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

sweet_polly Dec 2, 2010 05:19 PM

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. sunshine842 RE: sweet_polly Dec 2, 2010 10:32 PM

    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
      sweet_polly RE: sunshine842 Dec 3, 2010 04:44 PM

      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
        sunshine842 RE: sweet_polly Dec 3, 2010 10:08 PM

        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. askdrtodd RE: sweet_polly Dec 3, 2010 04:29 AM

      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
        sunshine842 RE: askdrtodd Dec 3, 2010 05:25 AM

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

        1. re: sunshine842
          askdrtodd RE: sunshine842 Dec 3, 2010 10:04 AM

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

          1. re: askdrtodd
            a
            andy huse RE: askdrtodd Dec 3, 2010 11:17 AM

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

            1. re: andy huse
              sunshine842 RE: andy huse Dec 3, 2010 12:45 PM

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

              1. re: andy huse
                askdrtodd RE: andy huse Dec 3, 2010 12:53 PM

                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
              sweet_polly RE: sunshine842 Dec 3, 2010 04:42 PM

              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
                sunshine842 RE: sweet_polly Dec 3, 2010 10:09 PM

                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
                  j
                  juli5122 RE: sweet_polly Dec 5, 2010 06:29 PM

                  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
                    sunshine842 RE: juli5122 Dec 5, 2010 09:53 PM

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

              2. re: askdrtodd
                Veggo RE: askdrtodd Dec 3, 2010 05:43 AM

                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
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                  andy huse RE: Veggo Dec 3, 2010 06:44 AM

                  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
                    Veggo RE: andy huse Dec 3, 2010 07:07 AM

                    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
                      rhnault RE: Veggo Dec 3, 2010 09:14 AM

                      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
                    askdrtodd RE: Veggo Dec 3, 2010 10:03 AM

                    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
                      Veggo RE: askdrtodd Dec 3, 2010 06:43 PM

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

                  3. re: askdrtodd
                    askdrtodd RE: askdrtodd Dec 3, 2010 10:06 AM

                    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
                      sweet_polly RE: askdrtodd Dec 3, 2010 04:46 PM

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

                      1. re: sweet_polly
                        askdrtodd RE: sweet_polly Dec 4, 2010 04:25 AM

                        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
                          b
                          bimmertimmer RE: askdrtodd Dec 4, 2010 05:01 AM

                          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
                        Manderley RE: askdrtodd Dec 5, 2010 12:40 PM

                        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
                          h
                          herbert1 RE: askdrtodd Dec 13, 2010 08:26 AM

                          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.

                          Herbert

                          1. re: herbert1
                            askdrtodd RE: herbert1 Dec 13, 2010 09:58 AM

                            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
                              Veggo RE: askdrtodd Dec 13, 2010 12:37 PM

                              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
                                askdrtodd RE: Veggo Dec 13, 2010 07:27 PM

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

                                1. re: askdrtodd
                                  Manderley RE: askdrtodd Dec 13, 2010 07:32 PM

                                  so did i, doc. ;)

                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                    Veggo RE: askdrtodd Dec 13, 2010 08:18 PM

                                    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. a
                            andy huse RE: sweet_polly Dec 4, 2010 01:32 PM

                            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

                            Chopstix
                            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

                            Antojitos
                            3090 S Jog Rd, Greenacres, FL 33467

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: andy huse
                              askdrtodd RE: andy huse Dec 5, 2010 04:46 AM

                              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. Manderley RE: sweet_polly Dec 5, 2010 12:33 PM

                              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
                                sunshine842 RE: Manderley Dec 5, 2010 01:53 PM

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

                                1. re: sunshine842
                                  askdrtodd RE: sunshine842 Dec 6, 2010 04:08 AM

                                  lol

                              2. j
                                juli5122 RE: sweet_polly Dec 5, 2010 06:25 PM

                                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
                                  d
                                  DoubleBurger RE: juli5122 Dec 5, 2010 06:31 PM

                                  awesome sauce!

                                  1. re: juli5122
                                    rhnault RE: juli5122 Dec 6, 2010 02:37 AM

                                    No laughing at those cheese grits. They are divine!

