Recently my boyfriend and I went to Tampa on a quick staycation getaway that was much-needed in our busy & hectic lives! I have to tell you guys, getting away for 2-3 days even if it’s to a city close you, is such a great stress reliever. Raf and I have been SO busy lately! With me still settling into my new job and him getting ready to get back into the season at his job, we’ve barely had a second to breathe. This trip was kind of a spontaneous vacation because I was browsing hotels in Florida over the weekend and I found the AMAZING Hilton Tampa Downtown Hotel. The whole experience at this hotel was absolutely amazing, & even though I hate to admit it – it really takes a lot to impress us when traveling!
Raf and I have never actually spent a vacation in Tampa so we were both really excited to see how the town had grown in the past few years. Our first spot was OF COURSE, the famous Oxford Exchange. This huge shop, restaurant, tea & coffee bar, and eyeglass shop (so strange!) was breathtaking. I looked up reviews prior to our trip because I knew how busy it is and I made reservations for an early lunch right when we got into the city. We got there early and we stayed walking around and admiring the building for over an hour!
Now on to the food at the Oxford Exchange restaurant….I honestly could not believe how good it was. Rafael got the OE Cuban – house roasted pork, ham, soppressata, Swiss cheese, pickles, Durkee’s sauce, toasted Cuban bread. (Cubans are his fav so he had to try it there) and I got the Grilled Chicken Paillard arugula, truffle vinaigrette, shaved parmesan, crispy fries. I got half regular shoe string fries and half sweet potato fries. The chicken was so thin and tender and the vinaigrette was so tasty, I could not recommend it more! The boyfriend also was very impressed with his Cuban. See below and try not to drool…
Now, our main reason for going to Tampa was to go to the famous Bern’s Steakhouse. Raf had of course been before but it was my first time and I was so excited to see what all the hype was about! Now being honest, we did hit happy hour a little too hard before but that did not take away from how lucky I felt to experience a night at Bern’s. Guys, they have like 9(?) different dining rooms!! AND a separate dessert room! The staff at the restaurant did a truly amazing job at making us feel like royalty and it was so interesting to see how a restaurant at that caliber operates. As everyone says, the wine is what makes this restaurant. They do such a great thing of saving the labels of the wines they serve you so that you can take them home and I am so thankful for that so I can have a piece of that night forever!
Another part of Tampa that we truly fell in love with are the Craft Cocktail Bar scene. We stopped at a lot of different bars in those couple of days but two definitely impressed us (for different reasons). One of them, Ciro’s is a speakeasy bar that requires a password to be granted entry. This place was amazing! The bartenders, the drinks, and the food exceeded all of our expectations. We ordered a couple of different drinks and you could really tell how detailed the bartender was when creating the drinks and topping them with individual pieces of decor. One of my FAVORITE things are watching a bartender make his magic before my eyes! We also ordered a caprese salad, truffle fries, a duck burger, and duck wings. These all were so amazing! But my favorite part was the bar itself, look at this!
It was truly amazing to look at and the tiny dining room behind us was also a sight to see, I HIGHLY recommend making this stop if you make your way over to Tampa. It’s also in an old apartment building, I think? So cool guys!
Another one of our favorites was CW’s Gin Joint. Now THIS made me speechless. What we saw when we walked into the bar was the last thing we were expecting. This place is HUGE and has a broadway-esque entrance and a old-school jazz-type lounge feeling on the inside.
They also have a dessert cart that they bring to you each dessert they have if you show interest in ordering a treat at the end of the night. I honestly don’t even know exactly which dessert I ordered but look how gorgeous! Yes, it’s a dessert and not a drink!
There was honestly so much more that we squeezed into these couple of days in Tampa but I encourage all of you to plan a weekend getaway over to Tampa, FL! You will NOT regret it and I would love to give you any recommendations or any more tips you need to make your vacation the best, like ours was! Thanks for reading, till next time!