Tag Archives: florida

Tampa, Florida: A Lush Life

What can I say, there has been a lot of this lately. But being new to Tampa, Florida, it is nice to at least be making some friends that are encouraging it.

A few places that I enjoy around Tampa for hanging out, grabbing some food, and tossing back a few are:

Mangroves: A hip little joint in the SoHo district of Hyde Park. They serve good food, and after 11pm the DJ thumps some beats upstairs if you want to get your groove on. This is a good place to find out if your wardrobe has fallen out of fashion.

Fly:  Located in downtown Tampa not far from the theatre, this has a great little outdoor deck upstairs with seating area and bar. Downstairs the ambiance is cool and the food is excellent. You can choose to sit inside or out.

Mad Dogs: Don’t let the Irish pub theme fool you. This place has amazing food, great wine, and of course, plenty of different beers to choose from. The vibe is great. People come riding in on bikes, walking with dogs, or in shiny luxury vehicles. In each case, no one is disappointed.

Ceviche: If you are looking for a great Tapas bar and restaurant then check out this place. A relaxed atmosphere, good sangria, and great food. It is quite difficult to decide what to get.

Byblos: Think spices, soft pillows, and a warm ambiance; oh, and also really good traditional Lebanese food. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of eastern food, and Byblos definitely ranks at the top. Stick around for the belly dancing while you puff away on your hookah.

The Rack: This one doesn’t have its own website, but you can Google the location. The reason why I include it is because of its rather strange combination of billiards and sushi. You first thought might be, “frightening,” but the sushi is actually really good even if it does come with a sports theme. If you don’t mind being in the midst of cute college girls and male football enthusiasts, while you savor some good sushi, then this is the place.

Obviously, there are many more places that I have been and need to visit, but these are some I definitely recommend and would patronize again. Hopefully by the time you’ve checked these off the list I’ll have some more for you. Until then, enjoy! 

Tampa, Florida: Getting Settled

It is hard to believe that it has been almost 3 months since I left Reno-Tahoe, but time flies when you are busy getting on with it. What is even more surprising, however, is that I have not yet done a real blog post on my new locale. But first a word from the Florida Gators.

Okay, here we go….

Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida encompasses much more than a cartographer’s little star would imply. The city draws its strength from the fact that it is situated on Tampa Bay, which constitutes a 400 square mile basin fringed with white-sand beaches, dotted with islands, and fed by channels and rivers. Because of Tampa’ Bay’s unique geology, it has become Florida’s largest port, carrying more than 50 million tons of cargo per year. It has also served as a destination for ancient tribes, Spanish conquistadors, Civil War troops, Spanish-American War battalions, entrepreneurs, and of course, “snowbirds” escaping the colder climates of the north for the warmer retreats of the south. Suffice to say, each faction has left its own mark on the city’s history and evolution.

Tampa contains some very distinctive neighborhoods that have evolved over time due to ethnicity, affluence, and geographic position. You have Hyde Park, SOHO, Palma Ceia, Channelside, Davis Island, Rocky Point, and others. But one clear indication of this is Ybor City.

Ybor City

Ybor City was once the cigar-making capital of the world. This phenomenon brought on an infusion of Cuban, Mediterranean, and European culture that melded together to create a unique and vibrant area filled with excellent restaurants, live music, and beautiful architecture. Imagine old red brick buildings, mixed with classic European construction, set against the backdrop of rusting tankers resting in the water next to a modern city rising into the sky.

Something especially interesting to me are the social clubs that dot the downtown district. In the early 1920s, social clubs served as the heart of the community. It was where members went on the weekends to dance, get married, receive medical attention, or just hang out over cigars and dominos. Nowadays, the surviving social clubs hang on with the help of their historical designations, donations, and a constant stream of events. Walk around inside, for instance, the Centro Asturiano or the Cuban Club, and you will discover beautiful theatres and ballrooms made of materials that are no longer affordable or readily available.

The Tampa Bay Hotel

Another place recently visited that I found very interesting is The Tampa Bay Hotel and the Henry B. Plant Museum, located on what is now the University of Tampa’s campus. It is an incredible building that combines Moorish architecture with a Victorian, European style that seems more applicable to some foreign land. Even now the lights burn bright with old Edison electric filament bulbs, and the rooms are decorated with furnishings that came from Paris in 1891. At one time, Teddy Roosevelt relaxed there as he and the rest of his Rough Riders readied for the Spanish-American War.

So Much More…

Of course, Tampa has much more to see and experience, and I will have to cover those in subsequent blog posts. Needless to say, it is proving to be an interesting place with much more depth than I would have ever originally guessed. Stay tuned for more! In the interim, here are a few pictures that I have gathered thus far.