                                    1. re: rhnault
                                      g
                                      gfr1111 RE: rhnault Dec 6, 2010 08:49 AM

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

                                      1. re: gfr1111
                                        w
                                        weezy RE: gfr1111 Dec 26, 2010 03:12 PM

                                        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
                                      askdrtodd RE: juli5122 Dec 6, 2010 04:10 AM

                                      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
                                        sunshine842 RE: askdrtodd Dec 6, 2010 04:58 AM

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

                                        1. re: askdrtodd
                                          c
                                          CFishman RE: askdrtodd Dec 6, 2010 10:13 AM

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

                                          1. re: CFishman
                                            r
                                            RibDog RE: CFishman Dec 6, 2010 02:58 PM

                                            Ditto!!!

                                          2. re: askdrtodd
                                            g
                                            glynn RE: askdrtodd Feb 3, 2011 08:20 PM

                                            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
                                              rhnault RE: glynn Feb 4, 2011 04:17 AM

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

                                              1. re: rhnault
                                                g
                                                glynn RE: rhnault Feb 4, 2011 07:02 AM

                                                private, based out of Tampa

                                              2. re: glynn
                                                askdrtodd RE: glynn Feb 4, 2011 05:53 AM

                                                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
                                                  g
                                                  glynn RE: askdrtodd Feb 4, 2011 07:08 AM

                                                  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
                                                    rhnault RE: glynn Feb 4, 2011 07:30 AM

                                                    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.

                                                    1. re: rhnault
                                                      askdrtodd RE: rhnault Feb 6, 2011 12:27 PM

                                                      agreed.

                                                2. re: glynn
                                                  h
                                                  herbert1 RE: glynn Feb 6, 2011 07:30 PM

                                                  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.

                                              3. re: juli5122
                                                m
                                                Marisa23 RE: juli5122 Dec 7, 2010 04:03 PM

                                                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
                                                  j
                                                  juli5122 RE: Marisa23 Dec 7, 2010 06:48 PM

                                                  Marisa,
                                                  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
                                                    sunshine842 RE: Marisa23 Dec 7, 2010 09:36 PM

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

                                                    1. re: Marisa23
                                                      l
                                                      Little T. RE: Marisa23 Dec 9, 2010 03:10 PM

                                                      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!"

                                                      http://tangelosgrille.com/findus.html

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

                                                  2. g
                                                    gfr1111 RE: sweet_polly Dec 6, 2010 08:44 AM

                                                    Okay, here's my list, in no particular order:

                                                    St. Petersburg's El Cap's hamburger is juicy, crunchy on the outside, has a great bun, and is well dressed.

                                                    Columbia's 1905 salad is the best chopped salad in Tampa. It is a great combo of salty ham, garlicky dressing, cold and crunchy iceberg lettuce, salty green olives, unusually solid Swiss cheese or gruyere or something, tomatoes, etc.

                                                    Bradenton's Anna Maria Oyster Bar's oysters on the half shell are great. This is variable, depending on the time of year, but they are usually unusually meaty and have a nice "oyster liquor" liquid in them which smells of the sea and is very salty.

                                                    Sarasota Pho Cali's beef pho (I've forgotten the exact name), which has a spiciness in the broth which is missing from a lot of Vietnamese phos. Also, if you order carefully, you can avoid the inedible beef scraps so common in many pho soups.

                                                    Zudar's Zorba sandwich. I am not a fan of vegetarian dishes, but this is an exception to my rule. This is, essentially, a toasted provolone cheese (I think--but maybe it's kefalatieri or kaseri) sandwich with the contents of a Greek salad in the filling. It sounds interesting, but not exactly mind-blowing, but trust me, this is a dish which is more than the sum of its parts. The sharp feta cheese sets off the creamy, chewy provolone and the chopped calamata olives and hot peppers to create a salty, sharp, hot taste, which is delightful. The toasted nature of the sandwich creates a good textural contrast.

                                                    Bern's ribeye is crusty, tender, juicy and delightful. The best steak I have ever had.

                                                    Bern's Bananas Foster is the equal of Brennan's Bananas Foster in New Orleans, which is the gold standard for this dish.

