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Dec 2, 2010 05:19 PM

So...What's the best thing(s) you ever ate in the Tampa Bay area? (spinning off of another FL post)

The stuff you go back for again and again?

Mise en Place's Chicken Liver Pear Port Mousse Pate pretty much always makes me want to faint.

Sorry, I know a lot of people think the Columbia is subpar (it is a chain, after all)...but their White Chocolate Bread Pudding is orgasmic. Their Cava Sangria also stands up admirably to any that I had in Barcelona.

Pincho y Pincho's (Ceviche's sidecar) in downtown St. Pete has the most amazing Tres Leches Cake.

Bernini in Ybor's Pistachio Crusted Grouper with Mashed Potatoes & Broccolini with a Marsala Brown Butter Sauce.

The Karpathos Chicken Salad at Acropolis Greek Taverna...I never get enough of that.

Pretty much anything at Della's After Dark in Brandon (who knew???) .

The Lobster Bisque and the Blackened Shrimp & Bourbon Pecan Salad at Cafe L'Europe in Sarasota.

I can also be a bit of a sucker for Charley's giant (as God intended) $12 Cosmos.

The Chili Cheese Dog and Eggplant Fries with Ranch Dressing for dipping at Campbell's Dairyland in Brandon.

I'm just getting started...I'll think of more.

Okay, I idid. It's way to the north of the Tampa Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area...but Lunch on Limoges in Dade City serves up the most phenomenal Fried Eggplant EVAH. Also, their Toasted Croissant stuffed with Tarragon Chicken Salad, Swiss Cheese and a fresh, steamed Broccoli Spear is one of the best that this non-sandwich-lover ever ate in FL.

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  1. Okay...the Columbia has a half-dozen locations, all owned and managed by the founding family...but I think lumping them into "chain" and thus into the same category as Olive Garden and McDonald's is pretty unfair.

    But I'm with you on most of the rest of it (and you hit on my guilty pleasure - any of the fried veggies at Campbell's rocks...and you can then justify the ice cream because you ate your vegetables!)

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      Yeah, I know...but the Columbia gets bashed pretty frequently here, thus the "qualifier". ;)

      Campbell's is the debil...I don't care what they say about having a "Jesus Filled Day" on their marquee. ;)

      1. re: sweet_polly

        ROFL - they're right around the corner from my doctor's office -- so when I was pregnant with DS and had to fast for blood tests, Campbell's was right there to make it all better...or for Dole Whip cones after the other appointments!

    2. My current faves-

      Tripa tacos at Taqueria Monterrey

      Clam pizza at Wood Fired (also pistachio is excellent)

      Make-your-own-rolls at Pho Quyen

      Oyster Po-Boy on olive loaf at Pane Rustica (also the blueberry tart they make is unreasonably good)

      Cappy's chicago style pizza with anything on it

      Chitterling at Yummy House (which is no longer available) :(

      BBQ Pork Bahn Mi at Saigon Deli

      Pulpo Gallega and Scallop/Salmon Ceviche at Vizcaya

      3 roll combo at Bamboozle cafe

      Sideberns happy hour (the lengua and the tartare are my current faves)

      26 Replies
      1. re: askdrtodd

        Polly and Dr Todd -- is Beaune's still serving goodies at the wine bar? That was a favorite date night.

        1. re: sunshine842

          sunshine- couldn't tell ya, I very infrequently go in to ybor after dark.

          1. re: askdrtodd

            don't be afraid. Ybor is fine after dark.

            1. re: andy huse

              plus they have a secured parking lot well off of 7th.

              1. re: andy huse

                I was actually there last night, there was a holiday beer tasting at new world, my better half doesn't like ybor too much after a few bad experiences with some drunk people, etc, therefore I don't go there much ;)

            2. re: sunshine842

              I was at Beaune's about two months ago and they were serving a small but interesting sounding menu at the bar (and at the tables). We had already eaten dinner so I didn't partake. It's a cool place, but most their wines are European and the spousal unit and I (although we do enjoy some European and South American wines), love the ones from the U.S. northern Pacific coast the best.

              1. re: sweet_polly

                Not even most -- they unashamedly sell only Italian, Spanish, and French wines -- that's their niche.

                The food was great and well-priced, and you can't go wrong with the wine prices. You used to pay just the retail prices from the store, but I think now there's a corkage fee added.

                1. re: sweet_polly

                  My hubby and I drove by there today and were wondering is Beaune's pronounced Boone's or Bone's or even bayune's. Too funny as I haven't seen it mentioned before Thanks. Juli

                  1. re: juli5122

                    it's pronounced like bones -- it's named after a major wine-producing town in the Burgundy region of France.

