1. Food

Where to eat in downtown Tampa for the NCAA Women's Final Four

Anise Global Gastrobar

777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa

(813) 225-4272

The focus in this gorgeous space is Korean-ish, with a southeast Asian palette of flavors that's fairly hard to pin down. With many of the share-friendly plates under $10, from crispy red curry coconut wings with a cucumber mint yogurt dipping sauce to pork belly buns with kimchee, the menu is largely in support of the short-but-smart list of house cocktails. Live deejays on weekend nights lend Anise a nightclub feel.

Rivers Edge

200 N Ashley Drive, Tampa

(813) 226-4400

Part of the Sheraton Riverwalk, this downtown Tampa restaurant offers views of the Hillsborough River and the minarets of the University of Tampa. Diners enjoy contemporary American food served in a relaxing setting.

Bamboozle Cafe

516 N Tampa St., Tampa

(813) 223-7320

It's Vietnamese quick-service downtown in all its vibrant, punchy glory. Fresh rolls are customized to suit: Choose four veggies (bean sprouts, vinegary daikon and carrot, cucumber, and maybe jicama?) and a meat (lemongrass beef, or maybe bouncy steamed prawns?), then watch as the women behind the counter wrangle it all into a tidy roll. Also vermicelli bowls and pho.

Cafe Dufrain

707 Harbour Post Drive, Tampa

(813) 275-9701

Chef Ferrell Alvarez's vision is ingredient-oriented New American cuisine with an emphasis on organics and sustainability. (75 percent of menu items are, or contain, certified organic or sustainable products.) It's a menu that surfs suavely among Asian sensibility, Latin American preparations and the value-oriented spirit that prevails these days.


1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

(813) 374-8840

Stylish little Cena is part of the Grand Central in Tampa's Channel District. The dinner-only menu is resolutely Italian, but very personal. For entrees, the asparagus risotto is textbook, and there's a gorgeous seared filet mignon napped with a truffled cheese sauce and accompanied by roasted sunchokes and snappy green beans with bits of pancetta.

Columbia Cafe

801 Old Water St., Tampa

(813) 229-5511

The Tampa Bay History Center's cafe is run by Richard Gonzmart, great-grandson of the founder of Tampa's iconic Columbia Restaurant, who's passionate about local food history and about Cuban sandwiches (not necessarily in that order). Columbia Cafe is authentic both in setting, including a wooden bar that is a reproduction of the original Columbia's, and in a menu filled with Ybor City staples like devil crab and Spanish bean soup.

Eddie & Sam's NY Pizza

203 E Twiggs St, Tampa

(813) 229-8500

When one of the ginormous cheese pies emerges from the pizza oven, it's easy to lose your cool. You want to stand there, fold a slice in half and inhale. It's pure NYC and, get this, made with real New York City water.

Ferg's Live

490 Channelside Drive, Tampa

(813) 443-8403

This spanking-new offshoot of the wildly popular Ferg's Sports Bar in St. Petersburg occupies prime real estate across from the arena and offers the usual selection of familiar spirits and a handful of house wines, as well as 14 beers on draft, some of them local and craft options, as well as a menu of bar food favorites.

First Watch

520 N Tampa St, Tampa

(813) 307-9006

The biggest Florida chain to make brunch a daily specialty, it serves eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles and crepes as well as sandwiches and salads, spiced from Italian to Cajun. It draws a big-city line Sunday mornings in downtown Tampa.

Fly Bar & Restaurant

1202 N Franklin St., Tampa

(813) 275-5000

This bastion of hip has gained a devoted following among Tampa foodies and revelers. The concept is this: an all-day menu until late, a share-it-with-friends approach to world-beat small plates, suave cocktails, a little live music and a minimalist-hip decor.

Hattricks Tavern

107 S Franklin St, Tampa

(813) 225-4288

It's not the closest hockey bar to the Amalie Arena, but it's the best. With a nice menu, tons of Lightning memorabilia on the walls and tasteful brick decor, it's an amazing spot to celebrate after a win. It's located across from a trolley stop and close enough to parking garages to make it a convenient stop before or after an event.

Hooters (Tampa, Channelside)

615 Channelside Drive # 127, Tampa

(813) 221-2600

With a prime corner spot at Channelside, this Hooters gets its share of Gasparilla revelers, cruise boat passengers, arena partiers and anyone else that comes into its orbit. So consider yourself stoked for meeting far-flung constituencies, or forewarned about a large mass of party-minded people.

Jackson's Bistro Bar & Sushi

601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa

(813) 277-0112

Lounge, patio, sushi bar and waterfront dining room of steaks and seafood spill over this busy station on the downtown cruising scene. Extensive wine list, good views of other people's boats and condos.

Kurdi's Fresh Mediterranean Grill

777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa

(813) 223-5800

Owner Heveen Kurdi is from Amman, Jordan, and lunch here is wraps, salads and kebabs served in a pleasant dining room with a few sidewalk tables. Dinner offerings are a little more glamorous and interesting, from shawarma and fattoush to Moroccan lamb chops and duck fat-cooked pork belly with a tangle of peppery arugula and a tangy-sweet apple gastrique.

Pour House at Grand Central

1208 E Kennedy Blvd., Suite 112, Tampa

(813) 402-2923

With concrete floors, exposed ductwork and high ceilings, this Channelside District beer and wine emporium seems tailor-made for urban hipsters in search of off-the-radar libations. It sports 40 taps and 60 craft bottle selections, along with wines by the glass. Don't expect any food, but they do offer menus for ordering from nearby restaurants.

Sapphire Room at the Floridan Palace Hotel

905 N Florida Ave, Tampa

(813) 225-1700

The vibe: The reimagining of a historic Tampa hotel bar and lounge, with appetizers, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Specialty cocktails, large wine list, beers on tap.

Spain Restaurant & Toma Bar

513 N Tampa St, Tampa

(813) 223-2831

Exceptional grilled, salted prawns and a stunning taste of stylish modernismo: clean lines, crisp colors, Barcelona cool.