Whenever someone asked me where to get the best Cuban sandwich in Tampa, my mind always went straight to Bodega. The only problem was it techinically wasn't in Tampa, but across the bridge in the beautiful Downtown St. Pete. However to my delight, owner George Sayegh and his wife Debbie unveil a second location in Seminole Heights tomorrow.
“We wanted to open a second location. We had a lot of options. People sought us out from all over," said Sayegh. "They wanted us to go to the beach, Sarasota or Clearwater. But it seemed like every day we had people coming to the window in St. Pete asking us, ‘When are you opening in Tampa?’”
The couple got excited when space opened up in the emerging neighborhood because they felt at home with the similarities to their current location.
“Seminole Heights was the place we were going to do it in Tampa, if we were going to do it. There seems to be a lot of crossover between Seminole Heights and DTSP.”
The Latin American restaurant’s second location is as hip, stylish and unique as its first; black floral murals on white walls with yellow accents, bananas hanging as a backsplash for the bar, with and a yellow neon signs reading “order here” above the register. Attention to detail in the design is everywhere.
Aesthetics, you know?
The new location comes with seating both inside and outside, perfect for the hot summer days with unpredictable rain. As Tampa's newest hipster-hangout by default, it's bound to be the newest hotspot spot for the Insta-famous of The Heights.
But it doesn’t stop at appearances. Their Latin American food literally blows my mind. When I first stumbled upon Bodega I ordered the Frita, a Cuban-style beef and pork burger with spicy mayo, tomato, avocado, and fried potato (fritas) on top. It's one of the most unique burgers I've had, and the taste of the patty alone had me hooked.
I’ve been back time and time again and tried almost everything on the menu, but my favorite thing at Bodega remains the Cuban sandwich. It’s the best in Tampa Bay by a mile! Slow-roasted mojo pork layered with ham, Swiss cheese, fresh made-in-house pickles and mayo on pressed Cuban bread. I like to sub the regular mayo with their spicy mayo, and add a side of mustard if you want to make my perfect Cuban.
Rumor has it they’re going to be open on Thursday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., but the official opening is on Friday so stop in for the best Cuban sandwich anywhere!
From July 27th - August 10th: Wednesday- Sunday: 11am-4pm
But that will only last a week or two until they’re more comfortable at their new location. “We’re going to fit in great.” said George Sayegh. “A bunch of businesses that we really like are around us and it makes us feel at home. Similar to how we feel at our location in St. Pete. It’s a good fit.”
All images from author.