Not your father's Westshore Area serves up a smorgasbord of foodie fun

As the Westshore neighborhood of Tampa evolves into one of the most popular live, work, play communities in the Bay Area, it’s also becoming a foodie destination. 

Even before International Plaza and Bay Street arrived in 2001, the Westshore area was the home of popular restaurants such as Jimbo’s Pit Bar BQ at 4103 West Kennedy Boulevard, Charley’s Steak House at 4444 West Cypress, and The Rusty Pelican at 2425 North Rocky Point Drive. 

Today, these longtime favorites are joined by a host of new epicurean landmarks catering to full-fledged gastronomes and aspiring gourmets alike that dot the Westshore landscape, offering foodies a range of cuisine spanning the flavors of the globe. 

There are dozens of enticing restaurants, cafes and pubs throughout open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Below we shed the limelight on several eateries that are hits with their patrons. 

World of Beer 
5311 Avion Park Drive
Tampa, Florida 33607

The Tampa-based tavern chain World of Beer opened a sixth location in the Bay Area in October 2016 with its addition of a new restaurant near Tampa International Airport in the Avion Park complex situated in Westshore. World of Beer, which offers a wide variety of beers from around the globe, offers craft beer as well as more widely known brews in a casual setting. 

“We currently have over 50 taps and around 500 bottles,” says Emily Barth, a field Marketing Coordinator for the World of Beer franchise. “Even though we are known for beer, we have a really great food menu,” Barth adds. “Our German pretzels are really popular – they are the size of your face!” 

Barth says that while most World of Beer locations generally share a similar format, each differs from the next, and the Westshore location does have its own unique characteristics.

“World of Beer International has two stories with a flight deck and upstairs mini bar so you can have a drink and watch the planes land at the airport!” she comments. Each World of Beer also has events tailored to that specific location.  “Check the Facebook pages [for each location] to always be in the know because they host some really cool events.” 

Barth remarks that clientele of World of Beer in Westshore is diverse. 

“The typical customer is either getting off work and joining us for Happy Hour or a traveler from the airport on their way to catch a flight. ... Or, just the regular craft beer enthusiast who wants to try something new. If beer isn’t your thing, we have a wide selection of craft cocktails and wine.” 

Grand Scoops 
Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
2900 Bayport Drive
Tampa, Florida 33607
(813) 874-1234

Folks in the Westshore area who have a craving for custard or cones should check out Grand Scoops ice cream shop at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. While the new Westshore ice cream parlor is located at one of the swankiest addresses in Tampa, one need not be staying at the hotel to enjoy a handcrafted scoop of their favorite flavor.      

“We were inspired by a traditional ice cream shop with a focus on creative and fun menu items made with high-quality products made from scratch,” explains Ben Garvey, Director of Operations at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. Grand Scoops, located in the motor court area adjacent to the entrance of the hotel, offers limited seating and easy access to and from the nearby Courtney Campbell Causeway. 

Currently, Grand Scoops offers 12 flavors of ice cream, a sugar-free flavor, a non-dairy sorbet and one seasonal flavor. The diverse array of flavors has plenty of Tampa flair, too.

“Our ice creams and sorbets are made locally by Old Meeting House, which uses high-quality, all-natural ingredients and have been handcrafted in Tampa since 1947,” Garvey says.” We create milkshakes, sundaes, malts, floats, and offer scoops in three different sizes. Our extremely talented in-house bakeshop team makes waffle cones, other confections and sauces from scratch.”

Though Hyatt is known for its premium offerings, buying ice cream at Grand Scoops won’t cost a pretty penny. “Prices range from $2 to $6.50 and we tried to keep our prices low and competitive. We offer periodic discounts and will introduce a punch card soon.” 

While this particular ice cream shop concept might be popular at every Hyatt property, the ice cream shop, which is operated by the hotel, is for the time being at least, something unique to Tampa. 

“Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is the only location [for Grand Scoops] that I am aware of,” Garvey confirms.

La Bamba Spanish Restaurant 
4815 West Laurel Street
Tampa, Florida 33607 
(813) 287-2575

Inside a cavernous bowl of mirror-glassed high-rise office towers and urbane upscale hotels sits a humble, one-story building with a large Latin heart beating inside. 

La Bamba Spanish Restaurant, operated by Proprietor Barbara Alvarez, regularly lures workers from their gleaming office buildings and nearby tourists from tropically landscaped resorts to the 1970s-era wood-frame café. Inside, patrons can order iconic specialties such as café con leche, ham and eggs on Cuban toast, and many other breakfast and lunch items. 

