Tampa Bay’s Latin Quarter & Centro Ybor

No trip to Tampa, Florida is ever complete without one tour down the historic streets of Ybor City. So while my gal friends from Jersey were in town it was only natural that a good day and a half would be spent strolling the streets, shops, restaurants, and a night of all out debauchery at a dance club or two. They had the time of their life and though Ybor may not be for everyone depending on which time of day you choose to go, it’s always worth a glance. Being a tour guide wore the life out of me these last couple of days which is why I will provide you all with a couple pointers on your next trip to Tampa. It saves me a hell of a lot of gas and the wear and tear of playing tourist along with you.

Many will want to start with Centro Ybor. Being the center of the 7th Ave strip, it sets the mood. I recommend a visit in the day time first so the quiet streets can charm you a little. You’ll find several small shops where cigar aficionados can build their own smokes or buy some premium goods to take back as a souvenir. Other small shops include Ybor Ybor, a good places for cheap gifts, Marble Slab Creamery, which helps tremendously on the hottest of days, and La France, a must for the ladies and men that love antique and vintage clothing. Take in a movie at the beautiful Muvico theater, visit the International Bazaar, or stop in to take a personality test with the Scientologists.

Restaurants such as Fresh Mouth, Dish, Adobe Gila’s, and Big City Tavern can be found easily and all provide delicious menus. However, it is the Columbia Restaurant a little ways down the strip that is a must visit. The food, service and atmosphere all make it the top place to dine as well as the live flamenco shows in the evening. I’ve blogged about the restaurant before in its own entry and suggested the Palomilla steak, but I’d also like to add the “Cayo Hueso” Mahi-Mahi which I recently clamped my jaws on.

As the sun sets and evening turns into night young and old come out for drinks, music and more. Ybor can seem a bit rough around the edges at night as many young ladies come quite under dressed with tiny pieces of clothing on ready to dance and the fellahs become frisky. If you go at night I suggest clubs such as Prana, Code, and Green Iguana for a nice mixture of people and music. The Castle is also great place for industrial and 80’s sounds. When all is said and almost done stop into the Bistro and have a yummy crepe for the road. (They have an endless menu of crepes.)

No matter which way or time of day you decide to head to the Latin Quarter there’s no denying a promising and perhaps rewarding visit. Everything you almost need to know can be found here.