Armature Works takes the best of the past to the future
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Armature Works, a self-professed “community hub” located on the river walk in Downtown Tampa, has been bombarded with rave reviews since its opening last year. The ambience, location, and food have all been met with high praise, and it’s generally accepted as the “it” spot of downtown.
Part of what sets Armature Works apart from the rest is its vintage appeal– it’s unusual to see a building that is so reminiscent of the past as a part of the ever-improving and modern river walk. Lured by the hype, I decided to check it out for myself.
As I stepped through the front doors, I was blown away. The Armature Works building itself has been a part of downtown since 1910. It previously functioned as the storage and maintenance facility for Tampa Electric’s (TECO) streetcars, and has since been reinvented into a modern commercial space, most notably including the Heights Public Market. The space is huge, and when I went, it was also packed.
The market is truly a foodie’s paradise, with cuisine spanning from made-to-order sushi to coal-fired pizzas. It features an open floor plan with communal seating surrounded by diverse venders showcasing unique and delicious foods from every corner of the world. The exposed brick tells a story of the past, while the many modern eateries paint a picture of the future.
It absolutely radiates “hipster”.
I went to the Public Market on two separate occasions, and visited a different shop each time. On my first visit, I ate at Ichicoro Imoto, a shop that specializes in contemporary ramen. I ordered the Chicken Paitan, which is ramen with double chicken broth, grilled chicken thigh, cloud ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, pickled ginger, fried garlic, and black garlic mayu. It tasted as authentic as it sounds. While some flavors were a little odd and unfamiliar to me, the overall dish was delicious.
My second visit, I ate at AVA, an authentic wood-fired pizzeria, where I ordered the margarita pizza. I was apprehensive when I received my order, as there was definitely more sauce than cheese, and I’m a self-confessed cheese fanatic. However, this pizza completely exceeded my expectations. I almost forgot there wasn’t a lot of cheese– the astounding flavors of the sauce and crust more than made up for it.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Heights Public Market is that it’s the perfect place to go with a group of friends. No more squabbles over what to eat– when going to Armature works, everyone can get whatever they want, and the whole group can still sit together in the communal dining area, where there is plenty of space for the many guests that the market’s aesthetically-pleasing paradise attracts.
SHOPS IN HEIGHTS PUBLIC MARKET (1910 N. Ola Ave., 33602):
Ichicoro Imoto (contemporary Ramen-Ya)
Union by Commune + Co (Coffee and Tea Bar)
Fine & Dandy (Cocktail Emporium)
A.W. Mercantile (A General Store)
BnB (Butcher and Barbeque)
Graze 1910 (Refined American Fare, serving breakfast all day)
AVA (Authentic Wood Fired Pizza)
Swami Juice (Cold Pressed Juices and Acai Bowls)
Inside the Box (Specialty Sandwiches and Salads)
Cru Cellars (Sommelier-Driven Wine Bar & Kitchen)
Surf and Turf (Rotating Stall)
Astro Ice Cream Co. (Ice Cream)
Zukku Sushi (Sushi, burritos, and Bowls)
Hemingway’s (Modern Cuban Cuisine)