Image courtesy of Bon Appetit.
If you are based in Tampa and you love Puerto Rican food, you’re in luck because you’re surrounded by several amazing Puerto Rican restaurants. Some you may know of, but some may have fallen under your radar and you should absolutely know about them. If you aren’t familiar with Puerto Rican food but are willing to give it a try, we’ll give you a quick run down on the type of food you’ll likely find at a Puerto Rican restaurant in Tampa.
The most popular Puerto Rican dishes are arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), pasteles (plantain cakes), tostones (twice fried plantain slices), cuchifritos (fried appetizers), and flan de queso (cream cheese dessert). These foods are traditionally paired with beer or rum with cola or fruit juice. Another popular side dish or dessert (and our favorite) is platanos maduros, similar to tostones because they, too, are fried plantains, but much sweeter in taste because they are made from plantains that are more ripe. In short, there are so many delicious Puerto Rican dishes to try, so here’s where to try them in Tampa.
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Latin American cuisine with traditional recipes from Puerto Rico to Argentina to Peru.
1623 E 5th Ave | Ybor City | elpuertoybor.com
This Puerto Rican restaurant is located in the heart of Ybor City. Here you will find Latin American cuisine with traditional recipes from Puerto Rico to Argentina to Peru.
Chef Nelson Umana recommends you try their Parrillada, or Mixed Grill on your first visit. The Parrillada Argentina is comprised of an indulgent mix of select meat cuts grilled to perfection, including Argentinian sausage, short-rib, skirt steak, chicken breast, pork chop, sweet bread (thymus gland), and morcilla (blood sausage) topped with a grilled onion and served with two sides.
Other popular menu items include Churrasco (Skirt Steak), a delicious and ridiculously long 22 oz skirt steak grilled to perfection and served with your choice of two sides, Lomo Saltado (Sautéed Flap Steak), strips of flap steak sautéed with red onions and served with French fries and white rice, and Arroz Chaufa de Pollo (Chicken Fried Rice), chicken fried rice with spring onions and scrambled eggs which you can upgrade to include a combo of chicken, steak, and mixed seafood for $30!
In case our opinion isn’t enough to convince you, El Puerto Rico Restaurant & Grill has been named one of the best restaurants in Ybor City multiple times! So the next time you’re craving Puerto Rican food, this is where you should go.
“El Puerto Restaurant, tucked away about 2 blocks from 7th Avenue was just what we were looking for! Good, down to earth food, freshly prepared in a casual, uncrowded atmosphere. The Parrillada Argentina had a great meat selection cooked appropriately, great for sharing!” - Yelp Review
Puerto Rican restaurant famous for its stuffed mofongos (fried plantains).
5709 N Armenia Ave | Tampa | lacasonatampa.com
Located on the corner of North Armenia Avenue and West Henry Ave, this cozy, family-owned eatery serves traditional Puerto Rican fare. However, they are best known for their stuffed mofongos, or fried plantains. So, whatever you order, be sure to get an order of stuffed mofongos on the side. Monfongos can be stuffed with chicken, steak tenderloin, grouper fish, lobster tail, shrimp, crab, conch and octopus salad, or a mix of fish, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallop, and lobster. So essentially there is a mofongo for everybody.
One of our favorite menu items is the Paella for One. This lavish version of one of the Valencia classic rice dishes comes with a variety of meat and shellfish at an affordable price—only $29.95. The Camarones a La Criolla is another popular dish. This seafood plate comes with juicy shrimp sauteed in a fragrant creole sauce, with the shrimp either fried or grilled to your liking.
“Best mofongo I had outside Puerto Rico. With garlic and fried pork pieces in it. It was simply amazing. Really good place I will definitely come back. Prices are good $15-$20 per mofongo.” - Yelp Review
No frills Puerto Rican restaurant.
5601 N Armenia Ave | Tampa | la-lechonera.business.site
This no frills Puerto Rican restaurant offers signature dishes in a cafeteria-style setting. This is the perfect spot for a quick bite solo or with family.
Their menu features classic soups, house specials, sandwiches, frituras (fried food), seafood, and desserts. Some of our favorites are the Bistec Empanizado (breaded steak), the Mofongo Relleno De Mariscos, and the Pescado En Escabeche (marinated king fish).
La Lechonera also offers weekly specials. Just to give you an idea of what they might be when you go, this week’s specials include Roast Pork with Onion, Pepper Steak, and Beef Stew made with carne guisada. All main entrees are served with rice and beans and your choice of plantanos or yuca (that’s a tough one).
“So good!!! The food is full of flavor, real puertorrican home style taste. Ohh and do order dessert, they are all to die for!! We took some to go because they are amazingly good!” - Yelp Review
Voted the best Puerto Rican restaurant in Central Florida by the Orlando Sentinel in 2020.