                                                    Monstah Lobstah's lobster roll is moist, chewy, and oh-so-lobstery. Again, the bun sets off the softness of the contents by being harder, but with a soft interior. I have to admit that since I discovered lobster rolls in Tampa and Monstah Lobstah seems to be about the only one serving them here (though they occasionally show up as specials on other menus), my exposure to other chefs' lobster rolls has been minimal, limited to a few occasions in New England. So my opinion is not based on a huge amount of exposure to other lobster rolls, but these are certainly darn good.

                                                    Tarpon Springs' Mykonos charcoal grilled squid was quite a revelation. Someone on these boards raved about (RNault? AskDr.Todd?) and I've never had anything else quite like it. The squid are extremely tender and have a strong charcoal grilled flavor, which occasionally edges over to bitterness, but not often. You squeeze lemon juice over it and it's "other worldly." (How's that for food porn?) The charcoal grilled octopus is almost equally as good.

                                                    Tarpon Springs' Costas Restaurant does a fried smelt that is ethereally crispy with a coating that seems more tempura-like than anything else, but is not that, either. The fish is slightly sweet and very moist and tender.

                                                    El Taconazo/Taco Bus' s cochinita pibil soft tacos are outstandingly tender and spicy, although whatever I have there I usually drench in the green or red taco sauces served at the table, which are delightfully authentic and temporarily impair your taste buds so that El Taconazo could probably serve shoe leather and it would be delicious.

                                                    I note that little of what I have described comes from high end restaurants, which is odd, because I certainly like them very much, but these are the dishes which come easily to mind.

                                                    -----
                                                    El Cap Restaurant
                                                    3500 4th St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33704

                                                    Mykonos
                                                    628 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

                                                    El Taconazo
                                                    913 E Hillsborough Ave, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                    Anna Maria Oyster Bar
                                                    6906 14th St W, Bradenton, FL 34207

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

                                                    Pho Cali
                                                    1578 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: gfr1111
                                                      askdrtodd RE: gfr1111 Dec 6, 2010 09:29 AM

                                                      Nice list GFR!

                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                        a
                                                        andy huse RE: askdrtodd Dec 6, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                        i must echo the 1905. I don't like iceberg lettuce but i could eat it all day long.

                                                      2. re: gfr1111
                                                        rhnault RE: gfr1111 Dec 6, 2010 11:59 AM

                                                        Get theeeee to Vizcaya and try their octopus dishes since you now have a passion for the tentacles ;-)
                                                        I need to try the smelts at Costas. I usually don't get past the grilled octopus and charred whole snapper

                                                        1. re: rhnault
                                                          a
                                                          andy huse RE: rhnault Dec 6, 2010 01:58 PM

                                                          enough of this chiming in, Nault--- where is your list?

                                                          1. re: andy huse
                                                            rhnault RE: andy huse Dec 6, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                            I never remember the name of anything.... Ok I am just being lazy ;-)

                                                        2. re: gfr1111
                                                          h
                                                          holladay RE: gfr1111 Dec 12, 2010 03:42 AM

                                                          Totally agreed on the pibil tacos at the Bus and the smelts at Costas. I am really mad at Bern's for taking the cherries jubilee of the menu, but the bananas are a good substitute. It's been like 3 years, I guess I can get over it. :) FYI: The smelts at Kaisen sushi on Dale Mabry are also delicious.

                                                        3. deet13 RE: sweet_polly Dec 7, 2010 11:07 PM

                                                          My favorite places in the Tampa area...

                                                          Yummy House has some brutally evil (in a good way) Salt and Pepper Calamari...
                                                          The Schnitzelhaus has great Holstienschnitzel and Schweinschaxn.
                                                          Mr. Souvalaki in Tarpon Springs is my go to joint for Greek food. Their saganaki, and the souvalki combo's are great... Plus they also serve pickled octopus.
                                                          China Yuan's Peking Duck is good. No more need be said.
                                                          Oragami Sushi, they serve ramune sodas, which my son loves. Plus they serve good sushi.
                                                          Berns, just for the level of service they provide.

                                                          And the Cheese Grits from Leroy Selmon’s are pretty darned good...