The authentic, inexpensive fare creates regular visitors, captivating locals such as Enrique Woodroffe, who owns and operates Woodroffe Corporation Architects located just two blocks away on West Laurel. 

“I love that place – it’s very convenient to my office,” says Woodroffe, who was born in Lima, Peru, and came to Tampa in the late 1960s by way of Delaware, where his dad worked for DuPont. 

Woodroffe is particularly a fan of the café con leche at La Bamba. 

“It’s strong enough yet doesn’t need any extra sugar to make it sweeter,” he says. “They steam the milk in a cappuccino machine giving it a really nice creaminess.” He’s also a fan of their food. “They make a great bacon and egg sandwich on Cuban bread,” he remarks. “It’s just a great taste.” 

Seasons 52
WestShore Plaza
204 North Westshore Boulevard 
Tampa, Florida 33609
(813) 286-1152

204 N. West Shore Boulevard has been a top address for good eats in Tampa for more than 40 years, since the days when the Steak & Ale restaurant chain operated a popular location there. But as seasons change, so do tastes, and the restaurant that now resides at 204 N. West Shore Boulevard embraces changing palates with its versatile fare and seasonally changing menu. 

Seasons 52 opened in Westshore on in February 2010 and is steadily popular with locals and tourists. 

“Our location has definitely helped make us successful,” says Managing Partner Adam Goldstone. “We’re located in the business district and have a great proximity to the hotels, which makes it easier for people to discover us, and word-of-mouth recommendations help from there,” he says. 

Seasons 52 offers bar and patio seating as well as state-of-the-art flexible private and semi-private dining spaces catering to individuals looking for a quick lunch, couples enjoying a date night, and groups of executives wanting to hold a business meeting. 

“We have a great variety of customers at our location,” Goldstone says. “Many tourists come and stay at the nearby hotels and stop by our location, and the business crowds often come by during lunchtime or for Sunset at Seasons [with Happy Hour-inspired specials] after work.” A variety of offerings appeal to patrons, including local artisanal spirits, a range of craft beer, and a wine list with 52 available by the glass.

What also helps keep bringing people back for more at Seasons 52 is an evolving array of menu options, which Goldstone says are seasonally inspired. “We introduce a new menu each quarter, [so] there’s always something new to discover as ingredients come into their prime throughout the year.”

A few of many more restaurants in Westshore

The number of new restaurants in Westshore continues to grow each year. Here’s a sampling of several newer foodie hangouts in Westshore area:

Thai Prime -- This 2,600-square-foot authentic Thai restaurant at 4142 West Boy Scout Boulevard offers an array of entrees, including duck, seafood, steak, chicken and sushi. The upscale eatery serves up satisfying portions and has a full liquor bar. 

Ducky’s -- The latest incarnation of the sports lounge and restaurant co-owned by Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria recently opened at Tampa International Airport. Ducky’s, which first opened at 1719 West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa, features a range of beers, wines and specialty drinks, and eats that include sandwiches, wraps and fried finger foods. 

Irish 31 Pub & Eatery -- Irish 31 Pub & Eatery was founded by University of South Florida alum Jay Mize, who wore a “31” jersey when he played for the school’s football team. His Irish-themed restaurant located at Westshore Plaza marries the warmth and friendliness of a traditional Irish pub and the culinary sophistication of a chef-driven restaurant. 

Rubio’s Coastal Grill -- Baja and Mexican flavors abound at Rubio’s Coastal Grill, which recently opened its newest location at 1824 N. Westshore Boulevard. Rubio’s Coastal Grill serves up an array of fresh beach-inspired foods and is notable for its fish taco, which is said to have helped introduce Americans to the classic Mexican dish. 

Ker’s Winghouse and Grill -- The first WingHouse was founded in Largo in 1994 by former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos football player Crawford Ker. The local chain’s newest location, which opened a two-story restaurant at 3712 West Columbus in November 2016, serves up spicy wings, hot sandwiches and cold brew in a flirty, sports-oriented setting.

To find additional restaurants in the Westshore Area, check out this list compiled by the Westshore Alliance.

Read more articles by Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a freelance writer who was born and raised in Tampa. He earned his BA in English from the University of South Florida and spent more than three years as a full-time copywriter for a local internet marketing firm before striking out on his own to write for various blogs and periodicals, including TheFunTimesGuide, CoinValue and COINage magazine. He has also authored local history books, including Images of America: Tampa's Carrollwood and Images of Modern America: Tampa Bay Landmarks and Destinations, which are two titles produced by Arcadia Publishing.