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Tampa - Hidden Gems?

o
Oscar Demolski Nov 30, 2007 03:42 PM

Being new here I surfed around, but I kept seeing the same old, same old. I was hoping this board would provide insights on what I call the Hidden Gems. Places that never even heard of Zagat and Michelin is what you put on your truck to drive to these places. A place where you get great food at a decent price. If I want a good dinner and spend a C note for me and the Mrs, I know where to go, it's those places that cost half that (or even less) that I love to find. Now my definition doesn't include some place where the health departmenet makes frequent stops at (except maybe for lunch or dinner), but doesn't have to serve on china or even have wait staff.
So where are these gems in the Tampa area?

I've seen Skippers Smokehouse mentioned several times and I guess one could call that an upscale Dive, but c'mon! The Taco Bus on Hillsborough also fits my defintion, but I'm seeing to many references to Side Berns and all those other SoHo places.
There is more out there & not just on Armenia Ave (the motherlode of Tampa Hidden Gems)!.

For instance, my favorite Mexican is in Ruskin a place called LaCasita on Shell Point Rd a block West from Hgwy 41. When I want Mexican I drive from Carrollwood to Ruskin to get it.
If you continue further down Shell Point there's an outdoor stand called The Fish House with great Fried Seafood and decent Smoked Mullett. A nice hidden gem. Get yourself an Iced Tea and a picnic table and chow down on good eats.
For Chinese there's Yum-Yum House on Waters Ave just East of Armenia and the best Pizza in the area is at Bruno's located at Waters and Armenia (they have other locations in that area as well).
And for the best Deli sandwiches you can't go wrong and Mr Dunderbaks at the University Mall. It doesn't hurt that they have all those imported beers and I understand their German dishes are quite tasty as well, but I just can't get past those monsterous mound sof Pastrami or Corned Beef in all their different variations.

So Ladies and Gents, could ya'll please post some Hidden Gems for me or at the least the places that have great food (or at least one great dish) at a price that would make me want to treat my daughter's bum of a boyfriend?
JK, he's a great kid. Graduating with a double major from USF in a couple of weeks.

  1. d
    deelite984 Dec 7, 2013 10:30 AM

    I'm going to check out the Thai temple tomorrow. I hear they sell authentic dishes at very reasonable prices. I'll post what I thing about it.

    1. b
      bdolgin Dec 7, 2013 09:41 AM

      D&D Delights in the port of Tampa has great sandwiches. A little stop neat the entrance to the port. Just past the oil terminals on 20th St. Seating is at the picnic tables out back

      1. k
        Kellykatherine Oct 27, 2013 07:22 PM

        My favorite hidden gem is Senor Taco in Pinellas Park. I dream about their chorizo tacos.

        1. d
          deelite984 Oct 26, 2013 04:55 PM

          I used to love Bruno's until I tried Best NY Pizza on Dale Mabry. For Chinese try Wong Fu on waters.

          Check out my pizza review....http://foodspeak1.wordpress.com/2013/...

          2 Replies
          1. re: deelite984
            Mild Bill Oct 26, 2013 08:31 PM

            deelite984, cruise just a little further north on Dale Mabry to the Home Goods shopping center at Van Dyke and get a couple slices of Pepperoni at Marchello's... Great crust, quality full-flavor cheese, good pepperoni, good drippy red oil... I'm withya on that...

            I did a back-to-back a few months ago with Best NY Pizza and on that day there was no comparison, although I like Best NY... Very enthusiastic to check out Pizza Haven in Brandon!

            1. re: Mild Bill
              d
              deelite984 Oct 26, 2013 08:46 PM

              Pizza Haven has beef patties with cheese and cocoa bread....mmmmm

          2. j
            Jen Tkalec Sep 22, 2013 07:05 PM

            Being a fellow foodie we LOVE hidden gems! Just came from Pizza Suprema in Lutz... convenient drive from Carrollwood and DEFINATELY worth it...corner of 54 and collier pkwy...while takeout is their mainstay, grab a table and be sure to order something from every part of the menu... garlic cheese bread thick and hot, meatballs the size of your fist served piping hot and nothing here is frozen everything is fresh. Get ready for a food buzz from the chicken saltimbocca or anything parmesan...it's been a really long time since we've tasted food this good, pack up a few cannoli too, prices are impressive enough you'll want to take the bum boyfriend more than once. Enjoy!

            1. d
              DinnerForOne Jun 20, 2013 12:12 PM

              Still looking for Hidden Gems?
              Try Pizzeria Gregario in Safety Harbor (Recent addition to the area - Wood Fired, all from scratch each day)

              1. h
                harryo Jan 30, 2013 08:10 AM

                If you're in the New Port Richey/Trinity area, check out Grille 54 on State Road 54. It has some of the best sushi I've had (this coming from NYC!) and the place has a cool buzz at night with an excellent bar. Their grilled food is good too, but their sushi is outstanding.

                1 Reply
                1. re: harryo
                  c
                  CFishman Jan 30, 2013 08:18 AM

                  "All I need are some tasty waves and a cool buzz."

                2. b
                  billysmith Aug 20, 2012 03:40 PM

                  If you want some amazing sausage check out a group called sausage laboratory out of wesley chapel. They don't have a storefront as far as I know, but their website is the same sausagelaboratory.com. I stumbled onto them at the Wire Grass Farmers Market in new Tampa this w/e and sampled their stuff. It really was the best i have had in a long time and pretty original. They make a killer boudin!

                  1. s
                    surfereddie Feb 10, 2012 04:16 AM

                    The only place for NY Corned Beef is "The Lucky Dill" and only at the Palm Harbor store. They do enough business and are able to cook fresh corned beef daily so they are not serving you last weeks reheated garage. I've been to the other stores and sadly they don't compare to Palm Harbor. Also, unbeatable Matzoball soup and again, sadly the other stores don't compare.
                    TO LUCKY DILL MANAGEMENT: Work on uniformity to build the brand, thanks

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: surfereddie
                      o
                      Oscar Demolski Mar 21, 2012 01:50 PM

                      Their Harbor View store by Coachman Park ain't bad. I hit that often when I worked downtown Clearwater. I go to the PH store about once a month now. Good stuff.
                      But the matzo ball soup isn't a daily soup, I think it's weekends or some other day I don't get a chance to get there.

                    2. m
                      magnusfl Nov 7, 2011 08:54 PM

                      bruno is hardly a gem as they haif cook there pizza and the cool them so there qucker to finish off and i do agree with Mr Dunderbaks for german but it no longer at universtay but a larger location up in new tampa

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: magnusfl
                        askdrtodd Nov 8, 2011 08:19 PM

                        u been drinking duder?

                        1. re: askdrtodd
                          m
                          Manderley Nov 9, 2011 12:47 AM

                          hahahaha

                        2. re: magnusfl
                          o
                          Oscar Demolski Mar 21, 2012 01:46 PM

                          Yup. Bruno's is a complete wash out now.
                          Cited by the health department and I knew 2 girls who worked there.
                          You don't want to go thee anymore.
                          Too bad, they had some pretty tasty, greasy pie. Big slices too for a good price, but I haven't been there in over a year and I drive by all the time.

                        3. j
                          justintampanow Jul 13, 2011 12:46 PM

                          Lobosco's Pizza and Pasta Delight on US 19 in Clearwater/Palm Harbor (in Outback Plaza) is AMAZING. Not only is everything made in-house, but the food and pizza is awesome. I always look forward to Brocolli Rabe season, and the owner always makes specials, and treats regulars a little extra special.

                          Another gem is Victoria's on Dale Mabry just south of Gandy in South Tampa. Best Cuban Sandwiches, and has been around forever....Great lunch specials, too..

                          1. s
                            SlapnChop Jul 6, 2011 03:28 PM

                            Oh, I forgot about Pierogi Grill on Gulf to Bay.

                            -----
                            Pierogi Grill
                            1535 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33755

                            1. s
                              SlapnChop Jul 4, 2011 06:42 PM

                              Chicago Grill and Dog House in Largo (Ulmerton at Belcher) - this is a must
                              Cafe Vienna in St. Pete
                              O Bistro in St. Pete
                              Tate Bros. Pizza on Davis Island
                              Byblos Cafe on Macdill (and their little market in back)
                              Senor Taco on Park - get the Mayan bbq. another must.

                              -----
                              Cafe Vienna
                              5625 4th St N Ste 6, Saint Petersburg, FL 33703

                              Senor Taco
                              6447 Park Blvd, Pinellas Park, FL 33781

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: SlapnChop
                                j
                                JillyLeigh Jul 6, 2011 08:14 PM

                                Just FYI- Tate's is no longer on the Island, but they have opened a new location on Howard.

                                1. re: JillyLeigh
                                  askdrtodd Jul 6, 2011 08:23 PM

                                  Yeah and I never really thought much of either location, but I suppose I'm a pizza snob.

                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                    s
                                    SlapnChop Jul 7, 2011 11:09 AM

                                    There isn't a lot of fantastic pizza in the Tampa Bay area, at least not that I've found, but it's a lot better than other places.

                                    1. re: SlapnChop
                                      o
                                      Oscar Demolski Jul 8, 2011 08:08 AM

                                      I haven't had Tate's but definitely try Wood Fired on Bearrs near USF/University Comm Hospital. Pretty good.

                                      I think I mentioned this previously, but my two favs are both in downtown Clearwater area. Cristino's on North Fort Howard (near Morton Plant) is charcoal fired and is probably my favorite in the area (I tried Anthony's once thinking it would be like Cristino's but nope) and Cafe Milano's a block or two north of Cleveland on North Fort Howard. It's a thick, gooey pie which is a style I generally don't like, but this guy is the exception. Ingredients come from Italy (he doesn't advertise that btw) and you can taste it. Off chance you might see Kirsty Ally in there as I have several times, but no one really pays much attention as she's seen all over downtown Clrwtr.

                                      -----
                                      Cafe Milano
                                      105 N Fort Harrison Ave, Clearwater, FL 33755

                                      1. re: Oscar Demolski
                                        a
                                        andy huse Jul 10, 2011 10:14 AM

                                        Cristino's is very good. nice gelato, too.

                                        1. re: Oscar Demolski
                                          s
                                          SlapnChop Jul 11, 2011 06:34 PM

                                          I'll check them both out. Thanks!

                                          1. re: Oscar Demolski
                                            m
                                            magnusfl Oct 27, 2013 08:29 AM

                                            wood fired at beers is very good but also very small and thin and milady toped so feed s 2 and priced like a xl 18 pizza from other that can feed 2 for days so while really good just to pricy for me

                                          2. re: SlapnChop
                                            askdrtodd Jul 9, 2011 05:23 AM

                                            SlapnChop- Depends on your def. of fantastic, Oscar is correct that Wood Fired is excellent, I think arguably the best pizza in the Bay Area. I'm quite fond of the Margherita pie at Paci's in South Tampa, and the pizzas at Pane Rustica are really creative and tasty. definitely worth checking out.

