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.
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!)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604
1441 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL
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
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.
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.
515 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Red Mesa Cantina
128 3rd St, Saint Petersburg, FL
104 2nd St S, St Petersburg, FL
41 Baymont St, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
1604 SE 46th St, Cape Coral, FL 33904
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.
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
628 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
913 E Hillsborough Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Anna Maria Oyster Bar
6906 14th St W, Bradenton, FL 34207
3409 W Bay To Bay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629
1578 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236
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.
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...
8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604
2202 W Waters Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604
4333 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33614
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?
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).
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!
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 :)
136 4th Ave NE, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
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!
5944 34th St N # 22, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714-1257
628 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689