Foodie Photo Tour: Tampa Food Halls
I recently held my second Foodie Photo Tour in Tampa and it was an absolute blast. This tour focused on Tampa’s 3 food halls - Sparkman Wharf, Armature Works, and The Hall on Franklin! We got around town via a private trolley from OMG Trolley and if you are ever in need of transportation for an event I would definitely recommend them.
The first stop on the tour was Sparkman Wharf - Tampa’s newest food hall and also the only outdoor one. I am so excited to see this area of town transformed into a space worthy of hanging out in again. Brightly colored shipping containers house the food concepts and the photo ops are endless between the sculptures and murals. Plus, they regularly hold events on their lawn like movie nights, Lightning watch parties, and live music!
However, my favorite thing about Sparkman Wharf is of course…the food. The food concepts that went in to the Wharf all have strong ties to the Tampa Bay food scene and truly make it a foodie destination. For this tour I partnered with two of my favorite concepts - BT in a Box & Boat Run Oyster Company!
Chicken Curry Noodles
Every time I ask someone if they have had BT in a Box before, there are two answers: 1. “No, but I’ve been dying to try it everyone says it is sooo good!” OR 2. “OMG YES. THOSE CURRY NOODLES ARE THE BEST.” Seriously, those are the only two answers I’ve ever heard to that question so it was a no brainer to include them on this tour. The flavors, the texture…everything works perfectly together to make a really amazing dish.
Raw & Grilled Oysters + Nori Fries + Boat Beer
When I first heard there was an oyster concept going in to Sparkman Wharf I was so excited because finding fresh oysters around South/Downtown Tampa was not an easy task before. Boat Run serves raw & chargrilled oysters with unique pairings like Chimichurri + Pecorino and Chipotle + Honey and other “Sea Things” like Shrimp Rolls, Fried Oyster Tacos, and Nori Fries. Plus, they have their own Boat Beer that is actually brewed WITH oysters in partnership with Florida Avenue Brewery.
Up next on the tour was Armature Works, Tampa’s largest mixed-use space with a food hall, tons of event space, a co-working space, and multiple sit down restaurants (plus a soon to open rooftop bar)! For the stop at Armature, we set up in their Show & Tell room which is used for chef demonstrations, cooking classes, social gatherings, etc. Our featured food concepts here were Hemingway’s, Butcher n Barbeque, Empamamas, and BAR Armature for drinks!
The Hemingway Cuban + Guava & Cream Cheese Mini Empanadas
The Cuban Sandwich is a Tampa tradition and Hemingway’s makes one of the best in town! They even get their Cuban bread from La Segunda Bakery so you know it’s legit. Chef Phe knows what she is doing when it comes to Cuban food and Hemingway’s is a perfect fit for a space like Armature Works - mixing classic Tampa staples with modern twists. And those guava & cream cheese empanadas….drool worthy.
Pulled Pork Sliders + Mac n Cheese + ALL the sauces you could dream of
Pitmaster Derek from BnB has been smoking meats for as along as he can remember and recently took over the bbq program at BnB. He’s done a great job with the menu and the MANY sauces that they offer. I’m all about the bbq sauce and honestly had never even heard of some of the styles that they have available - my new favorite is the Alabama White! We had pulled pork sliders (add your own sauce) and mini mac n’ cheese - my two favorite items from any bbq place. Pro tip: drizzle bbq sauce on your mac n’ cheese.
Cheeseburger in Paradise Empamamas + Bacon Wrapped Plantains + Orzo Salad
Empamamas has a special place in my heart because they were a part of my very first food tour and Steph (the Empamama herself) is so passionate about her food. Empamamas started as a food truck and now has a permanent location at Armature Works where they serve up goodies like Empamamas, tacos, and bang bang chicken fingers. For this tour she did a sampling from her catering menu - mini Cheeseburger in Paradise Empamamas, Orzo Salad, and BACON WRAPPED PLANTAINS. I’m not sure how many bacon wrapped plantains is acceptable for one person to eat, but I may have gone overboard.