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

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

                                                          Schnitzelhaus Restaurant
                                                          4333 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33614

                                                          1. f
                                                            f00die RE: sweet_polly Dec 8, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                            We'll be in the Tampa/Brandon on Christmas Day! Anyone know of a good family-style restaurant that would be open that night, and might have a good 'ole roast turkey dinner with all the fixings on their menu? Also, how does Buca di Beppo stack up, in comparison to other Italian family restaurants in Tampa or Brandon?

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: f00die
                                                              askdrtodd RE: f00die Dec 8, 2010 09:45 AM

                                                              Bucca is a chain. There is a chain-specific board on Chowhound somewhere...

                                                              I'm not sure which restaurants are doing a Christmas dinner, I'm sure someone on here can chime in and help you out.

                                                              1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                rhnault RE: askdrtodd Dec 8, 2010 10:10 AM

                                                                Now can we go back to regularly scheduled programming? ;-)

                                                                Summer Cake with frozen Zabaglione at Pane Rustica. That was one of the best things I ate in Tampa all summer!

                                                                1. re: rhnault
                                                                  c
                                                                  CFishman RE: rhnault Dec 8, 2010 10:24 AM

                                                                  The Summer Cake is very good but I was surprised by how toughly the Apple Tart stood up to it. It was a fight.

                                                                  1. re: CFishman
                                                                    rhnault RE: CFishman Dec 8, 2010 02:01 PM

                                                                    Does that come with the frozen zabaglione?

                                                                    1. re: CFishman
                                                                      askdrtodd RE: CFishman Dec 8, 2010 06:05 PM

                                                                      mmmmmm... apple tart....

                                                                      only to be bested by blueberry filled pastry thingy...

                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                        rhnault RE: askdrtodd Dec 9, 2010 04:01 AM

                                                                        that could be the summer cake.... it is almost like a cobbler

                                                                        1. re: rhnault
                                                                          askdrtodd RE: rhnault Dec 9, 2010 04:16 AM

                                                                          I've had the summer cake, and it IS muy bueno, but this thing is a pastry shell about 6" in diameter, domed (just enough to contain the filling, not fully enclosed), filled with fruit deliciousness (I think they also do them in peach and mixed berry) and sprinkled with coarse grained sugar (like a scone).

                                                                    2. re: rhnault
                                                                      Manderley RE: rhnault Dec 8, 2010 06:56 PM

                                                                      omg i love zabaglione, haven't had it in years....i have GOT to get to pane rustica somehow, sometime!!!

                                                                      1. re: Manderley
                                                                        rhnault RE: Manderley Dec 9, 2010 04:01 AM

                                                                        I have an issue with all things rich and frozen and this stuff is sooooooo good!

                                                                        1. re: rhnault
                                                                          c
                                                                          CFishman RE: rhnault Dec 9, 2010 06:28 AM

                                                                          I don't think the summer cake or the apple tart was served with zabaglione last Saturday night. My recollection is that bother were served with ice cream/gellato.

                                                                          1. re: CFishman
                                                                            askdrtodd RE: CFishman Dec 9, 2010 06:53 AM

                                                                            ok thanks a lot guys, now I have to eat at rustica for lunch today. way to twist my arm.

                                                                            (anyone is welcome to join I'll probably be there around 12:30)

                                                                            1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                              Manderley RE: askdrtodd Dec 12, 2010 08:09 AM

                                                                              wish i had seen this earlier. i've been wanting to go there for months now, and don't feel comfortable going alone. i feel okay sitting at a sushi bar alone, and i've been a few times to The Refinery alone...but to try a new place solo, nah, just can't do it.

                                                                              1. re: Manderley
                                                                                askdrtodd RE: Manderley Dec 12, 2010 12:45 PM

                                                                                You can sit at the pizza counter/bar and watch them make the pizza, it's lots of fun!

                                                                                Maybe you and Bill and I can go one day this week (and anyone else that would care to join) :)

                                                                                1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                  Manderley RE: askdrtodd Dec 13, 2010 07:33 PM

                                                                                  i read this post one day too late. went back to the diet doc this morning. try me in .... march...maybe for my birthday (hint, hint)

                                                                2. h
                                                                  holladay RE: sweet_polly Dec 12, 2010 04:16 AM

                                                                  The Tuna Cracka Stacka, pulled barbecue pork sandwich, and fried green tomatoes at Ella's.

