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May 11, 2008 05:57 PM

Largo/Seminole/Pinellas Park Suggestions?

I'm moving out to Largo (Seminole rd between Ulmerton and Park if that helps) in June and need suggestions for eating out around Pinellas County. I am used to driving to Pinellas County every day for work, so driving for dinner is not a large concern. My favorite Tampa haunts have been Pho Quoyen and El Taconazo, but frequent many others of all food types. I am looking for great foods of all types and service rates high on reasons to return. Thank you all for your suggestions!

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  1. I've been out in the Largo/Seminole area having lived in both towns for the last ten years. The culinary landscape is nowhere near the cutting edge that you see in Tampa. Both in terms of ethnic and and non ethnic cuisines, the daring around here will usually fail. We had a place called the Satay House in Seminole - Malaysian. They made some very unique dishes - nasi goreng, beef rendang. It lasted about two years. We had a Joffrey's coffee, part of a small chain, and Largo was not able to support it. That was on Seminole Blvd. The owner made very nice coffee drinks- better than Starbucks, but it is gone. Another independent coffee place, The Caffeine Gourmet on West Bay Dr in Largo, which had nice baked goods and which roasted their own coffee beans unfortunately just closed. The chains, Chili's, Applebee's, Olive Garden, and fast food chains flourish - but not the daring ones. Mama Fu's was open on the corner of Ulmerton and Seminole for about one year. It has been gone for about two years. While nothing fantastic, they did make some fairly simple but satisfying noodle dishes, and it was good for a quick cheap meal.
    We have lost two bbq places in the last year. Champions BBQ, in the location of the former Rogers BBQ opened with quite a lot of fanfare. I thought it was pretty good. We also had a small outlet of Pinellas Park's Boss Hog's Ribs on Seminole Blvd in Seminole, but it lasted only a few months. Even Marble Slab creamery, a small chain that is kind of like Coldstone, only much better, which was in Largo Mall for a long time, is now gone.
    You might be wondering why I'm listing closed restaurants. It is to prepare you for the restaurant world around here. Mediocrity in general reigns supreme around here.

    Vietnamese: There was one in Largo, on Walsingham, now gone. Fortunately, Pinellas Park is chock full of Vietnamese places. Ben Thanh 4200 62nd Ave N and Pho Quoyen-the Pinellas Park branch on Park Blvd are not at all mediocre. These are about a 20-25 minute ride from where you'll be in Largo.

    Thai: Plenty of decent Thai places. The nearest one to you is Tum Nuk Thai at 11002 Seminole Blvd in Largo. This is a mainstay in my takeout world. They make a noodle dish called Rice Noodles with Snow Peas that has a slightly sweet taste, and when it is at its best, is full of little pieces of basil. Their Prig Khing Chicken has pieces of ginger in a full flavored brown sauce. Their egg rolls are made with chicken and are very crispy.
    Thai Basil with two Largo locations (1700 West Bay Dr. would be slightly closer to you)makes a very nice Chili Jam dish. The other dish I ofter get there is called Spicy Tofu and also has ground chicken, green beans, mushrooms and basil in it. They have a couple unique appetizers, Cheese Rolls which are a little like a fried cheese blintz, it has a little shrimp in it, and comes with a raspberry dipping sauce. Another is the Toasted Tortilla, which has ground shrimp and chicken mixed into a deep fried tortilla. Being down in Seminole, I don't make it up to either branch of Thai Basil too often anymore, but the owner, Lily, is a very kindhearted person.
    T'Asia at 10555 Park Blvd is one of three Thai/Sushi combo restaurants in Seminole. They make good Sushi and they also have Thai and Japanese entrees on the menu. I often get the Chicken with Eggplant, which also has lemongrass, mushrooms, snowpeas in a nice brown sauce.

    Chinese: We are not anywhere near the world of Tampa's China Yuan, Yummy House or TC Choy's. As good as those places are is as bad as the Largo/Seminole/Pinellas Park area is. I can honestly say, there is not one good Chinese sit down restaurant in the area. I have been to all of them. Instead, I have found a decent little take-out only place that is a notch better than a lot of similar type places scattered around Pinellas. It is called Golden Star at 10805 102nd Ave in Seminole, just west of Seminole Blvd. They are also very accomodating. My 6 year old likes lo mein but there can't be any vegetables or she won't eat it. They are very good at doing this and it still tastes good. Their mixed egg drop/wonton soup is far better than any of the sit down places in the area. The Lake Tung Ting Shrimp has broccoli, snow peas in a light white sauce and lots of shrimp.