T.A.W. + Rock ‘n’ Rye
If you’ve ever been to Armature Works I’m sure you’ve seen the gorgeous bar set up that they have there. In addition to being a great space to hang out, their bar program is amazing - they develop some awesome cocktails and bring in really unique craft beers from local and “non-local” breweries. For this tour they did a pop-up bar in the Show & Tell room serving two of their cocktails, the T.A.W. and the Rock ‘n’ Rye. The T.A.W. has Bombay London Dry Gin, Thyme-Infused Aperol, Lemon, and Q Tonic - it was super crisp and refreshing, a fun spin on an Aperol Spritz! The Rock ‘n’ Rye has Wild Turkey 101, Rittenhouse Rye, Apricot, Cassia Bark, Horehound, Clove, Citrus Peel, and ROCK CANDY. You can stir the rock candy in to the drink to give it a bit of sweetness - I love food & drinks that are interactive so this was right up my alley.
Our last stop for the day was The Hall on Franklin, Tampa’s first food hall! What makes The Hall unique is that in addition to being able to walk up to the individual food vendors and order food on your own, you can also make a reservation (or walk in and go to the hostess stand) and be seated at a table with a server where you will have access to all the food options and the bar. During this stop we had MADE Coffee drinks, food from Poké Rose, North Star Eatery, and Bake n’ Babes and a special cocktail menu from The Collection Bar.
Tamarind Curry Chicken with jasmine rice
Fun fact about Poké Rose is that it was actually the first meal I had at The Hall on Franklin when they first opened! I remember sitting at The Collection Bar and ordering their Citrus Cured Salmon Rice Cake Benedict for brunch on a Sunday - it was love at first bite! Since then, Poké Rose has been one of my go-tos whenever I am at The Hall. For this tour they did their Tamarind Curry Chicken bowl with sweet peppers, avocado, cabbage, spicy aioli, radish, and chia seeds - these flavors work so well together and I may have had more than one serving :)
North Star Ribs with kimchi
North Star Eatery is the sister concept to Anise Global Gastrobar, one of my longtime favorite spots in downtown Tampa! North Star at The Hall features a variety of popular Southeast Asia street food and the flavors are UNBELIEVABLE. For the tour they served their North Star Ribs Platter which is served with kimchi and rice, we had smaller bites for the tour but the serving size for this dish is huge so make sure to bring your appetite!
Irish Carbomb Cupcake + March Freak Shake
Another special place in my heart goes to Julie at Bake ‘n Babes who was also a partner on my first food tour. She never ceases to amaze me with the recipes and ideas she comes up with. The Irish Carbomb Cupcakes were made with Guinness, filled with Jameson Whisky ganache, and topped with Bailey’s buttercream. We also were the first people to see the March Freak Shake - St. Patrick’s Day themed with a vanilla milkshake and slice of funfetti cake!
Franklin Saturday Spritz + For The Babes
The Collection Bar at The Hall is sooooo beautiful and luxurious feeling with the marble bar and leather seats. Plus, their cocktails are pretty damn delicious and ALWAYS beautiful. They had two cocktail specials set up for us - the Franklin Saturday Spritz with Cassis, bubbles, and a rose INSIDE an ice cube & the For The Babes with coconut rum, lime, ginger, and pineapple topped with black currant. I had both drinks and they were so, so delicious and perfectly refreshing for a hot afternoon!
It wouldn’t be a This Babe Eats food tour with out a few goodies to take home!
MADE Coffee cans are my go to for cold brew in Tampa! I love all the different options that they have, including their latest - the LemoMADE - 2 parts cold brew + 1 part lemon. We served these at The Hall on Franklin along with our dessert (Bake n’ Babes actually sells them!) and also had a few to take home for later. That is the glory of cold brew in can - delicious and portable :)
Petey Cake is my man. A true visionary when it comes to cookies - his attention to detail and creativity is out of this world. For this tour he created 3 different cookies based off iconic aspects of each food hall. The Tampa sign at Sparkman Wharf, the picture frame at Armature, and the flooring at The Hall on Franklin. And in addition to them being BEAUTIFUL they are also the best damn sugar cookies I’ve ever had.
AND THAT IS A WRAP. Thank you to everyone who came on the food tour and to all of my amazing partners - this was truly one to remember! Subscribe to my email list to stay up-to-date on future tours and events!