              2. re: askdrtodd

                drtodd, your clam pie at Wood Fired caught my eye. I'm from New Haven, where clam pie is fresh shucked clams, garlic, OO - no sauce, no cheese - is that similar to the Wood Fired rendition? If so, it would be worth a trip across the bridge. Thanks.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Peter at WF pizza doesn't claim it to be authentic New Haven --- no one can compete with childhood memories. But he has made his own version. I was a little skeptical, but it was delicious.

                  1. re: andy huse

                    Thanks, andy. The only clam pie south of the Skyway has tomato sauce, cheese, and canned clams -a yucky disappointment. I'll try Wood Fired. Pizza is a challenge here. I'm not expecting New Haven, just something better than Manatee County's offerings.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Peter truly has a passion for pizza. Even if it is not like the one in New Haven I am pretty confident that it will de delicious. If you like craft beer he also has an excellent happy hour. Go in and have a seat at the bar so you can watch him cook your pizza.

                  2. re: Veggo

                    Veggo, Peter's clam pie is actually called the "New Haven" funny enough. I can't vouch for it being true-to-style, but I can most certainly vouch for it being frickin delicious. He'll do it red or white, whatever you prefer.

                    1. re: askdrtodd

                      Amusing. "Yuse guys" are why I'll get a Skypass for the bridge. Y'all are out-eatin' me.

                  3. re: askdrtodd

                    Let me go ahead and add the "Hot roasted beef, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, spinach, garlic horseradish aioli" sandwich at Pane Rustica I had today. GOOD LORD that was mind blowing. Best sandwich I've had in 300 forevers.

                    1. re: askdrtodd

                      I have never had a clam pizza...but now I must.

                      1. re: sweet_polly

                        Yes, you must. It is excellent. Meeting with Peter today, (shhh this is a secret) he may or may not be actively trying to expand down toward South Tampa (HECK YEAH!!!) and may or may not be exploring for a location/venue. ;)

                        1. re: askdrtodd

                          Interesting. Before I read this thread, I planned to post that Wood Fired Pizza is the only thing I miss when not in Tampa.

                      2. re: askdrtodd

                        CLAM PIZZA!???!!! omg i'm positively quivering with antici.....pation. i have GOT to get to this place. it's been on my list...along with Pane Rustica and Datz...

                        1. re: askdrtodd

                          Based on this thread, went to wood fired for the first time last week, debated the clam and pistachio pie, chose the pistachio based on server recommendation. Good, but not my style. Flavors to delicate for pizza IMO.

                          Loved the atmosphere, met Peter, he went on a ten minute in depth dicussion on yeast fermentation and the intricacies of dough making with all the temp changes. A super nice guy who is passionate about food.

                          Defintely plan on returning to try out some more stuff.


                          1. re: herbert1

                            True, the flavors are very subtle, it's not in-your-face big, it's more like a complex box of fine wine.

                            1. re: askdrtodd

                              From the reco here I called Wood Fired to inquire /confirm that the clam pie includes fresh clams. Peter returned a message that he uses fresh "when available" . I appreciated his promptness, courteousness, and candor. I'll simple phone ahead when I get the urge, I'll hold out for fresh.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                I thought the "box" of fine wine thing was funnee :(

                                  1. re: askdrtodd

                                    I guess I'm not accustomed to boxes of anything more complex than Cracker Jacks.... I don't want to cross the Skyway for a subtle pizza. I want an explosion of flavors. Canned clams spook me, and do not appear on a real New Haven pie even on a bad day.
                                    I don't mean to sound fussy, I just like the genuine article, especially when it is not local and someone worked hard to make it happen. Like conch, at Mid-Peninsula Seafood in St. Pete. It is excellent, totally out of place, and made (and pounded) with love.

                          2. Excellent query, Polly. You and Todd have posted impressive and inspirational lists. Bill is amid his birthday bacchanal, and is probably feverishly assembling a list of his own in the meantime.

                            My favorite things are usually simple.

                            Wood Fired Pizza: I have a hard time not getting the Sofia on every visit. The balance of cheese and sauce is perfection. Pistachio is a favorite, as is the pesto, which is almost over the top with toppings, threatening to overwhelm the thin crust, but sometimes such a delicious struggle. the Michaelango if i want a more "normal" pizza. and the lunch deal, a small Raquel (marguerita) pizza, good salad, and drink for $10. i like the relaxed feel and regular customers, too.

                            The marguerita at Paci’s is a thing of rare and ephemeral beauty. They’re always friendly and the place is laid back.

