12 Tampa Bay Lunches the Locals Love for Under $12


Flight Network Foodie   Let's Save Some Dough  

Photo credit: Kzenon
Photo credit: Kzenon

Tampa is one of Florida’s most unique cities. Located on the states gulf coast, it’s warm year round temperatures and beautiful beaches make it a fantastic destination for a quick weekend getaway or an escape from harsh winter weather. It’s also become home to many migrants from around the world. The Tampa Bay area reflects the vibrant melting pot of cuisines and cultures that Florida is best known for with out the pretention of South Beach or the outrageousness of Orlando. With an eclectic mix of Southern charm and Cuban spice, Tampa has grown into a city with a well-defined and unique culture. Because of this, it has become a food lover’s paradise and features some fantastic options for a great meal without having to break the bank. Here are the 12 best spots for a lunch under 12 bucks that any local would vouch for.

 Columbia Café


The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor city holds the title for the Oldest Restaurant in Florida as well as the Worlds Largest Spanish Restaurant. Opened in 1905 the original Ybor City location is still the best place to go to savor the exquisite Cuban cuisine while taking in a piece of Florida history. Still owned and run by the 4th and 5th generation of family founders Columbia is the best place to go for Spanish and Cuban cuisine in Tampa. The Columbia Café is a downtown offshoot of the original and features many of the signature entrees at a budget friendly price and convenient downtown location with bay front views.


  • The 1905 Salad features a blend of local ingredients mixed with Cuban staples like baked sweet ham and swiss cheese used in Cuban Sandwiches.
  • For a simple sampler go for the half Cuban sandwich and half 1905 salad, but be warned you’ll reach your weekly quota for ham and pork consumption
  • Leave room for a Café con Leche and Flan for dessert


Most Lunch Entrees, Sandwiches, and Tapas under $12.00


801 Old Water Street #1905
Tampa, Fl 33602
(813) 229-5511

 Moxie’s Cafe


Moxie’s owners Bob & Karen, take a simple concept and then flawlessly execute it across their entire menu. They are determined to bring in the freshest and highest quality ingredients every day, and put together the best sandwiches and fresh salads in downtown Tampa. All their ingredients from the veggies to the coffee beans are brought in fresh each morning and personally inspected to ensure they truly are the best. It’s a level of commitment to quality that is rarely seen and leaves no question as to why they have the best sandwiches downtown.


  • Moxie’s gets very busy for both the breakfast and lunch rush. You can order online or over the phone then pick-up or have it delivered.
  • Make is a combo and add on the fresh baked cookie, you won’t regret it.


Nothing on the menu is more than $9 with most sandwiches around $7


514 North Tampa Street
Tampa, Fl 33602
(813) 221-4510

 Acropolis Greek Taverna


Located in the heart of Ybor city Acropolis offers delicious Greek food at a fair price. With tables downstairs and comfortable couches upstairs, it’s suitable for a professional meeting or just a nice place for a relaxing lunch.


  • For a fun appetizer order the Saganaki – The cheese is flambéed tableside
  • If you’re hungry try a platter – You’ll get a taste of  Greece and leave happy.


Salad, Sandwiches, and Wraps $6 – $9, Platters $12


1833 East 7th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 242-4545

 Miguel’s Mexican Seafood & Grill


If you are looking for a quick, fresh, and satisfying lunch you can’t go wrong with Miguel’s. Opened in 1992 by founder Miguel Rodgriguez, his goal is to offer the same authentic and home-made dishes inspired by his Aunt “Mamma Ninfa”.


  • The spinach enchiladas are “crave worthy” and will make you want to come back for more.
  • Enchiladas Miguel are a true crowd pleaser


3035 West Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 876-2587

Daily Eats


Taking the classic diner to the next level, Daily Eats offers a “breakfast all day” menu alongside their innovative lunch and dinner menu. Lunch favorites include five different varieties of Mac N’Cheese and Shredder Bowls which combine brown rice, lettuce, and your choice of meat topping.


  • “De Cheesey Macs” are a classic choice, try the Fiesta or Spicy Buffalo to kick it  up a notch.
  • For a late lunch stop by from 2 – 7Pm and get a burger and side for only $5 on weekdays
  • If you are in town on the weekend, their Brunch is definitely a must as it features a classic Bloody Mary bar.


