The 6 Best Healthy Lunch Options in Tampa

Tampa is a summertime city. That means more time spent outdoors wearing less clothing. For you to look and feel your best, you need to eat healthy. Whether you are rocking a bathing suit on a stand up paddleboard, jogging down Bayshore Boulevard or just relaxing somewhere in a hammock, the energy you expend from nutritious, clean eating will leave you feeling better than anything fried of covered in cheese will. And even if looking great in a bathing suit isn’t your top priority, eating healthy in the middle of the day can propel your day forward like nothing else can. Skip the fries, and you will be amazing to find you don’t need an afternoon nap!

No matter what your goals are, knowing the best places to score something healthy for lunch is a good thing. Below are three great places to grab a healthy lunch.

 

Ciccio Water

This South Howard restaurant is owned by the Ciccio Restaurant Group, just like many of its neighbors – but unlike the fast-casual scene at Fresh Kitchen or the party scene at Green Lemon, Ciccio Water has more of a relaxed, trendy vibe. It is a sit-down restaurant with take-out options, and the menu features everything from sushi to power food bowls they call “California Bowls” to brick oven pizza. This is a great place to bring a work meeting since the menu is light, diverse, and affordable. They have dairy free, gluten free, and vegetarian options all clearly identified on the menu.

Suggested Order: Water Guacamole with vegetables instead of chips, and the Thai Bowl with Sticky Rice.

 

The Bricks

All the way down at the far end of 7th Ave in Ybor City sits The Bricks. Bar/Restaurant, but mostly restaurant, this place has a simple, but unique and elevated menu that is both tasty and healthy. The Bricks was inspired by Skatepark Tampa, and you can definitely sense some laid back skater culture when you walk in. According to their site, they “serve creative recipes, locally roasted coffee, classic cocktails and a lot of everything for all to enjoy. It’s delivered with a bit of edginess, class, love, but most of all, an experience you won’t find anywhere else.” (source). Everything on the menu will look familiar but will seem totally new on the plate. This is a fantastic place to meet with friends, co-workers, or to just unwind at alone at the bar. Everyone is welcoming and the food is fantastic.

Suggested Order: Hummus (trust, it’s great), Veggie Cuban (a healthier take on this classic, meaty sandwich).

 

Graze 1910 at Armature Works

Armature Works is a fantastic market in Tampa Heights that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere. The building it is housed in was once a maintenance facility for Tampa Electric’s (TECO) streetcars. It is enormous, and is filled with dozens of food and drink vendors. Graze 1910 is a food vendor in the Heights Public Market Hall and encourages its patrons to “Enjoy downtown Tampa skyline views on the Hillsborough River and Graze with us.” (source). You can order to-go and fight for some seating in the main hall, or just sit right at the Graze counter and enjoy waiter service. Whichever you choose to do, the gourmet/healthy vibe of Graze’s menu items will leave an impression as large as the TECO Streetcar Warehouse itself. So grab some complimentary sparkling water from one of the water vending machines located around the market, and place your order!

Suggested Order: 1910 Slaw and the Blackened Ahi Tuna Salad

 

Old Heights Bistro

This place is super unique, in that it offers pretty standard café favorites alongside a full sushi menu! Located centrally on Nebraska Ave in Seminole Heights, this menu has something for everyone. Whether you are a fan of classic salads, sandwiches, or sashimi and nigiri, there is something here for you! It is described by Google as a “small bright bistro with counter service” – making it an easy, no-nonsense place to grab a quick, healthy lunch. It maintains an incredible Google star rating, which should really be all you need to check the place out.

Suggested Order: The Heights Roll and a Beet Salad

 

Dio Modern Mediterranean (formerly known as Paninioteca)

If you find yourself downtown and in need of a healthy lunch, look no further than the unpretentious, but delicious, Dio Modern Mediterranean. This simple café is defined by its fantastic outdoor seating on the corner of Twiggs and Franklin in downtown Tampa. Grab a seat under a large and leafy tree and watch the foot traffic wander by. Downtown has never felt so charming. The menu offers Mediterranean starters, salads, and sandwiches, which are easy to build a healthy and filling lunch out of! So grab a seat, and grab a bite at this fantastically plain downtown café.

Suggested Order: Prosciutto and Fruit with Smoked Turkey Panini

 

Fresh Kitchen

This insanely popular, fast-casual bowl-slinger is an obvious choice for this list, but that doesn’t make it any less deserving. This counter-service healthy restaurant opened up recently by the Ciccio Restaurant Group took South Tampa by storm, turning a quiet corner on South Howard Ave into a permanent traffic jam. The chain has since expanded to a few other locations, so you should not feel the need to limit yourself to the original location. The menu is simple. To order you simply choose a base for your bowl, some vegetables, some protein, some sauce, and a smattering of optional toppings. Food is prepared fresh every day and is made with the health-conscious in mind. In fact, this is what they say about themselves on their website: “We believe in serving fresh, high-quality ingredients that NOURISH and energize your body. WHAT WE EAT SHAPES OUR HEALTH, affects our appearance and determines our disposition. BE HAPPY, EAT FK. Our food is made from scratch and fresh-to-order. FROM OUR GRILL TO YOUR BOWL, AS FAST AS YOU CAN POINT. Our PRESSED JUICES, TEAS, JUICE FRESCAS are prepared in-house daily. Just like our taste buds, our RECIPES CHANGE WITH THE SEASONS.”

Suggested Order: A 4 bowl made of brown rice, kale salad, parmesan broccoli and almond crusted chicken with the creamy white ginger sauce.

One Day in Downtown St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, FL. Head South on 275 for 20 to 60 minutes (depending on traffic), and you are there. As Tampa’s sister-city, they it has a more relaxed, yet similar vibe to the Big Guava. In fact, according to the city website, their vision is to “be a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play. We will be an innovative, creative and competitive community that honors our past while pursuing our future.” (soure).

When most Tampa-dwellers think of St. Petersburg, they think of St. Pete Beach – a small strip of land jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico, St. Pete Beach offers white sand as soft as flour, perpetually warm water, and calm, relaxing surf…but enough about the beach. What about the city?

Downtown St. Petersburg has a ton to offer. If you are interested in venturing south, you should definitely have a plan for how to spend your day. Below is a suggested Saturday schedule. It’s time to brave the Howard Franklin Bridge – time to explore St. Pete!

 

Early Morning: Take in a Yoga Class at The Body Electric

The Body Electric is a fantastic, inclusive yoga studio hiding in a residential neighborhood in St. Pete. The studio itself used to be an ice factory, “which you can see in the thick brick walls, and the remnants of the cork insulation lining the walls of the studio.” (source). There are three large practice rooms, a yoga store, private showers, lockers, and even a lounge area. The teachers are diverse an eclectic, with the intro on their teacher’s page stating that “We subscribe to no dogma, and we are not the jealous types: yoga is vast, and a lifelong learning experience. We’re here to share with you everything we know and love about yoga!” (source).

