Tampa Bay restaurants where vegetarian, vegan, healthy and hedonist share menus

Fresh Salads at Paninotecca

Fresh salads star on Paninoteca Mediterranean Café’s menu.

Just because I’m reaching for my trusty Dove Ice Cream Bar doesn’t mean I don’t like a heart-friendly menu. Who doesn’t like to enjoy dinner without having to loosen the belt? There are enough places where healthy doesn’t mean torture, simply not the food that Paula Deen unleashes on our arteries. The best restaurants in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater where you can find the best healthy, vegan and vegetarian food.

Café Hey

A friendly, coffee/sandwich shop nurtures downtown Tampa’s work force with fresh breakfasts and lively sandwiches such as an avocado, jicama, and cheese sandwich perked up by sunflower seed dust and the college staple, AB-B-A, almond butter, bananas and apricot jam. There are also quiches, soups and more. Find musical entertainment on weekends.
1540 N. Franklin St.; Tampa, FL; (813) 221-5150; www.cafehey.com

Consciousness-Blossoms Eatery

A dozen years ago, Tilvila Hurwit’s peaceful concept of spiritual feelings, poetry and respect for Indian philosopher, Sri Chinmoy, molded a menu of wholesome breakfasts and lunches. Meatless, Neatloaf gets protein-rich nuts and soy, along with tofu and ricotta, bathed in a tomato sauce. Vegetarian Reuben teams marinated tempeh, sauerkraut, Swiss and onions on multi-grain bread. Tilvila calls her tomato-peanut soup “amazing with a kick that everybody loves.’’ Even in a sour economy, business is increasing, she adds. Tilvila stays open for dinner on Fridays.
3390 Tampa Rd.; Palm Harbor, FL; (727) 789-1931; www.consciousness-blossoms.com

Leafy Greens Café

Vegan, vegetarian and raw cuisine, never heated above 116 degrees to preserve enzymes, is the emphasis at Denise and Doug Becknell’s eatery.  Start with a bowl of golden pineapple-English cucumber gazpacho with a jolt of jalapenos. Dig into spiral zucchini “noodles’’ that team with sweet peppers, marinara sauce, and pine nut parmesan. There’s also cashew hummus and hemp pizza. Finish with raw crème fruit tart or a serving of fresh berry cobbler. A good idea: the café charges a 10 % surcharge to cover a tip and containers.
1431 Central Ave; St. Petersburg, FL; (727) 289-7087; www.leafygreenscafe.com

Paninotecca Mediterranean Café

Sandwiches and salads reign here: try the goat cheese and roasted veggie focaccia Panini studded with pesto aioli. Sweet tomatoes mellow a prosciutto, mozzarella and basil sandwich. Colorful, roasted peppers, cucumber and spring greens, brightened with Balsamic vinaigrette, is crowned with tuna salad. Mezze openers include an olive tapenade, roasted pepper hummus, cilantro-tomato ceviche, and baba ganouj with warm pita.
519 N. Franklin St.; Tampa, FL; (813) 341-2525; www.paninotecacafe.com  

Seasons 52

Chipotle shrimp flatbread, tandoori chicken skewers, cedar-planked salmon and caramelized sea scallops join seasonal additions each week.  Portions are just right, hear that Maggione’s?  To help with a wine choice, samples are offered to help you choose your bottle.  This pretty, sophisticated grill can also turn out vegan, vegetarian, low sodium, gluten-free, lactose free and other specialty diet fare.  Shot glass-sized carrot cake, mango cheesecake and Key lime pie, which hover at 300 calories, make you feel virtuous, too.
204 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, FL; (813) 286-1152; www.seasons52.com

Village Health Market

Village Market Café offers a large variety of salads, sandwiches and main dishes.

Village Health Market
If the owner changed the name, the place would probably get more customers. There is nothing to clue you as to the variety going on here where display cases hold more than 40 tempting salads,  sides, entrees and such. Free-range chicken cutlets, veggie salads, salmon burgers, join Ezekial, flax, millet, and pita sandwiches. A variety of greens, plump olives and crunchy condiments adorn an organic salad bar. The kitchen eschews preservatives and artificial flavorings.
3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL; (813) 831-6065; www.villagehealthmarket.com


Rollin Oats Market & Café

Rollin’ Oats, which opened 18 years ago, has an Oats café that sells vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals.
1021 N. MacDill Ave, Tampa, FL; (813) 873-7428; www.rollinoats.com

FitLife Foods
Lose weight when buying its slimming, fresh breakfasts, snacks and entrees, which you take home to eat. It’s real food, Supercharged Chicken, Sanitorini Steak Salad, Ab-Tight Tenderloin and Rockin Risotto, not dried cardboard.
1902 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL; (813) 644-6868; 14407 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL; (813) 443-5326;
2524 McMullen Booth Rd., #305; Clearwater, FL; (727) 408-5146 www.eatfitlifefoods.com

Viitals Healthy Bakery and Coffee

The Palma Ceia coffee shop serves lean green smoothies such as spirulina protein, green super food blends, and purifying ginger. There are strawberry, key lime, mango and other mainstream choices, too.
1155 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Suite 11 (the address says Dale Mabry, but the place faces Neptune); Tampa, FL; (813) 443-4567; www.viitals.com

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