You don’t need to spend big bucks to experience the fusion of flavors that is Tampa cuisine. In fact, you might even say that Tampa’s no-frills family restaurants offer the most deliciously unexpected surprises.
Cheap Eats in Tampa
Pamper your taste buds and your wallet at the best cheap restaurants in Tampa.
Come here for Cuban food exactly as it should be: informal, delicious, and cheap. Join Cuban immigrants and Cuban-Americans in their fervent faithfulness to La Teresita, which you will experience as soon as you try the platano relleno or perfect churrasco. Come back again for camarones al ajillo and don’t leave without a taste of the arroz con leche. For a quick bite, a never-failing Cuban sandwich will hit the spot.
This Mexican food truck has taken over the Tampa Bay area with multiple trucks popping up in different neighborhoods. The owners know there’s nothing better than succulent tacos for an after party meal, so they open 24 hours on weekends. What’s best, the menu includes vegetarian and vegan options, and brings delicious taste for a small price.
Vietnamese food is famous around the world for its great prices, filling portions, and delectable flavors—all of which Saigon Deli brings to its customers. With its cafeteria style interior and authentic cuisine, you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of Hanoi. Try the banh mi’s or the ever-popular phos.
Whoever said you need to have money to eat healthy clearly didn’t know about Fresh Kitchen. One of the best cheap eats in Tampa, it prides itself on having “food made with a purpose,” that is pocket-friendly, and tastes amazing. All of their meats are hormone and antibiotic free, they are 100% gluten free, and most of their meals are sugar and dairy free. Basically, this is heaven for Whole30 fans.
Samaria Cafe is like the grandma that lets you eat pancakes for dinner. With all-day breakfast, this family-owned restaurant never shames you for wanting to repeat the best meal of the day. The eggs benedict are absolute must-tries, but don’t shy away from the Greek options like the gyros either.
Wat Mongkolratanaram Thai Temple
Temple food has finally arrived to Tampa and locals are loving it. Every week, this beautiful Thai Temple runs the Sunday Market from 8:30am to 1:00pm. Food is made by temple volunteers and boasts authentic Thai flavors and vegetarian-friendly options.
Mel’s Hot Dogs
The most beloved hot dogs in Tampa have quite an origin story: The restaurant was conceived when a Chicago native touring Florida with his Rock n’ Roll band led a frustrated search for hot dogs. Seizing the opportunity, Mel opened a hot dog place right next to Busch Gardens, much to the delight of everyone who doesn’t want to pay overpriced amusement park prices for food. Using Vienna beef and offering sandwiches, burgers, and sides as well as their staple food, this is one of the best cheap eats in Tampa.
This is your good ol’ burger joint where what matters is the food and not the décor (it’s located in a Holiday Inn). People love Burger Theory for its juicy burgers, flavorful ribeye, and stellar fish tacos. They also love to come get a drink and catch a game on one of the restaurant’s several flat-screen TVs.
The best Southern BBQ joint in Tampa, Konan’s BBQ never disappoints. The food is as authentic as can get, the meat is juicy and tender, and the staff welcomes you with homely warmth. Ribs are the thing to get, and try the mac n’ cheese, the coleslaw, and the sweet potato pie.
Brocato’s Sandwich Shop
Opened in 1948, Brocato’s is a city staple and one of the best cheap eats in Tampa. Coming here to eat is almost an act of appreciating the local culture and history. Known for the quality and freshness of its ingredients, this family-owned restaurant boasts some of the best sandwiches in the Tampa Bay Area. Don’t leave without trying the famous deviled crabs.
– Original reporting by Mariana Zapata