                                                                  Chocolate hazelnut gelato at the Gelateria del Duomo in International Plaza. (FYI: there are only 2 of these, the other is in Naples, Italy.)

                                                                  Sirloin, seared scallops, smoked salmon mousse at St. Pete Brasserie.

                                                                  Ika Yaki (barbecued squid) and sashimi at Kaisen sushi. Freshest fish I have had from a sushi restaurant.

                                                                  French fries, burger, and pate at the Refinery.

                                                                  Salt & pepper tofu at Yummy House.

                                                                  Beef fondue at Trang.

                                                                  Stone crab claws and fried artichoke hearts at the Colonnade

                                                                  Conchinta pibil tacos at the Taco Bus.

                                                                  Apple cake at Kojak's House of Ribs.

                                                                  The pistachio pie at Wood Fired Pizza.

                                                                  Pizza Margherita at Pizzaiolo Bavaro.

                                                                  Mojitos, shrimp al ajillo and gazpacho at the Colombia.

                                                                  Fried egg rolls at Pho Quyen in Town & Country (I know it's a local chain, but they are just not the same at any of the other locations).

                                                                  Siu Mei at China Yuan.

                                                                  Cuban sandwich and black bean soup at Carmines.

                                                                  Vichyssoise and lobster bisque and Bern's.

                                                                  Oysters and Gulf shrimp at Oystercatchers.

                                                                  Lobster potstickers at Roy's (I don't care if it's a chain, I could eat gallons of the sauce, no joke.)

                                                                  Vanilla cone at Bo's.

                                                                  Dolmades at Hellas.

                                                                  Chicken salad at Caremes.

                                                                  Mole verde at Casa Tina's.

                                                                  Smoked fish spread at Skipper's.

                                                                  Pork tenderloin at Kelly's (this comes with fried avocado, oh yes).

                                                                  I can't think of anything else. I can't wait to try everyone's suggestions!

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: holladay
                                                                    j
                                                                    juli5122 RE: holladay Dec 12, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                    I embarrased myself with the potsticker sauce at Roy's, I practically lifted my plate and licked it off, I think it is a miso butter sauce. Sooooo good.

                                                                    1. re: juli5122
                                                                      h
                                                                      holladay RE: juli5122 Dec 17, 2010 06:03 AM

                                                                      Exactly!

                                                                    2. re: holladay
                                                                      askdrtodd RE: holladay Dec 12, 2010 12:47 PM

                                                                      Excellent list Holladay!!! There are some great dishes on there for sure.

                                                                      Just for me- go try the margherita pie at Paci's and let me know if you think it's better than bavaro. I've been to bavaro 3 or 4 times now, and have been disappointed every time.

                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                        h
                                                                        holladay RE: askdrtodd Dec 17, 2010 06:00 AM

                                                                        I have never been to Paci's, but it's been on the list for a while. I love Bavaro, it's neck and neck with Wood Fired for me. I work downtown, so Bavaro is just a go-to. I have heard Paci's is better, I will definitely hit them up ASAP.

                                                                    3. s
                                                                      sushigirlie RE: sweet_polly Dec 13, 2010 07:33 PM

                                                                      Something from Pane Rustica.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sushigirlie
                                                                        askdrtodd RE: sushigirlie Dec 14, 2010 05:05 PM

                                                                        "like"

                                                                      2. Manderley RE: sweet_polly Dec 15, 2010 06:05 AM

                                                                        i've enjoyed reading what everyone has posted on this thread; haven't want to post my pitiful little list :( since my divorce, i don't have anyone to go explore new places with. First dates are usually just coffee...and there usually isn't a second date...so my list consists of just a few dishes at just a few places. i've been wanting to go to Oystercatchers...to Pane Rustica...to Wood Fired Pizza...to the Mongolian Wat...to Queen of Sheba.. and many more. but just can't do it alone. thank goodness for chowdowns!

