What is a delicatessen, you might be surprised by its definition and origin! A German food company is credited as the first delicatessen more than 300 years ago! They were the first store to import bananas, mangoes, and plums to the German population from faraway places such as the Canary Islands and China.  Popping up in the US in the mid-1800's American deli's catered to the German immigrant population importing specialty foods they craved.  According to Wikipedia, a deli is "a retail establishment selling a selection of unusual or foreign prepared foods."   It was the late 1800's when the word delicatessen shortened to 'deli' and the main focus became the sandwich. Here's where you can find the best deli's dishing up delicious deli favorites in Tampa.

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Where to Find the Best Deli's Dishing Up Delicious in Tampa

Wright's Gourmet House

Tampa's premier cafe and deli featuring gourmet soups and sandwiches is changing again.  Current owner Jeff Mount, grandson of Marjorie and Pete Wright, and his team of experts create many of Tampa's favorite signature sandwiches, salads, and desserts daily using the same recipes Marjorie and Pete used when they opened Wrights in 1963. Building out as they built a solid reputation for excellent food, Wright's is growing again to accommodate a steadfast and loyal following.  A destination deli, people around the world hear about Wright's from friends and family then plan a trip to this iconic delicatessen. Personally, I dream about their Bahama Baby, the Beef Martini, and their Chocolate/Chocolate cake! What do you dream about, because truth is, once you've been to Wright's Gourmet, the dreaming....it's an unavoidable side effect! (Click over to their 813area Business Page to see the Chocolate Chocolate Cake!)

1200 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa Fl Phone 813-253-3838

Carrollwood Cafe & Deli

Since 1997, Carrollwood Deli has been serving Tampa with the highest-quality assortment of sandwiches, gourmet soups and fresh salads found anyplace. Find delicious food at great prices here! This deli takes their corned beef brisket and New York Pastrami very seriously! A longtime Tampa favorite among the local lunch crowd they offer dine-in, carry out and delivery options. Check out this delicious deli where service is their Motto and Quality is their Brand!

11606 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa FL Phone (813) 964-9008

D & D gourmet deli

Find D & D at Kennedy and Lois and stop in for delicious deli favorites like their famous Philly Cheesesteak, wings, gyros and killer Hot and Cold subs! Favorites include the 'Capicollo' Sub, Cheese Trio, and Pastrami Sub! Order easily online by pointing a clicking then swing by to pick up from this inventive New York style deli serving up classic and not-so-classic subs, using homemade Italian dressing, the best meats and more. Lunch is always a treat at D & D! 

4205 W Kennedy BLVD, Tampa FL Phone 813-288-0120

Schiller's German Delicatessen

This authentic German Deli on El Prado Blvd in Tampa operated by Craig Trunk has been feeding South Tampa's masses since 1951! This, their only location, is a family run business passed through the generations. Craig began working in the store at 14 years old!  You find no frills at what is the only authentic German Deli in Tampa, however, the attention to detail and "extreme quality" as Craig puts it, has allowed them to remain in business for more than 60 years! 

Walk through the door and you feel like family as the staff prepares and serves your selections. Be sure to order their homemade German Potato salad! Word of mouth and a loyal customer base sustain this deli.  A friend of my son's, returning home from college for a visit, made Schiller's his first stop once he hit home. Schiller's serves Breakfast daily from 8 am-11 am featuring German pancakes with red currant jelly and Black Forrest bacon. They also stock Weihenstephaner beer, the oldest brewed beer in the world!

4327 W El Prado Blvd, Tampa FL Phone (813) 839-6666

West Tampa Sandwich Shop

The West Tampa Sandwich Shop is a 'Cuban Deli' and a hidden gem featuring deliciously freshly made sandwiches based on the Cuban Sandwich. Taking traditional deli fare and adding a Cuban twist there is nothing else like this shop! Serving traditional Cubans this restaurant also offers local favorites like the "Obama" (Honey Cuban), Media Noche and a Mojo Pork sandwich.  Non-trad faves include the Frita (a combo of hamburger and chorizo), Bacalao (Fish) , B.L.T., Tuna, and a delicious Veggie Sandwich that stole my heart years ago! Below is the Tripleta. You feel as if you step back in time at this shop where you are immediately greeted and made to feel at home.  Scan the walls to see the many dignitaries and famous friends of this little sandwich shop that could!

