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2011 Favorite Places to Eat - Tampa / St. Pete

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Birdcage_Chef Jan 29, 2011 07:27 AM

Please name your top 5 places to eat this year and rate them on taste, service & ambience along with a a brief recommendation. We have many old posts and i am trying to create a new reference for this year. Thanks!

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  1. askdrtodd RE: Birdcage_Chef Jan 30, 2011 05:30 AM

    If truly for both ambiance AND food, not just food, then:

    Pane Rustica
    Wood Fired Pizza & Wine Bar
    Refinery
    Sideberns (Happy hour small plates @ the bar)
    Oystercatchers (Brunch) :)

    8 Replies
    1. re: askdrtodd
      Manderley RE: askdrtodd Jan 30, 2011 02:42 PM

      I need a "like" button for todd's choices ;)

      1. re: askdrtodd
        j
        JJASF RE: askdrtodd Feb 18, 2011 07:56 PM

        Refinery has NO ambiance! They have a soda machine in the middle of the dining room! No wine list either-strange!

        1. re: JJASF
          rhnault RE: JJASF Feb 19, 2011 04:59 PM

          They do not have room for a wine list. This is a small place. I have no issue with verbal wine selections. Especially when they are 18.00 per bottle across the board.

          1. re: JJASF
            Manderley RE: JJASF Feb 19, 2011 05:38 PM

            lol i go there often and have never noticed a soda machine in the middle of the dining room. i was just there last night. i'll make a point of looking for it when i go again. as for the wine list, i enjoy having the wait staff talk about the wine choices. they have never steered me wrong.

            -----
            The Refinery
            5173 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603

            1. re: JJASF
              s
              SlapnChop RE: JJASF Jul 4, 2011 12:28 PM

              Agreed. The Refinery would not make any ambience list. Good food, though.

            2. re: askdrtodd
              d
              DEVO2172 RE: askdrtodd Feb 20, 2011 02:20 PM

              If you like Wood Fired Pizza, definitely have to check out Pizzaolo Bavarro on Twiggs and Franklin downtown. Some of the best pizza I've had without havign to drive up to Bearss. I will admit, though, that Pizzaolo's menu is significantly more limited that Wood Fire, but not a bad substitute.

              1. re: DEVO2172
                askdrtodd RE: DEVO2172 Feb 20, 2011 03:23 PM

                Devo I have to respectfully disagree with you, Bavaro has disappointed me 3 times in a row now, I have no plans to give them a 4th chance... I've tried different things each time, ne'er a gem to talk about (with the exception of their tomato basil soup, which was excellent) their pie to me is quite lacking, and pricey (which is to be expected downtown). I'm pretty sure Peter from Wood Fired is expanding in the near future as pretty much everyone's complaint is that his place is in BFE, so it won't be too much longer before we don't have to drive as far. I'd go to Eddie & Sams before I'd go to Bavaro.

              2. re: askdrtodd
                l
                limetruk RE: askdrtodd Jul 17, 2011 08:48 AM

                Ate at the Refinery last week and Oystercatchers 2 weeks ago. Wow on both. Oystercatchers was a great meal. No misses at all. Wood fired bass was amazing and the oysters were all tasty tasty.
                The Refinery was very good as well. Pork tenderloin was so good. The only miss was the service was pretty blah and the smoked duck wings were so dry and boring. Everything else about it was great though. The flank was great. The lamb belly was super rich and yummy.

              3. sweet_polly RE: Birdcage_Chef Jan 30, 2011 07:23 AM

                I'm not saying these are the best in town, but they are places I love (for various reasons) and never get tired of.

                #1 is definitely Mise en Place...food and service are always perfect. Ambience is low-key classy. One of the best in town. One of the few places in Tampa where you can order foie gras. I love the Chicken Liver Pear Port Mousse Pate...it's been on the menu for a looooong time.

