Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida (or Wat Tampa as most people call it) is a Theravada Buddhist Temple for religious ceremonies, meditation, and Dhamma (teachings of Buddha) study. It was established in 1981 and moved to its current location in 1983. The Sunday Market started in 1987 with only two tables and has since grown into a food paradise for thousands of people every Sunday. Volunteers serve authentic Thai food prepared by Temple volunteers from 8:30 a.m. until about 1 p.m. with all proceeds going back to Wat Tampa.
Most menu items are $6 or less, here are a few:
- Grilled pork or chicken on a stick – my favorite of the day
- Pad Thai - vegetable and noodles – they were already out when we got there
- Various chicken curry dishes with vegetables – we tried the pumpkin curry-so good!
- Egg rolls
- “Guiteow” – Beef or pork noodle soup
- “Som Dom” – Thai Papaya salad
- Fried bananas, taro root, and sweet potatoes – huge servings & delish!
- A wide variety of Thai desserts
- Thai tea and Thai coffee made with sweet cream
You can get your food packed to-go, or stay and eat right there. Just steps away underneath the shade of mature trees are plenty of picnic tables where you can sit and hang out. Each menu item is more than enough for one person, so there’s always plenty to share. If you’re with a crowd it’s fun to have everyone get something different so you can try everything. It’s always crowded, when you see a spot open, grab it! This is a family-friendly environment and a fun way to try all kinds of food without spending a lot of money.
While you’re there, you can also shop for Thai fruit trees, herbs, orchids and hanging plants in the delightful outdoor Plant Market next to the picnic tables. I bought a Holy Basil plant for $5 and an orchid that I have already managed to kill for only $12. The Holy Basil is still going strong, though!
Visitors can also go inside Wat Tampa if they’d like, to see inside of a Buddhist Temple. Please remove your shoes and leave them outside.
The Sunday Market accepts CASH ONLY, so come prepared. The Wat Tampa is a very beautiful place with traditional Thai architecture and even a dragon or two. Restrooms are clean and easily accessible. My best advice is to arrive early and don’t let the lines fool you, they go quick.
EXTRA: You’ve finished eating and still want to stay in Tampa a bit longer? Visit the new Sparkman Wharf along Garrison Channel in downtown. SW is a collection of shipping containers turned into tiny food shops and a full bar so you can grab an afternoon margarita and look at the water before you head back. Have fun exploring Tampa!
5306 Palm River Rd. Tampa, Florida 33619
Sunday Market is open from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.