                                            1. re: askdrtodd
                                              ladlelady Jul 9, 2011 08:58 AM

                                              The Lydia pizza at Wood Fired is my #1 choice for pizza in Tampa. Can't wait to sample some of the others!

                                              1. re: ladlelady
                                                rhnault Jul 9, 2011 12:08 PM

                                                what toppings are on the Lydia?

                                                1. re: rhnault
                                                  ladlelady Jul 10, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                  Thinly Sliced Fresh Tomato, Dollops of Ricotta, Fresh Mozzarella, Garlic,
                                                  Spinach, Caramelized Onions, EVOO, Pecorino Romano, Organic Herbs - it was so yummy!

                                                  1. re: ladlelady
                                                    m
                                                    Manderley Jul 10, 2011 03:54 PM

                                                    omg that sounds so good i'm quivering.

                                                    1. re: Manderley
                                                      ladlelady Jul 12, 2011 05:59 PM

                                                      Just had some of a Dante's Inferno pizza created by ...[drum roll] Andy Huse! Kudos, it was excellent! Just the right amount of heat and the toppings were spot on. Can't wait to try another one!

                                        2. re: JillyLeigh
                                          s
                                          SlapnChop Jul 7, 2011 11:08 AM

                                          Wow. Shows you how long ago it's been since I was there. Thanks for the info!

                                      2. Katafer Apr 26, 2011 01:44 PM

                                        First post evah'! :-) Felt I had to give back after the amazing recommendation for China Yuan. We went and had dim sum there this past Saturday, and it exceeded my expectations.

                                        That being said - my hidden gem is Machu Picchu on Hillsborough. There is no atmosphere, and it closes at 8 every night (!), but the Ceviche Mixto they serve, with sweet potato, yucca, and hominy (I think, or really big corn) will bring tears to your eyes - even if you just order it medium spicy. Looks like their website is down, but trust me, and try it. Ciao!

                                        -----
                                        China Yuan
                                        8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: Katafer
                                          rhnault Apr 26, 2011 02:39 PM

                                          Welcome to the board!
                                          Where on Hillsborough is Machu Picchu?

                                          1. re: rhnault
                                            Mild Bill Apr 26, 2011 03:21 PM

                                            It's in the strip center where the DMV Tax Collector used to be--- just east of Guadalajara restaurant...
                                            I went there a couple years ago and got their Seafood Tallarines (Peruvian Lo Mein) and it tasted like it was kept in Tupperware in the fridge for a week and reheated...
                                            Frozen rubbery or pasty seafood with overcooked mooshy pasta...
                                            Bad in the extreme...

                                            I'll give them another shot in honor of our new friend here...

                                            Everything could have changed for the better in the past few years...
                                            Things can change in a day--- all it takes is a good cook and a good manager...

                                            1. re: Mild Bill
                                              c
                                              CFishman Apr 26, 2011 07:31 PM

                                              I went awhile back and was unenthused also. If the prices were slightly cheaper, it would be an alternative to Terra Sur. As it is though, I can't see forgoing the mussels ala chalaca at Terra Sur to return to Macchu Pichu.

                                              -----
                                              Terra Sur Cafe
                                              5358 W Village Dr, Tampa, FL 33624

                                              1. re: CFishman
                                                askdrtodd Apr 27, 2011 08:04 AM

                                                OOH I forgot I need to try Terra Sur. That's on the ol' list now!

                                                -----
                                                Terra Sur Cafe
                                                5358 W Village Dr, Tampa, FL 33624

                                              2. re: Mild Bill
                                                rhnault Apr 27, 2011 05:07 AM

                                                Oh yes, I have seen the place.

                                            2. re: Katafer
                                              askdrtodd Apr 27, 2011 08:04 AM

                                              Welcome Katafer! Will give Machu Picchu a try for this yummy sounding ceviche.

                                              1. re: Katafer
                                                b
                                                briin79 Jan 13, 2012 04:21 PM

                                                Love machu pichu! Good call fried seafood plater is great and the pickled onions are awesome

                                              2. j
                                                JeffTampa Apr 6, 2011 02:17 PM

                                                Did someone say [write!] GUMBO?? Ted over at the Mott & Hester Deli makes a great sausage gumbo and an even better seafood gumbo. Excellent sandwiches and prices at your basic locals'-hangout in South Tampa at the corner of Watrous and S. Dale Mabry Hwy.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JeffTampa
                                                  askdrtodd Apr 6, 2011 08:59 PM

                                                  Tell me more about this gumbo...

                                                2. f
                                                  Fritzjurg Mar 20, 2011 04:56 PM

                                                  Snack City has closed, best ice cream, he hadn't earned a profit in 3 years

                                                  Cesare's pizza is god awful

                                                  Cuban food lacks flavor so La Teresita, Arco Iris, Lincoln, and the 20+ others in the area are generally terrible. Try venturing to the locations where they really season the food & it tastes great like:
                                                  Mi Pueblo (Lincoln & Spruce) & La Casona - 2 fantastic puerto rican places
                                                  Pick most any rotisserie chicken place north Armenia especially close to Sligh

                                                  Best pizza - Paci's hands down. The Deck when the right pizza maker is cooking. Doormet makes a surprisingly good pizza.

                                                  La Teresita is now making their own bread and it is awful. Especially avoid them in humid days, the bread will not rise.

                                                  China Yuan for anything especially whole cooked fish. Has John opened up th new place on 22nd & Hillsborough? It is supposed to offer dim sum. When he first helped TC Choys launch their menu & dim sum offering, it was NYC/SF quality. TC Choys has never recovered since he left.

                                                  Everyone knows The Palm but few know of the great happy hour apps from 5-7pm & after 9pm. Almost 66% off on apps.

                                                  Taste of Boston by the Gandy pier south of Bayshore. If h is still doing all you can eat $10 fried shrimp on Monday's then wow! Great lobster, etc. S opposed to the awful lobster roll at Monstah Lobstah.

                                                  A great lunch deal in Pinellas is at Cafe Ponte. Gourmet soup, salad, sandwich & side for $10. Much better food for $1-2 dollars more than the hooters crap or other nearby fast food places.

                                                  -----
                                                  China Yuan
                                                  8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                  Cafe Ponte
                                                  13505 Icot Blvd. Suite 214, Clearwater, FL 33760

                                                  Snack City
                                                  2506 W Columbus Dr, Tampa, FL 33607

                                                  Monstah Lobstah
                                                  3409 W Bay To Bay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629

                                                  Taste of Boston
                                                  5314 Interbay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33611

                                                  Arco Iris Cafe
                                                  4001 N Habana Ave, Tampa, FL 33607

                                                  Doormet
                                                  1155 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33629

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: Fritzjurg
                                                    askdrtodd Mar 21, 2011 06:20 AM

                                                    Fritz- spot on re: Paci's, Mi Pueblo (although I thought it was Puerto Rican?), CY (although I still prefer Chopstix or Yummy House). Taste of Boston is good? I always run/bike past that place and wonder. Cool location.

                                                    I have to disagree with you on Ponte, I've eaten there 3 or 4 times now and each time is more disappointing than the last. Also I've always had great food at TC Choy, but I agree it's slipped.

                                                    If you like Paci's you really must try Wood Fired up on Bearss, it's excellent.

                                                    What does the Palm have at HH?

                                                    1. re: askdrtodd
                                                      rhnault Mar 21, 2011 08:27 AM

                                                      Not sure if they have drink specials but the food is a deal at 4.50

                                                      http://www.thepalm.com/files/filesPal...

                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                        b
                                                        Birdcage_Chef Mar 22, 2011 05:31 AM

                                                        Those are great deals at the Palm...will try to go there tmrw or thu.

                                                        1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                          rhnault Mar 22, 2011 06:24 AM

                                                          We went last week to Sideberns and their happy hour is a great deal as well. 5.00 wine, 3.00 beer, 6.00 cocktails, and 6.00 appetizers. Everything was wonderful and the service was fantastic!

                                                          -----
                                                          Sidebern's
                                                          2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

                                                          1. re: rhnault
                                                            askdrtodd Mar 22, 2011 07:58 AM

                                                            RH- agree, but will give the Palm the ol' College try, even tho all I see is a bunch of different sliders, chicken fingers, fried oysters, etc...

                                                            1. re: askdrtodd
                                                              rhnault Mar 22, 2011 09:12 AM

                                                              It seemed better until you posted it lol. Their verbage was more appealing

                                                              1. re: rhnault
                                                                f
                                                                Fritzjurg Mar 22, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                                I've happily eaten the happy hour apps at The palm several times and I even felt uninterested after reading the Dr Todd description... ;-) The fried oyster thingy is good though. When the apps where $3.50 (recent price hike), they had this cheesesteak slider - YUM! For a splurge - get the prime bone-in filet mignon - what a tasty $58 steak...yup, $58 steak.

                                                                The other good happy hour apps - Roy's $5 apps, Ruths Chris too.

                                                                Had the pizza at The Deck Sunday, tasty as usual

                                                                Anyone been to Carmel on McMullen Booth rd yet? a new start-up by the Outback guys.

                                                                1. re: Fritzjurg
                                                                  rhnault Mar 22, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                                  I have done the Flemings HH, but never Roy's. I need to try that one soon.
                                                                  I have read mixed reviews abour Carmel. Is it in the same location where Ponte's Tuscan Grill was?

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Ponte's Tuscan Grill
                                                                  2544 McMullen Booth RD, Clearwater, FL 33761

                                                                  1. re: Fritzjurg
                                                                    askdrtodd Mar 22, 2011 03:07 PM

                                                                    Wife & I enjoyed Carmel, didn't realize it was the Outback guys, which is a good thing because I'm less inclined to give chain spots the benefit of the doubt (or give them my business at all, I feel there are too many local businesses to support). The food we had was good, the server was a sweetheart, the iPad menus were a nifty gimmick, but man it was LOUD in there. It looks somewhat intimate but it's in desperate need of some acoustical treatments or something.

                                                      2. b
                                                        Birdcage_Chef Nov 24, 2010 08:18 AM

                                                        Well folks my 1st post....
                                                        Highly recommend Osteria Natalina (www.osterianatalina.com) which in my opinion is the best hidden Italian restaurant in Tampa. I have repeatedly hosted dinners there with business associates that travel the world and they all leave very impressed with the food. Many have recommended the place themselves. I rarely ever order from the menu as they gladly offer up a "tasting menu" which covers 5-7 courses of small portions that are to die for. If you choose this route, do so Tues - Thurs as they are quite busy Fri & Sat. The prices are relatively inexpensive. They have good wine values - a bottle of Cali or Italian around $30-$40 btl. If you want something a little better, they have Barolo, Super Tuscans, Brunello in the back - just ask. Its all about the food however so go treat yourself . Tell Spartoco that Jerry sent you.
                                                        BTW the owner is quite a foodie himself. My last visit there, he offered up ABC Seafood Restaurant. in St. Pete as his hidden gem for Chinese food - for my money, my preference is China Yuan on Armenia..