                Charley's when I'm in the mood for a cow chop and a giant cosmo. I almost always order a filet (and I'm not usually a "filet girl", but I love theirs) done Oscar Style (with asparagus, a little fried softshelled crab and hollandaise sauce on top). Love the "buzzy" pretty-people atmosphere there, too.

                Pincho y Pincho in downtown St. Pete. Great cava sangria and tapas...and the tres leches cake is to die for. I can spend hours sitting along the sidewalk on a pretty day, ordering and drinking, ordering and drinking (rinse and repeat).

                Guppy's on the Beach (sentimental favorite). I've been going there regularly for almost 20 years and I think it's some of the best food to be found on the beaches. Definitely more creative than the average Gulf Blvd. bear. Love the salmon dill bisque, escargot and Firecracker Shrimp Salad.

                Can one of my top five faves in Sarasota? I love Cafe L'Europe on St. Armand's Circle. It's a beautiful restaurant with a very professional multi-national staff and gorgeous sidewalk cafe setting where you can enjoy a leisurely meal and watch the world go by. They serve the best lobster bisque I have ever eaten. Also love the Shrimp and Bourbon Pecan Salad as well as the Lobster and Shrimp Salad. I've never made it there for dinner, but it's on my "to do" list. Food is always beautifully presented as well as delish.

                I have to give Ybor's Columbia Restaurant a runner-up ribbon. It's a beautiful restaurant, and sometimes I just NEED a pitcher of their cava sangria, some empanadas, a 1905 Salad and an order of white chocolate bread pudding. Yes, I always order the same things whenever I go. lol

                Della's After Dark also gets Honorable Mention for being the shining star in the sea of Brandon's chain restaurant mediocrity.

                A couple of "newbies" I only tried for the first time recently but was particularly impressed by (but have not had the opportunity to revist) were Pane Rustica, Datz and Spain. I'll be baaaack.

                Oh...and sometimes I get an embarrassing craving for Sonny's Barbecue and onion rings. Is that bad? :p

                2 Replies
                1. re: sweet_polly
                  askdrtodd RE: sweet_polly Jan 30, 2011 11:50 AM

                  x2 on Mise en Place, Pincho, and L'Europe. Have had great experiences at all three of those, absolutely worth mention.

                  1. re: sweet_polly
                    b
                    Big Bad Voodoo Lou RE: sweet_polly Feb 23, 2011 04:45 PM

                    I'm glad to hear Della's After Dark is still open and still good. Two friends took me there when I visited them in Brandon -- this must have been almost three years ago -- and it was wonderful at the time. Too often, great, unique places like that don't survive, especially in chain-land.

                  2. c
                    ChefCash RE: Birdcage_Chef Feb 21, 2011 12:52 AM

                    Bernini's in Ybor: Get the pork chops
                    Taco Bus: Best fish tacos... other than mine ;)
                    SoHo Sushi: Eligant, fair prices awesome sushi
                    Alexander's: excellent service and food every time
                    Kona Grill: just go, trust me

                    -----
                    Kona Grill
                    , Tampa, FL 33602

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: ChefCash
                      askdrtodd RE: ChefCash Feb 21, 2011 12:16 PM

                      SoHo- really? I went a few days ago and thought it was a bit on the high side, 90% of the maki was Americanized with cream cheese or mayo or fried something on it, the apps were mediocre, they wanted $5 for a small bowl of edamame, etc. Of the two $12/13 rolls we ordered, one had a barely visible amount of meat (or anything other than rice) inside it for that matter, and the other even though we asked for no mayo still came with it both on and inside. Left pretty disappointed. I would take Cafe Japon or Yokos long before I'd go back there.

                      Alexander's - is that J. Alexanders? Aren't they a nationwide chain like Kona Grille? Not to crap on your selections, I think the Bus and Bernini's are great...