    Italian: Very poor. I've been to nearly every one in the area. I don't think there is a good Italian place anywhere in Largo or Seminole. One, Angellino's which also has a Palm Harbor location recently closed in Largo. This place had decent food and very large portions - mainly red sauce.
    In Pinellas Park, Campanella's at the corner of 49th St and Park Blvd has decent red sauce dishes and very good pizza.
    I am excited to try Da Sesto's at 7199 66th St N. I happened to be driving by there yesterday and picked up their takeout menu. It looks pretty interesting, fresh pastas in a variety of sauces. They also have small lunch pizza's at around $5.00 each, such as Pizza Margherita with soup or salad for only $4.95. They also have a "Pasta Bar" for lunch with 4 pasta's with soup or salad for $5.95. I will try this soon.

    Indian: None in Pinellas Park or Seminole. The nearest are about a half hour away at Tri-City Plaza at the corner of East Bay and US 19. The two there are Deeya, which has changed hands several times, and Raga which is new. I haven't been to Deeya in a while, but they always had decent food. I tried Raga's lunch buffet recently as the Restaurant was mentioned positively in a recent St. Pete Times article. I wouldn't try the lunch buffet again. Not a lot of choices. Only two non vegetarian dishes and one was Tandoori Chicken that was as dry as a bone. The vegetarian dishes all looked ok, but were really below average upon tasting. Good Indian food can be spicy without being spicy in a hot pepper sort of way. In Tampa there is a place called Cilantro's. Even their mild dishes are a little spicy, in that they are full of flavor, with tastes of ground cardamom, and little pieces of cumin and ginger, etc. Not on Raga's buffet. The Vegetable Korma, which should be redolent of ground nuts, and light spices, often sultanas as well, was instead a sour vinegary dish. Afterwards, I walked over to Deeya, which is in the same plaza and looked at their lunch buffet. Everything looked much better there. The tandoori chicked looked a lot fresher and their dal dish was made with red lentils, which turn to a golden color when cooked. I could see whole pieces of cumin in the mix.

    Pizza: Charlie and Millie's on Seminole Blvd in Largo has very good extremely thin crust and Michele's Chicago Pizza on Walsingham in Largo has very good Deep Dish Pizza in a variety of styles and crusts. Her thin crust is good, too, as are her chicken wings.

    Fresh Fish: I go to Dockside Dave's in nearby Madeira Beach. It moved about 10 minutes closer a few months ago. A great blackened or fried grouper sandwich with lovely onion rings and waffle fries. Their chowders are also very good.

    Fine Dining: Again, nothing too special. The local Boulevard Bistro on Seminole in Seminole has some nice dishes, but not too many other places. I haven't tried Marlin Darlin yet in Bellair just west of Largo on West Bay, but I hear it is good.

    If you have any other questions about specific cuisines, I could let you know if any are around.

    If anyone has any other ideas, they would be much appreciated as I go to many of these places a lot and feel like I have mined the area dry.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Robert R

      Wow. Epic post Robert. I feel the same way about the Largo/Seminole scene, I eat mainly lunch in the area but so many promising spots have closed. I recommend driving a few miles to Clearwater to try some of the smaller Mexican restaurants that are still authentic. One such place did open on Seminole Blvd. a couple of months ago, Mariscos El Pulpo 2, at 8740 Seminole Blvd. I've only eaten there once for lunch and it was a little above average. Will need to try it some more before I can pass judgment though :-)

      One of my favorite sandwich spots in the area is Seminole Sub Shop. A variety of cold and hot subs, good burgers, and gyros/greek salads. Never had a bad lunch there. It's at the intersection of Walsingham and Seminole Blvd.

      1. re: JacksonSP

        I've tried Mariscos El Pulpo 2 a couple of times and it is pretty good, not quite as authentic as the places in Clearwater, though. Seminole Sub Shop does make very good gyros.
        I actually noticed just this morning that there is going to be a new Indian restaurant called Curriez on Park Blvd just east of Starkey/Park St in eastern Seminole. The sign says, "opening soon". We'll see how it is.

        1. re: Robert R

          I tasted their tandoori chicken at the Taste of Seminole...flavorful and moist. Their masala was rich and flavorful as well.

          1. re: TampaAurora

            I was thinking of going to Taste of Seminole, but had other plans that day. I didn't think I saw any mention of Curriez in the fliers. It is good to hear that you enjoyed it-gives me something to look forward to.
            I know that the chain restaurant Roadhouse was there. Interestingly, I heard today that nearly the entire chain closed on Wednesday due to bankruptcy. When the servers showed up for work Wednesday, the doors were padlocked. I have no specific info on the Seminole location, however.

