Tampa is on par with places like Miami and New York when it comes to fine dining. Seeing as how the amount of restaurants can be overwhelming to newcomers, I have decided to make this list as a tool for anybody who still needs help finding a good meal. I will be using three key aspects that I believe are the MOST important when staying competitive in the restaurant industry. First of all, you have to take the service into account. How can you judge the food if you can’t get any? Next up, the quality of the food. I’m not going to eat at a restaurant if I don’t like their food. What would be the point. Finally, you have to look at how clean the restaurant is. You’d be surprised at what health inspectors can manage to miss, and they’re just regular people like us too.
Chop Chop Shop ranks among the highest, if you’re looking for an overall amazing restaurant. Not like I’d offer you guys a bad restaurant, anyways. Just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it? This one’s located just west of Old Seminole Heights, in Tampa. This restaurant is not only a hazard to my wallet, but to my waistline as well. And I was doing so good this year. Chop Chop Shop really earns their name, because the food came before I could even find a negative review. I looked later, and there actually aren’t any. Fun fact. Only positive reviews here.
I took my dinner to go the first time I went, because I was meeting a friend by the Hillsborough River. It’s a great view if you’re looking for somewhere other than a restaurant to sit while you eat. Now, for the three aspects. The first one I already mentioned, which was service. Friendly waiters always make me happy. Anyone who can appear to be happy and make others happy even when they aren’t deserves a nice tip.
The second aspect is probably the most important, which is the quality of the food. Why would you go to a restaurant if the food tastes bad? That entirely defeats the purpose of going out to eat at a restaurant to begin with. Finally, the third aspect is cleanliness. It’s an old habit, but I always check the public records for health inspections before I even enter a restaurant. Restaurants aren’t always as clean as they appear to be. Chop Chop Shop is, however.
The next best restaurant is Rooster & the Till. Doesn’t flow as well as Chop Chop Shop, but the food is just as great. My favorite dish by far is the short rib gnocchi, which I order every time. No joke. I don’t even know where else you can order it, and even if you could it probably wouldn’t taste as good. This time around, you’ll be looking in the same spot. Seminole Heights in Tampa houses a lot of the best food in town, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to most. After chatting a bit with the friendly waitress, I learned that people generally come for the rustic barn feeling of the interior. Rooster & the Till really does get their aesthetic right. You can enter some restaurants and then you look around and you’re just like yuck, my child is a better decorator. Rooster & the Till doesn’t go overboard with their decor, which is much appreciated. Again, time for the three aspects. Food was really good. The variety on the menu was just as great, which is no small feat. Service was equally as impressive. I’m really good at nitpicking, and they still didn’t bother me. There was even an old man who couldn’t hear very well, and the servers didn’t get frustrated or anything. They just helped him understand what was in the dish he wanted to order. Who would have thought you could even order short rib gnocchi from a place that looks like a barn? This restaurant was full of surprises. Another surprise was how they managed to keep the place looking so clean, when the Tampa-based restaurant’s theme was literally a place where animals live. Five out of five stars. I’m not stating my score, I’m just reading all of the good reviews out loud. Keep up the good work.
Yummy House probably has the weirdest name on this list, but their food is not to be taken lightly. The last time I went, I only had to order the salt & pepper calamari. I didn’t have room for an entree, because the food was so good that I simply had to order it a second time. If the waiters were weirdest out, they sure didn’t show it. They just smiled and asked me if I needed anything else, which I really appreciated. Good accommodations can make or break a restaurant. Yummy House is found in West Tampa, along with the other amazing restaurants on this list. There was a large party behind me that appeared to be getting together for a social gathering, and the group was at least 10 strong. From what I could see, they got everything they wanted without any issues. Yummy House must have been named by someone who ate there in the past. Don’t think I forgot to mention the final aspect of a good Tampa restaurant, the sanitation. I couldn’t find anything dirty in sight. Because I was looking specifically for something dirty, I asked if I could take a peek at the kitchen. Surprised, the waiter asked the owner, who agreed. A good restaurant should have nothing to hide anyways. When I looked inside, everything was as clean as the rest of the restaurant. One trick that I had up my sleeve was that I know what a dirty exhaust hood looks like. I thought I could trip up the chefs by spotting something that most people don’t ordinarily notice, but that was clean as well! Those are tough to clean, too! Either Yummy House pays for service from the best hood cleaning business in Tampa, or I forgot to wear my glasses that day. Both of those are equally viable options.