If you are so inclined, this would be a magical way to start out a day trip to St. Petersburg. So climb into your car early, bring a change of clothes, and register for the 8:30 am Hot Hatha. The room will be heated to 95-100 degrees, and you will explore a variety of standing, balancing, floor, and inversion postures in this all-levels class. Get ready to get in a good sweat before taking advantage of The Body Electric’s showers.

 

Morning: Hit St Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market

This market, which takes place every Saturday in Williams Park (right next to the Rowdie’s Stadium). Take some time to peruse dozens of fantastic vendors, and pick up some breakfast or coffee at one of the food stands while you are at it! The mission of the market is to “be the ‘heart’ of St. Petersburg — the place, more than anywhere else, that people feel a strong sense of joyful connectedness and creative community. While actual farmers, great food, interesting crafts, and live music are all wonderful elements of the market, this spirit of community is what really defines the market experience. Many customers have shared that they think that the market is the most significant improvement to the quality of life in St Petersburg.” (source).

You can take care of your grocery shopping for the week at their fantastically fresh farm stands, or just enjoy the ambiance as you shop around the art stalls and nab some samples from the food vendors.

 

Lunch: The Mill Restaurant

This classic American lunch menu offers elevated favorites. Whether you are craving a BLT, a “Southern Belle” salad, or something unique and summery like sweet pea hummus, the Mill Restaurant has got you covered. It has won several noteworthy awards, but all you really need to understand its greatness is a glowing customer review. One reviewer offers an insight into his experience at The Mill with this glowing recommendation: “I came here SUPER spontaneously while on a trip to Central Florida… I had some time to drive and the yelp reviews were practically unanimous! If you were visiting St. Petersburg and only had time for one meal, you can’t do much better than The Mill.” (source).

Recommended Order: Pimento Crab Corn Fritters and a BLT.

 

Afternoon: The Dalí Museum

Central Florida isn’t exactly known as an artistic mecca, but the Dalí Museum in downtown St. Pete is the exception that proves the rule. This stunning piece of architecture contains dozens of Dalí’s priceless work, collected by his friends and avid fans, The Morse Family. In the 1970s the couple donated their entire collection, and in 1982 it was moved to St. Petersburg. Now it is housed in a world-class museum that offers artistic revelations and beautiful history and celebration of Dalí’s life. Whether are not you are a fan of surrealism, there is no denying Dalí’s impact. Spending an afternoon in this gorgeous space will revitalize your appreciation for the arts. Make sure to ask the employees about their favorite pieces, they are quite knowledgeable and do not skip the free audio tour.

The Dalí Museum is also known for bringing in fantastic exhibits, which offer context for Dalí’s artistic influence. Whether it is a Disney Exhibit which chronicles the history of Salvador’s partnership with Walt himself (including an only recently released surrealist cartoon), or Dalí’s fascination and emulation of Leonardo Da Vinci, you are bound to learn more than you could have ever expected.

Don’t miss tying your visitor bracelet to the Wish Tree in the Avant-Garden as you exit the museum!

 

Evening: Take in the Sunset at Vinoy Park

Vinoy Park is a waterfront park that tragically lines the Bay and not the Gulf. Therefore, you will not be able to watch the sunset over the water, but you will be able to enjoy the softening, pink light of sunset bouncing off of the gorgeous trees and the nearby marinas. Vinoy Park is an excellent place for a walk, or as a home base for tying up a hammock. So take in the waterfront view and enjoy!

 

Dinner: Ceviche Tapas Bar

There may be a Ceviche in South Tampa, but the St. Petersburg location is absolutely worth the visit. It is located in a historic building in the middle of a bustling downtown, a far cry from the suburban feel of the South Tampa location, which is actually set to shut down. The floor to ceiling window, wrap around porch, and overall Catalan vibe is sure to charm you. What better way to end your day then over some shared tapas and a jarra of Sangía? Let the evening linger on in this stunning location. After all, it’s Saturday, you don’t have anywhere to be tomorrow!

 

Recommended Order: Grande Pitcher of Red Sangria, Tabla de Quesos, Gazpacho Andaluz, and Gambas Al Ajillo.

The 3 Best Tampa Bay Brew Tours

The craft brewery scene is Tampa is growing like a wildfire. Breweries are cropping up all over the bay, and local beer can be found in almost any bar. Beer aficionado or no, there is something for everyone in the Tampa brew scene, and what better way to discover your favorite adult beverages than with a brew tour?

Brew tours come in all shapes and sizes. You can tour an individual brewery, hop on a bus that takes you around town, or even head to the water for a brews cruise!

Below are the three best Brew Tours in Tampa. Get ready to try out some seriously fantastic local beer.

 

Cigar City Brewing Brewery Tour

Cigar City Brewing is what most people think of when they think Tampa Beer. It is by far the most pervasive and can be found on bar menus an in liquor stores across the country. In The American Craft Beer Cookbook, John Hall had the following to say: 

“In a state known for theme parks, Cigar City Brewing has become a major attraction for those who appreciate and seek out excellent beer. It opened with a flourish and spread its reach quickly, appealing to both hardened beer geeks and brew novices with eyebrow-raising flavors and commitment to quality. Capitalizing on the Latin culture and tobacco-manufacturing history of Tampa Bay, Cigar City highlights those strengths on its labels and in its beer names and recipes. Many of the beers it produces – Jai Alai IPA, Improv Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale, Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale – reflect the sensibilities and ingredients of Florida.” (source) 

Cigar City (it is even named after Tampa itself!) does, in fact, have a variety of central-Florida inspired flavors, including beers named after infamous Florida Crackers and the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Despite the names, this beer is anything but gimmicky. The ingredients are fresh, the flavors pronounced, and the overall quality is truly something to behold. The brewery staff will even educate you on Florida brewing history, starting with this fantastic webpage. If you are interested in unique, well-crafted beverages, then this is a tour you absolutely should not miss.

Brew tours are held Wednesday-Sunday at a variety of times. $8 buys you a 35-45 minute window into the Cigar City operation, and the price of admission also includes a collectible tasting glass, beer sampling along the tour, and a history lesson to boot.

Do not miss this tour.

 

Coppertail Brewing Co.

Coppertail Brewing Co., located in the historic Ybor neighborhood, lives by the motto of “Florida Inspired. Tampa Brewed.” Their impressive brewery and tasting room is trendy and inviting, much like their name! According to the brewery, this is how the magnificent Coppertail came to be:

“Coppertail is a sea monster that lives in Tampa Bay. We know this because our owner and founder’s 5-year old daughter (at the time) told us about it. Coppertail is dreaming of the impossible. Kind of like the craft brewing industry going up against the giant mega-brewers. Or like a home-brewer putting everything on the line to start a brewery.” (source).

Coppertail is home to a 20-tap,full-servicee bar, and it always hosting community events. Add to that the menu from their fabulous kitchen, and you have no excuse not to visit this new but impactful local brewery. Every beer they make is designed with a Floridian in mind. Just check out the description for Free Tim, an IPA they brew year-round: “Whether you’re diving for stone crabs under Tampa Bay’s Sunshine Skyway or just wishing you were, this beer’s got you covered. Expect huge hits of citrus and pine aromas layered over a bright malt backbone. Perfect for a day on the water.” (source).