All Entrees $7 – $11


901 South Howard Avenue
Tampa, Fl 33606
(813) 868-3335

 Inside the Box Café


With the motto “A meal for you, A meal for them” Inside the Box Café founder Chef Cliff Barsi, is turning lunch into an opportunity for social change. Partnered with a local charity, the proceeds from Inside the Box support meal programs for people in need. The simple menu of salads, sandwiches, and sides are prepared with simple high quality ingredients.


  • Favorite sides include the Crunchy Broccoli Slaw and the Potato Asparagus Salad
  • For something different try the Chicken N’ Waffles or Mojo Pork Tostones hot half sandwiches


Salads starting at $4 Lunch Boxes – $7

505 North Tampa Street
Tampa, Fl 33602
(813) 227-9248



In an interesting twist to the usual lunch faire, Datz seeks to serve their guest comfort foods with a twist.  How about a Mac n’ Cheese served with candied jalepenos or a flatbread topped with roast duck? I thought that would get your attention.


  • For a twist on the Cuban Sandwich order the top selling Havana Hottie.
  • Love beer? Datz has 29 craft brews on tap and features several local brews including Cigar City Brewing.
  • Go early for lunch as it can get very busy at peak time.


Most Lunch Entrees $10 – $12


2616 S. MacDill Avenue
Tampa, FL 33629
(813) 831-7000

 Pane Rustica Bakery & Café


Featuring fresh made breads and other delightful treats from their Italian bakery , Pane Rustica is a solid choice for lunch. Using quality ingredients and a touch of flair they bring a touch of freshness to Tampa Bay.


  • Even though it’s extremely popular, they are closed on Mondays.
  • If your feeling adventurous try the “Shut up and Eat” The selection changes daily, sometimes the throughout the day, and you don’t know what it is until it reaches the table.


Lunch for $7 – $10


3225 South MacDill Avenue
Tampa, Fl 33629
(813) 902-8828

 La Teresita


Founded by first generation Cuban immigrants in 1972, La Teresita is like stepping into grandma’s Cuban kitchen. Their menu featured traditional Cuban dishes, served in generous portions, at an affordable price.


  • For a classic Cuban dish try the Ropa Vieja – meaning “old clothes” it features shreeded beef in a tomato creole sauce.
  • If you like french fries try the yucca fries instead they come with a garlic dipping sauce that is delightful.


Lunch Entrees from $6 – $9


3248 West Columbus Drive
Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 879-9704

 Taco Bus


With five locations the Taco Bus has taken the Bay area by storm. Chef Rene grew up in Mexico and decided to bring the flavors of Mexican street food to the streets of Tampa.


  • All tacos and burritos offer vegetarian and vegan options including tempeh and tofu.
  • The “Camarones Asado” are a daily special and a local favorite


Complete Lunch from $6 -$9


505 North Franklin Street
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 397-2800

 Brocato’s Sandwich Shop


Family owned and operated since 1948, Brocato’s is a taste of old Tampa. Part restaurant, deli, and market they are known for their consistent quality at a fantastic price. While they don’t claim to be the originators of the famous Tampa deviled crab, they certainly do serve one of the best in the Bay.


  • Lunch rush is extremely busy and there is very limited seating. Call ahead or order online then pick-up your order.
  • Order a classic Cuban sandwich and a deviled crab, you won’t be disappointed.


Lunches from $5- $8


5021 East Columbus Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
(813) 248-9977

 Bamboozle Café


Inspired by traditional Vietnamese cuisine the team at Bamboozle café put together a simple array of fresh and delicious lunch options. Featuring wholesome simple ingredients seasoned with fresh herbs and spices, it’s easy to have a healthy asd satisfying meal.


  • Order a selection of their Bamboozle Rolls, by far the most popular item on the menu.
  • Baked Springroll Noodle Salad is a popular vegetarian option.


Lunches from $8 – $10


516 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 223 -7320

About the Author

Full-Time traveler and native Floridian, Kenin Bassart, has a passion for all things food.  Having called Tampa his home for over 5 years he knows the ins and outs of the local dining scene. For more of his travel and dining insights check out his couples travel blog The Constant Rambler.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *