Tampa is known for its Cuban/Spanish cuisine.  It also has a variety of other ethnic cuisines including Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese,and Thai to name a few.  Due to its close location near the Gulf of Mexico, it is also known for its fresh seafood.  Florida has a NO SMOKING policy in restaurants, so you will be able to eat smoke free (unless in a bar).  Many Tampa restaurants offer outdoor dining as an option.  In the summer, it may be too hot or humid to enjoy this during the daytime unless there are fans.

Regular national chain restaurants can be found throughout Tampa, especially on Dale Mabry Highway.  Outback Steakhouse started here, afterall!  You can visit the original one on Henderson Boulevard in South Tampa.  This one is open for lunch on weekdays!

The most authentic Cuban/Spanish fare can be found in West Tampa or Ybor City.  The classic Cuban Sandwich, usually genoa salami and ham on Cuban bread (if its French bread it is not authentic!) pressed, with a variety of toppings can be found at almost any sandwich shop in the area.  Grab a deviled crab to go with it and add lots of hot sauce!  Favorite Cuban/Spanish lunch hang outs include Carmine's in Ybor City, La Teresita and Arcos Iris on Columbus Avenue, and Hugo's on Howard Avenue.  All are pretty inexpensive and VERY casual.  For a nicer lunch or dinner, try The Columbia in Ybor City at the end of 7th Avenue.  They have classic Spanish fare and even a Flamenco show at night (may need reservations).

Many of the most popular restaurants are located on Howard Avenue in South Tampa (SOHO) or in the Westshore area (Westshore Plaza or International Plaza at Bay Street).  Although, there are many areas in between.  Most popular non-national chain restaurants are in the general South Tampa area, though.

Breakfast 

Pink Flamingo Cafe, located on Davis Island, serves breakfast and lunch daily (not open for dinner).  There is outdoor seating that is pet friendly.  Daily specials are offered, as well as the regular menu.  A favorite is the crab cake benedict.  Daily Eats , located on Howard Avenue, serves in a diner style atmosphere.  Healthy options available.

Roc 'n' Gia's Cafe, at 4334 S. Manhattan Ave., has just opened its doors for breakfast and lunch daily. Their theme is a Northern Flare with a Southern Drawl. Jay the owner is origionally from Jersey - he wanted to bring a typical Philly / NJ breakfast to Tampa and he has succeeded! This is the only restaurant in S. Tampa which serves Scrapple and Authentic Taylor Pork Roll.  They also have the Best Cheesesteak in Tampa!

Sunday Brunch

Jackson's Bistro, located on Harbour Island, has great views of Downtown and the Bay.  The buffet brunch is huge, so save your appetite.  Offerings include everything from the usual breakfast fare, to seafood, to roast beef.  Outdoor seating available.  This is also a nice spot for lunch or dinner (no buffet).

Oyster Catchers is a special occasion favorite, with dazzling views of the Bay.

Lunch

Wright's Gourmet serves HUGE sandwiches and the like, with argueably the best cake in town (served by the slice or the cake).  It's located on South Dale Mabry and food is ordered at the counter.

Caesar's Pizza (not to be confused with the chain Little Caesar's), located on South Dale Mabry, is a tiny joint that sells NY style pizza by the slice (or by the pie).  It's cheap and has a great Spinach pizza.  Plenty of other lunch hangouts await you along 7th in Ybor, in Channelside, or at/near the major malls (Westshore Plaza and International Plaza).

Dinner

Big NIght Out:

Bern's Steakhouse is world famous for its extensive wine cellar and aged steaks.  Save room for the unique Dessert Room...it is an experience!  Other favorite's include Flemings, Roys, and Capital Grille, all located at or near International Plaza. If you are looking for a non-chain type, besides Bern's check out the SOHO district many fine establishements such as Side Bern's and Mangrove's.  Charley's in the Westshore district serves up VERY fine steaks and seafood also.

Italian:

Mid range favorites include Bella's and Ciccio and Tony's, both located on Howard Avenue.  More upscale options include Armani's and Donatello's.  A nice family option, with huge family size portions, is the chain Maggiano's (located at Westshore Plaza).   Laughing Cat on 15th Street and 8th Avenue in Ybor consistently serves some of the freshest, authentic Italian food Tampa has to offer in a chic little bistro type setting.

Sushi

Soho Sushi is a favorite with the 20s to 30s crowd.  It's tiny, but good.  Samurai Blue is another favorite, located in Ybor City (Centro Ybor). Yoko's on MacDill Aveue in South Tampa ranks up there as one of the top Sushi restaurants in Tampa Bay.

Tapas(Spanish style appetizers for sharing)

Ceviche is a popular spot on Howard Ave.  There is outdoor seating and a separate bar that often has live music.

Mexican

Estella's, located on Davis Island, has authentic Mexican fare (cheap) and outdoor seating.  Miguel's on Kennedy Blvd is another favorite.  Lime, located on popular Howard Avenue, serves Mexican tapas in a fun, hip atmosphere.  Lots of South Tampa singles like to start the night here before heading out for the night. Flat screen TVs surround the dining area, sometimes bringing sports fans.  Algusto's is probably the freshest Mexican in the CIty of Tampa, located on Kennedy Blvd just east of the University of Tampa Campus.

Pizza

Slice of Davis Islands serves some of the best thin crust pizza in the bay area.They are newest kids on the block on Davis Islands, but are building pies the old fashioned way with dough made on-site daily, fresh ingredients. You can even get just a slice if you want it. The food prices are goo, but their beer prices are better. $1 select domestic drafts from 11am to 7pm every day of the week.There's plenty of flatscreens for watching the game, a game room for the kids and plenty of tables outside to enjoy the awesome FL weather.

Seafood

Oystercatcher's on the property of the Hyatt Westshore serves some of the finest seafood in an upscale setting on the Bay.  For additional seafood places on the water check out Rusty Pelican  on the Causeway, Hula Bay in South Tampa, and The Collanade on Bayshore Blvd.  For non-water views but very good seafood, there is  Mangrove's in the SOHO district.  A Tampa Bay staple is BoneFish Grille which got it's start in St. Petersburg, across the Bay.