            1. re: Robert R

              I admit I was worried when I saw Moe's there...Curriez was about the only chow-worthy food I tasted. There was an Italian place with homemade garlic rolls that were good too, but I lost the menu and the name.

          2. re: Robert R

            Just checked out Mariscos El Pulpo. My husband and I were the only customers in the place which is a shame because their burrito ranchero was delicious. Reminded me of the great hole in the wall smothered and covered Mexican of my childhood - in Deland, Fl where there is a sizable Hispanic community due to the agriculture in the area. Or at least that's as far as my high school Spanish got me while ordering in those restaurants. Many of those places closed as well, but there is a resurgence of good dining there too after years of nothing due to changing and expanding palates. I didn't care for their chicken tamales, but my SO loved them. We'll be back.

        2. re: Robert R

          No good Chinese? You must not have been to ABC Seafood, on 54th St N as you're heading toward 275 from 19. Just as authentic as China Yuan or Yummy House. Try the salt and pepper shrimp - the shrimp are live in a tank.

          For Italian, try Pronto's Deli on Belcher at Nursery. During the day they have sandwiches, pizza and calzone, and at dinner they have all kinds of good things. The pizza with goat cheese is my favorite thing there.

          1. re: proboscidian

            You're right, I haven't been to ABC Seafood yet, but have been wanting to try it. I have heard this is the real deal. A few years back there was a Vietnamese restaurant there which was pretty good. ABC is a good ways away from me about 30-45 minutes, but I did forget about ABC when I made my blanket statement about Chinese in the area. It is surprising given the number of Pinellas Chinese places that so few are any good. Are there any others you would recommend?

            I have tried Pronto's Deli and they do make good subs and other Italian specialties, but it is more of an Italian grocery/carry-out place with a few tables.

          2. re: Robert R

            Thank you for your complete report on food in the area. I got worried when I asked my landlord what was good in the area and he mentioned chains. So far, I've been here a week and have been to Pho Quoyen and Golden Star. My SO and I are looking forward to mining out the list. You all have made me much less concerned about moving away from my comfort foods!

            1. re: Robert R

              I would give Raga another try. Their buffet is fantastic and has quite a variety. Maybe its changed since the last time you were there. Sunday buffet is grand - south indian food is cooked in front of your eyes. Raga by far is my favorite Indian restaurant.

              1. re: JaneSwift


                I will likely try the buffet on Sunday, as per your advice - also Pinellas has little South Indian cuisine now - so that would be a nice change of pace.

                I tried their lunch buffet right after they opened and it was below average then, but I will give it another chance as per a few positive reviews I have been seeing on Chowhound.

                Robert R.

                1. re: Robert R

                  I went to the Sunday brunch buffet this past Sunday at Raga, and it was much improved. The tandoori chicken was fresh and moist. The buffet had better choices on it and most everything tasted good. They had a woman making masala dosa (crepes filled with potato) at one end of the buffet. These were very tasty.
                  They had a few appetizers and a soup on the buffet. There were a few veggie dishes, the best was the matar paneer - peas and homemade cheese. The sauce was very flavorful and was quite spicy for a buffet. The meat dishes were the Tandoori chicken, boneless curry chicken, and spicy Indian meatballs. My 6 year old daughter loved the chicken curry which was mildly spiced, but tasty. She loved it so much she just mentioned it a few minutes ago. The meatballs tasted like they were made out of beef rather than lamb. They did have some heat to them as well. Other than the Dosa, there wasn't too much specifically South Indian. A couple of the appetizers appeared more Southern and perhaps spicy meatballs would be considered Southern.
                  Bottom line: A very nice Indian buffet.

                2. re: JaneSwift

                  Hmm, I've long been trying to find a decent Indian restaurant in Pinellas, so I'll be sure to give this one a go!

                3. re: Robert R

                  I can second Boulevard Bistro. Had a great dinner there. Truly loved the roasted garlic white bean spread they served with the bread.

                  1. re: Robert R

                    Gotta agree - Michele's Chicago pizza is really good. I always order thin crust sausage and onion but the State Street Special is excellent. And you can hang at the counter with a can of 'pop' and get all the local gossip.
                    Also let's not forget the awesome pizza at The Untouchables. They're just north of W Bay on Clearwater-Largo Rd. Also my DW absolutely loves their red spaghetti sauce. Says it's like real Chicago and be sure to ask for extra sauce.

