Food: Oxford Exchange
If you’re looking for a trendy spot to sit down with your laptop, spend a few bucks on a cup of coffee or tea, camp out, and let everyone around you know how interesting you are by openly working on your novel or screenplay or- uh, blog post, then boy, have I got the place for you. Across from the University of Tampa, near downtown, there’s a narrow, white brick building marked only by two black letters, OE. Inside the doors you’re immediately greeted by a bookstore to set the theme. Beyond that, a shoe-shine stand for those time-travelling from the 1940s.
The hallway then opens up to a lounge area with comfy leather chairs, high-top tables, and two bars. One, Buddy Brew Coffee, the other, Tebella Tea Company. Although I have yet to try the coffee, the tea bar offers a wide variety of teas, categorized by leaf blends and flavor options. Personally, I enjoy the Moroccan Mint green tea.
The restaurant itself, Oxford Exchange, is a great lunch date spot. Savory salads and sandwiches in a hip atmosphere with exposed brick walls and open-air seating. You have the option of dining inside, or in the sunlight of the atrium around the large rustic fountain. For your side dish, be sure to try the sweet potato fries. Unlike many other restaurants, they somehow manage to cook theirs with a perfect crisp instead of a soggy, limp mush. They also have a nice little spicy kick, but nothing too aggressive or overpowering. Continuing with the restaurant’s literary theme, at the end of your meal the check is then brought out inside the cover of an old hardcover book, usually something classic.