Local Bites: Celebrating Valentine's Day in the Tampa Bay Area

Whether you're celebrating the evening of or over the weekend, with a loved one, with friends or by enjoying the time to yourself, I've got a few ideas on where you can treat yourself (or your Valentine) for Valentine's Day. The Tampa Bay area is packed with amazing foodie destinations, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate a romantic holiday, than over some delicious noms. Personally, I don't think the spot has to have a "romantic" ambiance - just ask pH, nothing's more romantic to me than sharing a tasty double cheeseburger with him, even if it's in the vicinity of people shouting while watching a game. Keep an open mind!

Cask Social (South Tampa)

Cask Social in South Tampa is easily one of my favorite spots for a chill evening with pH. He absolutely adores their cocktail options, and I'm a sucker for their mocktails; our favorite dishes are the Buffalo Cauliflower and Chef's Seafood Platter. // Cask Social is raffling of two Valentine's Day dinners for two - donate $25 or more to the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation and you're automatically entered.

Engine No. 9 (Downtown St. Petersburg)

Engine No. 9 in downtown St. Pete is our favorite spot in the Tampa Bay area for a gourmet burger - they are amazing. Equally amazing is the appetizer selection, oh, and the fact that you get your own personal TV to watch is pretty cool, too. Favorite appetizers include Fried Dill Pickle Spears and Macho Tater Tots; favorite burgers are the Bokor and Van Helsing.

Fly Bar & Restaurant (Downtown Tampa)

Photo: Delane Ashley

Photo: Delane Ashley

Fly Bar & Restaurant in downtown Tampa has been a favorite spot of ours for a long time, and may just have been the location of our first unofficial date. pH has had a love affair with their cocktails for quite some time now, and their dishes do not disappoint, ever. Favorite drinks include the Auld Fashioned and Reverse Manhattan, favorite appetizers include Panko Crusted Goat Cheese and Poutine and favorite dishes include Sofrito Green Beans and Shrimp & Grits.

Franklin Manor (Downtown Tampa)

Franklin Manor in downtown Tampa is a sweet spot for live music and fantastic food. You cannot go wrong with their incredible smoothly blended frosé, and I highly recommend that you order the Carriage House Burger paired with the Frites - it's a heavenly take on the classic cheeseburger that you will not regret.

Hawkers Asian Street Fare (Downtown St. Pete)

If you're craving an Asian-inspired food adventure, Hawkers Asian Street Fare in downtown St. Pete is a great place to share small plates with your Valentine. Favorite dishes include Roti Canai, Green Papaya & Shrimp Salad, Malaysian Prawn Mee Soup and Grilled Bulgogi Beef Skewers.

Marlow's Tavern (Carrollwood)

If you're opting for a weekend celebration, Marlow's Tavern in North Tampa is a great spot for a casual Sunday brunch. I'm a big fan of pretty much all of their food options, but especially the Firecracker Shrimp, Shrimp & Grits, Grilled Chicken Stack and Serious Steak and Eggs. And if you're a fan of Bloody Marys like I am, the Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar is a must. // Marlow's Tavern is helping you celebrate Valentine's Day with a special prix fixe menu, $35 per person for food only, $50 per person with drink pairings. Call the restaurant for more information and to reserve!

Rock 'N Raw (East Lake-Orient Park)

If you're up for some fun and food, consider hitting up Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for a little slots action, followed by a yummy visit to Rock 'N Raw - some of my favorite dishes include the Surf & Turf Roll, White Flounder Supreme, Luc Lac Beef Tenderloin and Assam Prawns - do not forget to ask for their house-made hot peppers on the side!

Seasons 52 (Northwest Tampa)

If you're looking for a great dining option that's on the healthier side, I don't think you can go wrong with Seasons 52 at Westshore Plaza - we've never had a bad experience there, and always feel great after each meal. pH is a big fan of the Wood-Grilled Pork Tenderloin; I personally love the Asian-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass - it melts in your mouth!

The Living Room on Main (Downtown Dunedin)

One of my favorite late discoveries The Living Room on Main in downtown Dunedin is the picturesque romantic Valentine's Day date. Mood lighting and live music set the tone, and although we haven't gotten the chance to try their menu in full, our favorites so far include the Angus Beef Poutine and you're not allowed to leave without ordering the decadently delicious Mary Margaret Marquis.

Where are some of your favorite foodie spots to celebrate at?