                    1. re: Robert R

                      Greek: The BEST Greek around is Greek Village restaurant adjacent from the Seminole mall. Homemade greek salad dressing (delicious and low fat) and tzatziki sauce (yum). They even have belly dancers on the weekend. Its family owned and operated and I have never been disappointed with anything on their menu.

                    2. Da Sesto's definitely. It's been since 2006 when I worked over there, but I was able to make do with a couple of places. Frida's Bakery on Ulmerton for sandwiches, bakery items (natch) and breakfast. Bella Italia Pizzeria on Starkey and Feola's on Ulmerton are standard pizza/Americanized-Italian places, but the food was decent, large portions and I was won over by the homey-ness of them and neighborly service. Bella Italia had great soups too. Ulloa's on Belcher near Ulmerton was ok for Mexican, but it might be worth the drive up to La Cabana del Tio on Drew st. I used to venture far afield on my lunch breaks- the beaches weren't too far and of course fuel prices weren't what they are now. You also have Cajun Cafe on the Bayou on Park- decent food and great casual fun. Thuy Cafe is on 34th St. N next to Mekong for Bahn Mi sandwiches and boba tea. Mekong's not bad for Vietnamese. And you can always make a trek to Mazzaro's- so nice to go during the week and not have to fight the crowds.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: rikkikm

                        Oh yeah, and Ivory Mandarin Bistro for Chinese. It's in Dunedin though.

                        1. re: rikkikm

                          I've been meaning to try Thuy Cafe. Do they only make the classic Bahn Mi sandwich or do they have other sandwiches? Do they have only the classic boba tea or do they have several flavors of tea in which they put the boba? Do they have any other menu items?
                          By the way, I do love La Cabana del Tio. I think Laurie may have been the person who discovered this place. What a find. I love watching the ladies making the corn tortillas by hand. Their al pastor is especially flavorful. Their empanadas are to die for.
                          Mazzaro's is one of a kind-essential for certain hard to find ingredients and generally a fun time, but the last couple of visits I feel the service has been lacking. I don't appreciate that "I'm doing you a favor by waiting on you" type of service. A woman that I work with lives around the corner from there and goes there a couple of times a week and agrees that the service is in decline there.

                          1. re: Robert R

                            It's been a while since I was at Thuy Cafe. I believe they have different sandwiches available- maybe some salads but I don't really recall. I think there were also different flavors of boba available, but again, memory fails me.

                            1. re: rikkikm

                              The have i think 8 sandwichs including the classic and alot of flavors for the tea and can be ordered with ot with out the bubbles

                        2. for good 'real 'Mexican, check out El Toro Negro. I think technically its in Kenneth City, but it's really close to you...i believe its on 54th street?
                          corned beef corner is a good deli at the corner of park and baypines. great reubens and i hear their potato salad is good although im too much of a wuss to try it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sarahew1

                            I've only been to El Toro Negro once. The food was very good. Their al pastor pork was nowhere near the league of La Cabana Del Tio, however. Cabana's is chopped more finely and is in a darker sauce with hints of possibly pineapple, cumin and oregano. El Toro Negro's is much dryer and less flavorful. Pretty much everything else at El Toro Negro was good though and if I remember correctly, they put a dollop of the queso fresco cheese onto the beans which really elevated them.

                          2. Ex-NY'er Italian Food Recommendations: DaSesto's on 66th St. just south of Park is fabulous for anything. Sesto and crew make you feel like family. Best gelatto anywhere! For REAL NEW YORK PIZZA you have to try A'Amore on 66th St. at 92nd. Best crust anywhere for pizza and calzones. Great wings and Shrimp Scampi. Try his tomato pie, just tomatos and spices, no sauce, no cheese, you'll crave it forever. He cooks like he wants it to taste from italian childhood in NY. Only drawback is hours of operation, normal lunch and dinner hours only. The food is great, the NY attitude is free :o). Pronto Deli on Belcher just north of Nursery also great. They make the only meatball sub I ever liked. Baseball sized meatballs. Caprese salad large enough for 2. All food is homemade. Her biscotti (when she has time to make it) is wonderfully light and full of nuts. For real bagels and bially's, try Stu's at Belcher and Ulmerton, across from CVS. No late afternoon hours here tho, go in the A.M.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: largo_lass

                              I used to frequent Stu's until recently when I began to watch how the prepared their handwashing - even in between taking money and food and no cleaning of utensils between spreads. Both of these are huge pet peeves of mine.

                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                A student let me know the last day of school that Stu's has become much more glove-friendly. I can't wait to go back!

                            2. What are the go-to - the reliably good - places in the area? I am not looking for cutting egde or high prices, just places to get my three meals a day that will not disappoint.