Saturday, October 21, 2017

Where to Date Night: Tampa

My favorite piece of marriage advice that I have ever read was this: date your spouse. This is something that the hubs and I continuously do. Once a week we designate one night to call our "date night". It's something we both always look forward to. Though we have our untraditional date nights (think grabbing a bottle of wine, pizza, and catching the sunset on the beach), we also have our go-to restaurants for when we want an evening out to indulge.

And we all know calories don't count on date night. *hair flip*

While there are so many great dinner spots all over the Tampa Bay Area, today on KUWKahla I’m choosing to zero in on Tampa. This city has a plethora of restaurant options, but Ben and I have our faves when it comes to date night. These restaurants are absolutely fail-safe when we're craving a night out with enjoyable eats.

On Swann
On Swann is located in one of Tampa's cutest hot spots: Hyde Park Village. When you walk in to this restaurant, you immediately appreciate the atmosphere. On Swann hosts a casual dining experience that doesn't sacrifice an upscale feel. Their menu is built up with quality local picks and seasonal flavors. Normally whenever I go out to eat, I opt for "can't get just anywhere" options. The trendier something sounds, the better. I have to confess here that all of this changed during one of Ben and I's On Swann date nights. For whatever reason, after perusing the menu I was intent on trying their burger. A burger of all things. I'm not kidding when I say it was worth getting such an ordinary entree, that had such an extraordinary taste to it. On Swann takes what would be considered a plain jane menu item at any restaurant and makes it exceptionally tasty. It's like culinary magic or something.
Visit their website here:

The Butcher: artisan selections of cured meats and accoutrements [via On Swann's menu]
The Burger: dry aged | pimento cheese | bacon | pickled red onion | frisee | b&b aioli [via On Swann's menu]

Bern's Steak House
Bern's is the date night you save for special occasions. It is THAT incredible. We're talking white table cloths, exclusive wines, the whole nine. Ben and I have only been here once, but it was an experience I'll never forget. At the time I was still a pescatarian so I opted for one of their seafood entrees. I'm ready to get back there and actually try one of their steaks (hint, hint Ben). After you're done with dinner definitely take the time to tour their wine cellar. It's also an absolute MUST to end with dessert in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. Yes. An actual room for you to enjoy dessert in. Is it classy or is. it. classy?
Visit their website here:

Seasons 52
For a while, Seasons 52 seemed like a default date night for Ben and I (then we forced ourselves to realize that other places existed in Tampa). It's dimly lit and sets the tone for a nice, sultry evening. Their menu is seasonal (hence the restaurant name), so you get a different menu in the spring than you would in the fall. I love this detail. Because of this, the Seasons 52 menu always keeps me interested. Anything with ahi tuna at this restaurant is a win (especially the maui tuna crunch salad!). Don’t skip the dessert mini shooters at the end of your meal either. Your waiter will bring the full mini shooters display out to your table. It's hard to pick just one, so don't. Pick a few to share, because they're all just so darn delectable.
Visit their website here:

Wood-Grilled Handline Tuna: black rice, kohlrabi slaw, sesame-peanut vinaigrette [via Seasons 52's menu]

Armani's is located on the 14th floor of the Grand Hyatt in Tampa. The restaurant comes equipped with beautiful views of the bay through their floor to ceiling windows. I like to think of Armani's as the kind of place where you order a nice drink with dinner. You know the kind I'm talking about. Their menu has a tasty focus on Italian fare. After dinner, Ben and I like to walk out to their rooftop terrace, order a couple of drinks, and watch as airplanes land into Tampa International Airport.
Visit their website here:

If there's a restaurant that I see all the time on my Instagram feed, it's Bartaco. People love this spot and for good reason too. Bartaco is another Hyde Park Village favorite. Their selection of tacos is abundant and every so often they have a new "secret taco". Want to know what the secret is? Make sure you're following on their socials for the reveals. The atmosphere at Bartaco is pretty casual so you can relaxingly enjoy the evening with your boo throwing back drinks, sharing laughs over guac, salsa, and tacos AKA living the dream. I'm a huge fan of their falafel, pork pastor, and duck tacos. Top 'em off with the jalapeno salsa and I'm a happy gal. If you're a margarita fan, then make sure you try their jalapeno watermelon margarita. Thank me later.
Visit their website here:

Pork Pastor, Falafel & Duck tacos
The Melting Pot
The Melting Pot has been a longtime family favorite. My mom, grandma, sister and I would visit all the time for the cheese fondue and chocolate courses when there was one still open in Clearwater. It only makes sense that the tradition would carry-on with my marriage. At The Melting Pot, you cook all of your own food in a fondue pot that's set in the middle of your table. I'm no chef, but lucky for me, at The Melting Pot you don't have to be. It's truly all about the experience at this restaurant (and learning if your spouse knows how to properly cook chicken - spoiler alert: I don't). The fondue setup makes for a fun and interactive date night. The chocolate fondue at the end is the best part.
Visit their website here:

Fun fact: Ben and I almost had our wedding rehearsal dinner here. The industrial feel to Ulele speaks to me on so many levels. It's located near the Hillsborough River and even has its own onsite brewery - Ulele Spring Brewery. The staff is extremely knowledgeable on the menu items. When we went for date night, Ben opted to have steak for dinner. Upon ordering, the waiter gave a background description of where the meat came from, and how the animal was raised. It was incredibly impressive. While the entrees were delightful, I'd have to say my favorite dish served that evening was the Candied Bacon Maple Ice Cream.
Visit their website here:

There ya have it! Some fail-safe spots in Tampa for you and your S/O to enjoy for date night. I'm looking forward to rounding up our favorites in other cities as well - which one do you want to see next (Dunedin? Clearwater? St. Pete?)? Have you tried any of the above restaurants before? What have you ordered? What are some of your favorite date night spots?

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