If that doesn’t pique your interest, then consider Night Swim, a Robust Porter: “Dark and luxurious like a midnight dip in the warm gulf waters off St. Pete Beach. Rich and Roasty with a hint of chocolate. Both this porter, and a night swim, are best enjoyed with a friend.”

If the beers themselves don’t impress you, the design of their tasting room and labels certainly will. This is a hip craft brewery doing everything right. If you want to check it out from the inside out, definitely take a tour. You sign up with your bartender, and $7 entry fee covers a 30-45 minute guided tour, a beer to drink along the way (along with additional tastings), and a souvenir pint glass. If you are interested in how the craft beer scene is growing, then definitely check out Coppertail.

 

Brew Bus

If you are looking for more than just a single brewery tour, then hop on the Brew Bus and check out all of them! Brew Bus is truly unique, one part tasting room offering all of the best local beer on the market, and one part Brew Tour, you can stay put or travel around the city! The ever-rotating menu in the tasting room allow you to try a 5oz, 16oz, or 32oz pour of seasonal local beers, and the eatery tucked away in the corner dishes up some fantastic bar snacks. But while the tasting room is great, the real magic here is in the bus tour.

With the Brew Bus, you can decide what kind of Tampa Brew Tour you want to have. You’ve got Friday Night Heights, The Full Pour, and the Local Loop to choose from.

First, Friday Night Heights. For under $15 you can jump on the Brew Bus from any location on the route and be gracefully whisked away to the next location! Shuttle stops include the Brew Bus Tasting Room, Seminole Heights City Wine Bar, Lowry Parcade, Red Star Rock Bar, Armature Works, Rock Brothers, and Brewing Hall on Franklin. This tour is a fantastic way for absolutely anyone to do a Tampa Bar crawl, since most of the shuttle stops are at full service bars! This is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the bar/beer scene in Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and the surrounding areas. No actual beer included.

Next, the Full Pour. This tour is definitely more inclusive, and at almost $60 the price reflect that. The experience still may be considered a bargain though, considering that the four and a half hour tour consists of all-inclusive stops at three different breweries. The tour is guided, and you are guaranteed a full pint at each stop! You will also get a behind-the-scenes look at each brewery with a brewery representative. In addition to all of that, you are invited to enjoy two complimentary craft beers from Brew Bus Brewing. This is the Cadillac of Brew Tours, and a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the local craft scene in Tampa.

Lastly, the Local Loop. This tour is a lot like the Friday Night Heights Tour. For just $10, you can enjoy transportation to local bars and breweries around Tampa. You can jump on at any location on the route, and your ticket is good all day! Stops include the Brew Bus Brewery, Hidden Springs Ale Works, Franklin Manor, the Pour House, and Coppertail Brewing. You will visit Seminole Heights, Ybor City, and Downtown Tampa all for less than the price of an Uber. No actual beer is included.

 

If those beer tours just aren’t enough, you can schedule a private tour, or hop on the Brew Bus Shuttle down to the infamous First Friday in Downtown St. Petersburg.

If you are a brewery fiend, then you will feel right at home at the Brew Bus. Here’s is how founder Anthony Derby came to start up such an incredible beer tour:

“The Brew Bus fermented in 2011 when our Founder Anthony Derby was a student at The University of Colorado. When he tried to visit 3 breweries in one day he quickly realized the need for a transportation service. In 2012 we started brewing our own craft beer under the simple mission to make high quality beer that we like to drink. Today, the good times continue to roll with our own independent brewery and tasting room.” (source)

Brew Bus tours are fantastic, inexpensive, and wholly unique. If you are looking for a 100% authentic Tampa Experience, then hop on a bus and drink around the city! Your liver may not thank you, but your memory bank will.

 

Craft Brewing is not unique to Tampa, but there are a few spots that are getting it 100% right. If you are sick of drinking Bud Lights by the pool and want to try something a bit more interesting while learning something along the way, check out any of these fantastic Brew Tours to taste the passion, creativity, and exuberance that makes up the Tampa Craft Beer scene. The next time you travel, look out for Florida Cracker and Unholy on craft menus, and remember what it is like to be behind-the-scenes at these operations. The Tampa Bay Beer Scene has something for everyone – go find your favorite brew!

 

 

Other great local Breweries in Tampa:

Hidden Springs Aleworks: “Locally Crafted”

81Bay Brewing Company: “Founded in 2016 in Tampa, Fla., 81Bay Brewing Company was established by three native Floridians and longtime friends with the idea of crafting an environment to celebrate beer, relaxation and recreation. Open seven days a week, the indoor taproom specializes in quality craft beer and features an immersive communal setting, multi-media murals, taproom games and live music. Whether you are looking for relief from responsibility and daily stress, your favorite liquid treat or just the satisfaction of trying and finding something new – we welcome all into our home.

Angry Chair Brewing: “Everyone has an angry chair, even if you think you don’t… you do, trust us. You don’t like sitting in traffic after a long day at the office? That’s your angry chair. You can’t stand listening to people talk while chewing on their food? That’s your angry chair. You have one spot of hair on your head that just stands up all crazy no matter how much gel you put on it and it makes you want to rip all of it out? Angry chair! The angry chair is symbolic of a place, time, or situation that you have experienced. It is something you have had to overcome or something that sparked a change in your lifestyle. Your angry chair is unique and is something only you can conquer. We don’t intend on being a one-note brewery and are constantly pushing ourselves to do more. At any given time our tap list will feature a variety of styles, stouts, and IPAs being more common, but we make a lot of sours and porters as well. We don’t serve flights but do have 5oz. pours. Our staff is very knowledgeable and can help you find the perfect beer for your taste.”

Southern Brewing & Wine Making: “Southern Brewing & Winemaking was a vision born from Kelly and Brian’s passion for craft beer and wine. Coincidentally, they met in 1996 at a Belgian beer festival at Atlanta Brewing Company, where Brian was the brewmaster. Five years later, they moved to Tampa, where Brian accepted another head brewer position with Ybor City Brewing. In 2008, the demand for products from local homebrewers prompted the owners to open a homebrew shop. Kelly left her 25-year banking career and ventured into the retail aspect of craft brewing and winemaking. Borrowing 2,000 sf of warehouse space from the wholesale company, Southern Brewing & Winemaking opened its doors to the home brewers and winemakers of Tampa in June of 2008.”

Six Ten Brewing: “We offer a selection of great beers brewed right in our brewery as well as guest taps. We gladly fill growlers of 32, 64 or 128oz sizes of most of our tap selections. Six Ten Brewing offers a variety of hand-crafted ales and lagers made with the finest quality malted barley, hops, yeast and water. These delicious brews are served in our tasting room which offers a great view of the brewery. We are pet-friendly so feel free to bring Fido – Maggie is usually around and loves the company!”

