Conan! What is good in... Tampa?
September 3, 2015 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Hey fabulous helpful denizens of mefi! I have work-related travel coming up for Tampa & St. Petersburg, Florida. I am a special snowflake of a traveler, as seen by my ask history.

Here's what I'm looking for...

Food: vegetarian, no gluten, no soy. I particularly like Indian and Mexican, but am very open-minded.

Tea: hot, boba, iced, just not the kind of place that boils green tea.

Other: museums, weird bookstores, yarn shops, comic shops, places where zinesters hang out. I have been to the DalĂ­ and loved it but haven't had much chance to check out anything else.
posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation around Tampa, FL (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Cuban food. Oh my god, the Cuban food. I have no idea if any of it meets your veggie/gluten/soy requirements. My favorites were La Teresita and Colombia.

No input on the rest really, but there are a surprising number of microbreweries around, if you're into that. Cigar City was among the better ones.
posted by Dilligas at 8:49 PM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

This bookstore in St. Pete is great.
posted by katie at 2:09 AM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

You want to go to Taco Bus for super-amazing and mostly-authentic Mexican food. When I lived in Tampa, I went every other day. They have a lot of vegetarian options, and as I understand, a few locations (it was just one when I was a local).

Do you like vintage shopping/stores? Squaresville in Tampa is one of my favorite in the entire country.
posted by ElectricGoat at 4:08 AM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Emerald City Comics is a great warehouse style shop that is particularly good if you like toys and collectables.

Heroes Haven Is another good one, and if you like meeting artists one of the employees is Jaime Jones.

The Refinery in Tampa is run by a three time James Beard nominee, and the food is amazing. The menu changes every week, but they usually have Vegan and Gluten Free options. Just check the site before you go. Great selection of craft beers as well.

Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant in Pinellas Park offers a whole menu of excellent vegetarian dishes, but I cannot speak to soy or gluten content there. The waitress when I went also insisted that all the dishes were actually vegan. Meze 119 is another vegan/vegetarian restaurant in downtown St. Pete with a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern flair.

I am not the biggest fan of the Taco Bus any more. I used to practically live at the place, but as they have added locations over the last few years I have noticed that the quality has dropped considerably. They do have great vegan options, but I find the food at Red Mesa Mercado to be much better.

Daddy Kool Records in St. Pete is a great place to pick up vinyl.

The Tampa Theater is a historic movie theater in Tampa that has gorgeous architecture and history (first air conditioned building in Tampa!) They run a great series of "classic" movies there on Sunday. Saw Airplane! there a few months ago.

I will probably think of more but have been composing this on my phone and that is a pain. Hope this helps!
posted by Crocosaurus at 7:14 AM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've been to Haslam's bookstore - it is big and full of all kinds of used books. But you would need a vehicle. Will you have a rental car while you are there? That is a big barrier for cool stuff outside of Tampa proper. I'll ask my mom as she has lived in the area for a long time and they enjoy finding the unique places.

If you have a car (and a bit of time), Tarpon Springs is a huge enclave of Greek folks. Yummy Greek food, but not certain how well that agrees with vegetarian...

Ybor Art Colony in Tampa looks like it might be of interest to you!
posted by jillithd at 7:25 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Consciousness Blossoms in Palm Harbor is vegetarian and vegan, has their menu online and they say right away that if you have food allergies to let the server know.
posted by jillithd at 7:44 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not a museum, but I like a lot of the same sorts of places you do, so maybe you'll like the Big Cat Rescue. It's a fun way to spend an afternoon if the weather is ok for being outdoors for a couple hours. It will make you hate people (a lot of the cats there have come from horrible situations), but it was definitely the highlight of my last work trip to Tampa!
posted by snaw at 7:44 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mom recommends:
I have been here: Taste of Punjab and it was really yummy, but it is in Largo, just across the interstate bridge from Tampa proper.

I have not been here: Ha Long Bay Dim Sum, Chinese & Vietnamese Cuisine, but Mom likes the Boba tea there. I'm not sure on how food allergy friendly they would be there.
posted by jillithd at 8:31 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

You are all wonderful, thank you so much!
posted by bile and syntax at 12:51 PM on September 6, 2015

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