What comes to mind when you think of Ybor City?
Cuban food, night clubs, live chickens roaming the streets…
These are all good things, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of what this community has to offer. As part of an agency that’s smack in the middle of Centro Ybor, I experience what this fun corner of Tampa has to offer on a daily basis. Since it’s not fair to keep it all to myself, I thought I’d share some CR favorites with you. But don’t tell anyone else (she said to the internet).
I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs illustrating my love for Ybor’s food scene. While the Cuban cuisine is what we’re known for, there is much more to try. Due Amici pizza is full of the kindest energetic Italians who definitely know what they’re doing. Sunday’s Deli is a little known hole-in-the-wall where you can order sandwiches literally too big for your mouth. Al’s Finger Licking Good BBQ is so delicious that it’s worth smelling like BBQ smoke for the rest of the day. Tip: Al’s only serves its famous homemade mac n’ cheese on Fridays. Plan accordingly.
I’ll start with the Ybor chickens because in a way, they are Ybor’s little mascots. These chickens are actually direct descendants of the ones that lived in the backyards of the earliest Ybor residents. That’s over 100 years ago. You’d think by now they would have learned not to dart into the street. Another beloved connection to Ybor’s Cuban roots is the hand-rolled cigar shops. If you’re smart, you’ll pop into one to grab a café con leche and pandebono – I do it daily. Even the weekends in Ybor are packed with events that celebrate the city and the people within it. I’m talking about the Ybor Saturday Market, with fun vendors like Hogan Made who sell the best Ybor-centric merch. We also proudly celebrate the Tampa Pride Parade and, of course, food festivals. So many food festivals.
If you’re thinking: could food and drink have been one category? The answer is no. And do not talk back to me. The bar scene in Ybor is extensive and growing daily. Last summer we were graced with the opening of Rock Brothers Brewing. Their drink menu goes from simple and delicious to crazy mad scientist real quick. Zydeco Brew Werks is the newest bar on the scene complete with New Orleans Cajun vibes. Even now, we are awaiting the summer opening of The Bowery. In the daytime, our grind is fueled by coffee. While there are a lot of great local brews in Ybor, Blind Tiger tops the list. That is no small compliment, we like coffee. A lot.
I’d love to tell you everything about Ybor City but the internet does not have that kind of attention span. Instead, I urge you to come explore. Find your own favorite spots or you’re welcome to try out some of mine. And while you’re here, stop by the agency and say hello.