                      -----
                      Cafe Japon
                      2223 S West Shore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629

                      1. re: askdrtodd
                        j
                        JJASF RE: askdrtodd Feb 22, 2011 05:26 PM

                        Cafe Japon? really? I think that was the worst sashimi I've had besides a buffet. Did you try the geso app at soho? It's great. Yes they do have a lot of fancy rolls, but some are really good. Much better than anything at Japon. Although I don't do cream cheese in my sushi so I couldn't comment on that.

                        1. re: JJASF
                          askdrtodd RE: JJASF Feb 22, 2011 05:55 PM

                          Really. I will say I haven't eaten there in nearly 6 months, but in past times I've gone Japon has consistently had mediocre service and top-notch fish. It's the only place in Tampa I've had real wasabi grated on a sharkskin grater too. Their sashimi also frequently has items like toro, uni, 2 varieties of clam, and they don't charge $8 FOR A PAIR OF SALMON ROE WITH QUAIL EGG YOLK NIGIRI (thanks Soho!). Maybe I was just lucky all those times.

                          Now at Soho when you say the Geso I assume you mean the squid "with sea vegetables" appetizer? That was actually the best part of our meal when we went, and since we made it there during happy hour, it was reasonably priced too. We actually got a second order (because the $27 pair of sushi rolls was meager at best). If I'm not mistaken you can also purchase this same "geso" salad pre-made at other places in town, and traditional "geso" is charred squid tentacle, not the mandolin-ed squid with some seaweed they served there (albeit it was tasty). Note also I couldn't find "Omakase" anywhere on the menu at Soho (there are three different price range omakases listed on Japon's menu) but I did find the "Jersey Shore Roll" and other ridiculous fried mayonnaisey cream cheese bombs all over it. I asked the server if they did an Omakase and he blankly looked at me as if I were speaking another language. I figured I technically was so I followed up with "a chef's special, either coursed out or on a boat or something of the sort?" and after a second uneasy look I quickly ordered off the happy hour menu.

                          Elegant it is not. Authentic it is not. A good value it is not. We also essentially had two servers, the initial server who was terrible, and the guy that was picking up his slack that was an excellent server. They canceled each other out so I won't judge the service.

                          You and I don't share the same metric for enjoying sushi. Try Tokyo Sushi at 56th and Fowler and let me know if you like it, that's probably my favorite all around sushi spot in Tampa, it's just so far to drive to...

                          1. re: askdrtodd
                            j
                            JJASF RE: askdrtodd Feb 23, 2011 01:21 PM

                            My standards for sushi/sashimi are very high. And actually Sohois no where near my favorite. Just don't get your assessment of Japon. sashimi was standard, rolls belo.
                            kaisen in Carrollwood by far is the best in town

                            1. re: JJASF
                              askdrtodd RE: JJASF Feb 24, 2011 04:29 AM

                              I'll try Kaisen, I've heard good things about it. I haven't been back to Japon in a few months, so in fairness i'll swing by and see if the quality of their sushi isn't what it used to be.

                              Highly recommend Tokyo next time you're out near USF, very fun mom and pop spot and they make some very interesting rolls (for instance they have a roll called the "CD roll" that's got seaweed and crab in it and covered with squid, and it's almost the diameter of your wrist, it's a real SOB to eat but it's delish)

                              1. re: JJASF
                                r
                                rikkikm RE: JJASF Jun 23, 2011 08:40 AM

                                I've heard from a couple of people that Cafe Japon closed.

                                Kaisen never impressed me, (neither has Toasted Pheasant discussed below).

                                Nothing beats Matoi for me for sushi. But have been hearing raves about Bangkok Sushi in LandOLakes and Sushi Ninja in Brandon. Also had a rec for Jade Fire Asian in Hudson.

