In the first few months of our relationship, we relished picking a restaurant that we thought the other person would enjoy. Now, ten years in, “what are you in the mood for?” is a dreaded date night question. Over the last year, we’ve slowly but surely developed a list of go-tos that I’ve shared on Instagram. I’m finally making the time to put my Tampa date night ideas list in a blog post, and I hope this is helpful. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to start.
Tampa Date Night Ideas
This South Tampa wine bar is one of my favorite charcuterie spots in town. We usually sit on the back patio and start with the Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread. From there, I recommend the chef’s selection cheeseboard. I usually do the five selection for my meal and it’s more than enough food. The only catch: they only offers wine and beer, and I lean toward restaurants with a full bar. Still worth it, though!
My first meal at Willa’s blew my mind. It’s the type of restaurant I seek out when traveling elsewhere, so it’s so rad that it’s in Tampa. I’ve now been for both dinner and brunch and much prefer their brunch menu, although both are incredible. From the dinner menu, I recommend the prosciutto and cheese, steak frites, rotisserie chicken dip sandwich, and macaroni au gratin. For brunch, you have to try the whipped ricotta toast and pancakes. Also, get the Willa’s Fix if you want an alcoholic drink and the limeade if you don’t want to drink.
The C House
I went to The C House for the first time earlier this year, and I liked it enough that I went back for my birthday. Their outdoor area is chill enough that we brought Nora with no problem, and the indoor seating is a little more cozy. We got the chicken wings, a seven selections board, and cheesecake to share. We’ve had fantastic service both times we visited, too.
If you’re an OG Tampa foodie, you probably remember that Fly Bar closed a couple years ago. Thankfully, they’re back and better than ever. Transparently, I hate parking near Oxford Exchange because it’s always a mess, but we had an easy time snagging a spot when we visited. We got the truffle mac n’ cheese, nachos, and shrimp and grits, and all were fabulous.
I am somewhat embarrassingly not a very adventurous eater. I’ve been known to look at a menu and order chicken fingers off the kids’ menu if nothing else looks appetizing. Because of this, Flor Fina’s offerings almost scared me away, but it’s one of the best meals we’ve had in town. The corn fritters, oxtail croquettes, sorrentino ravioli, and ceviche were all incredible. A huge bonus: it’s located inside the dreamy Hotel Haya which makes for fantastic pictures.
Asian Tampa Date Night Ideas
This is a new restaurant on the Tampa dining scene and already one of my absolute favorites. We got the sweet chili garlic wings to start. Vagner ordered the chicken sandwich and I had the beef bulgogi for dinner. It was all incredible, and I can’t wait to go back. The Minnehaha cocktail in the picture above was delicious and so pretty.
I’m going to be honest with you here: Haiku isn’t my recommendation if you’re starving and want to order a ton of food. It’s expensive for what you get, but the sushi is good and the vibes are impeccable. The service wasn’t great, but we went right after they opened so I’ll cut them some slack. We ordered the pork bao buns (incredible!), tonkotsu shoyu ramen, and the wood fired lobster roll.
This is one of those Tampa classics that I visit anytime I’m near downtown. I haven’t had anything at Soho that I didn’t like, and their happy hour menu is pretty solid. They’ve revamped their parking that used to be a nightmare, but I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.
When I had an office job, I used to go to Samurai Blue for lunch all the time. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to visit in well over a year, but it’s a trendy spot with a delicious menu. Again, not a place I’d recommend if you’re super hungry (but I’m also a cheap date, so ordering a ton of food is rare for me).
I’m technically cheating by including this on the list when we haven’t visited, but we haven’t been able to get a reservation! Based on what my friends and family say, it lives up to the hype and the price tag (the cheapest entree is $21). We want to plan a weekday date here — I’ll let you guys know if that happens.
I was pregnant with Nora the last time we visited Olivia and they were brand new, so the menu has likely changed over time. But the soppresseta pizza will live rent-free in my head until we return. The bruschetta and truffle fries were also incredible starters.
Ok, this is the second restaurant on the list that I haven’t visited, but since all of my Italian friends swear by it, I had to include it. They don’t take reservations, which is usually a no for me. But given that it’s been voted the best Italian restaurant in Tampa, I think it may be worth the wait.
Mandarin Heights is a cocktail bar that feels like it was designed for Instagram, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s cute with plenty of space for people to move around without feeling crowded, and Bodega is next door if you need something to sop up all the alcohol in your stomach.
Located on top of Bulla Gastrobar, Luna is fun while also feeling more attainable than the other rooftop bars in the area. I just feel less pressure to look hot, which is a plus! There’s also a fun drink menu — order some frosé for me if you go. We had to park about a block away on the street, so just be ready for that. Bulla is a fantastic tapas option, so start there if you’re hungry!
In contrast with Luna, Edge is somewhere that I felt pressure to look hot. Not a bad thing, though — it was the perfect spot before a night on the town. I got the Epic Mai Tai and it was strong but really good. The views are awesome, too, although it was too crowded the last time we were there to really take anything in.
One night when my parents were babysitting, we got a hankering to head to a nice bar but didn’t know where to go. Yelp led us to the Copper Shaker in Ybor, and I can confirm that it was the right choice. The Last Summer (Grey Goose, strawberry, mint, lime) is the perfect treat, and the bacon jam sliders were also a hit. It’s also dark without being too dark, which makes it perfect for a romantic evening.