                                                        -----
                                                        China Yuan
                                                        8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                        ABC Seafood Restaurant
                                                        2705 54th Ave N Ste 3, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                          t
                                                          Tom Scherberger Nov 24, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                          I remember this place when it was called Spartaco, and from the photos it looks like the same owner and the same great atmosphere. Glad to known they are back at it under a new name. It was a favorite (but a little expensive). I agree about ABC Seafood and China Yuan. But now I'm intrigued by lkmohri's tip about Lucky Star.

                                                          -----
                                                          China Yuan
                                                          8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                          ABC Seafood Restaurant
                                                          2705 54th Ave N Ste 3, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714

                                                          1. re: Tom Scherberger
                                                            askdrtodd Nov 24, 2010 02:00 PM

                                                            It is the same owner, he just re-vamped the restaurant, menu, wine list, etc. It is better now, two can dine with a bottle of wine for maybe 70-80ish with tip.

                                                            1. re: askdrtodd
                                                              a
                                                              andy huse Mar 18, 2011 02:04 PM

                                                              i love the Osteria. wish i could go every day. some of the best steak and gnocchi i've had in Tampa.

                                                              1. re: andy huse
                                                                askdrtodd Mar 19, 2011 07:56 AM

                                                                OOH I've not had the gnocchi there, but considering gnocchi is my favorite non-stuffed pasta dish, I need to get over there again ASAP.

                                                                1. re: andy huse
                                                                  rhnault Mar 19, 2011 09:25 AM

                                                                  we still have not been there....I want to go

                                                                  1. re: rhnault
                                                                    m
                                                                    Manderley Mar 19, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                    someone should organize a tampa chowdown. hint, hint.

                                                                    1. re: Manderley
                                                                      rhnault Mar 19, 2011 10:55 AM

                                                                      maybe some time in April. I could eat some good house made pasta

                                                                  2. re: andy huse
                                                                    ladlelady Jul 5, 2011 07:08 PM

                                                                    Was headed to Pane Rustica but apparently they're closed on Tuesday nights, so I went to Osteria. Wow. I like to try the lasagne when I go to a new Italian place and it was fabulous. They have this pink sauce that I cannot even describe. I couldn't finish the whole piece and asked them to add a little more sauce to my to go box! Also had the caprese salad - very fresh and good quality ingredients. The balsamic vin was the stand out there.

                                                                    1. re: ladlelady
                                                                      askdrtodd Jul 6, 2011 08:22 PM

                                                                      Yah Pane is Lunch Tues-Sun and Dinner Wed-Sat. I prefer lunch for the value, but dinner is great too.

                                                                      Also Osteria is SOLID. I'm not a guy that seeks out Italian, but when I do...

                                                              2. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                Mild Bill Nov 24, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                                Jerry, WELCOME and thanks for the tip!
                                                                An Italian tasting menu sounds interesting & fun to me---- I've never done that...
                                                                I'm a monster fan of Italian, but who isn't?

                                                                1. re: Mild Bill
                                                                  b
                                                                  Birdcage_Chef Nov 24, 2010 04:14 PM

                                                                  Thanks Bill. Since you love Italian, try Bella's on Howard - 1 of my favorite lunch spots. Start with a glass of wine and the Carpaccio. I also recommend the Prosciutto Linguine - fresh pasta with artichoke, mushrooms, roasted garlic, and of course prosciutto - all swimming in olive oil. I also recommend the Grouper Rosso - blackened grouper served with fresh made fettuccini in a spicy red sauce. Both dishes are around $8.00. THey also make great pizza - my favorite being a simple Margherita. There are quite a few places also I'll talk about later - and they are not Italian :-)

                                                                  1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                    l
                                                                    larkemon Nov 24, 2010 06:40 PM

                                                                    Wow... can't believe Bella's is still around. I remember going there for dinner during prom night back in 1994!

                                                                    1. re: larkemon
                                                                      Mild Bill Nov 24, 2010 07:43 PM

                                                                      Yeah, it's good to hear them still being mentioned...
                                                                      I've been there a dozen or so times, but not in the last 10 years +/- ---- since my cooking fanaticism really took hold...

                                                                      That might be one reason the tasting menu is appealing... A possible burst of new ideas for the reppatwah! ;-)

                                                              3. l
                                                                lkmohri Nov 22, 2010 02:27 PM

                                                                The first would be Mike's Sushi and Sake Bar, the best Japanese restaurant in this area and possibly in the south. One needs a Japanese person trained in cooking, trained in cutting, knows what is traditional as well as having imagination in creating new dishes. Mike (Masaaki Kimura) and his wife runs this restaurant. It starts with not having regular soy sauce but murasaki which has dashi(Japanese soup broth) in it. This is a place where omakase (leave it up to you to serve) definitely has meaning. There is much good stuff to be had eating tsumamimono(appetizers but really translating here to things to eat while drinking sake). I can get kazunoko(herring roe) prepared new year's style, marinated sea bass, scallops from Hokkaido, Japan, karashi mentaiko(hot cod roe) and with advance notice, things like clam broth soup or things cooked a long time with the brothy, soy taste, and mirin taste. The sake bottles are many to choose from and it is a "bottle Keep" so they will keep it for you till the next visit. I know the food is authentic because I am Japanese, know how to cook, and am the son of a cooking teacher. This restaurant is in Palm Harbor on US19 and Nebraska (NE corner).

                                                                Lucky Star on 66th St and around 42nd Avenue N in St Petersburg is the place for Chinese seafood. I recommend having scallops on the shell, oysters(cooked) on the shell, as well as small snails cooked spicy. The jellyfish as an appetizer is good especially by adding hot chili oil. Flounder and other fish cooked traditionally meaning steamed with scallions and ginger is great. The clam dish is really good too.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: lkmohri
                                                                  m
                                                                  Manderley Nov 26, 2010 01:58 PM

                                                                  another Mike's fan!!! hi!! i've been raving about Mike's since he opened at that location at 19 and Nebraska. I've told Mike that he is the one and only reason I have not moved back up to New York. His fish is so fresh, it's still quivering :) and Mike is the one who taught me about sake, now I'm a sakehound as well as a chowhound.

                                                                2. l
                                                                  larkemon Nov 21, 2010 05:14 PM

                                                                  If by hidden gem, you mean an unexpected find, then the best Banh Mi in Tampa isn't found at any of the Vietnamese restaurants or grocery stores. It's at

                                                                  Great Eats Sandwich Company
                                                                  6805 Benjamin Road
                                                                  Tampa, FL 33634-4415
                                                                  http://www.greateatstampa.com

                                                                  They make a darn good Cuban sandwich too!

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: larkemon
                                                                    Mild Bill Nov 21, 2010 07:30 PM

                                                                    Oh man!
                                                                    That's right in my hood!

                                                                    I'll try their Banh Mi & Cuban tomorrow...

                                                                    Nice...

                                                                    1. re: Mild Bill
                                                                      askdrtodd Nov 22, 2010 02:07 AM

                                                                      OOH I love both of those sammiches, Bill, lemme know how it fares out!

                                                                    2. re: larkemon
                                                                      askdrtodd Nov 22, 2010 09:44 AM

                                                                      Bill and I went today, it was pretty good. We tried three sammiches, the Bahn Mi, El Cubano, and the Marsala Panini.

                                                                      The Bahn Mi had generous quantities of tender pork, and was overall tasty, but didn't seem very "Asian-ey" to Bill & I. It almost reminded me of a pretty decent cheesesteak (minus the cheese) with some pickled veggies and a jalapeno slice. I still prefer Saigon Deli's, which has crunchier bread and more authentic meats, with more herbs and diakon/carrots. Also in SD's favor, they have everything from fish sauce to soy to hoisin to the spicy red paste in oil that I love so much, all right on the table. Great Eats just had Sriracha, which I do love, but when spoiled by Saigon Deli's condiments, along with a price tag at almost half of Great Eats' bahn mi, it's a no-brainer for me.

                                                                      The El Cubano was also good, but again no better than one from Floridian or anything I've had locally. It would have benefitted from some salami and spicier mustard, but the meat on it wasn't bad. Segunda bread would have been a nice upgrade too.

                                                                      The Chicken Marsala Panini was also tasty, but again lacked pop. The meat was juicy and tender, and in a very respectable portion. The mushroom/onion mixture was yummy and plentiful, and the sandwich was a decent value for 4.99. Again really would have benefited from something along the lines of herbs or perhaps a bit of wine/vinegar?

                                                                      There was a guy nearby eating a burger that looked quite tasty and I'd be more than happy to try if I return. In summation I thought the three sandwiches we had were good, but not worth driving out of your way for. IMHO, they gauge their food more towards comfort and accessibility rather than focusing on authenticity or being creative/dynamic. I would take a Mi Cubano from Cafe Hey over these any day.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Cafe Hey
                                                                      1540 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                        l
                                                                        larkemon Nov 22, 2010 11:16 AM

                                                                        Glad you guys got to try it. Wonder if the banh mi was just one off for you guys today. Each time I've had it, there were plenty of veggies and jalapeno and the banh mi stood up as well to any other banh mi in town. No problem with crunchiness as the crumbs on my shirt could vouch for. :-) It is pricier, but I thought they were much more generous with the quantity and quality of pork. As for other condiments, traditionally banh mi aren't eaten with any of those toppings save soy sauce and rooster sauce so no bother for me. I think all of us foodies realize authentic is such a loaded word. That said, the owning family is Vietnamese, so debate on "authenticity" should consider it. I'm also Vietnamese and I can tell you that every family has their own home grown marinade. It may not be what you are used to from other Vietnamese restaurants, but un-"authentic" isn't fair. I do think it meets the criteria of "hidden gem" in that you wouldn't expect to find a banh mi in a breakfast/lunch sandwich shop catering to the business park crowd.

                                                                        I like the cuban sandwiches I've had at Great Eats, but my personal favorite is Charlie's Food Store.

                                                                        2815 East Sligh Avenue
                                                                        Tampa, FL 33610-1343

                                                                        It's probably more nostalgic than anything, but I grew up in the area and have fond memories of getting Cuban Sandwiches and deviled crabs there.

                                                                        1. re: larkemon
                                                                          askdrtodd Nov 22, 2010 05:13 PM

                                                                          I agree with you that it is a hidden gem: tasty food, reasonable price, and well hidden.

                                                                          Also you have a great point on the authenticity issue there, I probably should have just stated that my preference was for the one at SD, not that it was more authentic. I suppose I just enjoy having the variety and range of textures and flavors, I'm not an expert on what is or isn't Authentic with Vietnamese food. I'm so-so with Japanese and Korean (as I've spent time in both countries), but have only relied on info from my Vietnamese friend or from my old Vietnamese college roommate.