                                                                        Cappucino @ Bern’s, in the dessert room upstairs

                                                                        Stormin’ Norman roll @ Ichiban in Trinity... it had eel and mango on the inside.. with spicy tuna, avocado and kiwi on the top, topped with special sauce. i loved that roll, but won't go back after smelling disinfectant on a piece of shrimp..
                                                                        .
                                                                        Ding dong @ The Refinery...a foodgasm for sure

                                                                        dinner @ Chateau France in st pete...the whole thing, from "grade A" fois gras, filet mignon with black truffle sauce, to dessert of Grand Marnier souffle. the whole dinner was perfect. maybe it was because it was my wedding night, but i seriously think it was the best meal i ever had. the lovely waif singing edith piaf tunes a cappella didn't hurt either...

                                                                        Monkfish liver @Refinery, with a gently sweet whisper of a crispy glaze on the outside, creamy and reminiscent of uni perfection...ahhhh what a mouthful :)

                                                                        salt & pepper Squid & various dim sum @ china yuan

                                                                        marinated sea bass @ mike’s sushi & sake in palm harbor

                                                                        Poke @ mike’s sushi & sake (tuna with scallions and macadamia nuts with a spicy red sauce, served in a martini glass)

                                                                        Tartar de atun @ vizcaya (their version of tuna tartare)

                                                                        Baked clams @ umberto’s of long island in Dunedin

                                                                        Tomato bisque @ crispers (don't laugh, i'm addicted!)

                                                                        Stone crab claws with mustard sauce @ middle grounds grill, treasure island

                                                                        Butternut squash tostada w/salsa verde @ taco bus

                                                                        that's all so far. just had to throw in my 2 cents :)

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Chateau France
                                                                        136 4th Ave NE, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Manderley
                                                                          h
                                                                          holladay RE: Manderley Dec 17, 2010 06:03 AM

                                                                          I knew I should have eaten that ding dong at the Refinery when I had the chance. This is a great list, I've never had the salt & pepper calamari at China Yuan.

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

                                                                          1. re: holladay
                                                                            Manderley RE: holladay Dec 17, 2010 05:54 PM

                                                                            holladay, that ding dong was beyond. i totally lost control. i begged Sous Chef Eddie to marry me, even though i'm old enough to be his Grandma.

                                                                          2. re: Manderley
                                                                            askdrtodd RE: Manderley Dec 17, 2010 01:31 PM

                                                                            Very respectable list! This gives me an idea...

                                                                            1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                              Manderley RE: askdrtodd Dec 17, 2010 05:55 PM

                                                                              ohhhhh toddster, you did try, didn't you? thank you for trying. Santa's gonna be good to you this year.

                                                                          3. t
                                                                            Tom Scherberger RE: sweet_polly Feb 16, 2011 09:08 AM

                                                                            Thought you might enjoy reading about the two dishes from Bern's Steakhouse that the show is going to feature later this year.

                                                                            Read more here, with a shout-out to this thread:

                                                                            http://www.tampabay.com/features/food...

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Bern's Steakhouse
                                                                            1002 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Tom Scherberger
                                                                              a
                                                                              andy huse RE: Tom Scherberger Feb 16, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                                              I see i neglected to add the King Midas sundae at Bern's to my list. It surely belongs there.

                                                                              1. re: andy huse
                                                                                askdrtodd RE: andy huse Feb 17, 2011 09:52 AM

                                                                                seconded. Haven't had it in a while, but as I recall that was the most memorable part of our last visit to Berns.

                                                                              2. re: Tom Scherberger
                                                                                Manderley RE: Tom Scherberger Feb 25, 2011 09:59 PM

                                                                                how cool is that. we're famous!

                                                                              3. s
                                                                                sheeshjackie RE: sweet_polly Feb 25, 2011 03:53 PM

                                                                                Meatball PoBoy at Thuy Cafe (in St.Pete) is the best! Fresh crunchy, bread; fresh veggies and herbs; and tasty flattened meat balls! To dieee for!! Aso the best Boba/Bubble Tea in the Tampa Bay/St. Pete Area!

                                                                                Mykonos (in Tarpon Springs) Greek Restaurant's Chicken Sofia! Chicken With delectable spinach and I usually get it with rice pilaf! An EXTREMELY generous serving!

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

                                                                                Mykonos
                                                                                628 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

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