9218 Anderson Rd | Town N Country | palcamporestaurant.com
This modern restaurant offers traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, and it’s not only good, it’s great. Pal Campo Restaurant was even voted the best Puerto Rican restaurant in Central Florida by the Orlando Sentinel in 2020. Be sure to come hungry, because they serve crazy large portions!
Menu highlights include Queso Frito con Salsa de Guayaba (fried cheese with guava sauce), Empanadillas con Pulpo (turnover stuffed with octopus), and Assorted Pal Campo (marinated pork chunks, fried cassava, chicken cracklings, fried green plantains, fried cheese with guava sauce, and pork sausage).
There’s even a vegetarian menu featuring Mofongo con Vegetales, Tostones Ñeñito con Vegetales, and Tostones Rellenos con Vegetales (fried stuffed green plantains with vegetables).
Be sure to check out the dessert menu which offers plenty of delicious dessert options including flan, cheesecake, tres leches, and chocolate lava cake with ice cream.
“After countless friends recommended this place, Pal Campo was the chosen restaurant for my father's birthday dinner this year and let me tell you as expected we were not disappointed! Overall it was an amazing experience. Food was definitely delicious!” - Yelp Review
Pal Campo Restaurant Tampa doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Serving the best Creole food in Tampa.
6311 E Hillsborough | Tampa | lafiebredelsaborcriollo.com
This Puerto Rican restaurant boasts some of the best Creole in Tampa, as well as some of the best mofongos in all of Florida. And they are the real deal, as evinced by a 4.5 star rating on Yelp.
As we mentioned earlier, mofongos are fried plantains. La Fiebre del Sabor Criollo Tampa’s mofongos are very flavorful and very soft—not dry at all, which can often occur with fried plantains. Many say that, aside from the mofongos, the Churrasco is the best dish. It is made with high quality meat and a delicious marinated sauce. We definitely recommend both of these.
We also recommend getting a Frappe to enjoy with your meal! These chocolatey milkshakes are 10x better than any Starbucks frappuccino, and here you can enjoy them with delicious Puerto Rican cuisine.
“This Puerto Rican Gem is in a tiny location near Hillsborough Ave. [It] serves impeccable and traditional platters from the island. The food truck has a beautiful setting… It makes me feel like I am literally in San Juan.” - Yelp Review
La Fiebre del Sabor Criollo Tampa doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Local Puerto Rican food truck with an outdoor seating area.
5226 Gunn Hwy | Tampa | facebook.com/LaFritangaDeTonita
This local Puerto Rican food truck has been voted Best Food Truck of Tampa Bay in 2019, 2020, and 2021. They not only offer delicious Puerto Rican street food, but they also have a cute outdoor space where you can sit and enjoy your food.
The story behind this food truck is heartwarming. The family behind La Fritanga De Toñita moved to the US after Hurricane Maria and wanted a special place to gather with family and eat Puerto Rican food. They felt a sense of accomplishment after winning Best Food Truck of Tampa Bay, but they keep on working hard so that one day they can open the small restaurant they always dreamed of.
They serve plates like Carne Frita con Mofongo o Tostones (fried pork chunks with mofongo or fried plantains), alcapurrias, empanadillas y sorullos, empanadillas rellenas, and drinks like Malta, a Puerto Rican malt drink.
The food truck is only open Friday–Sunday from 12:00pm–10:00pm, but it’s so worth it you will just have to take the time out of your weekend to go!
“If talking about street food. This food truck have it. Most Puerto Rican food are mofongo, but rarely about their street food. This owner of food truck from Puerto Rico, they came to United State for better life. They brought local street food with them.” - Yelp Review
La Fritanga De Toñita doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Puerto Rican food truck serving breakfast.
3125 W Hillsborough Ave | Tampa | los-gorditos-food-truck.business.site
Los Gorditos is another Puerto Rican food truck, however, what sets this one apart is that they serve breakfast! So not only can you get mofongo and your other Puerto Rican favorites like Carne Frita and tostones, but you can also get Puerto Rican-style pancakes, toasts, French toast, and Café con Leche (coffee cake).
Sometimes they even have mini donuts covered in powdered sugar, so keep your fingers crossed they are serving them on the night you go!
Fair warning, their mofongo is a little different here than other places. Many reviewers say they are softer as opposed to the crumby texture they are used to, and they have mixed opinions on it. So just keep that in mind when you are trying mofongos here! Who knows, you might like them better than the mofongos you are used to!
“Try it! You'll like it. Place is full on weekends. Music ppl hanging laughing eating talking. Food is good too!! It's worth the money and you'll leave with a smile after trying their food. It's the perfect outdoor fun spot.” - Yelp Review
La Gorditos Food Truck doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Hopefully there is one Puerto Rican restaurant on this list you are now dying to try. Let us know in the comments which of these Puerto Rican restaurants (or food trucks) in Tampa you try first! We love to hear from you!