                                -----
                                Sushi Ninja
                                887 E Bloomingdale Ave, Brandon, FL 33511

                                Cafe Japon
                                2223 S West Shore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629

                                1. re: rikkikm
                                  askdrtodd RE: rikkikm Jun 23, 2011 11:03 AM

                                  Japon did close. Kaisen is killer, you just have to get intimate with the chef and ask for the specials, I'm assuming you aren't just going in there ordering maki rolls ;)

                                  I'm surprised to hear that Matoi is your favorite, we used to go there a lot (the owner is also a sushi chef too, and he was a client of my wife's at the time), but I never felt that they had much of a selection of interesting fish (salmon/tuna/snapper, woo hoo) and the prices had gone up while portions went down sadly. Have things changed around?

                      2. o
                        Old E. RE: Birdcage_Chef Feb 22, 2011 12:21 PM

                        In specific order:
                        1. The refinery - just love it... even the coke machine.
                        2. Datz - love the beer selection, food is good and interesting (not perfect), and I can walk home.
                        3 Paci's - still my favorite for pizza in town. I need to try wood fired but as mentioned BFE.
                        4. Cigar City Brewing - Beer is food, isn't it?
                        5. Bern's - hard to go wrong. Especially a drink an dinner in the bar.

                        Todd - what's up with the wood fired? is he opening another?

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Old E.
                          rhnault RE: Old E. Feb 22, 2011 01:46 PM

                          I was at the Refinery twice in the last week and have yet to notice a coke machine...

                          1. re: rhnault
                            t
                            TampaAurora RE: rhnault Feb 22, 2011 02:18 PM

                            The machine is visible, it's along the wall towards the kitchen. It's not "in the middle" of the dining room. but is visible. Doesn't matter to me though.

                            1. re: rhnault
                              Manderley RE: rhnault Feb 22, 2011 05:49 PM

                              i haven't seen it either. maybe it's on the same wall as the restroom door? i'm usually in the dining room closer to the front door, so i don't look at the wall with the restroom door.

                              1. re: Manderley
                                a
                                andy huse RE: Manderley Feb 23, 2011 11:19 AM

                                you may not notice it when the place is crammed fiull of noisy patrons on a friday night, but I've gone for brunch and could hear little else.

                                1. re: andy huse
                                  rhnault RE: andy huse Feb 23, 2011 12:26 PM

                                  You can hear the coke machine?

                                  1. re: rhnault
                                    a
                                    andy huse RE: rhnault Feb 23, 2011 12:42 PM

                                    it is a noisy machine. don't know what kind of machine it is (ice?). but it exists. i didn't bring it up, but it is there. sheesh.

                                    1. re: andy huse
                                      rhnault RE: andy huse Feb 23, 2011 02:46 PM

                                      You were the first person to mention it makes noise. I have a funny story for you next time we talk IRL

                            2. re: Old E.
                              askdrtodd RE: Old E. Feb 22, 2011 06:00 PM

                              He's "Actively seeking to expand" from what he said, I don't want to say more than that in case certain things don't work out. I was bummed, I was trying to get him and the owners of the Pour House downtown to work out something where he could open a spot nearby, some of the best pizza in Tampa Bay and some of the best beer in Tampa Bay... but it wasn't viable (I think a restaurant in the complex already sold pizza and there would have been a competition issue)

                              I'm getting re-bummed just thinking about how it didn't work out :(

                              Also kudos on the Cigar City reco!!! hehe that's my favorite bread in a glass too :)

                              1. re: askdrtodd
                                o
                                Old E. RE: askdrtodd Feb 23, 2011 05:07 AM

                                That is common in commercial leases. I have been trying to make it to the Pour house, but just haven't been able to get in there. I will make it a priority.

                                1. re: Old E.
                                  rhnault RE: Old E. Feb 23, 2011 07:22 AM

                                  we spent the weekend there ;-)

                                2. re: askdrtodd
                                  t
                                  Tom Scherberger RE: askdrtodd Feb 24, 2011 06:22 AM

                                  Maybe he should consider a brick oven pizza oven on wheels like the one I saw at a festival on Main Street in Dunedin this past weekend. It's called Open Hearth Pizza -- "artisan pizza on wheels'' -- and will be at the Renaissance Festival at MOSI starting this weekend. People were raving about it and it looked delicious, but I was too stuffed from a visit to Lenny's to try it. The guy running it said he's from Vermont, where there are a bunch of these out and about, and will be heading home after the festival.

