The Vegan’s Guide to Tampa: Part One (of at Least Three)

During the two and a half years since I moved back to Tampa from beautiful Durham, North Carolina, I’ve discovered the city’s very best attribute (no, it’s not the beaches, although they are lovely): the bounty of vegan food–especially vegan junk food. A veritable cornucopia of options await the hungry vegan. Fortunately, the city of the world’s longest continuous sidewalk offers many opportunities to burn off those calories, too. Just across the bridges over Old Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg also offers a ton of amazing vegan food. I’ll save my St. Pete and other Pinellas County recommendations for another post, especially since I can’t fit all my Tampa recs into one post. (Can’t wait? This list is a legit guide to St. Petersburg’s main vegan culinary attractions.)

3 Dot Dash

The Fat Mac from 3 Dot Dash

Located inside Jug & Bottle Dept., a lovely bottle shop in Seminole Heights, 3 Dot Dash is the ultimate vegan junk food. Super reasonably priced and served by some of the friendliest staff, 3 Dot Dash’s burgers and chik’n sandwiches have become a staple of my weekday lunch rotation. I am working my full-time job plus working part-time on a COVID-19 testing research project, so I don’t have time to prepare lunches most work days. 3 Dot Dash keeps me full and happy. Their specials are always on point, but my favorite regulars include the Southern Chik’n, a house-made fried chick’n cutlet with Alabama white BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle and the Fat Mac, a quarter-pound Impossible burger, topped with cashew mac, ranch, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle. (Hold the pickles for me.) I always, always get fries with cashew whiz, too. So. Yummy. When my non-vegan best friend was visiting Tampa back in February, she requested a second visit to 3 Dot Dash after having the Southern Chik’n. She’s planning another visit, and 3 Dot Dash is already on her to-do list, after snuggling with her favorite canine nephew, Parker. 3 Dot Dash offers pick-up and delivery via Uber Eats.

Farmacy Vegan Kitchen

With locations downtown inside Duckweed Urban Grocery in the Element building and in the Channel District, Farmacy makes at least a biweekly appearance on my lunch menu and an occasional appearance at dinner time. Like 3 Dot Dash, Farmacy offers a variety of Impossible burgers. There are some genuinely healthy options, too. I have been known to say I hate salad, but Farmacy’s Herb-Roasted Kale Caesar is delicious. They also serve Impossible Philly Cheese Steaks along with several other hot sandwiches, cold wraps, salads, acai bowls, sides, and sweets. I often order the Frisco Melt, an Impossible patty on garlic sourdough bread with American “cheese”, Farmacy pickles, special sauce, tomatoes and avocado. The special sauce is amazing and I never eat pickles on purpose, but I like Farmacy’s. I accidentally forgot to request to leave them off this week and, as a friend promised, I liked them! You can taste the cucumber and they are not overly briny or acidic.

Black Radish Vegan Grocer

I cannot sing the praises of Black Radish loudly enough. My only regret about my recent move is that I am no longer quick walking distance away from the V. M. Ybor gem. (I live a whole 1.1 miles away now.) From the design of their signage and website to the difficult-to-find vegan products they carry, my love for Black Radish knows no bounds. I regularly self-medicate with sweets (don’t judge me, I am vegan for the animals not for prevention of diabetes), and Black Radish carries a ton of local Oopsy Daisy Sweets products including my favorite, the Vinkie (a vegan “Twinkie”), in vanilla and chocolate and a mind-blowing brownie containing Oreos, peanut butter, and chocolate chunks. Tuesday nights from 5 to 8 p.m., go get a Munch Wrap! The fillings vary from Buffalo to Al Pastor to Plant Ranch Pollo Asado. Check their Instagram for the latest. Brunch is served Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just Egg, Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, Impossible sausage on a Pretzilla roll? Omg, yes.

HaleLife Bakery

I’m extremely skeptical about gluten-free foods, particularly baked goods, yet HaleLife‘s vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, donuts, bread, and waffles have completely won me over. To soothe my post-election anxiety, I’ve been consuming approximately one two-pack of HaleLife cinnamon rolls daily. (I wish that was a joke.) My other go-tos include the chocolate ganache cupcake, smores donut, and salted caramel cheesecake cupcake. (Look at all the research I have done on your behalf, dear reader!) HaleLife has two locations–South Tampa and Clearwater.

For now, I’ll leave you to try (or dream about) these wonderful local eateries. Coming in part two: King State, Dharma Fine Vittles (formerly Dixie Dharma), Bodega, Taco Dirty, and more.

Depressed? Try a Mental Health Dance Party

Whether you’re suffering from an ordinary down mood or major depressive disorder like me–or something in between or different altogether–many people have advice for you. Including me.

Some mornings, before my magical cocktail of coffee, Trintellix, and CBD Relief Toads kicks in, there’s almost nothing that can get me motivated to unstick my ass from the sofa, where I am watching Mika and Joe report Donald Trump’s latest efforts to destroy any remaining shreds of American democracy. (I know I should not start my day with the news, but I am the one doling out the advice today!) Intellectually, I realize that a short yoga practice, a healthy breakfast, a shower, and a walk with the dogs will make me feel at least better enough to get my day started. But sometimes I literally can’t. That inability to override the heavy freeze of depression with one’s will is its defining feature, in my opinion.

For those days, I have a Mental Health Dance Party, five to fifteen minutes of listening to music that motivates me in some way, usually culminating in spontaneous embarrassing white girl dance moves. (I imagine that my dancing brings my dogs great amusement.) With essentially zero effort and exactly zero expectations around whether I will actually dance on a given day, I pick up my phone, open Spotify, and click play. My playlist, prepped in the days or weeks before, is right there, so there’s no decision-making anxiety around which songs to choose. Inevitably, one of the first few songs gets at least a little head nod going. Five minutes later, I am shaking my booty and grinding coffee beans.

The benefits?

  • No side effects!
  • It’s free!
  • It’s fun!
  • Studies show that music helps depression.
  • Dancing helps depression, too!
  • Inevitably, you’ll get your heart rate up and move around (also known as exercise). And guess what? Exercise also helps depression.
  • If it doesn’t improve your mood, you will still have exercised for a few minutes and inadvertently improved your heart health, if not your mental health.

If you try it, please share some of your favorite jams. I’ll gather the responses and create a collaborative Mental Health Dance Party playlist.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP, available 24/7.