                                                                          That being said, compared to the dozen or so other restaurants I've had Bahn Mi's at in the bay area, that one was the most "comfort food"-ish to me, the rich meat and mayo seemed to be the focus (rather than the sandwich being a somewhat even mixture of the pickled flavor/texture from the daikon, the savory of the meat/mayo, the herbal quality of the cilantro, the heat from the jalapeno, the crunch from the bread, etc), hence my comment about it being cheesesteak-ish (sans cheese, of course).

                                                                          It was in no way bad, I just can't qualify it as the best one in town :)

                                                                    3. l
                                                                      lseavey Nov 16, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                                      Yokohama in Brandon is fantastic for sushi,

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: lseavey
                                                                        f
                                                                        foodiegrl1 Nov 17, 2010 12:00 PM

                                                                        Try Iavarones crab pasta. Yum. Yum.
                                                                        http://www.iavaronessteakhouse.com/

                                                                      2. Mnash5 Nov 12, 2010 08:50 AM

                                                                        Here are the few that have come to mind quickly.
                                                                        E&E on indianrocks rd in Belleair Bluffs. I can get enough of the fontina cheese pork chops.
                                                                        Randy's on 580 in Dunedin for Dogs, and Italian Beefs.
                                                                        Poppa's BBQ on 49th St -Although I think word is out on this place.
                                                                        2nd whoever said Taco Bus on Hillsborough, Mazzaro's and Cappy's.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Poppa's BBQ
                                                                        12211 49th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33762

                                                                        1. k
                                                                          kruckster Nov 11, 2010 08:27 PM

                                                                          Nouvelle Cuisine in Spring Hill (10531 Spring Hill Dr, Spring Hill) is absolutely amazing. This is our favorite place in the area next to Bern's.
                                                                          For some good BBQ, check out Hungry Harry's (3116 Land O Lakes Blvd, Land O Lakes). The best cuban sandwich in the North Tampa area is at Larry's Deli (4526 Land O Lakes Blvd). Make sure you get it garlic pressed!

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Nouvelle Cuisine
                                                                          10531 Spring Hill Dr, Spring Hill, FL 34608

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: kruckster
                                                                            askdrtodd Nov 12, 2010 05:47 AM

                                                                            garlic pressed... that has a real ring to it...

                                                                          2. m
                                                                            Manderley Oct 18, 2010 08:46 PM

                                                                            my most recently stumbled upon hidden gem...has got to be Taco Bus. Seriously. I went consistently at 3 or 4 am...there was always a crowd, many times i was the only woman, many times i was the only one who spoke english. once i figured out how to work the menu....my mouth waters at the thought. here i am now at least an hour away, an on a strict diet...but the little wheels in my brain are turning....and oh how i would love one of their vegetarian tostadas with corn and cheese...or the butternut squash tostada. with that incredible hot salsa verde. oh yeah. yeah yeah yeah.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Manderley
                                                                              d
                                                                              DoubleBurger Nov 13, 2010 05:53 AM

                                                                              I concur, the Taco Bus, albeit 20 miles from me, is well worth the trip. Best Taco, hands down. I bought a bottle of their Verde Sauce and absolutely love it. It even goes well with my cereal in the morning.

                                                                            2. d
                                                                              Diamondlil54 Jul 28, 2010 01:32 PM

                                                                              This is a destination restaurant, you just don't stumble upon it. Talk about hidden gems - El Puerto Argentinean Grill in Ybor City, is off the beaten path on 17th and Fifth, just two block east of the Seventh Avenue commercial strip, located in a historic building which must be over 100 years old.
                                                                              It has been nicely painted, there is a light and airy ambience about it, music is just right, not too loud. At the lunch hour it's jammed with local business folk. Dinner is for the locals in the know with their visiting relatives and the like.
                                                                              La Parrillada is the mixed grill and just that, some grilled chicken, pork chops, Argentine sausage, skirt steak, short ribs, sweet breads and morcilla (blood sausage). The skirt steak is prepared in the churrasco style and is tasty beyond words. Don't miss out on their chimmichuri sauce, it's on the table as a condiment, best I've ever had and I believe I make an awesome chimmichuri at home. What better to have with your tostones (fried and smashed plaintains)?
                                                                              Nice wine list, great fresh baked bread and do not, I repeat, do not start your meal without a few empanadas, the best empanadas you'll ever have in Tampa, just like the empanadas you'll get on the streets of Buenos Aires, and you do know that street food rules, just ask Anthony Bourdain.
                                                                              They have a parking lot right across the street, I often see Tampa's finest taking dinner breaks there and I have never felt unsafe on any one of my visits.
                                                                              I can't say enough about this place, except that the Parrillada for one is plenty of food for two and all for $22, it’s honest to goodness affordable fare. Check out their website http://www.elpuertoybor.com/

                                                                              -----
                                                                              El Puerto Argentinean Grill
                                                                              1623 E 5th Ave, Tampa, FL 33603

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Diamondlil54
                                                                                sweet_polly Jul 28, 2010 02:57 PM

                                                                                I agree...I love El Puerto!

                                                                                While it's not "in Tampa", I tried Tapas Garden and Wine Bar on Indian Rocks Beach a couple of weekends ago (in the building that used to house La Cachette de la Plage) and was really impressed...the tapas were excellent (the tastiest I've found in Tampa Bay to date). Some we tried were Mussels in Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce; Duck and Chicken Liver Pate (honestly, some of best pate I've had in this country); Crispy Duck Leg With Orange Wine Sauce, Filetito with Portabello Mushrooms and Maytag Bleu Cheese (my hub-unit's fave); Baked Brie in Puff Pastry w/ Candied Pecans, Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Blueberries; and Lobster Escargot. We finished up with a Banana Cream Pie studded with white chocolate tidbits and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Neither the menu or the wine list are particularly large, but they are more than adequate. We're still talking about it...it was all lovely.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Tapas Garden
                                                                                Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

                                                                                1. re: sweet_polly
                                                                                  r
                                                                                  rikkikm Feb 9, 2012 07:05 AM

                                                                                  Went to Tapas Garden a couple months ago and was not impressed. Food was only ok, especially for the price, and the service was atrocious. Typical tourist trap.

                                                                                  But I keep hearing about good pizza at Mike's Pub around the corner from it- anyone been?

                                                                                2. re: Diamondlil54
                                                                                  p
                                                                                  patrick37 Oct 18, 2010 07:47 PM

                                                                                  I am going to try them, but I suspect you work there?

                                                                                  1. re: patrick37
                                                                                    sweet_polly Oct 19, 2010 03:42 AM

                                                                                    LOL! That suspicion would be incorrect...I just get really excited about food and that was a particularly nice meal. I do not work in the restaurant & hospitality industry at all (or anything remotely related to it), nor does anyone I know. :)

                                                                                  2. re: Diamondlil54
                                                                                    p
                                                                                    patrick37 Oct 18, 2010 08:49 PM

                                                                                    You said Tampa, but I am going to throw some Pinellas Gems in there:
                                                                                    - Lovi'n Pizza in Dunedin at the corner of 580/Keene (in the shopping plaza with Winn Dixie). Have not tried the new location (they moved the same time I did) but there old location - whoah. There pizza is alright, but there Calzone's - they are the Calzone's that all others are judged by. Before Lovin, I never really liked them, but now I am a junky. Think "large pizza flipped in half, pouring with cheese and your choice of three indredients", beautifully crusted with garlic topping and a side of incredible sauce. I cannot say enough about Lovin!
                                                                                    - Thuy Cafe. Awesome Banh Mi and Boba Tea (US 19 just south of Park/Gandy on the right if heading south)
                                                                                    - Big Freds Famous Roast Beef/Hercules Blvd in Clearwater (just north of Sunset Point Rd.). There is a Mc D's less than a quarter mile away from this hole in the wall. People go there. I have no idea why other than it is because they have not been here! Decent menu of typical sub shop things, but the killer is the 5 pound burgers! Get one and get yer picture on the wall. Awesome, awesome, awesome burgers.
                                                                                    - Pipo's on 4th st. N St. Pete is incredible for pork/Cuban Sandwichs
                                                                                    - For the ULTIMATE Cuban Sandwich, check out Country Market (2128 9th Ave N, St Petersburg) but take your appetite. The small can feed 2.
                                                                                    - Caponas Dugout (gulf to bay, near the split as you head to the beach) is incredible for Itallian (and again, huge portions) at low to reasonable prices.
                                                                                    - Your typical restaurant, but with better food is Jade Bistro off Park blvd. Especially the ginger or lemon grass beef!
                                                                                    - Others had mentioned Eli's BBQ in Dunedin...
                                                                                    - La Cabana Del Tio (1709 Drew st. Blink and you will miss it) was rated top taco stand by the TB Times. Incredible tacos, poor service if you do not speak spanish.
                                                                                    - Dairy Kurl. My ex and I had a soft serve problem once upon a time. After trying every soft serve place in Pinellas, this is the only one we consider(ed). Family owned for generations, they have a line around the corner on summer nights. They are right by Caponas, on Gulf to Bay. (look for the red and white building next to Churchs Chicken)
                                                                                    - I no longer go out for wings since discovering that making them at home is 100x better, but Mugs & Juggs has the best (and largest!) wings I have tried. Skip Hooters, Winghouse, etc. Quaker Steak and Lube in Pinellas Park is pretty good too, with many alternative style wings.
                                                                                    - Best Sushi this side of the bay? So far it is Kiku in Clearwater Beach (second floor of pink building on Gulf Blvd, north of the circle). Best in Florida? Dragonfly in Gainesville.
                                                                                    - For Bakeries, (and awesome Panini's) try Fridas Bakery 9700 Ulmerton rd.
                                                                                    - Best Cheese Steak has been at the Deli at the intersection of Ulmerton/93rd. I forget the name (it has been a few), but they are big on NY there, cant miss it. Awesome spot.
                                                                                    If I remember any more I will post them!

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Thuy Cafe
                                                                                    5944 34th St N # 22, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714-1257

                                                                                    Cuban Sandwich Shop
                                                                                    10434 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33612

                                                                                    Dairy Kurl
                                                                                    1555 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33755

                                                                                    La Cabana
                                                                                    8303 N Armenia Ave Ste 1, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                                                    Jade Bistro
                                                                                    2425 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL 32804

                                                                                    1. re: patrick37
                                                                                      Mild Bill Oct 18, 2010 09:02 PM

                                                                                      Patrick, excellent stuff!
                                                                                      Welcome to the Snakepit!

                                                                                      I'm gonna tear up a pepperoni sawrsage & mushroom Calzone very soon!
                                                                                      It's been so long since I had one I forgot they were my favorite thing in the world...

                                                                                      http://www.lovenpizza.com/calzones.html

                                                                                      Dammit...

                                                                                      1. re: patrick37
                                                                                        p
                                                                                        proboscidian Oct 31, 2010 08:08 AM

                                                                                        I love Thuy Cafe! For Banh Mi they are the best, and they have some really unusual boba (try the Ginger).