                                  -----
                                  Main Street Bar
                                  335 E Main St, Bartow, FL 33830

                                  1. re: Tom Scherberger
                                    askdrtodd RE: Tom Scherberger Feb 24, 2011 11:15 AM

                                    funny you mention that, I was at the 3rd Saturday market at the Wiregrass mall last month and there was a "wood fired pizza" oven on wheels that looked just like Pete's design, but I tried a slice and it was so bad that I gave it away. It looked great too, I think the quality of the cheese (and other ingredients) didn't make up for it being wood fired.

                              2. deet13 RE: Birdcage_Chef Feb 22, 2011 06:20 PM

                                1. Bern's Steakhouse, what more needs be said...
                                2. Mise en Place, good food, great service, good atmosphere
                                3. The Refinery.
                                4. Wood Fired....
                                5. Kon Tiki, one of the better hotel restaurants in town (Tahitian Inn), and the bar's not too shabby either.

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

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: deet13
                                  askdrtodd RE: deet13 Feb 23, 2011 04:47 AM

                                  I need to get in to Kon Tiki, I keep hearing good things!

                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                    deet13 RE: askdrtodd Feb 23, 2011 08:20 PM

                                    Try the lime grouper, and the pulled pork tacos are pretty good also.

                                2. a
                                  artemisanne RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 8, 2011 04:48 AM

                                  I agree with all these recommendations for sure, but I have yet to find a solid all around SEAFOOD place that will not cost me a paycheck. I want local, I want grouper, I want gulf shrimp, I want variety, I want mackerel I want conch, I want all that the gulf / Caribbean sea has to offer with affordability and imagination.

                                  I am afraid that is just too much to ask. What do you think?

                                  37 Replies
                                  1. re: artemisanne
                                    askdrtodd RE: artemisanne Mar 8, 2011 09:35 AM

                                    yep. too much to ask (assuming you don't want to drop a pretty solid amount of $).

                                    Although... someone chime in, I've never been to Rick's on the River, how's that?

                                    1. re: askdrtodd
                                      rhnault RE: askdrtodd Mar 8, 2011 10:51 AM

                                      swai, chicken wings, and burgers. Raw oysters are good.

                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                        deet13 RE: askdrtodd Mar 8, 2011 04:12 PM

                                        It's not too bad. My friends and I have been there several times. The clams on the appetizer menu are pretty good, and my cousin always orders the oyster po boy whenever we go. They also have Yuengling on tap.

                                        Think of it as an upscale Skippers Smokehouse, minus the fried gator tail...

                                        1. re: deet13
                                          rhnault RE: deet13 Mar 9, 2011 04:04 AM

                                          LOL. I would never put upscale and Rick's in the same sentence ;-)

                                          1. re: rhnault
                                            deet13 RE: rhnault Mar 9, 2011 03:36 PM

                                            Heh, normally I wouldn't either.

                                            Personally I actually like the food at Skippers a little more than Ricks, mainly due to Skippers having a larger menu.

                                            But whenever I leave Skippers Smokehouse, I always feel like I need to take a long hot shower to scrape the hippie and patchouli funk off of me.

                                            When I leave Ricks, I don't feel the overwhelming urge to do the same...

                                            Thus Ricks ends up being upscale compared to Skippers.

                                      2. re: artemisanne
                                        sweet_polly RE: artemisanne Mar 8, 2011 02:26 PM

                                        Have you tried Shrimp & Co. in Ybor? The owners claim to buy fresh from the seafood market every day and hand-bread the menu selections to order...and after eating there, I believe them. It's quite casual, but I thought the prices were extremely reasonable considering the food quality and quantity. They also sell discounted gift certs at restaurant.com which makes it even cheaper.
                                        http://shrimpandco.com/

                                        1. re: sweet_polly
                                          ladlelady RE: sweet_polly Nov 20, 2011 03:23 AM

                                          Shrimp & Co was pretty good the two times I've been there. Try the Mangle Clams appetizer and Florida pink shrimp basket. First time I used a restaurant.com certificate (no issues in accepting) and second time because I loved the first! Looking forward to going back.

