Date: Every Sunday
Location: Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida
Cost: Food items generally range from $3-5 each (with a few items costing less or more), while drinks are $1 each; Parking is FREE
Info: (813) 621-1669; Website
Shortly after our family arrived in Tampa in the summer of 2008, my daughter and I became friends with a Mom and her little boy who took the time to show us some of their favorite places. One Sunday morning in November, our families met for brunch at Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida, a Thai Buddhist Temple located in the heart of Tampa.
It has grown a lot since we first visited. There is now a seawall, park benches to sit on and watch the river and an occasional train, pots of flowers along a dock, more parking, and many more picnic tables. More tables is especially good because the market gets very, very busy! While this used to be one of Tampa’s best kept secrets, it seems it is a secret no longer.
If You Go: Get there early! The noodle line in particular gets long, and picnic tables can become scarce later in the morning, both of which can be difficult with children.
The market features authentic Thai food prepared by Temple volunteers. As you walk along the porch, you will see:
— A wide variety of Thai deserts
— Egg rolls, “Som Dom” (Thai Papaya salad) and other salads
— Fried bananas, taro root and sweet potatoes
— Thai tea and coffee, cold soda and water
— Coconut custard
— “Guiteow” (Beef or pork noodle soup) or you can opt for a vegetarian noodle bowl
— A variety of chicken curry dishes with vegetables
If you leave the porch and head toward the market, you can also find grilled pork or chicken on a stick and grilled chicken.
The market itself is small, but impressive. They offer a beautiful variety of produce, Thai fruit trees and orchids. I saw several plants for as little as $5 and some beautiful, large orchids for $10. And if you are looking for fresh ginger, this is the place to find it!
If You Go: Adults will want to budget around $10 per person to cover an entrée, side and drink. For families with kids, sharing is a great option because the portions are quite large. As an example: My husband, 4-year-old daughter and I shared a vegetarian noodle bowl and two curry selections with rice — $5 each. (my daughter only ate some of the noodles and soup.) Our desserts were $3 each, and the coconut waters and bottled water were $1 each. That was plenty of food for the three of us. However, there are other foods you may want to try as well, such as the coconut custards and fried bananas/sweet potatoes/tara root or crumbs. I hear that the fried bananas are excellent if you take them home and put them on vanilla ice cream!
NOTE: This market is CASH ONLY! Don’t bother bringing credit or debit cards, and there is no ATM on site.
Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida
5306 Palm River Road
Tampa, FL 33619