The Best Chinese Food in Tampa, FL

Chinese food delivery, paradoxically, is an incredibly American phenomenon. There is something about those red and white paper cartoons stuffed to the brim with delicious food that, incidentally, is very difficult to replicate, that is comforting to most people. Chinese take-out has become a symbol of working late in movies, a hangover cure in many circles, and a convenient way to serve dinner to almost everyone else.

Every city needs at least one amazing Chinese take-out place. So whether you are looking for a lunch special, dinner for a group, or a late-night meal, Chinese Food delivery is there for you.

Here are the best Chinese Food places in Tampa, FL.

 

Shang Hai Take Out

Nestled deep along the bay coast in South Tampa sits the unassuming Shang Hai restaurant. The humble restaurant is nothing more than a room with three tables and a couch, connected to the bustling kitchen. It sits in an often-abandoned strip mall, yet puts out the absolute best Chinese Take-out in Tampa Bay. The menu is nothing spectacular, featuring Chinese Take-out favorites like Beef with Broccoli, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Szechuan Chicken, but the food is always fresh, seasoned well, and piping hot. There is not risk of munching on some bland, chewy meat out of a luke-warn stirfry at this place. Everything they dish out is the absolutely best version of whatever it is meant to be. This part of town doesn’t have much beyond residential properties, but it is worth the drive over from nearly any other part of the city.

Recommended Dishes: Hot & Sour Soup. Beef with Broccoli.

 

China Moon

This next restaurant is significantly farther north, sitting in a strip mall off of MLK in Riverside Heights. The restaurant is slightly difficult to get to. It is located in a miniscule strip mall on Rome Ave, but looks from the road like it is on MLK. Make sure you commit to your turn into the parking lot before you go over the bridge, or you will have added at least five minutes to your ETA. Also, there is only about one designated parking spot. Once you battle all of that, you will be rewarded with some truly fantastic Chinese Take-out. If you want to avoid all of that hassle, just plan to order for delivery! Like Shang Hai, their menu is comfortingly familiar, featuring delicious dishes like Moo Shu, Egg Foo Toung, and Chow Mein. The food is always cooked fresh to order, and their final products are genuinely spectacular. The sauces here really shine. Anyone who has ever had a mediocre Chicken with Broccoli understands how that brown sauce can make-or-break a dish, and I am happy to say that China Moon understands that too! This is a fantastic place to order from if you are hanging out anywhere north of Kennedy.

Recommended Dishes: Crab Rangoon, Chicken Lo Mein.

 

China Taste

For this next entry, we head South again! All the way to Gandy Blvd. China Taste is another no-frills take-out and delivery restaurant. Conveniently located just a few doors down from the corner of Gandy and West Shore Blvd, the parking lot is always a turnstile of customers driving in hungry, and departing with bags of delicious smelling food. The family running this joint is incredibly effusive and friendly, and they always cook their food to order. The menu items are, again familiar, but familiar items done well are a hit with any crowd.

Recommended Dishes: Pork Egg Roll, Sweet and Sour Chicken.

 

If you are looking for something slightly more elevated….

 

Yummy House

American-style Chinese Delivery, while delicious, is not really what authentic Chinese cuisine is all about. If you are looking for something a bit more elevated in the Tampa area, you cannot go wrong with Yummy House. This incredible restaurant was started by founding partners from Toishan, China. The original location is on Waters Ave in Jackson Heights but has since expanded to an incredible seven locations in five different Florida cities. The Yummy House website describes the overall vibe perfectly:

“[John and Tommy] believe in satisfying the customer at all times, however never fear offering the authentic cuisine of Chinese cooking and educating the consumer.

This quality has set them apart from every other Chinese restaurant in the Tampa Bay area. They have set the bar high where others have been loathe to tread.

 John and Tommy can be seen in the kitchen or dining room at Yummy House Tampa or Yummy House China Bistro (on Hillsborough) creating the magic that evolves from their woks! Additionally, watch their staff members and see their faces to know the kindness of their owners who instill respect and happiness amongst their clients and peers alike. This culture is pervasive within the Yummy House Family and leaves an indelible mark on your heart when you leave. Come in and ask to meet them at anytime, but don’t be surprised if they speak with their hands on a wok and their eyes darting around the room to keep the mastery of their product to perfection! Would you want it any other way?”

This Chinese Food is so good that the Yummy House was actually named one of the top 50 restaurants in Tampa Bay in 2018 by a Times Food Critic!

Here is an excerpt from her write-up: “The first Yummy House on Waters Street, opened in 2008, was no reservations, no booze, no frills, an instant hit on the strength of its authentic Hong Kong-style food. Owner John Zhao realized he was on to something. He followed that with the Hillsborough Avenue location in 2011, a Sarasota outpost in 2012, Gainesville in 2013, Ocala in 2014, then Orlando and, finally, South Tampa at the end of 2017.” (source)

 

This is an incredible place to go for Dim Sum or Dinner, so decide what you want your experience to be and show up with an empty belly – you are bound to have a fantastic experience.

 

Recommended Dishes: Salt & Pepper Calamari, Seafood Fried Rice with Spicy XO Sauce.

The 3 Best Hot Fitness Classes in Tampa FL

Working out in a hot room is beneficial for a variety of reasons. It raises your heart rate, helps you to break a sweat, and loosens up muscles, which reduces warm up time and improves flexibility. Tampa Florida is no stranger to heat when it comes to being outdoors, but with so many people here accustomed to air conditioning, a heated workout can still feel like a strange and unusual experience. Working out in a hot class is an exercise in endurance and perseverance through discomfort, but the relief and elation you feel once you step out of the heat and back into some AC is nothing short of magical.

Hot classes require a bit more preparation than their normal-temperature counter parts. Before you attempt a hot class, make sure you are good to go with these to-dos:

  • Stop eating within two hours of the class’s start time
  • Bring plenty of water (plan for twice the amount you drink during a normal workout)
  • Make sure your clothing is breathable – cotton t-shirts are not your friend here
  • Bring along a hand-towel to wipe away sweat with

Hot classes are growing in popularity, here are the 3 Best Hot Fitness Classes in Tampa, FL.

 

#3 Gaze Hot Yoga – 75 minutes

If you are looking for some honest-to-goodness hot yoga the way it is meant to be practiced, you cannot go wrong with Gaze Hot Yoga. The 75-minute class will take you through 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises meant to stretch and strengthen your body by stimulating glands, nerves, and organs. This is not a flow class but is rather an exercise in holding poses. The idea is to deepen your postures and sweat out toxins. Traditionally, a Bikram practice takes place in a room heated to a whopping 105 degrees, so get ready to sweat. 75 minutes will definitely be a test in endurance, without being totally overwhelming, but there are 60 and 90-minute classes on the schedule as well.

Gaze Yoga is located in the newly trendy Tampa Heights neighborhood. The studio has a sleek, industrial design aesthetic. The grey concrete floors and rope art in the lobby almost give off a chilly vibe, which makes the heat of the practice room all the more surprising when you walk in. The staff is very laid back and inviting – giving off an immediate hippy vibe. This is how Gaze Yoga describes itself on their website: “Gaze Hot Yoga is a place for all human beings to move their bodies in a way that promotes optimal health, greater strength, increased flexibility, and improved mental acuity.” (source).