                            Taqueria Monterrey: The newly discovered torta (thanks Todd/Bill!) with house made chorizo and plenty of toppings on fresh baked bread. I’ve been back twice in the last week. I also like to order plates of two kinds of meat and make my own tacos with the great salsa and topping bar. The peanut salsa is great.

                            Chopstix: Lo Mein. It is excellent, but still close enough to the fast food version to satisfy that craving without so much grease.

                            Gnocchi at Osteria Natalina. and anything with steak.

                            China Yuan: pan fried dumplings. Beef chow fun with black bean sauce. Shrimp wonton soup.

                            Yummy House: West Lake beef soup. Salt and pepper calamari. I once tasted someone else’s order of Szechuan chicken. It isn’t too sweet and I love it.

                            I really like Ty’s Two Fister at Datz, pastrami and corned beef. The latke fries.

                            Watermelon Aqua fresca from the Taco Bus. Season just ended.

                            Strawberry milkshakes from Parkesdale farm in Plant City.

                            Green Chile with pork from the VIP in treasure island.

                            Filet Chaco at the Columbia. The Cuban sandwich. Snapper Adelita or Alicante. 1905 shrimp. Spanish Bean Soup and Cuban toast.

                            Meatball subs from Brocato’s. and the picadillo stuffed potatoes. Good onion rings, too. I’m not as crazy about their deviled crabs as I used to be.

                            Sushi at Tokio. Tame stuff like the Mexican and spicy tuna rolls.

                            If I need chicken parm, I go to Gino’s in Forest Hills for a man sized portion.

                            The massive fried pork chop at Antojitos with lots of aji spooned on. Also the empanadas (beef or chicken), stuffed yucca, blood sausage, chicharrones.

                            Caldo Gallego with Cuban toast at La Teresita. Sometimes I have two bowls.

                            Banh mi at Saigon Deli. Roast pork is good but sometimes seems too salty. I prefer the meatballs these days. They’re soft and tender.

                            Also to echo Todd, the make your own rolls (with beef) at Pho Quyen. Like the noodles bowls and Pho, too.

                            Spicy hot Korean (or “Oriental”) fried chicken from Sa Ri One Lunchbox.

                            Let's talk dessert.
                            Guava and cheese empanadas from Mr. Empanada. Their best.

                            any cake from Wright's, but i love the chocolate cake with pnut butter frosting. i'm glad i don't live close by.

                            white chocolate bread pudding from the Columbia. the rum sauce is nice, and they serve a huge split brick of a serving. their best dessert.

                            La Segunda Central Bakery. two words: almond crescents. and any pastry with guava, there are several varieties. their pecan pie is also outstanding.

                            Mike’s pies, wherever they are these days.

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

                            1441 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL

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

                            Pho Quyen Restaurant
                            4749 66th St N, Kenneth City, FL 33709

                            3090 S Jog Rd, Greenacres, FL 33467

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: andy huse

                              Andy, you are a god among mere mortals ;) That is an amazing list. I've had 3 people speak highly of Antojitos in the past two days, the only food of theirs I tried was at the flavors of west tampa show recently, and I loved it. This place just moved to the top of "the list" I keep in my desk drawer at my office.

                            2. i also love Columbia's Cava Sangria. I got their recipe for it from their website, and have made it at home several times. YUM-OH.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Manderley

                                *smacks Manderly for using Rachelspeak* then hands Manderly another glass of sangria.

                              2. Here is my list:

                                Tacos al pastor at La Cabana Del Tio
                                Fried Grouper Sandwich from the Original Frenchy’s
                                Roasted Pork Sandwich from Tangelo’s
                                Red Snapper with house citrus rub sandwich from Island Seafood (I ask for cheese too)
                                Peanut butter pie from Leverock’s
                                Deconstructed cannoli from Bella Brava (I think it is off the menu)
                                Rack of Lamb from the Wine Cellar served with an amazing garlic butter emulsion
                                Steak Tartar from Timpano’s (S/O loves the oyster shooters)
                                Mushroom Swiss eggs benedict from The Gathering, and they do half orders which I love.
                                Almond Croissants from L’Eden
                                Foie Gras with cherry and ice wine syrup from Café Ponte
                                French Macarons from Cassis Bakery
                                Duck Taco with goat cheese from Red Mesa Cantina
                                Kumamoto Oysters from Z Grille
                                Cranberry Italian Ice from Aunt Ritas
                                Cheese Grits from Leroy Selmon’s (Let the loud guffaws begin)
                                Lunch Buffet from Taste of Punjab
                                Aahh, many happy meals.

                                Bella Brava
                                515 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

                                Red Mesa Cantina
                                128 3rd St, Saint Petersburg, FL

                                Z Grille
                                104 2nd St S, St Petersburg, FL

                                Frenchy's Cafe
                                41 Baymont St, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

                                20 Replies
                                  1. re: juli5122

                                    No laughing at those cheese grits. They are divine!

