Michelle Faedo and her husband, Robert, have been elevating Tampa cuisine since they opened their first restaurant in the ‘90s. In 2011, they closed up shop and decided to hit the streets in a food truck, helping start the trend in Tampa. Devotees followed, and the Faedos were soon selling 150 to 200 Cuban sandwiches and devil crab dishes a day. They recently opened Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine downtown.
What is your favorite small plate from another Bay-area restaurant?
Robert and I went to Iavarone’s on our first date and had the amazing escargot appetizer. The flavor combinations are fresh and decadent.
Are you happy to be back in a traditional restaurant setting?
Absolutely. There’s more chance for creativity here, and there’s nothing like being able to see people’s reactions when they’re eating. I never get the chance to enjoy people enjoying my food on the food truck.
What can you do there that you were not able to do in a food truck?
Cook hot food! There’s more a chance for creativity here – I can experiment and cook large
meals instead of small, fast plates. And there’s nothing quite like being able to see people’s
reactions when they’re eating. I never get the chance to enjoy people enjoying my food on the
What should a first-time visitor to your restaurant order?
That’s easy. The Cuban and the devil crab; it’s food that was created here in Tampa and it’s
something to be proud of. It’s like going to Maryland and having a crab cake — it’s something
special you can’t find anywhere else.
Why is preserving Tampa food traditions important to you?
It’s our roots. It’s where we came from and grew up, the happy ending to our story, and it’s what we know and have perfected.
Iavarone’s Steakhouse & Italian Grill
3617 W. Humphrey St.
Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine
1218 Ray Charles Blvd.