By Dalia Colon
Before I was a mom who spends most Friday nights watching Shark Tank, I was an entertainment reporter for the Tampa Bay Times.
During my five-year stint, I logged a lot of late hours covering everything from concerts to Super Bowl parties to drag queen bingo. At the end of a late night in Tampa, all I wanted was to wash off my makeup and snuggle next to my fast-asleep husband.
But first, I needed sustenance.
These were some of my favorite haunts. If you find yourself famished after a long night and looking for some cheap eats in Tampa, stop by one of these affordable eateries for some late night food in Tampa.
1. Taco Bus
This restaurant -- which looks like a bus but is actually a building -- is the darling of late-night restaurants in Tampa and no stranger to the press; BuzzFeed named it among the nation’s most popular food trucks of 2013. The menu is simple: made-to-order tacos featuring authentic Mexican-style meats and a considerate selection of vegetarian options. (Butternut squash taco? Surprisingly delish.) Taco Bus has five locations in Tampa Bay.
2. La Teresita
Coke or Pepsi? Boxers or briefs? At this Cuban eatery, you have two types of customers: those who prefer the dining room, and those who’d rather pull up a stool at the cafeteria counter. Both serve the same satisfying chicken with yellow rice, ropa vieja and fried sweet plantains. But after a late night of cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at nearby Raymond James Stadium, the cafeteria is the place to see and be seen.
3. The Market on 7th
During my days as an entertainment reporter, I often found myself in Ybor City, a neighborhood known for its rich history… and thriving night clubs. After a fun but exhausting night of covering Tampa’s party scene, I always looked forward to a slice of crispy, bubbly pizza from this Seventh Avenue restaurant and live music venue.
4. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is like the city-within-a-city that never sleeps. Its signature Hard Rock Cafe serves quality steaks, seafood, burgers and pasta. Other after-midnight dining options include the Hard Rock’s noodle bar and food court.
5. La Casa del Chimi
Food trucks aren’t just for daytime. La Casa del Chimi, an East Hillsborough County eatery, is a fave of my friend Luis, a photographer who accompanied me on many of those late-night newspaper assignments. If you’re in the mood for good Dominican food, hit up Chimi’s.
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