Here is my #1 pick... recognize it? Go through to the end of my Top 10 to see if you're right!

It’s not often temperatures dip below 50 in the Tampa area. But when they do, these are 10 great things to eat to warm you up and fill you up.

Even though I grew up in Maine, when temps drop below 50 degrees, I cringe. My tolerance for cold is long gone. When I go home to visit family for Christmas, it’s nice to see snow for a day or two but by December 26, I’m counting down the nanoseconds until I get back to the palm trees. We had some frigid weather this past weekend and it looks like next weekend will be more of the same. So here are 10 things I love to eat in the Tampa area that come to you HOT!

  • #10: Hot Buffalo Wings at Glory Days in St. Pete

    Tampa has some great places for wings. Hat Tricks near Amalie Arena, The Press Box, Mugs & Jugs in Largo, Glory Days next to the radio station in St. Pete and EATS American Grill in Riverview are probably my favorites. But I’m sad to say that EATS is no longer around. They truly had the best wings in Tampa Bay.

  • #9: The Margherita with Extra Sauce at Cristinos Coal Oven Pizza in Clearwater

    Crucial that you order with extra sauce!  Also this is not a pizza that is ideal for take away.  You want to enjoy this pie piping hot right there at the restaurant.  Cristino’s has made a bunch of “best of” lists nationally.  It’s definitely my favorite pizza in Florida. And when temps drop below 50, they put the heaters out on the patio.

  • #8: Potato Balls at Brocato's in Tampa

    The Cubans and devil crab are famous too.  You definitely get your money’s worth at Brocato’s.  Portions are enormous!  You won’t leave hungry.

  • #7: Cheese Fries at Portillo's

    Fatal mistake on this visit when I took this pic – I didn’t order the side of cheese sauce.  But cheese fries with a chocolate cake shake? Yes please.  Portillo’s may be best known for their Italian Beef sandwiches and Chicago style hot dogs, but I love their burgers.

  • #6: Honey Garlic Chicken at China Wok in Brandon

    Cold or rainy weather – I’m definitely ordering Chinese.  The one thing I miss about living over on the Hillsborough side was this cheap lunch special.  It’s easy to miss when you’re driving down Adamo.  Look in the little plaza across the street from Brandon Ford.  If you’re on the Pinellas side, Zom Hee in Seminole is a fantastic choice.

  • #5: BBQ at Poppas in Pinellas Park or First Choice in Brandon

    Cold weather season (both weeks of it) is the perfect time to visit First Choice because their air conditioning is horrible but the food makes it worth suffering through the heat.

  • #4: Chicken Parmesan sub at Italian Touch in St. Pete

    Their pizza is great. As is the lunch special with Italian Sausage.  But it’s their chicken parm that made me fall in love with this easily missed gem. You might remember their original location called Italia Mia on MLK. When the business closed down a few years ago, I was heartbroken. Come to find out they had just switched locations. You’ll now find them at 8211 46th Ave N in St. Petersburg. Warning: parking is a PAIN here, but it’s well worth the hassle.

  • #3: Spicy Fajitas at Don Pancho Villa in Clearwater

    Discovered this place when I was waiting for my car at Clearwater Toyota.  It’s not easy to find great Mexican food in Florida.  Many swear by Lolli’s but I love this place.  Miguel’s on Kennedy in Tampa is a great spot too.

  • #2: Deep dish pizza Chicago style at Cappy's in Riverview or St. Pete

    Wait, didn’t I just say Cristino’s is my favorite pizza in Florida?  So how did this pie outrank it?  Only because we’re talking about cold weather places to eat.  Cold weather is the best time to splurge and go with a deep dish Chicago style pizza.  Many love Paul’s and it is good.  But Cappy’s does it best.  I’ve only been to the Riverview and St. Pete locations, but I’m sure the others in Tampa are worth a visit too.

  • Honorable Mention: Perfectly Seasoned French Fries at Wing Stop in Largo

    Before we get to #1, gotta give some love one more time to that underrated side item: french fries. I know I already included the cheese fries at Portillo’s but fries are a great cold weather food. And the way they season them at Wing Stop blows me away every time.  And if you go to the one in Largo, jackpot – it’s right next to the great burgers at Five Guys.

  • #1: A legit Philly cheesesteak at Delco's in Dunedin

    I’m flying up to Philadelphia for a concert next month and am already plotting out my cheesesteak itinerary: Jim’s on South Street, Geno’s (maybe I’m biased) not Pat’s, Dalessandro’s, Mama Luke’s.  It’s not an easy decision to make.  But when you’re in Tampa Bay, it’s a no-brainer.  DelCo is the place to go.  In cold weather, nothing beats that hot steak and melty cheese.  Be sure to order it the right way… “wiz wit.”  (Cheese Whiz with onions.)


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