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Thuy Cafe
                                                                                        5944 34th St N # 22, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714-1257

                                                                                        1. re: patrick37
                                                                                          a
                                                                                          andy huse Nov 1, 2010 12:48 PM

                                                                                          very solid choices, Patrick. I haven't had a Lovin's pizza in many years, but they were an absolute fave back in the day. No need to order extra cheese there!

                                                                                          1. re: patrick37
                                                                                            d
                                                                                            DoubleBurger Nov 13, 2010 05:51 AM

                                                                                            tried the lovin Calzone in Dunedin and found it very average by Philly standards, of course. Now if I can only find a decent Stromboli, that would be worth the trip. Seems like a Stromboli is somehow foreign in this area, any recs would be appreciated. Also tried Paul's Chicago Pizza in Clearwater and don't get why the cut the pizza in little pieces. Is that a Chicago thing? I thought deep dish was their stock and trade. Made the mistake of going on a Sunday during a Bears game wearing my Eagles T, ho ho, what fun.

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Paul's Chicago Pizza
                                                                                            1500 N McMullen Booth Rd Ste A11, Clearwater, FL 33759

                                                                                            1. re: patrick37
                                                                                              t
                                                                                              thatme Mar 18, 2011 08:57 AM

                                                                                              Hey, Patrick37, You are so correct about Kiku and its master chef Daniel San. It and he is the best. Nothing like it anywhere. And the Sea Urchin is amazingly wonderful!

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Kiku Japanese Restaurant
                                                                                              483 Mandalay Ave Ste 214, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

                                                                                          2. l
                                                                                            LokiRN Feb 27, 2010 05:19 AM

                                                                                            A couple of favs are:
                                                                                            Thai Sweet Basil on Northdale Blvd-- N Tampa- esp the Duck Curry, Orange-Plum duck and yum duck!
                                                                                            Pacific Thai Cuisine- Tampa Rd-- Oldsmar
                                                                                            Yummy House - love the salt and pepper calamari and s+p seafood
                                                                                            China Yuan... Yes both of them.. Apparrently there is another good chinese restaurant east of Yummy but I don't have the name handy. A malaysian friend of ours introduced us to YH and CY and recommended the third one also. My girlfriend went and said it was good.- Will post if I find the name.

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: LokiRN
                                                                                              a
                                                                                              andy huse Feb 27, 2010 06:11 AM

                                                                                              Chopstix off Fletcher is solid.

                                                                                              1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                askdrtodd Feb 27, 2010 07:24 PM

                                                                                                Happy you recommended this, I stumbled upon this place and was very pleased, it's like the yummy house of the USF area :)

                                                                                                1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                  andy huse Mar 1, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                                                                  they make my favorite lo mein in the region. the fresh crab e-mein at ABC Seafood is also amazing, but a lsightly different animal.

                                                                                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                    rhnault Mar 1, 2010 08:02 AM

                                                                                                    and I love their seafood hotpot!

                                                                                                  2. re: andy huse
                                                                                                    p
                                                                                                    proboscidian May 3, 2010 02:51 PM

                                                                                                    I was disappointed with their dim sum. I thought Ho Ho Choy in the same shopping center was better. China Yuan has great dim sum, of course.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    China Yuan
                                                                                                    8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                                                                  3. re: LokiRN
                                                                                                    rhnault Feb 27, 2010 08:04 AM

                                                                                                    Is Thai Sweet Basil still open? I had to go to the water dept recently and it appeared to be gone

                                                                                                    1. re: rhnault
                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                      LokiRN Mar 31, 2010 12:50 AM

                                                                                                      Oh I hope they have not closed!

                                                                                                      Website is still active. I need to call- or better yet call in a to go order :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: LokiRN
                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                        LokiRN Apr 1, 2010 03:20 PM

                                                                                                        Yes, TSB is still there. Closed on Sundays.

                                                                                                  4. a
                                                                                                    austinjh Feb 8, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                                                                    Although it's hardly hidden any longer, if you haven't been to Cafe Hey on Franklin Ave. in downtown you really must. They run a fantastic cafe, top to bottom.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: austinjh
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      briin79 Feb 9, 2010 08:47 AM

                                                                                                      Nice im glad people are still posting on here. Where should i go for Valentines Day? i want a hidden spot under $150 for 2.

                                                                                                      Taco Bus is a definate yes to me. Absolutley delicious.
                                                                                                      Vallartas is a great place to eat as well. Its possible they havent had the authentic mexican food b4 to compare, so pay no mind to the previous coment.
                                                                                                      If you like Viatnamese Pho Quyen is awesome (corner of sheldon and hillsborough)

                                                                                                      The Best CUban In Tampa, Get ready for this................... LA CARIDAD bakery on hillsborough just west of Dale Mabry next to the Sonic. I get requests from Orlando to deliver those suckers.

                                                                                                      As for that mexican place in Ruskin, It took me years to fidn the name of that spot. I had the beef tongue tacos there , phenomenal. I loved it so much i bought all 8 peoples meals i was so overjoyed with it. I havent been back because i couldnt find it.

                                                                                                      Well people i hope you answer my calls for Valentines Day. I look forward to hearing about some more hidden gems. "WHO DAT!"

                                                                                                      1. re: briin79
                                                                                                        askdrtodd Feb 9, 2010 09:06 AM

                                                                                                        if you can still get a reservation, Pane Rustica is doing a special valentines day menu, and their food is outstanding.

                                                                                                      2. re: austinjh
                                                                                                        askdrtodd Feb 9, 2010 09:05 AM

                                                                                                        Just ate lunch at Cafe Hey on your reco, yummy, had the Mi Cubano (hybrid bahn mi / cuban sandwich) and the yoshimi sandwich (a buddy and I split both)

                                                                                                        Both were tasty and creative and the staff was really nice. The Chinese market next door though, that place is insanely cool! and friggin huge!

                                                                                                        1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                          austinjh Feb 22, 2010 09:04 AM

                                                                                                          Awesome, I'm glad you liked it. The Mi Cubano is probably my favorite Hey sandwich and the yoshimi isn't far behind.

                                                                                                      3. m
                                                                                                        Manderley Sep 19, 2009 05:02 PM

                                                                                                        hey folks
                                                                                                        my honey is coming to visit and is craving a good steak. i don't want to do the old outback thing. i also don't want to do the expensive bern's thing. any recommendations for a good steak in tampa bay?

                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Manderley
                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                          kentski Sep 20, 2009 05:08 AM

                                                                                                          If Malio's (Downtown Tampa) still has the half-priced steak offer, its a great deal -- plus they have $2 Finlandia Martinis. Check their website -- I know a couple of weeks ago, they still had the details of the half-priced deal up.

                                                                                                          Otherwise, all of the other good steakhouses (Council Oak, Charley's, etc.) are about the same price as Bern's. Actually, I don't find Bern's to be expensive at all, considering everything you get with the entree.

                                                                                                          1. re: kentski
                                                                                                            q
                                                                                                            queencru Sep 20, 2009 07:39 AM

                                                                                                            Agreed about Bern's. I think the price is very reasonable considering you get soup, salad, and sides included with the meal, while other comparable restaurants charge you extra for all those things. The cheaper places like Sam Seltzer's are just not good at all.

                                                                                                            1. re: queencru
                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                              Manderley Sep 20, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                                                                              thanks for the input. guess we'll give bern's another try. we were there for our anniversary a few years ago, and frankly the bill for the 2 of us was over $300; i didn't really want to go that high. i thought the steak was good but it was not the best i've ever had. didn't like my appetizer at all (something with lobster, can't remember what). salad and sides were unremarkable. dessert was perfect, though, i must admit. loved the tour too.

                                                                                                              1. re: Manderley
                                                                                                                q
                                                                                                                queencru Sep 20, 2009 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                I think the last time I went last year, the cost per person was between $35-45 per person before wine/dessert. I think you get more than enough food so that you can split a smaller steak and still be at less than half that with wine/dessert.

                                                                                                          2. re: Manderley
                                                                                                            a
                                                                                                            andy huse Sep 20, 2009 12:04 PM

                                                                                                            i thought council oak was way overpriced--- $40 for a steak a la carte. the food wasn't anything special. Bern's is much, much more reeasonable. you can get a steak with potato, salad, etc. for $40. if you avoid all of the add ons and expensive wine (a big if), you can bo0th eat for about $100 after tip. and the dessert room is always a plus.

                                                                                                            haven't been to the new Malio's, but the old place always served me well.

                                                                                                            1. re: Manderley
                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                              surfereddie Jun 11, 2010 11:07 AM

                                                                                                              Kinda like a oxy moron. Good steak always equals expensive. Of course some are always over rated. We have a Publix Greenwise in South Tampa. I bought some american kobi ribeyes at $47 per pound. No that's not a typo. I took pictures of them and they were marbled off the charts. They stopped carrying them =(. If she's your honey buck up and take her to Malios downtown, Charley's in Tampa
                                                                                                              Look up Sam Seltzers if you have to go on the cheap.

                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                              Malios
                                                                                                              400 North Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

                                                                                                            2. o
                                                                                                              OlHungryBastard Sep 8, 2009 08:23 AM

                                                                                                              I am not sure how these posts have gone on for so long without mentioning Acapulco. It is in the back of the grocery store at MacDill and Cypress. The standard menu is pretty short - tacos and sopes with a choice of meats for each. However, they are made on the spot by the two women who work there and they are awesome. There are often specials but you have to ask. I have been in there when a crew of 10-12 mexican workers come in that have somehow pre-ordered and seen them been served plates of all sorts of other good looking stuff. Also, I had a beef stew on Saturday that was out of this world. The broth itself was amazing and brought me back to traveling in mexico and stopping in some of the little places on the way.
                                                                                                              In any case, well worth trying if you are in the area.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: OlHungryBastard
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                                                                                                                RibDog Sep 8, 2009 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                Thanks for the reminder!

                                                                                                              2. m
                                                                                                                magnusfl Aug 26, 2009 08:59 PM

                                                                                                                Mr. Dunderbocks does have really good German food but there sandwiches are just little bit above average for Florida standards of a few slices of meat and one or two of cheese but there sandwiches totally fail when comparing to a NY style g if you want an example of a good Rubin check out proud lion on 124 W Fletcher Ave

                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: magnusfl
                                                                                                                  deet13 May 7, 2010 12:43 AM

                                                                                                                  Schnitzelhaus on Waters ave serves up a good German meal too, but they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

                                                                                                                  Their Jagerschnitzel and Schweinshaxn plates are great.

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Schnitzelhaus Restaurant
                                                                                                                  4333 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33614

                                                                                                                  1. re: deet13
                                                                                                                    askdrtodd May 7, 2010 05:07 AM

                                                                                                                    The Jagerschnitzel there is definitely good, but riiiiiiiiiiiiich. The spatlese was great as I recall too. Owner can be a jerk tho. (or perhaps just a gruff german guy?)

