Wright’s Gourmet House in Tampa, FL makes the best sandwiches and homemade cakes in the state of Florida. I only wish we had this perfect neighborhood spot in Miami instead of 4 hours away, but it is always such a treat to come here when visiting friends on Florida’s west coast. Wright’s is a local staple that is second to none. Located on busy S. Dale Mabry, you can always count on a line and a busy dining room bustling with families, regulars, and out-of-towners. I feel like generations of locals have loved this place, which is evident by their high-volume of business and the slew of large take-out orders we saw employees preparing. Wright’s serves up gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads, yummy desserts, and has a large freezer at the front jam-packed with frozen dinners to pop in the oven like homemade chicken pot pie.
Wright’s is worth the wait, and the line.* We came at 12:30 pm on a warm Saturday afternoon and it was slammed with the line snaking out the door past the sidewalk.** We waited eagerly and unfazed- I only get to come here once a year after all! The wait is even endurable because employees are always friendly, well-groomed, and seem to be happy as they prepare sandwiches on the line. I only point this out because it is so easy for employees to look disgruntled and tired especially in the face of such a busy lunch rush. After about 30 minutes we were finally sitting down before a veritable array of sandwich mastery and thick-slices of cake big enough to share.
This visit we ordered the Beef Martini (so good its trademarked) $8.75, Reuben $9.50, Turkey Club $9, Bahama Baby $8.50, and Golden Gate $8.50 sandwiches. My friend ordered their enormous Chicken Caesar Salad and added bacon and black olives. The salad was enormous, fresh, and delectable with tender grilled chicken and melt-in-your-mouth bacon. The Cuban sandwich $8.25 here is a “6 time winner of the Tampa Tribune’s All-Tampa Cuban Sandwich Contest”- I’m sure it’s amazing, but I grew up on Cuban sandwiches here in Miami- so I’d rather enjoy different deli treats. The deli salads are not to be forgotten- the Broccoli & Peanut Salad and Couscous Salad are delicious. Everything here is fresh, high-quality, and homemade.
The Golden Gate is a popular choice with roasted pork, crispy bacon, Jarlsberg cheese, German dill pickle slices, lettuce, and their famous homemade mustard sauce. To top it off they add chunky rich homemade peach chutney that goes great with the soft, subtle pumpernickel bread it’s served on. The Bahama Baby served hot was my favorite of the day; I even ordered one to go for later. The pressed sandwich is served on an onion roll with roasted pork, ham, cucumber slices that tasted faintly pickled to me, bacon, Jarlsberg cheese, and their mustard sauce. This is kind of like a smaller pseudo-Cuban sandwich– and I can’t wait to make one like it at home.
You MUST end your meal with a slice of their moist cakes or smaller cupcake versions. My absolute favorite is the classic Alpine- a soft yellow cake with chocolate frosting and white chocolate shavings $5 (cupcakes are $3). When you master yellow cake and chocolate frosting- together they are mind-blowing. I swear by the cake slices over the cupcakes because they are first off- bigger- and secondly moister with the added bonus of extra frosting between the three layers. Other good choices are the carrot, chocolate and red velvet with the twist of almond cream cheese frosting sprinkled with toasted almonds. The Hawaiian Princess is just too sweet for me, sometimes I find pineapple overwhelming- either too sour or sweet.
Next time you are visiting the Tampa Bay Area I highly recommend you come to Wright’s- you’ll be wishing someone ordered you one of their cakes for your birthday. There are just too many good things to order here and I’ve only scratched the surface- but I’m sure one day I’ll try it all.
1200 S Dale Mabry • Tampa, FL • 33629 • (813) 253-3838
*Don’t come here on a Sunday, they’re closed for worship, family, and rest- according to their sign
** You can always call-ahead your order- if you’d like to avoid waiting