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The Tampa Date Night Guide: rooftop bars, cheese studios, and dessert rooms

rooftop terrace with skyline views

It’s always the season of love in the city of Tampa. These are the most romantic restaurants in the city to enjoy a lovely night out. If you’re looking for a nice day date, I highly recommend grabbing breakfast at Sucre Table, they make the best breakfast sandwich in Tampa, offer Peruvian purple corn juice, and craft the most beautiful pastries and desserts in the region.

Looking for something outside of restaurants? The Candle Pour is a lovely DIY candle shop that offers fabulous experiences for groups – and they have locations in Hyde Park Village and the Oxford Exchange.


Cheeseology, a make-your-own cheese studio, will officially open in Ybor City this February and classes are now available for reservations.

If you have an adventurous spirit, we highly recommend linking up with Urban Kai, or the underwater walking tour at Florida Aquarium. You can’t miss a chance to enjoy an excursion on these gorgeous retro-designed mini electric boats. Of course, is there anything better than dinner and a movie? There’s something magical about a night at The Tampa Theatre.

For those who love to game, make your way over to VR Galaxy Lounge in Tampa Palms. This wild virtual reality arcade includes 100 simulator experiences, and more than 80 VR games.


a large bar with a canopy fixture at its center
Inside Beacon’s main cocktail area with a beautiful canopy at the center

Beacon Rooftop Bar

510 Water Street

Perched on the JW Marriott’s 27th floor, Beacon is Tampa’s highest (and second highest in Florida) public rooftop cocktail and dining destination, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline and the shimmering waterfront.

“Beacon represents the culmination of our commitment to providing extraordinary experiences for locals and visitors alike,” said Ron McAnaugh, General Manager at JW Marriott Tampa Water Street. “We are excited to unveil this captivating rooftop lounge, where visitors will be able to soak in the energy of Tampa’s buzzing Water Street neighborhood from above.”

Boulon Brasserie

1001 Water Street

A brand new French bistro is now open in Water Street Tampa. Boulon Brasserie is described as a French bistro and will include a restaurant, café and full bar, with a menu highlighted by fresh-caught seafood and modern interpretations of classic French pastries. It’s designed by Montreal-based architecture firm Atelier Zebulon Perron, which was also tapped to design Union New American

inside a restaurant with red velvet seats and white linen tabletops.
Inside the gorgeous Bern’s Steakhouse

Bern’s Steakhouse & Harry Waugh Dessert Room

1208 S Howard Avenue

This one goes without saying, right? Bern’s Steak House, and its subsequent dessert room are two of the biggest legends in the city of Tampa. Enjoy a massive wine selection, and some of the finest steak in the Sunshine State, and definitely save room for the baked Alaska.

Don’t forget, the expected attire is semi formal at this restaurant.

Chanta Restaurant

113 S Hyde Park Avenue

Chanta Restaurant is a dreamy culinary gem in Tampa. The food here is exquisite, but the charming team behind Chanta put a lot of TLC into making sure the experience and aesthetic inside match the power of its menu. The website Cheapism recently listed the coziest restaurants in every state, and Chanta is number one in Florida. Another notch in Tampa’s foodie belt.

Celebrated appetizers include the grilled eggplant spread, deep fried zucchini, and homemade bread with butter.

Something almost totally unique to Chanta is their Romanian stew with polenta. You won’t find this delicious specialty anywhere else in the city. The combination between the pork stew, the polenta (made out of corn), the fried egg and the feta cheese on top is to die for.

a dining room with large windows leading to an outdoor garden. A thanksgiving feast is on the table
Inside Flor Fina at Hotel Haya

Flor Fina

1412 E 7th Ave

The Hotel Haya, designed by Alfonso Architects Incorporated, is now open and is one of the most stunning gems in the entire Tampa Bay region.

The restaurant features a live-fire grill and an ever-evolving rotation of ceviches. Flor Fina is crowned by the warming glow of the bar’s golden-hued ceiling, ample spaces to lounge, and an expansive array of cocktails crafted to inspire long, rum-soaked conversations.


2208 W Morrison Ave

A unique dining concept in the heart of South Tampa, featuring charcuterie, craft cocktails, an extensive wine and whiskey list, and cheese. This is a concept from the culinary team behind Bern’s Steak House. So you’ll enjoy the same exquisite selection of wines, their dreamy dessert list, and a unique menu that includes sensational flash-fried Brussels sprouts, excelsior BBQ oysters, coal grilled octopus, black truffle linguini, and A5 Wagu Strip.


807 West Platt St

Koya is an intimate 8-seat tasting-menu-only experience by Noble Rice.