3904 N Armenia Ave, Tampa FL Phone 813-873-7104

Zelda's Cafe and Deli

This classy cafe/deli in the Channelside District serves delicious homemade food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Combining American and Jamaican cuisines Zelda's is fabulous old-school delicious. A B.L.T. is one of my favorite sandwiches; evoking sweet memories of being called into the house for lunch in the summer by my mother.  Mom grew fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and was extremely picky about her bacon, sourcing bacon from a local farmer.  Her B.L.T.'s were works of art, perfectly toasted, with just the right amount of mayo, salt, and pepper they were loaded with deep red, sweet and juicy beefsteak tomatoes. My mom's B.L.T. is the standard I use when checking out a new deli. For me, you get this one right and the rest is, well cake!  Zelda gets it right every time. For $5.95 I am transported through time back to my childhood. We've tried nearly every deli item at Zelda's and never been disappointed! Her egg salad is awesome and my kids love the Channelside Chicken Wrap! (Pictured is the Steak Sandwich with peppers and onions from regular Zelda patron Brian!)
1239 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa FL Phone 813-226-0169

The Bread Basket Deli

This East Ybor eatery on 40th Street has been serving up kettle soups and deli sandwiches to the working crowd since 1989! Fast and friendly service, though not on the menu, are two things you can expect to receive every time at this delicious Tampa deli!  Try the California Reuben or the hot Black Forest ham and swiss on grilled Texas sourdough bread, or perhaps the California Chicken Salad wrap with raspberry sauce! By far, however, the number one, all-time, MOST ordered sandwich is the Texas Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Cream of Tomato soup! Next time you are in Ybor, get off the beaten path and head over to the Bread Basket for something different!

2927 N. 40th St, Tampa FL Phone 813-621-3355
Serving Tampa Bay from the same South Tampa location since 1982 is one of the finest Deli's in the area! In the shadows of Wright's Gourmet, tucked into the strip plaza facing the Neptune Publix, is a world-class restaurant and deli. Their 'Hot-Box' is loaded daily with all time favorites like Chicken Marsala, Cajun Fried Chicken, Mac & Cheese, and their famous Spinach Artichoke and Squash Casserole! Besides deli favorites the also feature fresh homemade meatballs,  pasta and sauces, and healthy salads served with housemade dressings. On the deli menu you find 28 years of sandwich making perfection.  It's the attention to detail setting Mott & Hester apart, from seasoning and roasting their own meats to creating their own spreads and olive salad for the New Orleans inspired Muffuletta they strive to provide the best, of the best! Taste the Mott & Hester difference today!  The Big Tony is a classic Italian with Ham, Capicola, Salami, & Provolone topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion and house-made Italian dressing. The Vinny T (named after the Bucs QB) is our favorite, hot & juicy in-house roasted beef, crispy bacon, red onion, with a cool dill sauce and melted mozzarella on grilled pumpernickel bread for $8.50. Fuhgeddabout it! It does not get better that Mott & Hester!

1155 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Ste 10 , Tampa FL Phone 813-289-9758
A neighborhood landmark in South Tampa, owner David Lubin transformed a space at the corner of Swann Ave. and South Delaware just east of Hyde Park Village from a troublesome convenience store to an upscale deli selling, wine, craft beer and more. The deli generally closes at 3:00 pm, you can call ahead and ask the Crew to prepare you something special and keep it in the cooler until you can pick it up! We love this when heading downtown for an event, we swing by grabbing our 'picnic-to-go'.  A must try is the Godzilla, a monster sandwich featuring fresh sesame seared yellowfin tuna with a sriracha aioli and ponzu glaze it's topped with a cabbage slaw, seaweed salad, crispy onions and wasabi on a grilled brioche, trust me there's no other sandwich like it! It's not often you find a renowned chef at the helm of a deli, but that's the case at the Swann Avenue Market. Lubin carefully crafted this remarkable store to be one-of-a-kind, you gotta go by! See what it is others are keeping secret! This place is truly a find!

1021 W Swann Ave., Tampa FL Phone 813-251-5000

The sandwich, from the moment we wrapped our mouths around two slices of bread smeared with peanut butter, dripping in delicious jelly, we've been in love with these portable pieces of heaven! There are plenty of deli's across Tampa Bay slinging sandwiches but few who go the extra mile guaranteeing you a fresh and delicious true deli flavor experience incorporating imported and foreign foods. We hope you enjoy this list and will find each one of the Deli's dishing up delicious in Tampa equally as delightful as we have! Let us know what you think in comments below!