Smiling cheerful couple sitting in a restaurant, having dinner and chatting. Man talking to a woman while a woman listening to him and drinking white wine.

Tampa Bay’s Dining Scene is Tough to Resist

There was a time when dining out was simply a precursor to the main event of the evening. A night out used to consist of dinner and a movie or dinner and dancing. And while that is still the case on occasion, more and more, dining out is becoming the main event as restaurants find new ways to entice and entertain their diners. Whether it is fine dining surrounded by a carefully curated space and a chef-inspired menu, beachfront fare with live music and sunset views, or a bite at the favorite neighborhood spot followed by a round of trivia, people are devoting more time to the restaurant portion of the evening.

Despite rising costs, people are also dining out more frequently. According to a recent study conducted by Nationwide Insurance, which both insures and advises restaurants on dealing with everything from inflation to supply chain issues, every segment of the restaurant industry has not only bounced back post-pandemic, but in many cases, they are surpassing their pre-pandemic levels of business.

The results of WOW’s 2023 Dining Survey reveal that residents of Westchase and our Northwest neighborhoods are doing their part to bolster the restaurant industry, with 48% of respondents dining out 1-2 times per week and 47% dining out 3-4 times a week. Of those dining out, 24% spend between $1-100 per week, 56% spend between $101-250, 15% average $250 per week and 4% average a whopping $400 per week.

What is driving this increase in dining out? A nationwide survey conducted by Popmenu, a leading innovator in digital marketing and ordering technology in the dining industry, found that the convenience, grocery prices and loyalty to preferred eateries are major drivers of dining out.

Convenience and loyalty are definitely at play in our corner of Northwest Tampa. We are just a short drive, bike ride or walk away from a wide range of restaurants, bars and even two nearby breweries. There are numerous options for trivia nights, happy hour and live music, many of which have grown into regular gathering spots for neighbors. And if the night calls for burgers or pizza, you’ve got options galore. The best thing about dining locally is that it not only helps support our local businesses, but it also helps promote that sense of community that is so important in this day and age.

On top of our numerous local dining options, our location affords us easy access to dining establishments across Tampa Bay that are catering to the area’s booming tourist scene. On any given day, we can hop in the car, drive 30 minutes and stick our toes in the sand while noshing on a grouper sandwich and watching the sunset. We can take a quick drive to quaint tourist towns like Dunedin, Safety Harbor and Tarpon Springs to enjoy their unique dining scenes. We can head to downtown Tampa for a meal along our award-winning Riverwalk; drive to South Tampa to dine at icons like Bern’s Steakhouse or Wright’s Gourmet Deli; or get dressed to the nines and try out the burgeoning dining scenes in Westshore and Midtown. It’s no wonder we are so keen on dining out.

This year, we updated the WOW Dining Survey to reflect some of the current trends – from trivia nights to cocktails and small bites – while also adding in some of the newest players to hit the dining scene. We put a focus on our local options, but also worked in some of the hot spots across Tampa Bay to not only offer a well-rounded guide, but also to show just how well our local options stack up. You can see the winners here. We had a record number of responses to the survey this year and we thank all who took the time to participate. Congratulations to Susan Tillinghast of West Park Village who was randomly selected to win dinner for two, courtesy of the WOW!

We also welcome input on how we can improve our survey in the coming years. Feel free to email suggestions to

We offer a special thank you to all of the local dining establishments that made it possible for us to bring you this survey.  When you visit them, be sure to let them know you saw them in the WOW.

Happy dining!

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