The people that practice at Gaze seems to be more interested in their internal focus than their external surroundings. People tend to keep to themselves and are quite serious about their individual practices. This class is great for anyone looking for a trendy vibe without too many bells and whistles. This is a studio for people looking for some serious self-care and self-improvement.

 

#2 The Hot Power Hour at Bella Prana

Walking into Bella Prana Yoga, located right outside of Downtown Tampa on Platt, is almost like walking into a super trendy wellness store. The large lobby space has a lot of retail, including athletic wear, healing books and crystals, and a variety of yoga props. The studio is huge and sees hundreds of students a week, so it can be easy to feel anonymous. However, if you are a repeat practitioner, the staff will quickly learn your name and details of your practice. There are three studio spaces, shower facilities, and an amazing 90+ classes a week! You can even explore private yoga instruction if you are a fan of more one-on-one attention. The Hot Power Hour is a heated flow class that will take you through many, many sun salutations and vinyasas. This is a great class for intermediate yogis looking to improve strength and connected movements. This class is a little more free-feeling and fun than the Bikram class at Gaze, with the class description urging you to “not take yourself too seriously”. If you are looking to try out a heated flow class for the first time, this is a great option since it is only 60 minutes, and the instructors always have anupbeatt attitude. Just be ready for some hands-on adjustments.

The people that practice at Bella Prana range from beginning yogis, so seasoned inversion masters. There are dozens of classes offered everyday, so if the Hot Power Hour isn’t your thing, you can explore Ashtanga, Flow Level 1, or Yoga 101 instead. There are also about three-dozen instructors, each with their own style and sensibility. This studio basically offers a sampler platter of teachers, yoga styles, and levels of heated classes. Maybe try the Hot Power Hour first and explore from there!

 

#1 Hot Full Body at CAMP

This class is super effing intense. It isn’t yoga, it isn’t pilates, but it lives somewhere in between. This class takes place in the Yoga Building at Camp (described more fully in the Camp Gym Review), and it is described on their website as “50 minutes of total-body, HIIT-based class incorporating powerful plyometric work and deep isometric movements. We use hand-weights, fast paced movements and a heated room to get your heart rate up. This class brings the energy with upbead music an da serious challenge! Get ready to sweat.” Even that feels like an understatement. In this class, you can expect to do something like 45 seconds of jump squats, followed by a 15 second squat hold, and to repeat it 4-5 times. This way, your body is never fully at rest, and your muscles remain engaged. It is incredibly challenging – humbling even. It is the perfect class for anyone looking for a cardiovascular challenge.

The fun thing about this class is that everyone in the room with you is struggling just as much as you are. It isn’t uncommon to hear some nervous laughter, sighs, grunts, and moans of pain as everyone tries to keep up with the super-human instructor. There is comradery in the misery, so you are unlikely to feel alone. The overall vibe at camp is we are here to work our butts off (while wearing Lulu Lemon) but in this class, you will really, really feel it. Not for the faint of heart, but an incredible workout nonetheless.

 

So grab a towel and some water, muster some internal grit, and face down the heat like a true Floridian!

The Three Best Hip Hop Classes in Tampa

Hip Hop is more than a style of music. It has inspired clothing, street art, dance, and fitness. Decades ago it crawled its way out of New York and has spread to every corner of the globe. Everyone from dancers, to musicians, to children and parents can enjoy Hip Hop in a variety of forms, and Tampa is no exception. If you are looking to access your musical side, the consider taking a Hip Hop class!

Hip Hop is fantastic in that it is accessible to everyone. Everyone from professional dancers to complete beginners can enjoy and get good at moving to everyone’s favorite jams. So if you are considering exploring your sense of rhythm and movement, try one of these Hip Hop classes, and enjoy!

 

Beginners Only Hip-Hop Dance Class at VYB Dance Studio

This class is perfect for anyone who is reticent to give something new a try. If you are afraid of walking into a hip hop dance class only to be paired with people who seem to have secret second careers as back up dancers for J.Lo, then this is the class for you! It is specifically marketing to beginners ONLY, so you are guaranteed to be surrounded by other people with your limited ability. This is a fantastic way to start out in the Hip Hop world. You get to visit a professional dance studio, experience a full dance class, and do it all without the pressure to perform beyond your abilities.

VYB Studio (stands for Voice Your Body) was founded in 2007 by a group of dancers set on creating a professional studio with an urban feel. This studio is focused on lifting dancers up, and celebrating talent in the Tampa Bay Area. Their blog highlights local dance talent, and the fantastically energetic videos they post to Instagram will make you want to get up out of your chair and join the routine!

The studio is located in South Tampa on Bay to Bay Boulevard, and single class drop-ins are $20.

 

Hip Hop Classes at The Hip Room

Another great place to explore Hip Hop is at The Hip Room in Tampa Heights. This entry cheats the list a little bit since there are actually myriad of adult Hip Hop classes offered at this Studio alone! The Beginners class focuses on the fundamentals of Hip Hop, and every time you join you will learn new steps and a new combination. Once you have mastered that class, you can move on to Intermediate Adult Hip Hop. At this level, you will focus on expression through movement, and you will also learn new combinations every time. The Advanced Hip Hop Choreo class is focused specifically on picking up new choreography, and on dancing with intention. Basically, the first level teaches you how to move, the second level teaches you to make those movements your own, and the third level teaches you how to pick up new routines quickly.

You can also explore an advance Hip Hop/Latin Fusion Class, an Industry class aimed at advanced dancers trying to break into the professional dance industry, and even high heels Hip Hop Classes! (Guess which shoes you wear to that one).

This variety at this studio is truly a thing to behold. The studio itself is located in Tampa Heights and occupies a gorgeous and cavernous second-story space in a historic brick building. At the Hip Room, they say that to move your hips is to move your soul. They believe that dancing can help individuals find joy, health, and happiness. They are friendly and inclusive, stating on their website that “The Hip Room is a unique Tampa dance studio. This studio was created to break free of the typical one-size-fits-all approach to dance instruction. We believe that the best dance instruction is built around the needs of the student.”

If you are looking for a unique, positive experience with Hip Hop classes, you cannot got wrong at The Hip Room.

 

Dance Fit at LVL UP

If you are looking to Hip Hop for fitness, then look no further than LVL UP in Seminole Heights. The Dance Fit class combines many styles of dance into a unique fitness workout. The instructor puts on some music, stands at the front of the class, and simply guides you through a variety of pre-choreographed routines designed to get your heart rate up and your booty shaking! The class is largely Hip Hop heavy, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself rocking out to your favorite jams. The class takes off like a racehorse, so make sure you are paying attention, but the moves are easy enough for any level to master. If you want the experience of doing a complete choreographed routine without going through years of training, then this is the class for you!

