Most every Sunday rain or shine, the people of Tampa are gifted one of the best brunches around. From 8:30am to 1pm, the Wat Mongkolratanaram, a Buddhist Temple overlooking the Palm River, serves up some of the most delicious Thai food around.
One of Tampa’s sacred culinary spots
In a large, porched-structure, visitors can find bountiful plates of red curry, green curry, and Panang curry along with other spicy specialties for just a few dollars – be advised, it is cash only.
Egg rolls, fried bananas, and fried sweet potatoes are some of the other favorites. “Guiteow,” beef or pork noodle soup, and “Som Dom,” Thai papaya salad, are two other items that visitors go crazy for.
Desserts are also a delight especially the Sang Ka Ya and the banana cake, Khanom Kluay. Then, you can wash it all down with a Thai tea or coffee.
But, one of the best parts about this classic Tampa brunch – cooked by temple volunteers – is eating at the red communal picnic tables with your fellow Floridians and staring into the peaceful river waters. The scene is truly beautiful and only heightened by the grounds dotted with pots of flowers and overhanging with Spanish moss.
A little about the Temple
Of course, don’t forget the temple itself. Finished in 2007, with a tiered triangular golden roof, the temple is sponsored by the Thai monarchy and traditionally ornamented with statues of Buddha and other sacred images.
Not to mention, children and adults love the coiling green dragons in front of the temple.
The Sunday mediation service at the Temple is performed in Pali, the sacred language of Theravadan Buddhism. If you are interested in going inside, please be advised visitors will be asked to remove their shoes. In addition, shorts and short-sleeve shirts are frowned upon – a full etiquette guide can be perused here.
Wat Mongkolratanaram is located at 5306 Palm River Road, Tampa. The food market is open 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. every Sunday and is cash-only.