                                        2. re: artemisanne
                                          deet13 RE: artemisanne Mar 8, 2011 04:04 PM

                                          As much as I hate to say it (outside of say Tarpon Springs), there just aren't that many inexpensive seafood joints anymore.

                                          IMO, you'd best be served by running down to Cox Seafood Market, picking out a fish or two, and cooking it up the way you like. Or you could spend a day fishing down at The Pier or at the Skyway bridge...

                                          1. re: deet13
                                            rhnault RE: deet13 Mar 8, 2011 04:11 PM

                                            That is what we do when we want fresh seafood. Head to Cox and cook at home.

                                            1. re: rhnault
                                              deet13 RE: rhnault Mar 15, 2011 05:40 PM

                                              You can't beat them...

                                              Now that I'm thinking about fish markets, Lobster Haven on W Hillsborough Ave, just before the Oldmar Flea Market, has a decent selection of seafood also (mainly bugs and such).

                                              http://www.lobsterhaven.com/

                                              1. re: deet13
                                                rhnault RE: deet13 Mar 15, 2011 06:02 PM

                                                I have bought lobster there before but never fish. I have noticed recently they are trying to make a little cafe there or something. Have you noticed that?

                                                1. re: rhnault
                                                  deet13 RE: rhnault Mar 15, 2011 06:45 PM

                                                  That's why I was thinking about it. The last time I was there, the cafe was open; but I was in a hurry, so I wasn't able to try it out.

                                                  I was kinda hoping someone here might have tried them. If not, I'll have to give it a shot next week.

                                                  1. re: deet13
                                                    rhnault RE: deet13 Mar 16, 2011 05:04 AM

                                                    It is close to home. Maybe I will have time to check it out this weekend. The first thing I thought about when I saw it was if you would be eating in a spot where you could smell fish market. The cleanest fish markets have fish market smell.

                                            2. re: deet13
                                              c
                                              ChefCash RE: deet13 Mar 14, 2011 08:14 AM

                                              As for inexpensive seafood... you might want to try Crabby Bill's Beach Club. This is no high end 5 star establishment.... its a beach bar, your drinks are in plastic, your silver ware is wraped in paper napkins and the servers are in shorts and t-shirts. Given that the menu prices are reasonable, the food is tasty, new menu specials daily, bay view with gorgeous sunsets, volleyball courts, and cheapest drink specials in Tampa. It is no Capital Grille, just a laid back and reasonably priced seafood joint.

                                              -----
                                              Crabby Bill's Beach Club
                                              7700 W Courtney Campbell Cswy, Tampa, FL 33607

                                              Capital Grille
                                              9101 International Dr Ste 1000, Orlando, FL 32819

                                              1. re: ChefCash
                                                rhnault RE: ChefCash Mar 14, 2011 08:39 AM

                                                It may be fine for a drink but I would never put a morsel of food in my mouth from their menu. I have been there.

                                                1. re: ChefCash
                                                  askdrtodd RE: ChefCash Mar 14, 2011 12:02 PM

                                                  Crappy Bills is one of the few restaurants I've been so unhappy with that I just walked out of. That place is everything that's wrong with seafood, I'd go to long john silvers before I'd go back there. going out on a limb here... but are you somehow affiliated with them? That post looks awfully canned...

                                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                                    scubadoo97 RE: askdrtodd Mar 15, 2011 05:56 PM

                                                    With the above post being CC's one and only post I take it with a few hand fulls of salt.