                                    1. re: rhnault

                                      I'm with you on those cheese grits, Rhnault. They are unbelievably good.

                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                        The grits at Leroy Selmon's are very good indeed. Don't like chains much but I do go there for the Beef Brisket Quesadillas and the boyfriend is quite fond of the gumbo. The rolls they serve there are so delicious and soft. I call them BBQ donuts! I'm pretty sure they also have a decent bread pudding.

                                    2. re: juli5122

                                      mmmmmmmmmmmmm that is a killer list juli.

                                      Sadly my favorite BBQ wings, my favorite cheese grits, and my favorite cornbread casserole are at (say it ain't so!) a CHAIN! (Lee Roy Selmon)

                                      1. re: askdrtodd

                                        but Lee Roy is such a nice guy...let's not hold it against him!

                                        1. re: askdrtodd

                                          Have you had the cornbread casserole at Rusty Bellies? It's very good.

                                          1. re: askdrtodd

                                            Just asking, How many restaurants make a chain? We, Lee Roy's, only have 6 places! We aren't that big! Again.....just asking, Also, appreciate the kudos, Greg. (I run Lee Roy Selmon's). fyi, love the Taco Bus and Acapulco Grocery for Tacos!

                                            1. re: glynn

                                              You are privately held now? No longer part of OSI? I liked LRS then as well.

                                              1. re: glynn

                                                glynn, nice to see you on here, I hope the CH mods don't boot you off for being affiliated with the restaurant, they're... um... well that's another story.

                                                I love LRS 90% of the time, it does have some pretty chain-ey elements but those damn wings will have a place in my heart until you change them or take them off the menu. Then you're dead to me.

                                                (FYI when you guys began serving the cornbread casserole only one day a week, LRS became a much more every-once-in-a-while visit rather than every-week-or-two spot for the guys I work with, just so you know)

                                                1. re: askdrtodd

                                                  I understand the Mods job, I try not to market. I really get great insight on here and it is fun . The MODS usually let me ask questions if it is not too business related. Call me about the one day a week (shouldn't be), don't want to get into it on here....too businessy...LOL 813 321 7770.

                                                  1. re: glynn

                                                    We were actually talking about you last weekend at Gasparilla, Most of the Tampa regulars see the posts before they get pulled and in general our local CH group likes LRS and appreciates you posting.

                                                2. re: glynn

                                                  HAd lunch at LRS yesterday for the first time. The one on boy scout blvd in Tampa. Thought the food was pretty good, had the ahi tuna, selmons wings and the gumbo (roux could have been thicker). The service was abysmal. Sat in the lounge, 3 in the afternoon, at a booth and was basically ignored by not just the server but everyone working in the bar area. People had absolutely no concept of service.

                                              2. re: juli5122

                                                What happened to Tangelo's? I'm in town from Boston and noticed that it's gone. It's going to be missed!

                                                I have to chime in on my favorites.

                                                Raspberry milkshake at Jimbo's BBQ
                                                Fish spread, cheeseburger and smoked salmon at Ted Peter's
                                                Chicken Enchiladas at Carmelita's
                                                Gigi's special pizza at Gigi's
                                                Fried grouper sandwich at Harvey's
                                                Sunday brunch at the Vinoy
                                                Dr. Pepper ribs at ZGrille
                                                Duck taco at Red Mesa Cantina
                                                Cuban sandwich at the Floridian

                                                1905 Salad and black beans and rice used to be a favorite at Columbia, but it's really gone down hill. The portions are smaller and the overall experience is not like it used to be.

                                                Red Mesa Cantina
                                                128 3rd St, Saint Petersburg, FL

                                                Jimbo's Restaurant
                                                1604 SE 46th St, Cape Coral, FL 33904

                                                1. re: Marisa23

                                                  Love Gigi's also and the Dr. Pepper ribs at Z Grille. Tangelo's moved to Gulfport right near the casino.

                                                  3121 Beach Boulevard South
                                                  Gulfport, FL 33701
                                                  (727) 894-1695

                                                  1. re: Marisa23

                                                    I used to go to Jimbo's just to get a plate of those pickles.

                                                    1. re: Marisa23

                                                      Tangelos moved to Gulfport.

                                                      "After many years in downtown St Petersburg, Tangelo's Grille is moving to Gulfport. Our new location is at 3121 Beach Blvd S. We will be opening our new location on Wednesday, August 25th. We'll see you then!"


                                                      Edit: Whoops! Missed the post by juli re: Tangelo's.