Food & Drink

Eat Like a Local in Tampa

Chef Greg Baker shares a few favorite local hole-in-the-walls

In the birthplace of Hooter’s and Outback Steakhouse, Greg Baker staked a claim for a different kind of local flavor when he opened the Refinery in 2010. Then, in 2014, the Clearwater, Florida–raised chef resurrected regional classics like sour orange pie and sofkee porridge at the nearby Fodder & Shine. But where does Baker eat when he’s not on the clock? Ahead of the Clemson-Alabama national championship game, we asked him to share a few favorite local hole-in-the-walls.

Left to right: tacos at Loli's Mexican Cravings; chef Greg Baker; Cuban sandwiches at La Segunda Central Bakery.

Left to right: tacos at Loli’s Mexican Cravings; chef Greg Baker; Cuban sandwiches at La Segunda Central Bakery.

Brocato’s Sandwich Shop
5021 E Columbus Drive, Tampa

“This place serves our local version of deviled crab. It’s basically crab mixed with tomato sauce and breadcrumbs, formed into a football, then breaded and fried. Historically, this is what people would do with their leftover crab pasta sauce.”— 

Chop Chop Shop
6605 N Florida Avenue, Tampa

“Here, you pick rice or noodles and different toppings to put on top. It’s run by a husband-and-wife team—and while the menu is largely Korean, she’s Russian, so you’ve got things like marinated mushrooms on the menu. I usually get a pork belly bowl and add some karaage [Japanese fried chicken] nuggets.”—

La Segunda Central Bakery
2512 N 15th Street, Ybor City

“It’s been there since 1915, and it is the place to get a Cuban sandwich in Tampa—a proper Tampa Cuban. Because of the cigar industry, Tampa’s native cuisine is a mix of Cuban and Sicilian. So our Cuban sandwich has roast pork from Cuba, salami from Sicily—oh, and mustard from Germany. These were the immigrants who came to work in West Tampa and Ybor City.”—

La Teresita Cafeteria
3248 W Columbus Drive, Tampa

“This is the classic Cuban diner, with three or four horseshoe counters going around. It’s an experience. Puerco asado is a special every day, and beyond that you can get anything from arroz frito to breaded milanesa steak.”—

Loli’s Mexican Cravings
8005 Benjamin Road, Tampa

“It’s a tiny shop in the middle of an industrial area, with two people making tortillas fresh to order. Their campechano [mixed meat] and carnitas tacos are both incredible.”—

Phở An Hòa
2730 W Waters Ave, Tampa

“This is the best pho that I’ve ever had in my life. The broth is rich and coats the tongue. No single flavor is overpowering, but you can pick up the ginger and star anise and really taste the meat. They’ve probably got fifteen or twenty options, but I get the tenderloin, brisket, and tendon.”—813-490-9157

Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish
1350 Pasadena Avenue S, St. Petersburg

“This place makes better smoked mullet than I do. It’s all about smoked fish, whether it’s a slab or the famous spread. It’s been open since 1951, and they put so much time and care into everything.”—