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To appreciate Tampa’s current culinary scene, you first have to look to the past. What began as a balmy outpost in the early 1800s grew into a bustling immigrant town by the 20th century and soon earned the nickname “Cigar Capital of the World.” Legend has is that, around this same time, some inspired genius stuffed ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese between a loaf of white bread to serve the city’s cigar factory workers. The modern Cuban sandwich was born.
Tampa could have been content with its chapter in the culinary history books as creator of the best thing ever pressed between sliced bread but, instead, the city’s food (and beer!) scene continued to grow. Today, the gastronomical options are plentiful yet unpretentious—that is, you can grab a great meal just about anywhere without breaking the bank, whether looking for a late-night snack or a quick to-go bite while checking out the best things to do all around town. So, strap on your bibs and leave your hotel room: it’s time to eat at the best restaurants in Tampa.