LVL UP is a fantastically inclusive studio, stating that “Our mission is to provide the ultimate dance + fitness experience in a fun, supportive and positive atmosphere. Our classes are for people of all ages and skill levels.   No dance experience necessary!   We provide the moves, you pick the level….watch as you LVL UP!”. They also share fun and positive facts about dance, stating that “Regular dance practice can increase your flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina. The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, correct poor posture, increase balance and coordination and improve overall cardiovascular health.”.

LVL UP is a fantastic way to burn calories to the rhythm of your favorite songs. Everyone from beginners to advanced dancers has something to gain from cutting loose and exploring fitness through Hip Hop Movement.

 

So the next time you watch someone get down in a Hip Hop video and think “I wish I could do that, “ remember that there are plenty of classes and instructors out there who can help you to achieve your goals and even your pipe dreams! Hip Hop is for everyone, so find a studio and have fun!

5 Awesome First Date Ideas in Tampa

First dates are an exciting, sometimes anxiety-inducing affair. Putting yourself out there in the dating world means opening yourself up to another person and to new experiences. A good first date can set the tone for an entire relationship. What you choose to do communicates to this person that you don’t know very well what your interests are, where your values lie, and what kind of taste you have.

If it sounds like a lot of pressure, that’s because it is! Or at least it can be. To avoid stressing out over a good way to get to know someone new, keep a list of go-to first date ideas. That way you won’t wind up drawing a blank when a potential new match asks what you would like to do.

Below are 5 awesome first date ideas in Tampa. So pick which ones resonate the most with you – or maybe even try them all!

 

If you want to do something trendy…

Tampa has a lot of fantastic venues to choose from. New and inventive restaurants and bars are cropping up all the time. But if you really want to show someone a cool side of Tampa, grab a drink or dinner at The Hall on Franklin. Located in Tampa Heights on the edge of downtown Tampa, The Hall on Franklin has a super cool dining concept. There are several different food vendors located around the space. Once you get a table, you will receive menus from every vendor. You can order from any of the kitchens, mix and max your courses, and eat in whatever order you’d like to. Your waiter will place your order for you and run to pick it up from each kitchen. It also has a pretty fantastic craft bar. Once you’re done with dinner, consider taking a stroll down the Riverwalk. It is lit up at night, and it is a great place to walk along, take in the view, and discuss your other favorite spots in Tampa. This first date agenda allows you to get to know someone over some food and drinks, and then during a walk together. It truly encapsulates everything Tampa has to offer.

 

If you are a foodie…

Take your date to Berns! Not for a full steak dinner, that might be a little intense, but at the bar. For those who don’t know, Bern’s Steakhouse is a Tampa institution. This legendary steakhouse is the epitome of fine dining in the bay. The menu is extensive, and the wine cellar is truly legendary. Some claim that it is the largest private collection in North America! Dining here is an absolute must if you live in Tampa, but it is definitely too much for a first date. Instead of making a reservation and shelling out for a full dinner, ask your date to meet you at the bar. Here, you can order off of a truncated menu. The steak sandwich isn’t listed, but it is available for those who know the bar menu’s secrets. Taking someone here demonstrates that you are tapped into the food scene in Tampa, and ordering an off-menu item will definitely seem cool! The environment at the bar is louder and more casual than it is in the dining rooms, and seats turn over quickly. This is a fantastic way to introduce someone to your tastes and interests, without breaking the bank on a fancy dinner!

 

If you have a small budget…

Dating doesn’t have to be expensive. If you want to take someone somewhere special without breaking the bank, consider bringing them to happy hour! Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club offers drinks 50% off from 5 pm to 7 pm on weekdays. Ciro’s is a true speakeasy, in that you cannot get in without a password. Make sure you call ahead to get the code word and bring your date to this super cool spot located at the bottom of a condo building at Howard Ave. and Bayshore Blvd. The cool-factor here will make the date feel more expensive than it is. The happy hour menu even offers some bar snacks. So bring a date here for some craft cocktails in a secret bar, and impress the hell out of them without wasting your entire paycheck.

 

If you aren’t a big talker…

Getting to know someone often requires a lot of talking, and that isn’t easy for everyone. If you want to take someone on a date, but the prospect of small-talking and chatting for several hours fills you with dread, then take them to a movie! The Tampa Theatre, located in downtown Tampa was built in 1926, and it is a beloved community landmark. The interior is insanely lavish. The ceiling is painted to look like a starry night sky, and the walls are decorated to look like a Mediterranean courtyard, which includes columns, statues, and gargoyles. The theater regularly plays old and independent movies, for ticket prices that compete with the local AMC. This is a great way to show someone a unique and interesting place in Tampa without the pressure of conversing the entire time. If you both enjoy the film, you can walk over to Anise for a drink after, or to Dio Modern Mediterranean for a late-night bite to eat.

 

If you are into adventure…

An adventurous streak can be important to share with a new date up-front. If you like to spend your free time trying new and potentially risky things, you probably want a partner who will join you in those pursuits, and grabbing a drink or a bite for the first few dates may not communicate that effectively. Instead, bring your new date to Vertical Ventures, an indoor climbing gym! If you are both new to it, you can take an introductory class together. It is a great way to bond over a new and difficult experience. If you have both climbed before, then take advantage of Friday and Saturday night deals. Friday you get 2-for-1 admission from 8 pm to midnight, and on Saturdays, you get 2-for-1 from 6 pm to 10 pm. Vertical Ventures is an incredibly friendly and inclusive place filled with newbies and experienced climbers alike. If you are looking for something new, challenging, and exciting to try on a first date, then you can’t go wrong here.

 

So put yourself out there. Meet new people, and try some new things!

 

The 3 Best Day Trips in Florida from Tampa

Tampa is a great city. It’s got an urban center, unique neighborhoods, great parks and multiple waterfronts. That being said, sometimes you just need to get away and discover someplace new!

Unfortunately, considering that Tampa is located halfway down the Florida peninsula, it is impossible to leave the state without jumping on a plane or spending hours and hours in the car. But the good news is that there are plenty of exciting places to explore right within the Sunshine State! If you find yourself looking for something to do on a lazy weekend, jump in the car and spend some time exploring an exciting new place that is closer to your front door than you think!

 

#3 Revisit your Childhood at Disney World

Florida is a hotbed for amusement parks. From Busch Gardens, to Harry Potter World at Universal, to Sea World and all of its knock-offs, Central Florida has become a destination for the amusement park junkie. But Disney World was the first and remains the best. Less than an hour from Tampa, Disney World is 100% worth the visit. It will be an expensive day away, with tickets starting at over $100 even for a discounted pass, but it will be well worth the step back into childhood. Whether you choose to embrace your natural side at Animal Kingdom, explore different world cultures at Epcot, check out vintage Disney at the Magic Kingdom, or rediscover cinema magic at Hollywood Studios, you are in for a good day.

Remember to bring plenty of sunscreens, and to wear shoes you can walk in, and you are all set for the happiest place on earth.

Top 3 Things to Do:

  • Visit the Japanese pavilion at Epcot.

