Florida’s pretty city by the Bay shows off its cool personality these days at plenty of head-turning, tasty hotspots. Buzz-worthy? You bet. Beloved classics as well as razzle-dazzle newbies make a vacay in Tampa Bay deliciously fun. Here are favorites:
A GREAT GOOD NIGHT Unpack your luggage at Epicurean, an Autograph Collection Hotel in Tampa’s Hyde Park District. Hip and handsome, spacious and gracious, this chic boutique property with an eye-catching, heart-calming lobby harbors 137 contemporary guest rooms and suites. Its interior design by The Gettys Group is fashioned in serene earth tones, wine-motif accessories, appealing stonework, reclaimed wood, bead-board paneling, natural texture-rich fabrics, crushed bomber-jacket leathers, butcher-block cabinetry and cowhide rugs. Guest rooms delight with generous rain showers and pantries stashed with top-flight liquors, five half-bottle wine varietals, craft beers, espresso and artisanal snacks. Developed by Mainsail Lodging & Development and the Laxer family, owners of Tampa Bay’s landmark Bern’s Steak House across the street, this hospitality haven celebrates the tasteful life with a devotion to food and wine. Sip and quip with a sommelier in the hotel’s well-balanced, on-site wine shop. Muse with a mixologist about novel cocktails in the lobby bar.
CLASSY RECIPES At the Epicurean Hotel, attend lively cooking demonstrations (bonus: eat the results) at its Culinary Theatre, which spotlights gifted Tampa chefs, such as Michael Buttacavoli of Cena and Beth Lukens of Cloud 9 Confections, who teaches the popular “Cupcakes & Cocktails” (video above) — replete with bartender tips.
NOSTALGIA UPDATED Dine in the Epicurean Hotel’s Élevage restaurant, mastered by award-winning executive chef Chad Johnson. He and his accomplished chef de cuisine Jonathan Atanacio refresh time-honored fine fare with modern imagination: bronzed scallops with maque choux, verjus and Fresno chili pepper; shrimp-and-lemon grits with glossed vegetables, chervil and absinthe; and sorghum-glazed filet mignon accompanied by goat’s milk pommes purée, watercress, hen-of-the-wood mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette. Then scoot to the rooftop for late-night revelry at EDGE Social Drinkery, an al fresco lounge with city views.SPA-LICIOUS Epicurean Hotel’s full-service, elegant Spa Evangeline pampers with fruit scrubs, fresh herb-infused oils, an agave nectar scalp massage and grape-centric treatments, such as the “Lost In Wine Country Body Treatment” (intriguing idea, yes?) — a skin-smoothing crushed cabernet scrub, warm head-to-toe honey drizzle and steamy shower followed by hydrating, buttery-like rub.