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Feb 11, 2008 09:16 PM

Tampa - You've Just Flown In ...

All day traveling from the Pacific Northwest on a week day, arriving 7 p.m. then we get our rental car, head out of the airport on the way south to our friends house. We are starved (we don't eat airplane food) -- but our friends are waiting for us 90 minutes away and we don't want to spend a lot of time dining. Recommendations for something good and relatively quick? Please???

(About ten days later, after visiting Miami and the Keys, we will spend a couple of days in Tampa before leaving -- always a fan of local cooks/foods, especially things we can't get other places/creative twists, so any suggestions there appreciated too. Our first time in Florida.)

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  1. Ejohn:

    La Teresita for good Cuban food comes to mind first. It is not far from the airport, and won't take you too far out of your way, especially if you are heading east through town before heading south. Although you are going to Miami, I don't think La Teresita is notably inferior to any Cuban joint down there, and if you sit at the counter, you'll be out lickey-split. Enjoy your visit to our neck of sunshine.


    La Teresita Restaurant
    3246 W Columbus Dr, Tampa, FL 33607

    1 Reply
    1. You'll be on I-275 and after you cross the Sunshine Skyway bridge and merge on to I-75, many exits have good restaurants nearby. Sounds like your destination that night is around the Venice area? I can suggest seafood (Anna Maria Oyster Bar, exit for 301), or something as simple as Cracker Barrel (next exit- Hwy 64). When you cross the bridge and are out of the Tampa -St. Pete area, it is pretty easy and safe. Any preferences?

      10 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        A glass of wine is imperative; love local, things we don't get (e.g. Cuban, local seafood) in Oregon. Thanks.

        1. re: ejohn

          The Anna Maria Oyster Bar should fit the bill, off the exit for 301, south a block, R at the light past The Total gas station, Resto is on left.
          Good fresh seafood, grouper, lobster bisque, mussel appetizer, shucked or fried oysters, and you can eat at the bar and get in and out quickly and get on to your friends. Decent range of wine by the glass.

          1. re: Veggo

            Anna Maria Oyster Bar is a fried food alley......................
            Down the street from the Tampa Airport is Cheesecake Factory, with valet parking, and excellent food.......
            Give yourself a treat, and try it, enjoy.......

            1. re: irwin

              now everyone will complain because you recommended a chain ; )

              1. re: rhnault

                There's supposed to be a great BBQ place at the Ellenton exit, just after the Skyway. Rib Dog has mentioned it a few times.
                I'll try to find the post....

                  1. re: joan

                    Its called Hickory Hollow Ellenton Exit which is 301 and go right for about 2-miles.....Its excellent..

                  2. re: rhnault


                    I won't complain because it's a chain. I'll complain because it's a chain that sucks. And because it doesn't meet most (any?) of the OP's stated criteria.


                    We just came from La Teresita again tonight (it's habit-forming) and noticed that they do sell wine by the glass. While it most certainly will not live up to the West Coast wine culture you are likely used to (and may perhaps insult it), the fact that you would be served a delicious, enormous five-dollar meal (enough for two, really) in a Cuban diner while sipping wine from a bottle kept on top of a coke machine (all for less than $8.00, I'm sure) is a pretty dadgum local experience, if you ask me. Save the Factory for Portland, if ever.


                  3. re: irwin

                    Veggo is right about Anna Maria Oyster Bar. It fits the bill for what ejohn is looking for. I do not agree that it is "fried food alley." (No, offense, Irwin. I always enjoy your posts.) Sure, you can get fried seafood and fried freshwater fish there, but they serve seafood poached, broiled, baked, grilled, etc., and it's delicious, fairly inexpensive, and fast. My only concern is that if ejohn and friends are starving after a long flight, they'll have to collect their luggage, a half hour operation, and then and drive an hour south of Tampa to get to the restaurant.

            2. SInce your starving when you get off the plane, and friends are waiting for you heading south, maybe grab a quick bite at Lee Roy Selmons BBQ, off Spruce Street/Lois Avenue just outside the airport. You'll be in and out within an hour, eat some great Southern Style BBQ from a local man(Lee Roy Selmon), then just hop on 275 South from Lois Avenue.

              When you get back to Tampa, Check out the Columbia in Ybor City, Arco Iris on Columbus Ave in West Tampa, Crab Shack on Gandy Blvd in St Pete. For FIner Dining, check out Bern's on Howard Ave in Hyde Park area of Tampa.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rshally

                Lee Roy Selmons is part of the Outback chain.........
                My last and only visit was brutal.......

                1. re: irwin

                  i have been hearing bad things lately. I used to like it a lot. Haven't been in about 6 months. Looks like I need to go again before I recommend again.

              2. If it were me, and I was zonked after a killer flight from the West Coast and still had a long haul ahead of me, I might go for something close to the airport but festive, like Bahama Breeze at Courtney Campbell and Rocky Point. Yeah, it's a chain, but the food is good in a Floribbean kinda way, the outdoor patio overlooking the bay is festive, and the cheery atmosphere and Calypso music can help get you in the mood for a Florida vacation.

                1 Reply
                1. re: laurie

                  I would put my 2 cents in for Crazy China Buffet on Dale Mabry. Its probably 10 minutes from the airport. Its asian fusion, so it will please everyones pallett. Their sushi is the best and the duck is fab too. It has every imaginable asian food and the deserts are good too. Its fast cuz its a buffet and you can be on your way south in an hour. Have fun in Tampa Bay!!

                2. I'm embarrassed to be a Tampanian with some of the recs here. Cheesecake Factory, Bahama Breeze, Lee Roy Selmon's, Crazy Buffet? No, No, No, No. C'mon Tampa- we can do better than that. I think Jimbo's response to one of Laura Riely's blogs was right on the money:


                  What about J. Alexander's, Matoi Sushi or Thai Terrace, even (I hate to say it) Jasmine Thai?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rikkikm

                    I'll second J. Alexander's and Matoi and also Teresita - for sure. Sa Ri One is also not far from the airport and great Korean food.

                    I think Teresita is about as Tampa as it's going to get though, and you simply can't beat the prices. If it's Vaca Frita day, get it. Also treat yourself to the fried yucca.