                                                  2. re: ChefCash
                                                    t
                                                    triff RE: ChefCash Mar 14, 2011 02:06 PM

                                                    Hubby's sports team buddies occasionally go to Crabby's on the Beach for some beer al fresco after they play. They are hard-pressed to find ANYTHING edible to go with that beer. When I joined them a few weeks ago, I also had the VERY unpleasant experience of being heckled by the hired entertainer as I walked in with some friends. The singer must have thought he was Don Rickles and humiliated and embarrassed me by making insinuating, double entendre comments on his microphone to the crowd, presumably for their entertainment. I felt like I had to defend myself against the comments to the seated diners. It really made a BAD place WORSE!

                                                    1. re: triff
                                                      askdrtodd RE: triff Mar 15, 2011 05:32 AM

                                                      I wish I wish I wish something would come breathe life back into the food on that island. So much potential, so much traffic, and the best thing we've got is bahama breeze.

                                                    2. re: ChefCash
                                                      c
                                                      CFishman RE: ChefCash Mar 15, 2011 05:40 AM

                                                      ChefCa$, any restaurants you like other than Crabby Bill's. Not too many fans of that place around here.

                                                      -----
                                                      Crabby Bills
                                                      7675 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34747

                                                      1. re: CFishman
                                                        o
                                                        ospreycove RE: CFishman Mar 23, 2011 06:26 AM

                                                        Welcome, Chef Cas as this is your first post; it is interesting that you have such insight into Crappy Bill's.

                                                        1. re: ospreycove
                                                          askdrtodd RE: ospreycove Mar 23, 2011 11:19 AM

                                                          yeah, "welcome"

                                                      2. re: ChefCash
                                                        Manderley RE: ChefCash Mar 15, 2011 10:38 AM

                                                        crabby bill's you have got to be kidding me. i thought chowhounds was for foodies, for people who liked good food and know what good food is. i have been in florida for almost five years and crabby bill's is, bar none, the absolutely worst establishment i have eaten in. of course most chinese take-out places and just about all pizza places really stink too (in my humble opinion), but crabby bill's tops the list. i am really surprised to see that place recommended on chowhounds. i'd rather eat at denny's, and that's really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

                                                        1. re: Manderley
                                                          a
                                                          andy huse RE: Manderley Mar 18, 2011 02:08 PM

                                                          no need to pile on. we all have well honed bullsh*t detectors.

                                                          1. re: Manderley
                                                            p
                                                            PhantomGourmet RE: Manderley Apr 15, 2011 12:08 PM

                                                            I agree with you on bills... But Toby's Little Italy Pizza or Giannis Pizza are almost like home (NYC). You Should Try them.

                                                            -----
                                                            Little Italy Pizza
                                                            3523 49th St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33710

                                                            Giannis Pizza
                                                            212 Tamiami Trl S, Venice, FL 34285

                                                          2. re: ChefCash
                                                            ladlelady RE: ChefCash Jul 12, 2011 07:49 PM

                                                            The one and only time I was at this Crabby Bill's location, the dining room smelled strongly of cleaning fluid (you could smell it all down the hall leading to the entrance) and the bathroom smelled like vomit and cleaning fluid. I don't mind plastic ware and casual restaurants but how can anyone enjoy the food with these awful odors? Eew. We left. Plenty other places to get great seafood.

                                                            -----
                                                            Crabby Bills
                                                            7675 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34747

                                                        2. re: artemisanne
                                                          r
                                                          RibDog RE: artemisanne Mar 14, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                          Have you tried Mid-Peninsula Seafood in Gulfport? They have always done right by me.

                                                          1. re: RibDog
                                                            a
                                                            artemisanne RE: RibDog Mar 15, 2011 06:36 AM

                                                            No, I will try though, on your recommendation. And thank you everyone for reminding me about Cox's.

                                                            I really find it hard to believe that in the whole area we don't have better seafood. Embarrassing! Someone told me Mangrove's on South Howard had good seafood, I've never eaten there. Seems more of a bar than a restaurant.