                                                                                                                    I used to live in germany, people aren't THAT bad :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                                      rhnault May 7, 2010 05:31 AM

                                                                                                                      When I was there he was pleasant to the patrons but rough with the staff. I didn't like that.

                                                                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                                        a
                                                                                                                        andy huse May 7, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                                                                                        the guy is a jerk. i love German food but do without. I swore that place off after an ugly visit. it was the only time in my life that i didn't leave a tip.

                                                                                                                        1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                                          rhnault May 8, 2010 07:26 AM

                                                                                                                          And you are one of the nicest easy going people I know so it must have been a true nightmare!

                                                                                                                        2. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                                          deet13 May 8, 2010 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                          Oh yeah, the owner (Mike) can be pretty gruff; but then, we've always considered it part of the charm of the joint. It reminds me of showing up to my old Platoon Sergeant's house for dinner, but the food is better....

                                                                                                                          Also just a mile or so west on Waters, there's Origami Sushi. IMO, it's not the best sushi in town, but it's definitely good sushi for the price.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Origami Sushi Restaurant
                                                                                                                          3647 W Hillsborough Ave, Tampa, FL 33614

                                                                                                                        3. re: deet13
                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                          SlapnChop Jul 4, 2011 06:23 PM

                                                                                                                          best German is Cafe Vienna in St. Pete.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Cafe Vienna
                                                                                                                          5625 4th St N Ste 6, Saint Petersburg, FL 33703

                                                                                                                        4. re: magnusfl
                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                          surfereddie Jun 11, 2010 10:55 AM

                                                                                                                          Mr D's uses the microwave on their meats. Very inferior German food but it does smell wonderfull in there. The corned beef and closest to a NY deli is "Lucky Dill" in Palm Harbor or D town St Pete. The Palm Harbor is alway first rate on everything. Try the Matzoball soup this winter. I'm not Jewish but you'd think I was by how much of that stuff I put away.

                                                                                                                          1. re: magnusfl
                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                            hamrhdz Jan 6, 2012 08:37 AM

                                                                                                                            Wurst sausages in town.

                                                                                                                          2. g
                                                                                                                            GottaGo Aug 16, 2009 10:17 PM

                                                                                                                            Thanks for the great tips. I'm heading to Plant City for the crab cakes. Someone mentiond Charann's on Hillsborough, which has a good steak sandwich( I ate there last week), but for my money it's Chubbies Super Subs and Pizza at Bayshore and Interbay.Get the Steak Bomb. It rocks! For Fresh Mexican try the Taco Bus on Hillsborough just east of Nebraska. Has anyone tried the Jerk Hut on Fletcher yet?

                                                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                                                              sysfo5816 Aug 14, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                              I would not recommend China Yuan on Armenia, that place has terrible food.

                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: sysfo5816
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                                                                                                                                queencru Aug 14, 2009 04:22 PM

                                                                                                                                I loathe it as well. It pales in comparison to Yummy House, which typically has delicious food.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sysfo5816
                                                                                                                                  rhnault Aug 14, 2009 05:21 PM

                                                                                                                                  Oh please.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rhnault
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                                                                                                                                    RibDog Aug 14, 2009 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                                    I agree with you, rh. Who are they trying to kid.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: RibDog
                                                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                                                      digyourself Aug 14, 2009 07:45 PM

                                                                                                                                      So far, I have preferred my meals at Yummy House to those at China Yuan. However, neither of these places serve "terrible food".

                                                                                                                                      1. re: digyourself
                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                        surfereddie Jun 11, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                        IMHO Yummy house edges out China Yuan. I hope I don't get beat up for saying this: I wish they'd raise their prices just so I can get in there.

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        China Yuan
                                                                                                                                        8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                                                                                                        1. re: surfereddie
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                                                                                                                                          andy huse Jun 11, 2010 12:59 PM

                                                                                                                                          No one will beat you up for singing the praises of YH. I am a recent convert. China Yuan has great food, but you have to know what to order and what to avoid, because there are some duds on the menu. Yummy House seems to be consistently good all over the menu.

                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                          China Yuan
                                                                                                                                          8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                                                                                                          Yummy House
                                                                                                                                          2202 W Waters Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                                                                                                      2. re: RibDog
                                                                                                                                        q
                                                                                                                                        queencru Aug 15, 2009 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                        I remember the dishes I ordered there were extremely salty and one seemed like it was doused with soy sauce. It may have just been that night, but the food was nowhere near delicious.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: queencru
                                                                                                                                          rhnault Aug 15, 2009 03:21 PM

                                                                                                                                          I have eaten at China Yuan a minimum of at least once a month for at least a year and a half and never had anything even remotely bad.
                                                                                                                                          Yummy House is good too but I prefer China Yuan because of the newer atmosphere and excellent service.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: rhnault
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                                                                                                                                            andy huse Aug 16, 2009 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                            this series of posts has pushed me over the edge. something must be done. hopefully a few of the more balanced hounds would like to join me. i posted the invitation on the Florida board.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                                                              Mild Bill Feb 9, 2012 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                                              I'M IN!!

                                                                                                                                              ---- oh wait...

                                                                                                                                            2. re: rhnault
                                                                                                                                              Lauracooks Mar 23, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                                              China Yuan never disappoints me. Try the Pork rolls

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              China Yuan
                                                                                                                                              8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                                                                                                      3. re: sysfo5816
                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                        Manderley Sep 9, 2009 12:54 AM

                                                                                                                                        have to disagree here; i'm a NY chinese food junkie, and the only edible chinese i have found in florida is china yuan in tampa and abc chinese in st pete. china yuan's salt and pepper squid is fantastic; go early for their dim sum oh yeah :)

                                                                                                                                      4. p
                                                                                                                                        payochi Feb 25, 2008 07:03 AM

                                                                                                                                        Not sure if anyone ever mentioned this lil shack in in hudson beach. the sell fresh oysters dirt cheap. They also have clams and some other delicacies. but i mainly go for the oysters. Cant recall the name. it looks like it was or is a fish and tackle shop also.

                                                                                                                                        Another hidden gem would be the Black Bull (Torro Negro) in kenneth City. 5780 54th Ave. N, Kenneth City. They are a pretty authentic mexican joint. Not fancy at all. But the food is great. u need to try their home made chip & salsas and their buritos.

                                                                                                                                        For pizza i would recommend babe's pizza. I like te double decker.:-)
                                                                                                                                        107 N Kings Ave, Brandon, FL. Off SR 60.

                                                                                                                                        Oh yea, pretty sure you heard about this one already, but Yummy House is also great, just check other postings on it. Its east of armeni aave off waters ave.

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: payochi
                                                                                                                                          rhnault Feb 25, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                                                                                                          I'd like to know more about the oyster place. Next time you go write the name and address. I am always looking for good oysters!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: payochi
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                                                                                                                                            FrankC Feb 26, 2008 11:50 AM

                                                                                                                                            How did this thread go so long and nobody else(including me) mentioned Babes Pizza! The double decker pizza is frickin awesome!!!!!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: FrankC
                                                                                                                                              Mild Bill Feb 26, 2008 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                              Babe's Pizza where?

                                                                                                                                              I cheat on the Atkins thing kinda a lot...

                                                                                                                                          2. m
                                                                                                                                            Miss E Dec 9, 2007 04:13 PM

                                                                                                                                            See my review of Tun-Du-Ree, at Henderson/Neptune and also Interbay/MacDill. Definitely hidden, but definitely a gem.

                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Miss E
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                                                                                                                                              gatorwader Jan 8, 2008 07:32 AM

                                                                                                                                              Jazzy's BBQ On Waters

                                                                                                                                              Pepo's,Pipos,Papitos. Pretty much all the same. Good, cheap food.

                                                                                                                                              Cuban Sandwich Shop on Florida

                                                                                                                                              Charann's on Hillsborough. Great Steak N Cheese Subs.

                                                                                                                                              Green Springs in Safety Harbor.

                                                                                                                                              Eli's BBQ in Dunedin

                                                                                                                                              Hogan's Subs in Carrollwood. Brings back some good Gainesville memories.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: gatorwader
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                                                                                                                                                Morf Jan 11, 2008 11:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                I'm seconding Hugo's on howard ave near bayshore. Pretty well known for their cuban sandwich, but what a lot of people don't know is they also serve a mean breakfast. Can't beat rope sausage with eggs grits cuban toast and cafe con leche'. Reasonably priced too.

                                                                                                                                                Also, Big John's alabama barbecue on 40th street is excellent bbq and VERY cheap. Just look for the bright orange building. I recommend takeout. Otherwise you'll walk out of there smelling like a smokestack.

                                                                                                                                                Vallarta's has great cheap mexican. They have several locations, I've only been to the one on 56th street near busch. 2 people with no drinks can walk out for 15 bucks plus tip. However, I don't know who would want to walk out without a jumbo margarita or 2. They definitely don't skimp on the tequila.

                                                                                                                                                Mel's hot dogs on Busch blvd probably doesn't fit the definition of hidden, but it's certainly a gem. I've been going there for over 20 years now.

                                                                                                                                                New york Del-eatery on bruce b downs in new tampa. Great lunch place. The italian sandwich actually has prosciutto on it (and that's hard to come by around here) place smells like bread and bagles which they make fresh daily. Great fries. My all-around favorite sandwich shop.

                                                                                                                                                Bay pizza on bearss and livingston: I've never had anything but the ham calzone. But the thing is freaking enormous for $5.99. 18 inches and loaded. They slather on the garlic butter like it's water and it's overflowing with ricotta and ham. I just don't see how they make a profit at that price. A really good deal if you're looking for a quick artery-clogger.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Morf
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                                                                                                                                                  andy huse Jan 14, 2008 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Vallarta's is ho hum at best.

                                                                                                                                                  Mel's is great, but i still have a hard time spending $10 for a hot dog basket. If i really want a dog, I make them at home.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                                                    RibDog Jan 14, 2008 01:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Dang Andy, is Mel up to $10 for a HD basket now? Guess I won't be there anytime soon. It's good and has a lot of memories for me. Maybe once before it gets sold.

                                                                                                                                                    John

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RibDog
                                                                                                                                                      eatnbmerry Jan 14, 2008 02:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Hey guys,

                                                                                                                                                      For a dog lover from down south do you mind explaining/describing this Mel's dog/basket? For ten bucks I'm sure there's gotta be some goodness there no? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: RibDog
                                                                                                                                                        r
                                                                                                                                                        RibDog Jan 14, 2008 02:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Andy, now I am confused. I just went and checked Mel's website. If it is correct, the HD basket is $5. What did I miss?

