Oxford Exchange Brunch in Tampa, FL

I love bookstores. Probably because they combine two of my favorite things: shopping and reading, and, often times, a close third: coffee. Who doesn’t love to sit in a bookstore on a Saturday with a cup of coffee and a book?

When studying abroad in Spain, I would read in the coffee shop attached to the bookstore, an excellent way to meet locals, get to know the culture, and practice my Spanish. In grad school, I practically lived at them. Now, living alone, I love to blog at a coffee shop for some natural light and a change of scenery. Plus, it’s a lot more romantic to say, “We met at a coffee shop,” then “We met at a bar.” Chances are the chap is more well-rounded, too.

I expect to find unique coffee shops and bookstores in Washington, New York, Asheville and Europe, but not in Tampa. I’m from a small beach town that’s part of charming St. Petersburg, outside Tampa (or Trampa as I affectionately call it). Meanwhile, Becca is from Tampa and has griped about it quite a bit.

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But, South Tampa really is improving.

And, by far and away the best spot in South Tampa is Oxford Exchange, a multi-purpose establishment that’s part bookstore, part housewares store, part coffee shop and part restaurant. Think Anthropologie meets Kramer Books meets Restoration Hardware.

The space is absolutely breathtaking: old mahogany staircases, bright open atriums, nooks with tufted leather couches for you to read and sit on. I was in heaven.

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On one side, is the boutique: a high-end shop, filled with the latest and greatest fashion tomes, petite travel books from Luxe and Wallpaper, unique luxurious housewares, and great gifts—including some charming gingham bow ties for the gentleman in your life. The other side has the bookstore, filled with lovely, unique hardcover novels and hard-to-find books.

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I was on a date with my Auntie Deb, my mother’s sister and effectively my second mother. And also pretty much the classiest, nicest, loveliest lady around.

For beverages, I had an iced caramel latte, which was naturally sweetened and not too sweet. Auntie Deb had iced tea, as she’s had for as long as I can remember.

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Auntie Deb opted for omelet option one, with bacon, scallion, roasted potato, and cheddar. The presentation was certainly lacking, but the omelet was hearty and delicious.

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I selected the smoked salmon, served atop an everything bagel with chive smear and pickled red onion. It was literally the best lox-and-bagel I’ve ever had—and I’ve had good few in Washington and, more importantly, New York.

The perfectly toasted warm and fluffy bagel was smeared with just the right amount of chive cream cheese. The salmon was impeccably fresh and not overtly fishy. The bagel was loaded with pickled red onion, which was a really nice touch and added a ton of flavor. Best of all, it was done just right, so that you could cut it with a knife and fork without ripping the dish to shreds.

Bravo, Chef Erin Guggino.

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For dessert, we shard the fresh berry pancakes, which were slightly larger than silver dollar size and sprinkled with fresh berries and served with real maple syrup. Unfortunately, the pancakes were fairly dense and lacked pizzazz.

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The check arrived in a book, a nice touch. I was so pleased to find a great spot in South Tampa. Hat tip to Tammy, also known as Florida Girl in D.C. , for tweeting at me with the scoop.

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The Bitches say: A-. Excellent ambiance and definitely a destination when in Tampa. The brunch ranged from good to delicious. The service could kick it up a notch and the omelet needs some more pizzazz on the presentation.

The Oxford Exchange
420 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida
(813) 253-0222

Oxford Exchange is open for brunch Saturdays.

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Comments

  • Hi, I just found this blog and I LOVE OE! I’m from Tampa but living in Longboat Key now. After meeting my daughters there a month ago, I was blown away with how great a place this is. I had just published The Lure of Longboat Key, a large coffee table book of my photography. Sooo I figured I’d ask if they would like a book signing event. I’ve been doing several a week in my area but figured why not ask. Much to my surprise they said, SURE! So I’d love for you to come back– I’ll be there this Sat. Feb.15th from 2-4. I’m very excited to be signing in this super venue!
    Love to meet you!
    Mary Lou

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