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We have been hearing so much about Armature Works from all of our friends that we had to go see what the buzz was all about. Armature Works opened in early 2018 and locals were eagerly waiting for this stunning social space to open it's doors. With more than 15 amazing vendors, unique sitting areas, a courtyard and beautiful location, we can see why there was so much hype around this place.
Dating all the way back to 1910, Armature Works used to be a storage and maintenance facility for streetcars and was known as Tampa's streetcar warehouse. The history of this building is what makes the design of this place fascinating. A lot of the original materials were recycled and the exposed brick walls, skylights, windows and doors have all been beautifully restored and it gives this 73,000 square foot building so much character.
It's a mixed-use commercial space and there are a ton of different vendors here. From Cuban sandwiches to tasty ramen to craft coffee, there is definitely something for every palate. There is also plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors. There are a lot of communal tables so don't be surprised if you have to share a table with others. It's also pet-friendly but your pets must stay in the outdoor seating area. Only service animals are allowed indoors.
Couple of cool things we noticed right away were the hand washing area and drinking water station provided by Vero Water. The washing area has a large rustic sink and you step on the pedal below to start the sprinkling water. They provide quality hand soap and it feels so good with the water sprinkling down your hands. The drinking water station is also impressive because they provide three types of water for you to choose from: Still, Sparkling or Room Temperature. What a nice touch!
Currently, there are 15 vendors in the Market Hall and 2 more vendors will be added soon. They have a variety of cuisines and something for everyone. Most dishes were priced between $10 - $13 and you get an average portion. Here are the vendors we tried over the course of our three visits. Yup, we had to go three times so we could experience all that Armature Works had to offer and we still didn't get to try everything because this place is so huge!
We are already huge fans of Ichicoro Ane and had to try out their dishes from their little sister restaurant ("imoto" means little sister in Japanese). Their booth stands out from the crowd and they serve casual contemporary Japanese dishes like ramen and a variety of rice bowls.
We ordered the Kara-age Chicken Bowl which is marinated fried chicken topped with spicy mayo, fried garlic, pickles, scallion, and furikake (rice seasoning). We also ordered the Matcha Green Tea On Nitro, which was a fun take on green tea. It was crafted by Ginger Beard Coffee which was a nice surprise since we are huge fans and frequent their coffee shop. Everything was delicious as always!
We absolutely love fried chicken so when we spotted the friend chicken sandwich on the menu, we had to give it a try. Graze offers comfort food and their store-front was beautiful. The light green paint against the white tiles was very calming and the stools along the bar were so elegant.
We ordered the Spicy Chicken Sandwich which was filled with 1910 slaw, thinly sliced pickles, sriracha aioli, and a side of quinoa salad. I was a little unhappy with their service as I asked if the sandwich had mayonnaise and the cashier's response was "I don't think so." Well, it turned out the sandwich did have mayonnaise on it and I was disappointed since I don't like mayonnaise. I wish the cashier would have taken the time to ask the chef or another staff member if she didn't know. However, the chicken was so juicy and delicious it made me forget about the mayonnaise. I also love that this chicken sandwich used dark meat. That dark meat gives it so much flavor and juiciness! Hands down the best chicken sandwich I've ever had (minus the mayonnaise).
Pizza that is made to order in a wood fired oven gets me super excited so when I saw Ava, I knew I was going to have to get one of their wood fired pizzas. I ordered the Filetto White Pizza and it was everything I had imagined it would be. It consisted of marinated cherry tomatoes, basil, prosciutto, and aged balsamic. Each ingredient was fresh and flavorful and the crust was baked to perfection. I'm very picky with my pizza crusts, so if the crust isn't tasty and baked right, it pretty much ruins the entire pizza experience for me. The only thing I wish they had was some red pepper for me to sprinkle on top.
We've tried liquid nitrogen ice cream in California, so when we saw Astro Ice Cream Co., we were excited to try some fresh and made-to-order ice cream again. The basic concept of liquid nitrogen ice cream is that it flash freezes the cream and produces a super creamy ice cream.
We ordered the Jetpack (Cappuccino ice cream mixed with heath bar crunch, topped with chocolate covered espresso beans, a biscotti, and a shot of caramel syrup) and thought having a syringe filled with a shot of caramel was a fun way to enjoy ice cream. It also was great for us since Candy doesn't like caramel, so whenever it was Crystal's turn for a scoop, she would drizzle the caramel over her ice cream.
We usually don't share ice cream but portions here were very generous, so even after sharing we still had some left over to share with Kuma.
It's hard not to love a pastry turnover that is filled with savory ingredients and then deep fried to perfection. Empamamas does just that and they offer a variety of fun flavors to choose from. We had the Cheeseburger in Paradise, the vegan Flower Power, and the Rosemary Romano Parm Fries. We were a little skeptical about rosemary in our fries since rosemary can be a bit over powering but we were dead wrong. There was just a hint of rosemary to the fries that our fingers wouldn't stop going for more. The Cheeseburger in Paradise really tasted like we were eating a yummy cheeseburger and the Flower Power was packed with tons of flavor.
We usually prefer red wine but the Organic Gaspard that Christine suggested gave us a newfound love for Sauvignon Blanc. If you want some food with your wine, their menu offers a French Bistro selection of dishes like Roasted Cobia and Duck Confit. We'll have to try some of their dishes the next time we come back.
The crunchy topping on the mac and cheese was a nice touch and really gave it some amazing texture. The pulled pork came with a side of colesalw and extra barbeque sauce but we didn't even need the extra sauce since it was already falvorful without it.
We also like to create our own portions, so having the bread and meat separated was perfect. Plus, if you wanted to take some home you can easily pack the meat and not end up with a soggy sandwich bread.
As mentioned, we were not able to try out every single vendor because there is just so much to choose from but we will definitely be back to check out more of Heights Public Market. Here are the rest of the vendors you can check out for yourself:
Union by Commune + Co. - coffee and tea bar
Fine & Dandy - cocktail bar
A.W. Mercantile - retail store consisting of local hand makers
Swami Juice - cold pressed juices and acai bowls
Inside the Box - speciality sandwiches and salads
Surf and Turf - seafood that is domestic and wild caught
Zukku Sushi - sushi including rolls, sushi burritos and poke bowls
Hemingway's - soulful Cuban classics with a contemporary twist
It Doesn't Stop There!
On top of everything we mentioned, Armature Works also offers a full-service restaurant, an entertainment workshop, event spaces including a rooftop and more to come. Check out their calendar of events where you can enjoy complimentary yoga, live music, workshops, Indie Flea and various other events.
We enjoyed everything Armature Works had to offer and can't wait to go back and try some of the other establishments we didn't get to stop by. I imagine we will be back here quite often especially since we can bring Kuma with us.
HEIGHTS PUBLIC MARKET - ARMATURE WORKS
ADDRESS: 1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602