July 15 is the 130th birthday of city of Tampa. Before there was Tampa, there was Fort Brooke, an isolated military outpost (and, briefly, a early incarnation of Tampa that didn't last -- but that's another story). Today Tampa's a thriving, vibrant, creative, diverse community that's the heart of the 3-million-person region and also one of Florida's Most fun travel destinations. If you've been here lately or plan to come (maybe for the 2020 Super Bowl?), here's where you can raise a glass to our hometown, the hip, urban heart of the Gulf coast of Florida.
Cigar City Brewing Co. | Tampa Bay has older craft breweries, but none as famous as this one. The name harkens back to Tampa Bay’s history as the Cigar Capital of the World. The flavors on tap include Cuban espresso beans among the offerings. Cigar City has won awards for its Tocobaga Red Ale and was recently ranked among the top craft breweries in the world.
Coppertail Brewing | Located on the southeast corner of Ybor City, Coppertail is a key player in Tampa Bay’s booming craft beer movement. The brewer has made a name for itself for both the variety of its beer and the incredible murals that line its tasting room.
Ulele | With its own in house brewery and a waterfront spot made for sunsets, Ulele is made for celebrating a special occasion (like a city's birthday). The menu is inspired by Tampa Bay’s early native and Spanish explorers. The restaurant is housed in Tampa’s original public water pump house, along with the spring that once supplied the city’s drinking water.
Columbia Restaurant | You'll want to raise a glass of sangria to make your toast in the spirit of Florida's oldest restaurant (and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.) The family-owned Columbia oldest restaurant fills an entire block in the heart by Ybor City, Tampa Bay’s historic Latin Quarter. Since 1905, the Gonzmart family has operated the restaurant, expanding it over the years from a bar and sandwich shop to more than 1,700 seats. Six nights a week, the restaurant features Flamenco dancing.
Bern's Steak House | The world's largest private wine collection is at your disposal when you raise a glass at this foodie landmark in toney Hyde Park. The James Beard Foundation awarded Bern's its top prize for Outstanding Wine Program in 2016. After dinner, slip upstairs to the legendary Harry Waugh Dessert Room for macadamia nut ice cream.
Haven | If the hard stuff is more your thing, lift a few fingers of Scotch or Bourbon to toast Tampa from the incredible collection at this trendy South Tampa staple just a block from Bern's. The menu's focus on charcuterie, brings together more than 60 types of cheese and a variety of meats.
Fodder & Shine | Touch Tampa's Southern roots with a sweet tea and Florida Cracker-inspired dinner at this neighborhood institution in hipster-haven Seminole Heights. Order the pilau ("per-loo") to show you mean business. Test the bartender's skills. Join in on Trivia Tuesdays. Just be sure you have enough quarters for the pool table and the vintage "Asteroids" video-arcade machine.
Foundation Coffee | If you're a tea-totaler or just a caffeine junkie, you can toast the town with a cuppa local roast. Tampa has almost as many home-grown coffee joints as it has craft breweries. Try the newest, located in a restored historic storefront in up-and-coming Tampa Heights. You can watch the cold brew drip on an enormous wall-mounted display that's as much art as craft-of-coffee. The sheltered patio out back is perfect for a quiet birthday blessing.
Hotel Bar | Raise a Sazerac, Vieux Carre or a Sidecar to toast one great tourist city with drinks made famous in other great tourist cities. Hotel Bar's mixologists reach across time and distance to craft some of the best cocktails ever created.
Sail Pavilion | Grab a seat waterside and watch the world go by with a cold drink in your hand and your dog by your side. Downtown's best waterfront bar is also the nation's No. 1 dog-friendly watering hole. From its perch on the buzzing Tampa Riverwalk, the people-watching is also first-rate.
Florida Cane Distillery | Florida-grown sugar cane is the source of this Ybor City establishment's impressive array of craft vodka, moonshine, and gin. Take a tour and have a taste of a Florida's best craft spirits.
Cigar City Cider & Mead | The Vikings never made it to Tampa Bay, but you can pretend they did when you raise a glass of craft-brewed mead at this popular local pub two doors down from Florida Cane Distillery. Mead is brewed from honey and can have quite a bite. For something sweeter, try hard cider -- our favorite gets a kick from habanero peppers grown right in the store. The small batches mean the menu changes frequently.
Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe | It'll be better late than never when you toast Tampa on Sunday during Ella's Soul Food Sunday brunch. Get in line early because this popular, one-of-a-kind brunch doesn't take reservations. Lift a very non-vegetarian Bloody Mary garnished with a barbecued rib or raise a sweet tea as you dig into your chicken and waffles on the outdoor patio.