Top 3 build your own bowl restaurants


Sydney Appleton

These are some of the bowls from Fresh Kitchen. Scroll to find more on the “BYOB” concept.

Tampa is known among its community for its variety of restaurants. There is always something available, no matter what your diet is. One thing that has risen to popularity over the last few years is the “build your own bowl” concept. Across Tampa, I found several restaurants that have this concept on their menus. After trying many bowls that I customized to my preference, here are the top three places to try “build your own bowls” in Tampa.   


 Fresh Kitchen   

Fresh Kitchen, which was established in 2014, has two locations in South Tampa: one on Kennedy and one on South Howard. When you walk into the trendy restaurant, you enter the line to order your food. You then choose a base, a veggie, a protein, a sauce, and any extra topping you would like in your bowl. They have various bowl sizes, such as the kid’s bowl, four bowls, and six bowls. I ordered the four bowl, which comes with two bases, one veggie, one protein, and one sauce. I picked their brown rice for both bases, sweet potatoes for my veggie, and grilled citrus chicken for my protein. I skipped out on the sauce because I did not think I would like any of them. Although I was uncertain all the components would go together, everything pulled together and tasted great. The sweet potatoes were not too sweet, the chicken was cooked perfectly, and the rice tasted perfect with the chicken and potatoes. Since this, I have also tried their broccoli and steak. The broccoli is cooked to be crunchy with Parmesan sprinkled on it. The steak has a savory flavor that is on the subtle side. On top of the delicious food, the customer service is excellent. Everyone taking orders and running check out were kind and grateful. I got the impression that they were genuinely excited to be at work, which put a smile on my face.  

 Overall ranking: 10/10   


Taco Dirty   

Taco Dirty, located on the corner of Platt and Howard, has a massive menu with options for any eater. The Mexican restaurant has a similar build your own bowl concept to Fresh Kitchen. You pick two bases, two veggies, two proteins, 2 “Mexi things,” and one sauce. I ordered my bowl with brown rice and lettuce for the base, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes for my veggie, and grilled lime and sour orange chicken for my protein. My toppings were shredded cheese and Pico de Gallo. Again, I skipped out of the sauce because I was unsure if I would like any of them. This bowl was delicious and incredibly filling. It comes with so much food, so it is excellent if you need a filling meal. One thing I particularly liked was the chicken. It was incredibly flavorful but not spicy at all. The only thing I did not love was the Brussels sprouts. They had a hint of spice and were too savory for my liking. In addition, the customer service was also great and the staff was particularly friendly.   

 Overall ranking: 8/10   


Water and Flour   

Water and flour, formerly known as Ciccio Water, is an Italian restaurant on South Howard. In 2020, Ciccio Water converted to Water and Flour, going from a California-themed to Italian-themed restaurant. When the restaurant made the switch, they kept some of their “Californian” items on their menu, including their bowls. Their bowl system works by picking a bowl theme (they have tons to choose from), and then you can customize what is on the bowl by selecting a base and adding or removing toppings. I ordered the Mexican bowl. I picked brown rice for my base and got it with chicken, cheese, Pico de Gallo, pepitas, black beans, and lime. This bowl was so delicious. The flavors were not too intense, but it still had a touch of spice. It was very filling because it was significant in size. It was perfect for a filling meal. In addition to the delicious food, the customer service was excellent. Everyone was so welcoming and polite in the restaurant. The only thing I would do differently is get the bowl without pepitas.

 Overall ranking: 9/10 


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