You can measure a city in plenty of ways, but one of them is the number of can't-miss stops you'd tell anyone visiting to be sure to put on the itinerary. The spots where the locals go, as well as send friends that are visiting to get an authentic flair for a city. "Oh you have to go see..." "Make sure you try the..."

They are the places that carry the flagship for any place where tourism is a big part of the economy. Part-destination and part-monument, they are a signal sight to see upon visiting any specific locale.

And the Heights Public Market at Armature Works became one of those spaces for Tampa as soon as they cut the Grand Opening ribbon last week.

Taking an abandoned trolley car shop in a neighborhood overrun by grass and ennui just a decade ago, and turning it into a mandatory dining landmark overnight is no small feat. But it's the signature piece of the urban renewal in the Tampa Heights neighborhood that includes Ulele and The Hall on Franklin, and transitions what was the outpost of a "next" neighborhood into a "now" destination. It also expands the footprint of Downtown Tampa up the Hillsborough River, which by a stroke of luck runs north-south through the area, allowing for flawless sunsets on the water.

And then there's the food. Did we mention the food?

With 15 spaces for food vendors, as well as a gorgeous outdoor patio/courtyard with a bar, there's plenty of space to enjoy Tampa's weather all year-round. Visitors to our fair home now can stroll down the Tampa Riverwalk to a fantastic space with culinary delights that are a part of the fabric of the city. Just as Philadephia has with Reading Terminal Market or Boston with Boston Public Market, Tampa now has a signature culinary destination people will talk about when they get home.

They can get a Cuban Sandwich from Hemingway's next to local office workers on their lunch break, gorge on the legendary steak frites from CRU Cellars, and indulge in horchata lattes from UNION, Coffee & Tea by Commune + Co.. They'll pop in on a weekend after a ride on the Pirate Water Taxi, see a wedding in the gorgeous new event space that will become the go-to for nuptials in Tampa, and get an actual slice of what it means to be a Tampanian, alongside a slice of brisket from BnB Heights Public Market

An epicurean can explore Tampa and her history through the flavors coming from these kitchens, as well as the next waves of cuisine from across the region and the planet. And it's all a pleasant stroll from the core of downtown. 

It's not just a foodie destination, but instantly the best event space in Tampa too. The waiting list for the main hall on Spring Saturdays is going to measured years, not months. Get used to this picture fellow Tampanians, because it's likely you'll be invited to many receptions and bar mitzvahs here.

Heights Public Market is a stamp on the mental postcard that will be sent home with visitors to Tampa for decades, and will be a part of the fabric of the city. And it's damn delicious as well.

The noodles from Ichicoro Imoto in Heights Public Market are the same as those at Ichicoro, which has become an institution in Seminole Heights. AVA has their pizza available too, as are the luscious tacos of South Tampa's O Cocina. It's an entire tasting tour of Tampa available at one table, with the buzz of a city on the rise surrounding you.

The City of Tampa needed a place like Heights Public Market. Tampa Heights needed an anchor for its resurrection, and Armature Works' signature tenant is now a destination. A landmark that will stand the test of time.

Congrats, Tampa. This special place is all yours.

Photos courtesy of author.