Koya is already one of the most revelatory restaurants in the city. “Adriana and Eric Fralick keep a watchful eye over the experience at this intimate eight-seat counter, where a multicourse contemporary tasting menu shares a singular interpretation of Japanese cuisine,” write the MICHELIN judges. “The dishes are often unexpected yet always thoughtful. Spectacular seafood is a given: staple luxuries like bluefin tuna and uni are flown in weekly from Kagoshima market, where the team has a personal buyer.”

rendering of a restaurant with greenery all around
Inside Lilac at The Tampa Edition

Lilac at Tampa EDITION

500 Channelside Dr

Lilac, and the entire EDITION development in the heart of the multi-billion dollar Water Street Tampa area, emerged as one of the most anticipated new restaurants in the state of Florida. Chef John Fraser arrived in the city well-backed by a history of culinary excellence. The EDITION brand itself also has a staggering 5-star pedigree across the globe. Lilac officially debuted less than a year ago, but in just a short amount of time, it managed to make a huge impression on not only local diners and tourists, by MICHELIN Guide editors themselves. This is restaurant of was one of three in Tampa to earn a MICHELIN star.

First time visitors will assuredly be enchanted by Lilac’s Champagne Cart. The table side service is one of the standout elements of an evening here. “Our Champagne Cart features four different types of sparkling wine,” said Racine, “and four different flutes that are paired to each bottle.”

You can enjoy these on their own, or enjoy a “champagne cocktail prepared tableside,” added Racine. “It’s a great tie to the exceptional culinary aspect of Lilac.” The Beverage Director noted that their Espresso Martini is one of the most popular cocktails available at Lilac, but their Yellow Bell Pepper Cocktail with a sparkling wine from the south of France is the true show stealer.

Meat Market Tampa

1606 W Snow Avenue

The Meat Market is the best steakhouse in South Florida — and now it might be the best brunch spot in all of Tampa. The chic restaurant just debuted a new lunch and brunch menu, brimming with cocktails and mocktails for your sipping pleasure.

The Meat Market’s drink menu features cocktails almost too pretty to drink. The non-alcoholic Magic Lemonade is a dreamy lavender drink with fresh lemon juice, and butterfly pea flower. 

If you want savor the sweet nectar of summer, go with the One in a Melon. The mocktail features watermelon, lime, lavender, mint and seltzer. The Churrasco and Frites, and the Petite Prime Ribeye with sweet potato puree are both choice options for Tampa-area carnivores. 

You have to save room for dessert, because Meat Market serves up super soft Chocolate Chip Cookies with ice cold milk and it’s a pure nostalgia bomb of sweet flavor.

a piece of cake. topped with ice cream on plate
Warm Olive Oil + Polenta Cake: Blackberry basil jam, pistachio butter creme anglaise, olive oil sea salt ice cream

Mis En Place

442 W Kennedy Boulevard

A love of food, drink, and hospitality has been inspiring the Mis En Place since 1986 to bring this city innovative modern cuisine that is rooted in the French.

A recent renovation provides an ultra-contemporary setting for Mis En Place to joyfully serve you. Their wine list seeks to celebrate their food and your special occasion. The Cocktail Program is about the classics made well and our own seasonal inventions.

Olivia Restaurant

3601 West Swann Ave

This restaurant is billed as offering traditional Italian cuisine with a modern flair. Make sure to start with the polenta fries. This starter is dusted with parmesan and served with a special Pomodoro sauce. 

The Coccoli Fritto is also a major crowd-pleaser. It’s a fried bread ball served with super savory prosciutto. There’s also a list of different charcuterie boards available if you want to have your fill before you have your fill. I certainly approve of this.

On Swann

1501 W Swann Avenue

On Swann is lovely, pure and simple. Its open kitchen concept delivers a slew of shareable plates perfect for date night. The pomme frites and marinated olives are light, savory delights. 

Date nights are for getting cheesy, so I highly recommend you indulge in the cheese board that also includes cured meats, country pate, and duck rilette. 

At On Swann, you’re in for arguably one of the best dinners overall in Tampa Bay. Whether you go for the ribeye, scallops, or Portuguese chicken, you’ll be nourished in a way you never thought possible.

inside a chic restaurant space
Photo via Oxford Exchange

Oxford Exchange

420 W Kennedy Boulevard

Beautiful atmosphere, exquisite eats, and just a short stroll from the Tampa Riverwalk, what more do you need? Oxford Exchange is a of course one of the premier brunch spots in the entire state, but its ambience and allure extends beyond the morning meal.

Truth be told, this would be an early date night. The Oxford Exchange closes at 5:30pm. But an early meal gives you opportunity to enjoy a sunset stroll around Downtown Tampa. What’s more romantic than that?

Photo via Rocca


323 W Palm Ave

Rocca offers warm and welcoming hospitality paired with views of the Tampa skyline.

Chef Bryce Bonsack’s handmade pasta-focused menu features Italian fare with regional Florida ingredients as its inspiration. Bonsack graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in New York. After leaving, he decided to open a pasta-focused restaurant using the knowledge he gained working in New York. Chef Bonsack then traveled to Italy to learn the realities of Italian cooking.

assortment of dishes at Rooster and The Till
An assortment of expertly plated dishes at Rooster & The Till

Rooster & The Till

6500 N Florida Ave

Rooster & The Till has served Tampa for 10 years. It offers gourmet cuisine in a laid back atmosphere with a menu that is always changing.