The entire world tour at Epcot is fantastic, but there is something special about the Japanese pavilion. The employees are thrilled to be there, the shopping is fantastic, and the dining options are even better! Maybe pick up a beautiful set of permanent chopsticks so that you can enjoy Japanese cuisine at home.

  • Check out the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

You don’t even need a ticket to check out this gorgeous hotel. The lobby is fantastically designed, and the safari in the backyard is free to view! May you will spot some giraffes exploring the wilds of central Florida during your visit.

The old-school rides at Disney are a testament to historical engineering. The combination of animatronics and forced perspective will blow you away. Do not skip these rides that are basically a step back in time.

 

#2 Explore a Greek Fishing Village on the Gulf

Tarpon Springs is barely an hour’s drive from the center of Tampa, but when you climb out of the car you will feel like you’ve just gotten off of an international flight. Tarpon Springs was founded in the 1870s as the first incorporated city in Pinellas County. By the 1890s a sponging industry had begun and Greek immigrants began moving in in droves. Local stories go that the Mediterranean had been over-sponged by the 1880s, and Greek divers were struggling. One diver took a trip to Florida, upon discovering that the conditions of the Tarpon Bayou strongly resembled the conditions in Greece, he immediately wrote home encouraging his family and friends to join him in the states. More than 100 years later, the iconic Sponge Docks still stand in Tarpon Springs.

Dodecanese Boulevard is full of kitschy sponge shops, boat tour docks, and authentic Greek restaurants. A simple stroll down the block will treat you to the scent of baklava, the sight of natural sponges drying, and the sounds of a busy waterfront. A far cry from the traffic of Tampa, Tarpon Springs is full of pedestrians and families, all exploring this unique little slice of Greek fishing culture.

Top 3 Things to Do:

This charming little shop isn’t fancy but has some of the best artisan soaps out there. You can even pick up some goats milk soap that has an embedded natural sponge! Once you use up your scented bar, you have a reusable natural sponge that you can keep in your shower forever.

Climbing on this boat requires you to embrace your inner tourist, but once you have made peace with that you will learn a ton about Tarpon History and botany of sponging. You will even get an authentic diving demonstration, which features a sea-weathered diver donning on an antique dive suit and pulling a natural sponge up from the gulf floor!

Don’t miss the Saganaki at Dimitri’s. It is an appetizer of sheep’s milk cheese that they sit on fire table-side. The result is a warm, crisp-skinned soft cheese that is absolutely fantastic. Next, walk down the block to the Hella’s dessert counter. Feel free to browse the delicious looking Greek pastries, but if you don’t opt for the baklava you are making a mistake.

 

#1 Explore new depths in Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee Springs are an incredible natural phenomenon that even more incredibly, are located only an hour from Tampa! The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. According to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Website, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh, 74-degree water bubbles out of a subterranean cavern every day. (source). And when they say clear, they mean crystal clear. The water is perfectly transparent, allowing anyone swimming or passing by in a boat to see clear to the bottom. Manatees commonly float up and down the Weeki Wachee river, and the portion of the Springs protected by the State Park is completely natural and rustic.

But Weeki Wachee has a kitschy side too. A live mermaid show has been performed at Weeki Wachee Springs since 1947! A theater was built under the Spring’s surface, and a glass panel was built in so that viewers can gaze right into the depth of the springs. For over 50 years, beautiful women in elegant fish tales have been doing live, underwater mermaid shows for visiting tourists and vacationing families. This show combines an amazing backdrop of natural beauty with the incredible stamina of underwater athletes and artists to create a show that is insanely unique.

Top 3 Things to Do:

Just get there early, tickets to the show sell out fast, as do tickets to the attached water park.

This scenic boat tour will give you an idea of what the springs looked like before people moved into the area and trained as mermaids. You are nearly guaranteed to see cooter turtles, blue herons, and the occasional manatee.

  • Rent a Kayak at the Kayak Shack and take to the river yourself

This is by far the best way to experience Weeki Wachee. The Kayak Shack is downstream from the state park, but the cost of rental includes a ride to the top of the spring. That way, you can leisurely row yourself down the river, taking in the natural sights and sounds along the way. You can even take a break to swing into the cool water from the rope swings set up along the way!

What to Order: Acropolis

Acropolis, Greek Taverna is a Greek restaurant group with locations in Ybor City, New Tampa, St. Petersburg, Riverview, South Tampa, and Sarasota. The founder, Sam Waez, actually grew up in Greece as the youngest of eight children. Growing up he worked at his older brother’s restaurant, before heading to the United States with “a bag and a dream”. He opened the doors of the first Acropolis Greek Tavera in 2001. (Read more on their website).

Since then, Acropolis has expanded to the six locations listed above and has become a fixture of the Tampa restaurant scene. The locations are lively, often featuring live belly dancers, the occasional plate-throwing, and periodic napkin throwing that leaves the floor littered with what appears to be over-sized confetti. So whether you are enjoying dinner in the Ybor City dining room, taking in a drink on the fire-pit ladened patio in South Tampa, or grabbing something to go in Sarasota, this will be a restaurant experience like no other.

The menu is large and somewhat intimidating, but follow this guide to have a traditional Greek dining experience…with a twist!

 

Drinks:

Imbibing is certainly not required, but if you plan on hanging out at Acropolis for a lengthy dinner (which is highly suggested), then you probably want to start with an adult beverage. There is a daily happy hour from 3 pm to 7 pm, but if you want to enjoy a later meal consider visiting on Martini Mondays for $5 martinis, or Wine Wednesdays for half off all wines, bottles, and glasses. If none of that particularly appeals to you, definitely go for the Sangria. For a Greek restaurant, Acropolis does this Spanish cocktail right! So grab a pitcher of Sangria for your table and start out the meal with this sweet, fruity drink.

 

Appetizers:

Unlike the drinks, appetizers here are definitely required. Namely, because they are so damn good. The Ouzo Mussels are always a great choice; sautéed mussels with garlic, onions, basil, fresh tomato, Ouzo, and Santorini wine. Served with deliciously charred garlic bread, you cannot go wrong. But the real star here is the Tirosalata. A delectable blend of feta cheese and garlic, topped with oregano and extra virgin olive oil, it is so good that no one would judge you if you wind up licking the bowl. They are simple flavors but combined the right way to make something magical. Make sure to order extra pita triangles right from the start – you are going to need them.

 

Salads:

Whether you choose to enjoy it as an entrée or a second appetizer, the Horiatiki salad should not be missed. This salad is a traditional Greek village salad, which means there actually isn’t any lettuce in it at all! Instead, it consists of roughly chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, pepperoncini, and green pepper. With capers, olives, fresh oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. The whole thing is topped with a huge slice of feta cheese and some oven toasted pita strips on the side. If you really want to turn this salad into something special, ask to have it topped with gyro meat.