                                                                                                                                                        John

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: RibDog
                                                                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                                                                          andy huse Jan 15, 2008 05:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I confess, I always get something like the polish sausage, and the total always ends up close to $10. The sides are blah. I just don't think it is worth it. Perhaps it is my chicago roots, but I'll grill my own dogs with all the fixins for less.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                                                                            Mild Bill Feb 25, 2008 05:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I agree with Andy--- and I've passed by Mel's for years because I feel I'm paying too much for a Hot Dog and Fries...
                                                                                                                                                            If you go when you're hungry, can you really be happy with one hot dog and some fries? That's like a freakin' children's platter...

                                                                                                                                                            So I'll get something extra--- and it ends up being $12.00 to get outta there... 'For hot dogs'-- something I make great at home when I'm feeling lazy... :-)

                                                                                                                                                            For $8.00 I can go up the road (Busch near 56th) to Lupton's BBQ down home buffet extravaganza with BBQ ribs, juicy sliced BBQ pork, sliced beef, BBQ chicken, great collards, corn, Lima beans, tater tots, chicken & dumplings, real mashed potatoes & gravy, chili, soup, salad, strawberry shortcake, whipped cream, donuts, & ice cream...

                                                                                                                                                            And don't tell me the place isn't good like someone did in the past--- it's almost always excellent...
                                                                                                                                                            Everything is always fresh, juicy, refreshed continuously, and piled high...

                                                                                                                                                            And on weekends breakfast is mingled with the rest of the stuff till 2:00PM...
                                                                                                                                                            French toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits & gravy, sausage links and patties, hash browns, home fries, etc...

                                                                                                                                                            It's a scene man!

                                                                                                                                                            --- and with a little restraint it can be Atkins friendly, even with the sauce on the table!
                                                                                                                                                            They say there's no sugar in it, and it's never set me back...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mild Bill
                                                                                                                                                              a
                                                                                                                                                              andy huse Feb 27, 2008 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                              I don't do Lupton's very often, but their chicken rocks best. The other meats vary in quality, but the chicken is always quite good. The sides often disappoint, but for the price it is hard to beat. Forget Sonny's. And yes, it sure makes Mel's look like a complete rip-off.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mild Bill
                                                                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                                                                surfereddie Jun 11, 2010 10:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I agree about Mel's being over priced. Seriously those dogs gotta be the smallest i've ever seen. They are the size of 2 chapsticks lined up. Rip off!

                                                                                                                                                2. d
                                                                                                                                                  DonnaFL Dec 7, 2007 03:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Try the Mellow Mushroom near Citrus Park Mall on Sheldon between Citrus Park Drive and Waters. It is not NYstyle, but the House Special it my favorite, they also have a large selection of micro-brewery beers on draft. There is also Windy City Pizza at the Casades Shopping Center (Fletcher and Dale Mabry) Their house salad dressing is wonderful and good Chicago style or thin crust pizza..

                                                                                                                                                  There is also Hugo's on south Howard for reasonably priced Cuban/Spanish food. Pipo's has newly opened (son of the original Pipo's restuarants owners) on Dale Mabry in the same shopping center as PetSuperMarket and Carrabba's. The old locations, that have been renamed Pepo's are owned by someone else now.

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DonnaFL
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                                                                                                                                                    tony noriega Dec 9, 2007 08:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                    For those of you that mentioned La Ideal at Tampa Bay Blvd and Gomez, you may want to know that the flamboyant waiter that used to be there is now at a place called Aquila on Hillsborough Ave about 1/4mi east of Himes. I got a Cuban sandwich there that was easily a foot long (!) and had all the good ingredients....absolutely delicious.

                                                                                                                                                    I love to go to the kind of places that are referenced on this topic - great food at reasonable prices and often unique. By the way, I'm going to have to try the deviled crab at that place in Plant City......if it's better than the ones at Cacciatore's I'll probably die and go to culinary heaven right there!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tony noriega
                                                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                                                      sarge Dec 9, 2007 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Mario has left La Ideal???

                                                                                                                                                      I thought he was a part of the ownership

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sarge
                                                                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                                                                        Oscar Demolski Jan 4, 2008 03:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                        "Mario has left La Ideal???

                                                                                                                                                        I thought he was a part of the ownership"

                                                                                                                                                        The guy with the "Sgt Carter" (from the TV show Gomer Pyle, boy am I dating myself) haircut?
                                                                                                                                                        If so, he was the face of La Ideal!
                                                                                                                                                        If the Tribune or a TV station did an article on them he was featured prominently.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Oscar Demolski
                                                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                                                          TampaPete Jan 8, 2008 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Same family that used to own La Ideal.
                                                                                                                                                          Mario's dad and sister-in-law own the place on Hillsborough Ave.
                                                                                                                                                          If my memory serves me right their last name is Aguila

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: tony noriega
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                                                                                                                                                        FrankC Dec 10, 2007 04:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                        With regards to Plant City I assure you it will be worth it. Price is right and it is loaded with crab chunks, not just all breading.

                                                                                                                                                        Let me know how you liked it.

                                                                                                                                                    2. j
                                                                                                                                                      jroq Dec 5, 2007 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Being from NY and knowing what good pizza is, The only decent pizza I know of is Marina's in Westchase and Eddie and Sam's in downtown.

                                                                                                                                                      Will try Cesare's on S. Dale Mabry though!

                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jroq
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                                                                                                                                                        LJBTampa Feb 25, 2008 11:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                        I have to disagree with Marina's in Westchase. The pizza is horrible and the place is dirty.

                                                                                                                                                        Alberto's in Oldsmar has the best pizza around. I also enjoy the thin crust pizza at Windy City in Carrollwood.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jroq
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                                                                                                                                                          Manderley Sep 9, 2009 12:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                          i totally agree; i've thrown more pizza in the trash since i've been here in florida than i can even remember...but the margherita pizza at Marina's is heaven. :)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Manderley
                                                                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                                                                            surfereddie Jun 11, 2010 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Pizza like Chinese is so personal. It's the stuff you grew up with and that taste that takes you "home" which makes it so good. All my friends are from different parts of the country and we all talk about our favorite foods and the restaurants that serve them. It's funny how we all like the same cuban joints, I guess its because we now have memories from these places. LaTerracita, Pepo's etc

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: jroq
                                                                                                                                                            r
                                                                                                                                                            Rosa G May 14, 2010 01:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                            The best pizza in my opinion is Mellow Mushroom on Sheldon Road near Westchase.
                                                                                                                                                            They make gormet pizza.

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            Mellow Mushroom
                                                                                                                                                            11955 Sheldon Rd, Tampa, FL 33626

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rosa G
                                                                                                                                                              askdrtodd May 16, 2010 07:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                              MM is excellent, nothing beats a Magical Mystery Tour and a hoppy beer. A real treat!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jroq
                                                                                                                                                              p
                                                                                                                                                              proboscidian Oct 31, 2010 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Cafe Milano in Clearwater is good, although the owner is a little like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld - don't try to order anything not on the menu! Wood stove, crisp crust, good quality ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Cafe Milano
                                                                                                                                                              105 N Fort Harrison Ave, Clearwater, FL 33755

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jroq
                                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                                marce_a_tron Feb 3, 2012 11:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                My boyfriend and I are pizza connoisseurs. We were both disappointed with Cesare's. It was so wet and greasy (and we got it made 'extra crispy').

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: marce_a_tron
                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                  surfereddie Feb 3, 2012 02:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Are you referring to "Cesare's of New York Pizzeria" on Dale Mabry in South Tampa?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: surfereddie
                                                                                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                                                                                    marce_a_tron Feb 6, 2012 05:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: marce_a_tron
                                                                                                                                                                      r
                                                                                                                                                                      rikkikm Feb 9, 2012 06:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Wood Fired of course! And Paci's. Do it.

                                                                                                                                                              2. k
                                                                                                                                                                kmills9408 Dec 5, 2007 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I absolutely love Pepo's on Hillsbourgh. It's very casual, good for lunch, probably not dinner. But I love to get take out. It's true authentic cuban food...I dream about the roast pork and black beans and rice. very reasonably priced.

                                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kmills9408
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                                                                                                                                                                  Ashlyn819 Dec 5, 2007 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Fat Willie's Fish Camp on Front Street in Valrico (Brandon area). Great fried catfish and gator.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kmills9408
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                                                                                                                                                                    patrick37 Oct 18, 2010 06:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I have not tried the Tampa Pipo's but I live next to the one on 4th st. St. Pete. I have to absolutely second the above. Pipo's is one of the best places in the area (for mom and pop shops) serving Cuban food. You can tell the owners really care about there business as well. As a Cuban Sandwich Connoisseur, (currently attempting to try every place in the Tampa Bay Area) I consider Pipo's easily one of the best in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                    Cuban Sandwich Shop
                                                                                                                                                                    10434 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33612

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: patrick37
                                                                                                                                                                      a
                                                                                                                                                                      andy huse Nov 1, 2010 12:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      please report back on your Cuban quest--- I am interested! For fun, you might want to read an article of mine that recently saw print...

                                                                                                                                                                      http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dail...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                                                                                        askdrtodd Nov 1, 2010 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        seconded. So far I couldn't find a perfect cuban, just a lot of good or great ones. I think my perfect one would be the guts of the cuban from wright's gourmet deli inside la segunda bread pressed at the floridian haha

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: patrick37
                                                                                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                                                                                        gemuse Nov 22, 2010 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Hey patrick37, I was wondering if you had any info on what's happening with the cuban sandwich at La Teresita. I'm a former Tampa resident who now only drops in for occasional cubanos when I'm in town. I know people love to disagree about who has the best cubano, but I've always been a fan of the La Teresita version. However, I heard from a friend that they recently changed the bread they are using to something that is much poorer quality. Apparently the restaurant is making their own cuban bread now, and the verdict is that it is not good. Any insight on this? Will I have to strike La Teresita off my list for next time?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gemuse
                                                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                                                          briin79 Jan 13, 2012 03:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          I know the best Cuban in Tampa I almost don't want to give it away because it truly is hidden.
                                                                                                                                                                          La Caridad bakery on hillsborough, found it by a cuban friend and everyone agrees. Get it all the way.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: briin79
                                                                                                                                                                            Mild Bill Feb 9, 2012 07:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I've mentioned Cubans at La Caridad before, and although I've had a few good ones from there, as well as a few el cheapo skimpy A$$ ones, even the good ones aren't up there as far as I'm concerned... None of the places that try to get you a Cuban for under $5.00 will be in the running... They're all using crappy ham, crappy cheese, crappy everything, and as little of it as possible... That's 99.7% of all Cubans in Tampa... It's simply isn't supposed to be an expensive sandwich, and neighborhood folk would reject it otherwise...

                                                                                                                                                                            Every single component of a Cuban sandwich has to be premium & carefully selected for it to ring all the bells...

                                                                                                                                                                            For that you have to go to a specialty sandwich shop that uses all Boar's Head or something comparable---- is fairly generous---- and charges $8.00-$9.00 for it...

                                                                                                                                                                            So far the most perfect Cuban Sandwich experience has been at Wright's on Dale Mabry...

