate Pi- Tampa, Florida

If you are a chocolate aficionado like me, then Chocolate Pi is the place for you. This small and dainty restaurant located in South Tampa. Here they make homemade sodas on the spot, and with a menu that changes constantly you have to opportunity to try something new each visit- or stick with your favorite treat. Here I highly suggest trying one of their Mason Jar desserts where they layer different ingredients like brownie, salted caramel, vanilla bean custard or toasted meringue.

4. Ciccio Cali- Brandon, Florida

If you are looking for a lighter, healthier meal Ciccio’s is known for their variety of different bowls that are bursting with flavor from the "Gigante" with avocado-glazed buffalo chicken, to the Vegan bowl containing a medley of fresh veggies topped with a lemon agave vinaigrette. In addition to their bowl culture they offer other options like stir-fry, wraps, salads and pizza. On the weekends they offer a brunch menu with options like an amazing French toast waffle pretzel or their new gluten free pancakes.

5. Ichicoro- Seminole Heights, Florida

Instead of your ordinary ramen packets from the grocery store head on over to Ichicoro where you can try a big and flavorful bowl of freshly made ramen. The ambiance is very urban and upbeat, however they have a six person per party limit, making it a good date spot or place to catch up with a close friend.

6. Eddie & Sam's NY Pizza- Tampa, Florida

Now if you are a New Yorker like me, you would truly appreciate Eddie & Sam’s. They are located a block from the Riverwalk and Curtis Hixon waterfront park in downtown Tampa. What makes Eddie & Sam’s one of the most authentic and unique place in Tampa is the fact that they have water shipped from New York City to make their pizza dough — if that isn’t authentic then what is?


7. Oxford Exchange- Tampa, Florida

Oxford Exchange, or OE, is located across the street from the University of Tampa. Oxford Exchange is popular for their wide variety of coffee and tea. The atmosphere of Oxford Exchange is very light and modern, with a conservatory with live plants and natural sunlight. Oxford Exchange is a great spot to have brunch with the girls or celebrate a birthday.

If you are not in the mood for eating you can study in their lounge or browse their store located in the front of the building.

Cover Image Credit: Don Sullivan

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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I Wasn't Always Lactose Intolerant, But Now That I Am, I Can Confirm — It Sucks

I see all of my friends eating ice cream and drinking bubble until their heart's content, but I can't say the same thing about myself.

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The thing is that I wasn't always lactose intolerant. In fact, before college, I was able to eat as much ice cream and mac and cheese as I wanted, and I was able to drink a glass of milk and have milk with cereal. But ever since coming to college, for some reason, my body decided that it was time to start rejecting dairy, and it picked the wrong time to do so.

Last semester, I went to get breakfast, and I decided to get a bowl of Fruit Loops, and I poured some milk into it. While I was eating, there was no problem, and I went about everything as I normally would, but it was when I went back to my dorm that my stomach started feeling...not so right. My stomach was hurting and I felt bloated. I was hoping that it was only because the cereal may have been old or the utensils that I was using may not have been cleaned well enough, so I stayed optimistic (for too long, in all honesty).

The following weeks, I had cereal a few more times, and I also ate some ice cream and mac and cheese, and every time, the same thing happened, and I had to convince myself that deep down, I knew what this meant. I sort of panicked because it was all so sudden. I was perfectly able to tolerate dairy right before college started, but now, I can't even handle a cup of ice cream.

I have to constantly monitor how much dairy I consume because if I consume more than my maximum amount, it's not going to end up well. Sometimes, I see my friends' iced milk tea whenever we're on the train, and I envy them because I try to avoid anything with dairy when I'm taking any sort of transportation. I think the worst part is that every time I pass by the Chatime truck, I have to fight the temptation of getting a cup of boba, especially during this time of year on the warmer days. I always walk by the crowd huddled around the cart, wishing I was them. It sounds kind of sad because it is.

Now, I may be lactose intolerant, but that doesn't mean that I don't consume dairy at all. There are days when I get out of chemistry lab, needing to treat myself to something for standing and stressing out for three hours straight, so I order myself a large Jasmine green milk tea, completely ignoring the consequences of my actions. There are even nights after dinner where I'll get two or three cups of ice cream, and I'm not going to lie, I regret it afterward half of the time.

My body may not thank me, but quite frankly, I can't go forever without eating dairy because...do I even have to say it?

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