 

Entrees:

This is where we really get into traditional Greek food. The menu offers everything from Mousaka to a whole grilled red snapper. Everything is good, but a few menu items are truly great. The Mixed Grill is an amazing choice, especially if you are feeding a crowd. In fact, the menu itself states that it feeds four people! It comes with a shish kabob, a chicken kabob, a vegetable kabob, pork souvlaki, and gyro. The whole thing comes with a side of tzatziki and a choice of two sides. Well, really one side, because one of those choices absolutely has to be the Greek fries.

If you don’t happen to be feeding a crowd, opt for the Gyro Platter. You will get to try their fantastic thinly sliced spiced lamb and beef along with a side of the refreshing tzatziki. The platter also comes with pita. Greek fries, and a salad.

If you are curious about staff picks, then take some advice from Sam Waez, the chef/co-founder/managing partner of Acropolis Greek Taverna. When the Sarasota Herald-Tribune asked him what his signature dishes are, here is what he said:

“The Chicken Rhodes with salted chicken, lemon, wine, artichokes, olives, fresh spinach and goat cheese; the Acropolis Seafood, the sauce is house-made served over ice with scallops, shrimp, mussels and a roasted pepper sauce; and the Makedonikos, similar to jambalaya, with seafood sausage, shrimp, chicken, and a tomato-based sauce with fresh basil, cilantro and garlic.” (source).

Dining at Acropolis can range from takeout to a full evening of entertainment. If you decide to spend some time in the dining room, be prepared for live music and periodic cocktail napkin tossing as the entire staff dances through the restaurant shouting “Opa!”. Acropolis also has a Hookah menu, if you really want to take your night to the next level.

Hookah is an elaborate looking smoking instrument that uses hot coals to heat up tobacco that then smokes and is inhaled through a valve on a hose. It can be a relaxing, shared experience before or after dinner. Hookah usually comes with flavored tobacco, and at Acropolis, you have a choice of mint, blueberry mint, orange mint, lemon mint, grape mint, double apple, strawberry, and watermelon.

The one thing you do not want to do in a place like Acropolis is going in blind. The menu is extensive and the environment is hectic in a way that only a traditional Greek restaurant can be. If you have a plan based on the recommendations listed above, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic, memorable lunch or dinner. Keep in mind that the portions are huge, so take care to not let your eyes grow larger than your stomach. Once you have got all of that down, sit back and enjoy the scents, flavors, and sounds of Greece, all without leaving Tampa Bay!

What is Your Mode of Existence? A Review of Sattva Yoga

According to the great modern guru of Wikipedia, Sattva is one of the three Funas or “modes of existence” developed by the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. Sattva is the quality of goodness, positivity, truth, wholesomeness, serenity, wholeness, creativity, constructiveness, balance, confidence, peacefulness, and virtuousness that is drawn towards Dharma and Jnana (knowledge).

That incredible list of adjectives that help make up the concept of Sattva perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Sattva Yoga. Set into a small converted house on Florida Ave in the recently hip neighborhood of Seminole Heights, the spirit of Sattva is welcoming and encouraging. This is how a yoga studio should feel. It is cozy, unpresumptuous, and encouraging. Walking in feels like entering someone’s private yoga retreat, but they are more than happy to have you there. Actually walking in though, may be a bit challenging. The first step is finding the parking lot entrance.

The studio is set off of the street and considering that the parking lot is behind the building, it can be confusing to newcomers. To get yourself there, look for an overgrown access road to the left of the little house. The path almost looks like it belongs to the strip mall next door. This will lead you into Sattva’s backyard, overgrown and glittering with string lights. Once you park, you enter the studio through the back entrance. The back patio is home to dozens of potted plants, which gives the entire place a tropical, zen vibe. Look out for Kali Tutu, the studio’s outdoor cat who also makes the porch her home. Abandon your shoes here. Once you step inside, check in via a wall-mounted iPad and find a spot on the beautiful hardwood floor. Sattva provides blocks, blankets, and straps, but you should plan to bring your own yoga mat.

Every teacher has their own unique style of running a class, but everyone at Sattva is going to give you a brief Dharma talk before class starts. These brief speeches are meant to inspire your spirituality and guide your practice. Sometimes they are motivated by the teacher’s own experiences, sometimes they are influenced by the change in seasons or the time of day. Whatever the topic, they are a great way to transition you from a hectic day to a peaceful practice on the mat. If owner and creator, Kelly Watson is teaching, you will most likely enjoy a brief meditation and Om to the hypnotic tones of a harmonium, a free-read pipe organ that looks like a cross between a child’s piano and an accordion but sounds like a small symphony. From there, you will launch your practice.

Sattva offers gently guided practices for yogis of all levels. There are beginner classes available, but really anything is accessible to anyone. The small space and intimate interior make it easy for instructors to offer personal attention and hands-on adjustments. You can find balance-based flow classes, yin classes, seated meditation classes, and even prenatal classes. No matter which class you choose, the thesis of Sattva seems to be “Re-energize the mind, then the body”. Unlike more athletic studios that encourage yogis to build muscle and work up a sweat, Sattva asks its yogis to turn their motivation for improvement inward towards their minds and spirit. If you are interested in the spiritual and meditative aspect of yoga, something you may not have been able to find at other studios after your fifth iteration of Sun Salutation A, then Sattva is a great place for you. And no, you do not need to know how to meditate before you show up. They will teach you. They are instructors, after all.

In addition to offering fantastic, spirit-guided yoga classes, Sattva offers 200 and 300-hour teacher trainings, yoga therapy & massage (by appointment), and a small artisan store featuring items from local artists.

Sattva is also incredibly affordable. A drop-in is $13, which is pretty standard, but your first month of unlimited yoga is only $30! After that, it is only $60. You can also purchase an entire year of yoga for $600. A 5 class punch card is $50, and a 10 class punch card is $100. Anyone who has price-compared yoga classes recently will recognize those rates from about 10 years ago. When Sattva first opened, they advertised with the slogan “Make Yoga Affordable Again,” which of course speaks to their welcoming nature and community-based values.

If you are looking for another window into the spirit of Sattva, look no further than what owner & creative-director, Kelly Watson, says about herself on the Sattva website:

“Yoga is the Science of Self-Realization. This time tested path found me when my body and mostly my mind needed healing and guidance. I believe that the world of yoga is so vast, and full of so many transformative tools that anyone can become a practitioner of this great science and make it a way of life. As an instructor, I push my students to develop a sadhana or daily personal practice that keeps them in touch with their highest Self and in harmony with the rhythm of life. My classes are full of passion; utilizing music, mantras, and mudras to convey very specific themes, relevant to the culture we live in today. I am forever grateful for my own teachers in this life: Annie Okerlin, Alison Cramer, Kelly Morris, Barb Newborn and most importantly Tony Nenov for providing guidance on the path of yoga and always reminding me of the importance of practice and detachment. Namaste!”

This self-actualized and spiritual practice may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Some yogis are in it primarily for the strength and flexibility, and that’s fine. But if you are curious about the history and intent of yoga, or if you would just rather spend your $60 on a month of yoga classes instead of one session with a therapist, then definitely check this place out. They will be happy to have you!