                                                                                                                                                                            'A Cuban sandwich please, extra cheese, no lettuce or tomato, pressed well' --- as you stick a buck or two in the jar...

                                                                                                                                                                            Look at this piece of crap from 'Andy's on the Bay' in Oldsmar...
                                                                                                                                                                            The ham is that blended baloney-like ham you get at the dollar store...
                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry Andy's---- I would have preferred to have been impressed...

                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mild Bill
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                                                                                                                                                                              surfereddie Feb 10, 2012 04:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm a HUGE Boars Head fan so sure use their ham but the pork must be roasted Cuban style and the bread must not be old. I have not had any luck finding a solid, meaning every time it will be the same Cuban sandwich. Publix makes them spot on production line quality uniformity but they don't use Cuban roasted pork. Well it doesn't taste like what I'm looking for anyway.
                                                                                                                                                                              Pipo's on McDill is hit or miss there is no quality control. Sometimes tons of meat other a little. So the bread and cuban roast pork make the sandwich but since they don't dedicate a roast pork for sandwiches its gonna be hit or miss.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: surfereddie
                                                                                                                                                                                Mild Bill Feb 10, 2012 06:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                As a roast pork maniac I totally agree... Pop in to Cuban Delight Cafe on 49th Street in St Pete... It's a great little family owned Cuban restaurant and they make two Cuban Sandwiches... One is regular, and good---- but the other is the Cuban Grande, which is both a Cuban Sandwich AND a Roast Pork Sandwich... LOL...

                                                                                                                                                                                I loved it, even though, on the day I went the roast pork's flavor intensity could have been brought up a notch or two... I told myself next time I'll ask for a little cup of Mojo on the side... The folks running the place and working there couldn't have been nicer! The pork was soft and juicy at least...

                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/30/341443...

                                                                                                                                                                                I can't believe the photos I took when I was there are not on my computer anymore!

                                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                                Cuban Delight Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                2950 49th St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33710

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: surfereddie
                                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                                  sarge Feb 20, 2012 12:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Organic Life Coffee shop in Land O Lakes/Wesley Chapel uses Boars Head meats and fresh bread from La Segunda. $7.00 with a side of veggie straws.

                                                                                                                                                                                  They are the best I have had anywhere

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Mild Bill
                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                  mangusfl Sep 28, 2013 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  contrary as you missed this place There is a new hidden gem it a red food truck on north side of bush half way between north Blvd. and Armenia that served one of the best Cubans I had in Tampa for a LOW 4 dollars and stuffed with the most tender pork and perfectly done

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: gemuse
                                                                                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                                                                                austinjh Sep 28, 2013 12:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                I've had a lot of Cubans in this city and, at the end of the day and for reasons others mentioned, Cafe Hey makes the #1 Cuban. I know it's a white people place, but that's how the game goes.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. f
                                                                                                                                                                            FrankC Dec 1, 2007 07:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with most of these picks, My gem is in Plant City. I have grown up in Tampa and was born and lived in Ybor City. The BEST devil crabs I have ever eaten in my life are from Linda's Crab Shack in Plant City.

                                                                                                                                                                            Try them you will not be disappointed!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. r
                                                                                                                                                                              RibDog Dec 1, 2007 01:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Arco Iris on Columbus is my go to place for Cuban. And also Cacciatore and Sons on Armenia south of MLK is great for deviled crabs, cuban sandwiches, and the italian sausage in their meat dept is very good also.

                                                                                                                                                                              John

                                                                                                                                                                              1. m
                                                                                                                                                                                Miss E Dec 1, 2007 12:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                I second Cappy's, it's our favorite pizza by a mile, and yeah, it's cash only, but a large NY cheese (thin crust, but not a cracker) is $10 and change--not bad at all. The beer cooler is a big plus.

                                                                                                                                                                                Check out Mr. Empanada on Kennedy just west of Dale Mabry.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Miss E
                                                                                                                                                                                  r
                                                                                                                                                                                  RibDog Dec 1, 2007 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  I just saw that Mr. Empanada is putting in another location on Gandy Blvd. just east of Westshore.

                                                                                                                                                                                  John

                                                                                                                                                                                2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                  Bergerman Dec 1, 2007 09:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  How about the newly reopened China Yuan on Armenia just past waters?

                                                                                                                                                                                  Snack City on Columbus near Armenia, with home-made ice cream of various exotic flavors (I would call it Cuban ice cream, since the owner learned his stuff there but he says it's just ice cream)

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cesare's of New York pizza on s. dale mabry, just south of plant high, originally from the Bronx right outside Yankee Stadium, with home-grown organic tomato sauce and great crust (though a little thicker than the classic NYC slices).

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cappy's on Bay to Bay (there's another in Seminole Heights, but haven't been), with deep dish Chicago style or thin NY style, and myriad bottled beers, cash only, dammit.

                                                                                                                                                                                  La Ideal on Tampa Bay Blvd. @ Gomez, a lively Cuban sandwich shop with great coffee and tamales.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Las Margaritas on W. Hillsborough (a little west of dale mabry) cuban like an abuela makes.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And there's a great BBQ stand on N Dale Mabry just south of Busch on the east side of the street that has duck and some thai side dishes like papaya salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Speaking of duck, check out the roast duck and fresh produce/seafood at Oceanic Market on Tampa Street just north of I-275 downtown.

                                                                                                                                                                                  That should keep you busy for a while....

                                                                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bergerman
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                                                                                                                                                                                    Oscar Demolski Dec 1, 2007 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    THAT is what I'm talking about!

                                                                                                                                                                                    I never tried the Tamales at La Ideal and unfortunately I probably never will.
                                                                                                                                                                                    That place has the best Cuban Sandwiches this side of... well this side of La Ideal.
                                                                                                                                                                                    When friends or family come to Tampa and they want a real Tampa treat, it's La Ideal and not the Columbia or anything else. When I go out to Plant City or down to Appollo Beach area, my co-workers want me to stop there and bring them real Cuban Sandwiches, nothing else compares.
                                                                                                                                                                                    And La Teresita is a nice 2nd place.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I just can't place this BBQ joint on Dale Mabry. Is it between Waters and Busch?
                                                                                                                                                                                    I may have to go out for a Dale Mabry cruise soon, BBQ Duck and Papaya Salad?
                                                                                                                                                                                    Now that I have to see!

                                                                                                                                                                                    Have you ever had Mauricio's Cuban Bread?
                                                                                                                                                                                    On Florida Ave, just South of Hillsborough. $1.78 for some heaven (I think, I just give the lady 2 ones and thank her). More than half the time I go there I get a 3 foot loaf that is still warm to the touch. I walk out to my truck ripping a piece of bread off to knosh on while I drive home.

                                                                                                                                                                                    And speaking of Bread, I'd be remissed if I didn't mention Mazzaro's in St Pete.
                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.mazzarosmarket.com/
                                                                                                                                                                                    Man, I walk in that place and gain 5 lbs from the aromas alone!
                                                                                                                                                                                    Friday, they have Sammy's Big Fish Sandwich.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I used to never like Fish Sandwiches, not even Grouper, but after having one of those (they used to be called Big John's Fish Sandwiches) I no longer avoid them.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks and feel free to update me with others!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Oscar Demolski
                                                                                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                                                                                      Bergerman Dec 2, 2007 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I posted about the bbq stand back in July; I haven't checked it out lately but here's that old post:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Stopped at a roadside BBQ stand called Nathan's on N Dale Mabry in Tampa (at Humphrey, S of Busch) that had the usual menu of ribs, chopped pork and chicken, along with duck, papaya salad, pot stickers, and a few other choices you don't usually find at a BBQ joint in Tampa. A half-duck was juicy, smokey and boneless, $14. The papaya salad was cool, fresh and firey, served medium hot (the hot must be scorching), $6. Can't wait to go back and try the ribs, though it will be hard to resist the duck. I've had it roasted and served Peking style, but never smoked. This is strictly walkup, takeaway business, no tables.
                                                                                                                                                                                      This did not make the recent BBQ roundup in the st. pete times http://www.sptimes.com/2007/06/28/Foo...
                                                                                                                                                                                      though it's a pretty thorough roundup of the various styles (but apparently not wideranging enough from some of the comments people wrote!). Anyway, Nathan's may be a category by itself - southern bbq with with an asian twist.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Oscar Demolski
                                                                                                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                                                                                                        gfr1111 Dec 8, 2007 07:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Try the NOLA Cafe a few hundred yards from the intersection of Plant and Platt Streets. The shrimp creole, jambalaya, and crawfish/shrimp etouffe are excellent, as are the beignets and the chicory coffee. This place is next to a dry clearner and directly in back of a Walgreen's in Hyde Park. It is more of a coffee house than a restaurant, but they do carry an assortment of New Orleans dishes. The owner is from New Orleans and it shows in the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gfr1111
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                                                                                                                                                                                          surfereddie Jun 11, 2010 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thumbs down on NOLA. They get a lot of hype being as they are really the only Cajun/Creole place in town. Terrible gumbo, shrimp creole and etouffee. I have alot of friends from New Orleans and we all just cook amongst ourselves sharing dishes as our stuff is the bomb.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: surfereddie
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                                                                                                                                                                                            andy huse Jun 11, 2010 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            I completely agree. I can do much better at home than anything i tasted at NOLA. avoid it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: surfereddie
                                                                                                                                                                                              1
                                                                                                                                                                                              1stmakearoux May 18, 2011 06:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              For real NOLA food, go to the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou in Pinellas Park. It's the real deal. They get their boudin from Poche's in Breau Bridge, La., and it's excellent. Their gumbo is as good as I've ever had! Best Cajun in Florida.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: 1stmakearoux
                                                                                                                                                                                                askdrtodd May 18, 2011 08:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Love CCotB! The owner Paul is the most awesome guy ever, and I have a soft spot in my heart (which will probably one day require bypass surgery) for those boudin balls :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                                                                                                                  deet13 May 19, 2011 04:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, we went there last weekend... IMO, it's one of the best Cajun restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like eating some crawfish cornbread, along with a couple of pounds of mudbugs, and a couple of glasses of Jai Alai IPA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: deet13
                                                                                                                                                                                                    askdrtodd May 20, 2011 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    deet you rule, Jai Alai is a favorite of mine too.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: surfereddie
                                                                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                                                                magnusfl Feb 6, 2012 01:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                want a new friend hee hee

                                                                                                                                                                                                "tumbs down on NOLA. They get a lot of hype being as they are really the only Cajun/Creole place in town. Terrible gumbo, shrimp creole and etouffee. I have alot of friends from New Orleans and we all just cook amongst ourselves sharing dishes as our stuff is the bomb"

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: surfereddie
                                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                                  magnusfl Sep 29, 2013 05:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Best Cajun/Creole place in town is Tampa tap room in carrollwood the chef there is Cajun and the taste is so authentic I keep think I walk out the door in a side street in New Orleans

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