I’ve always lived in Tampa, and I’ll always love it. Not many people think about food when they decide to come here on vacation, so I have taken it as my duty to change that. I have professional experience as a food critic, so my opinion is not one to be taken lightly.
First up, there’s my favorite restaurant in Tampa: Yah Mon. Yah Mon is a Caribbean restaurant, which I personally think is a very unique style of cuisine. It doesn’t take much to serve regular old American food or Latin food. If you had to ask someone to name a Caribbean restaurant that they’ve been to, I’m sure they would be at a loss for words. This restaurant is located in Hyde Park in Tampa, right next to the waterfront, and they serve the best Jamaican food I’ve ever eaten. If it’s your first time eating there, make sure to order the curry chicken and the fried plantains, or “maduros”. To kick off the review, I’ll talk even more about their food.
The menu is filled with tons of things to order, so you can even bring your picky kids. Everything on the menu is modestly priced, so don’t be afraid to order whatever you want. If you want to try everything on Yah Mon’s menu, it will take more than a few visits. Trust me. The chefs make sure that you’re full before you leave, and the food is already really filling to begin with. In addition, the service here is also very good. In fact, this might be one of the most professional restaurants I have eaten at.
The waiters are always respectful and make sure your glass is always full, but they don’t pester you like flies while you’re trying to enjoy your meal. When I ate here for the first time, the waiter was very helpful in letting me know what customers have enjoyed in the past. Now I’ve been there so many times that I’m essentially a regular. If you do decide to bring your kids, don’t worry about them getting their hands dirty or touching gum under the table or anything like that. Yah Mon is also one of the cleanest restaurants I’ve eaten at in Tampa, and their kitchen is just as clean.
One time I asked the owner if I could take a look inside the kitchen as he was making his rounds around the restaurant, and he agreed without hesitation. I looked all over in their kitchen and couldn’t find anything with visible dirt on it. Even the kitchen’s grease trap was clean, which lead me to believe that it had been cleaned that day. After all, with all of the items on the menu that are fried, you know there’s gonna be grease in the air.
I’ll have to ask the owner which Tampa hood cleaning business they get their spotless exhaust hoods from, so I can recommend them to other restaurant owners I know in Tampa. Believe it or not, Yah Mon is actually Tampa’s highest rated Caribbean restaurant. Look at all of their amazing reviews online if you don’t believe me. Always a pleasure to dine here.
Next, a trip to Tampa wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t visit a great steakhouse before leaving. Black Rock Bar & Grill gives the feel of a super high-class steakhouse, but doesn’t expect you to pay top dollar for the same quality of service as one. This restaurant is found by Cedar Hollow in Tampa. Although it’s a steakhouse, my absolute favorite item on the menu is their lobster bisque. Every time I order it, I can taste how fresh all of the ingredients are. It’s probably not that difficult to procure fresh seafood, since Florida is so close to the coast. Black Rock Bar & Grill doesn’t skimp either, always giving me a big lobster claw.
I’ve been to a few restaurants in Miami where my meal cost upwards of $100 and I get a piece of lobster the size of a sushi roll. It surprised me that they can offer such quality food at affordable prices and still manage to stay in business, but I guess it helps that the place is always packed. Don’t worry about being crowded though, because the interior is very roomy open. As busy as the restaurant always gets, the owner always manages to find me a spot.
Probably because I’ve eaten at this restaurant so many times that he knows me by name now. I’m sure my words are enough to convince any of you stragglers, but if you’re still on the fence then just check Yelp or any other review site. I looked at google’s reviews section before eating at Black Rock Bar & Grill for the first time, and I didn’t believe the amazing online reviews at first. I do now.
On Swann is my go-to place whenever I get bored with the other restaurants, and it always hits the spot. Not only a restaurant, the chefs also specialize in desserts. In my opinion, the tomahawk pork chop is the single best item on the menu. On Swann serves some unique food, like parm zeppole with whipped ricotta corn dip. I was actually kind of scared to order it at first because it sounds so strange, but there has never been a time where I was disappointed with this restaurant’s food.
Here’s another restaurant in the Hyde Park area of Tampa, right next to the shoreline. If you wanted to take your dessert to go, you could even walk along the beach and look at all the boats launching from the dock. I love On Swann’s open air kitchen, because it fascinates me to watch chefs prepare food. Also, the interior is well decorated to the point where I would bring food in from any other place just to eat it inside this restaurant.
Not that I would want to eat another restaurant’s food, considering how good these desserts are. I left my great online review after eating here for the first time, and it would be nice if I could leave positive online reviews after each time I enjoyed On Swann’s food since then. There would be a LOT of reviews, though.