TAMPA — If you’ve ever ordered a swirl-topped latte, rifled through colorful books or strolled across the black and white geometric floors at Oxford Exchange, you’ve probably seen someone snapping a photo for Instagram. The multi-purpose Tampa staple at 420 W. Kennedy Blvd. — which includes a restaurant, coffee shop, retail space, bookstore and champagne bar — has a reputation for being photogenic.
Now, it’s official.
Food Network Magazine recently named Oxford Exchange one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in America. The list, which first debuted in the October print issue before recently appearing online, highlighted one eatery from each state.
It isn’t the first time the restaurant has received national recognition. In 2015, CNBC reported that Oxford Exchange was the eighth-most Instagrammed restaurant in the country. Last year Architectural Digest deemed it the most beautiful independent store in Florida.
Oxford Exchange has nearly 60,000 Instagram followers. Roughly 35,400 images have been tagged with #oxfordexchange.
Food Network Magazine commended Oxford Exchange for its popular portrait-themed gallery wall honoring historic figures. Other popular shooting destinations include comfy armchairs and the sunbathed dining room.
Jess Anderson, director of retail operations and public relations, said crowds often gather near the sign outside of the building. Visitors also enjoy when afternoon light creates a rainbow light spectrum along the patterned bookstore floor.
“Time and time again, we have to ask people not to lie on the floor because it’s not exactly the most safe thing to have happening in the entrance,” Anderson said. “But I appreciate the dedication for a good photo."
What sets Oxford Exchange apart from some of the other spots on the Food Network list? For one thing, Anderson says, it wasn’t designed with Instagram in mind.
Construction began in 2010 — the same year Apple released Instagram exclusively for iOS users. By the time Oxford Exchange opened in 2012, Android users were just getting access to the app. The restaurant had already become a popular destination for dining and selfie-snapping long before Instagram gained the popularity it has today.
“We built it because it was pretty and we knew people would resonate with that,” Anderson said.
Why is it so photogenic? It’s all in the details. The design team added plenty of windows to make sure light touches any space more than two people would occupy.
“The lighting controls the mood here," Anderson said. "So whether you’re taking a picture when it’s raining, it gives you that London, really old-school club feel, or if it’s a super-sunny day, it gives you a really bright and energetic feel.”
Anderson said a mixture of textures — including wood, marble, leather, stone and greenery — create an inviting place for visitors to linger.
As Instagram increased in popularity, the social media app has become more important for restaurants.
"(Instagram) just became this huge driver not just for us, but hospitality in general,” Anderson said.
Looking for more locations to brighten up your feed? Here are some other popular Instagram-friendly spots around Tampa Bay:
1. Posie’s Flower Truck
There are plenty of food trucks and mobile businesses to choose from, but there’s something irresistible about a bright blue truck that carts around colorful blooms.
2. Bandit Coffee Co.
Come for the coffee, natural wine and weekend breakfast options. Stay for the chic minimal vibe. The St. Petersburg mural outside is a popular photo spot.
Location: 2662 Central Ave, St. Petersburg.
3. Mandarin Heights
Did you really drink at this cozy Seminole Heights bar if you haven’t snapped a shot in the bathtub?
Location: 5901 N. Florida Ave, Tampa.
Thanks to a vibrant local arts scene and initiatives like SHINE Mural Festival in St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay area has dozens of murals to choose from for your next selfie.
Location: Varies. The photo above was taken near Squeeze Juice Works at 18 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg.
5. Clearwater Beach
White sand, wildlife and waves. Enough said.