A guide to Water Street Tampa
In recent years, once-sleepy Tampa, Florida, has become a destination for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families, including wealth management firms such as Dynasty Financial Partners.
In addition, Jeff Vinick, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates are behind the $3 billion Water Street Tampa, a multiphase urban development that spans more than 50 acres of downtown. When completed, it will encompass more than 9 million square feet of commercial, residential, educational, cultural, retail, entertainment and hospitality space.
The project has transformed the city’s downtown into a buzzing community centered on health and well-being. In 2019, Water Street Tampa achieved the WELL Design & Operations designation under the WELL Community Standard, the first neighborhood in the world to achieve that status.
Besides attracting professionals and movers and shakers to its luxury high-rise condos and apartments, the development is attracting travelers to the new neighborhood, too.
Here is our guide to Water Street Tampa.
JW Marriott Tampa Water Street
The first hotel to open as a part of Water Street Tampa was the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, which began greeting guests in February 2021. It has the distinction of being Marriott’s 100th property. The 27-story hotel boasts 519 guest rooms, six restaurants and bars, the Spa by JW, outdoor pools and cabanas, and more. The hotel is connected by a sky bridge to the Tampa Marriott Water Street across the street.
The Tampa Edition
The Tampa Edition, the city’s first five-star hotel, made a splash when it opened in October 2022, with a party that featured a private concert by Lenny Kravitz. The property boasts 172 guest rooms, 30 suites, a penthouse and 37 exclusive residences. Guests, residents and locals are invited to enjoy the hotel’s amenities, including a spa, rooftop pool, bar and terrace, and six other dining and sipping spots, like the sultry Arts Club.
For those looking for a longer stay, look no further than Roost Tampa, a resort-style, extended-stay property in the heart of Water Street Tampa. The studio, one- and two-bedroom, and penthouse apartment-style accommodations have plenty of room to move, with all the comforts of home including full kitchens. Amenities include 24/7 front desk and concierge as well as laundry services. Roost is pet-friendly, too.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Rising high above Tampa’s city skyline, Beacon is the newest spot on the Water Street Tampa scene and the city’s highest rooftop bar, soaring 27 stories into the sky. Innovative cocktails and zero-proof drinks are served alongside shared plates that can be enjoyed in intimate vignettes indoors or on cozy couches on the outdoor terrace. Bites to sample include steamed buns with pork belly, a fig-and-pig tartine with goat cheese and chorizo, and the apple and burrata salad. For sips, The Rising Sun surprises with sesame and yuzu, and Pistoles at Dawn blends bourbon and mezcal. Tip: Book a table around sunset for stunning views of the sun dipping into the Gulf of Mexico.
Awash in golds and creams, the art deco aesthetic sets the scene for a lingering brunch, lunch or dinner at Boulon Brasserie, a French bistro that serves the classics alongside innovative dishes. To start, the blue crab beignets and shrimp nola are two to taste; for entrees, diners can’t go wrong with snapper amandine and steak frites. The only thing that might outshine Boulon’s menus is its extensive wine selection. Fortunately, sommeliers are on hand to lend their expertise. If you opt out of dessert at the table, stop by the bakery for something sweet to take with you — we suggest an indulgent chocolate chip cookie made with brown butter.
Tampa received its first Michelin stars in 2023, one of which was awarded to Lilac, a concept from chef John Fraser. The intimate space, awash in greens and deep browns, serves a four-course prix-fixe dinner menu that blends Mediterranean and Floridian influences with French cooking techniques. Dishes to try include the Ora king salmon with blue lump crab and the gulf red snapper for two, baked in cataplana. The sommelier can suggest which vintage from Lilac’s Champagne cart will best complement your dinner.
Chefs Richard Sandoval and Pablo Salas have partnered to bring their idea of modern Mexican food to Tampa in Lona. A fusion of regional Mexican cuisine fills the menu through favorite street foods and refined dishes that make the most of their highlighted ingredients. Think lobster quesadillas, fish tacos, skirt steak fajitas and grilled salmon with creamy poblano and corn esquites. Fresh margaritas and a selection of 207 tequilas and 40 mezcals are ready to toast.
A casual vibe flows through The Pearl, but that’s not to say that the culinary team doesn’t take their craft seriously. Rather, the restaurant’s brunch, lunch and dinner menus are filled with seafood- and regionally inspired dishes, and the Oyster Room offers up seafood bites served hot or cold. An order that really impresses is the Shellfish Tower, complete with oysters on the half-shell, peel-and-eat shrimp, crab and lobster, with all the dressings. Whichever meal you choose, save room for dessert — pies are made in-house daily.
Fresh Mediterranean cuisine highlighting seafood is what’s for brunch, lunch and dinner at Predalina, a dining concept inspired by the owners’ great-grandmother. Dinner shines with enticing dishes like snapper with artichoke; roasted fennel and chickpeas with a saffron broth; blue crab chitarra with spaghetti, spring peas, Meyer lemon and Calabrian chili; or a salt-crust branzino for the table. On the weekends, try the brunch flatbread with prosciutto, broken egg and fontina or the crab benedict with lump crab, artichoke and poached eggs served with a tahina hollandaise sauce. Predalina also offers an Intermezzo menu, served between 3 and 5 p.m., for those looking for bites and sips late afternoon.
Casual bites enjoyed in an outdoor setting are found at Sparkman Wharf, a dining destination with more than a dozen restaurant concepts serving food from cargo shipping containers in a nod to Tampa’s bustling port.
Two highly anticipated dining and sipping spots opening in the spring of 2024 in Water Street Tampa are Ash, an Italian restaurant, and Alter Ego, a music-forward cocktail lounge. The two are being developed by Tampa-based, James Beard-nominated chef Ferrel Alvarez and his Proper House Group.