This restaurant began with a celebrated raw bar. While success has made Rooster & The Till one of the top must-visit restaurants in all of Tampa, the team here is still writing out each and every menu by hand, and constantly experimenting with new items.

It’s a modern American concept that gives them ample room to experiment. Rooster serves up small plates that are meant to be shared, which makes for the perfect intimate evening in Seminole Heights.

Rome & Fig

317 N Rome Avenue

“We’re proud to be owner and chef led, infusing more than 20 years of industry knowledge and service into every globally inspired meal,” the Rome & Fig team notes on its website.

Fixtures of the meticulously designed restaurant features coastal chic accents, an intimate view of Rome & Fig’s open-kitchen and a hand-curated vintage community table. At a time when leaving the home is a bite rare, it’s not to know a spot is striving to be something like a home away from home. 

Owners Eric and Kristene Zostant have more than 35 years of culinary experience combined.

Mains include pan-seared duck breast, bone-in ribeye, lumpia, brisket poutine, octopus fritters, and crab fondue. 

The Rusty Pelican

2425 North Rocky Point Drive

The Rusty Pelican has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful venues in the entire Tampa Bay region. Recently, and in preparation for summer, SRC has refreshed the space with soft refurbishments throughout. This includes new carpeting in the main dining room – featuring a blue and white aesthetic that mimics the ocean as well as new flooring throughout the property. 

New lighting sets the mood throughout, including in the private event spaces, which will no doubt be bustling this holiday season. The concept is already taking bookings for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Rusty Pelican features a total of six special event spaces, all displaying bay views. In fact, the combination of the breathtaking views and the polished, professional and dedicated service has garnered Rusty Pelican many accolades, including a “Couples’ Choice” Award from Wedding Wire.  

a rooftop bar at sunrise
Photo via Sal Y Mar

Sal Y Mar

3650 Midtown Drive

Sal Y Mar Rooftop Bar, a stylish new rooftop lounge/bar, sits atop the gorgeous dual-branded Aloft and Element Hotel

While taking in 360-degree views of the Tampa, Westshore, and St. Petersburg skylines, guests at Sal Y Mar can experience a mouth-watering collection of tapas, from Citrus Crab Cakes and Vegetable Bruschetta, to more authentic Spanish treats such as Carne Asada Street Tacos and Pan Seared Scallops with mango puree, plantain crisp, and pico de gallo. 

The menu was created by Executive Chef Stephanie Bisogne and showcases the freshest possible local ingredients in a surprising assortment of salads and entrees, including Filet Mignon, Pan-seared Grouper, Chipotle-charred Chicken and more, along with a small selection of fresh-made desserts to provide a sweet ending to any meal. 

Timpano Hyde Park

Corner of Swann and S. Dakota Avenue

Timpano has been a Tampa staple for nearly 20 years and continues to serve as a community anchor for Hyde Park Village.

Under the culinary leadership of Executive Chef Jason Saldutti and Tavistock Restaurant’s Vice President of Food & Beverage Michael Ferraro, Timpano’s refined and elevated menu will focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and feature a comfortably chic, rustically elegant and authentic Italian dishes like housemade rigatoni with charred tomatoes and Calabrian chilies, as well as pappardelle with crispy king oysters and a white miso black truffle. Seafood and steak options will be prevalent with Waygu beef, whole branzino and the return of guest favorite skillet-roasted mussels.


1810 N Highland Avenue

Ulele, the Tampa Heights gem from Richard Gonzmart and the Columbia Restaurant Group, is one of the most romantic spots to dine at in America, according to Yelp.

Ulele’s stellar pear and beet salad, addictive okra appetizer, irresistible Candied Maple Bacon ice cream with a Corn Flake Crust, and bevy of Florida-inspired entrees are unmatched.

Add to it an on site brewery, an extensive wine list, and ample indoor/outdoor seating, and you’ve crafted the perfect restaurant. It blends sophistication with comfort in a way that can add romance and whimsy to any night out. 

Plus, Ulele is right at the end of the Tampa Riverwalk in The Heights neighborhood, with a Pirate Water Taxi stop right out front. You can’t beat those Hillsborough River views.

Sommelier Hideaway

6072 Van Dyke Road
14351 N Dale Mabry Highway

The new premier wine bar in Lutz officially opened in October 2020. The owners first teased its arrival in the fall of 2019. For the Lutz community, Sommelier Hideaway offers a tranquil escape. The bar features exquisite accoutrement for wine connoisseurs to explore their passion. If you’re new to the wide world of wine, the wine bar can also serve as a fun classroom to refine your palate. 

You’ll find more than 100 different wines on the menu at Sommelier Hideaway. You can enjoy any by the glass or bottle, and you can even take your favorite labels home from their well stocked retail section. The menu itself ranges from approachable to refined. Yes, you will find the best $30 bottles of wine for sale here, or you can take a look at the reserve list where bottles run around $180.

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