                                                            1. re: artemisanne
                                                              deet13 RE: artemisanne Mar 17, 2011 05:11 PM

                                                              You know, if you aren't looking for an upscale restaurant, there's always Blue Sea Fish Market on Nebraska Ave in Seminole Heights (in-between Sligh and Waters Ave).

                                                              The fish is pretty good, and they do serve conch, but it's pretty cut-rate basic.

                                                              Plus they'll clean your catch for you, and cook it on the spot...

                                                              -----
                                                              Blue Sea Fish Market
                                                              7110 N Nebraska Ave Ste B, Tampa, FL 33604

                                                              1. re: deet13
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                                                                artemisanne RE: deet13 Mar 18, 2011 06:39 PM

                                                                Cool! Another place to try!

                                                                1. re: artemisanne
                                                                  deet13 RE: artemisanne Mar 18, 2011 07:00 PM

                                                                  They have decent crab cakes, the grouper sandwich kicks butt (actually all of their fried fish is great), and their smoked mullet is good too.

                                                                2. re: deet13
                                                                  askdrtodd RE: deet13 Mar 19, 2011 07:59 AM

                                                                  That's a pretty awesome service, what do they charge to cook your fresh catch?

                                                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                    deet13 RE: askdrtodd Mar 21, 2011 08:53 PM

                                                                    It all depends on the size of the catch, how you want it cooked, and if there are any back orders.

                                                                    1. re: deet13
                                                                      askdrtodd RE: deet13 Mar 22, 2011 07:57 AM

                                                                      45lb Wahoo, deboned and then full fish cooked with head on in parchment paper?

                                                                      (kidding)

                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                        deet13 RE: askdrtodd Mar 22, 2011 05:04 PM

                                                                        LoL.. If you brought something in that big, I think the kid that works behind the counter would have a coronary.

                                                                        We picked up a few lbs of sheepshead from there last Saturday, and made a pot of Sheepshead chilau with it.

                                                                        It's almost as good as the crab version.

                                                                        1. re: deet13
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                                                                          laboheme RE: deet13 Mar 24, 2011 01:42 PM

                                                                          Sheepshead Chilau sounds amazing...recipe, please?

                                                                          1. re: laboheme
                                                                            deet13 RE: laboheme Mar 24, 2011 04:50 PM

                                                                            Here's an easy, basic chilau recipe...
                                                                            http://www.captainwoodygore.com/blog/...

                                                                            Just replace the crab meat with about 3 or 4 lbs of sheepshead which has been sliced into 1 inch cubes, and boiled in the Old Bay for about 15 minutes...

                                                                            You can cook shrimp, crawfish, clams, frog, lobster, or really any sort bug or white fish in a good chilau. Plus you can make some pretty good crab cakes with it also.

                                                                            The chilau I make is similar to the link I posted (I use some different spices, and celery), but I've never had a written recipe for it.

                                                                            Either way, it always takes a couple of days to make.

                                                          2. h
                                                            hrl422 RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 14, 2011 07:48 AM

                                                            ok Just got back from Tampa for 4 nights.

                                                            Ate at Datz- Just ok cool scene but food was just blah, the ribs were the best thing we ate.

                                                            Refinery- Excellent i understand now why the owner is nominated for a James Beard Award. Had the Chicken Confit, Onion Soup, Doughnut, Grilled Cheese, Baked Egg and Mussles for appetizers all were excellent especially the Onion Soup and Chicken Confit. Had the Pork Chop for dinner also excellent and finished with the Girl Scout Cookie dessert- that was freaking amazing.

                                                            Berns- It just did not live up to the hype. I live in NYC so i am use to del friscos, wolfgangs, sparks, Lugers etc. Berns steak is nothing close to a NYC steakhouse. There is good value they give u soup, salad and sides with the steak. The Steak wasn't horrible but it was great and it should be great when you are in a steakhouse. The dessert room was a good experience but i think i would rather go to the Capital Grille and have a Kona Steak if i had to choose again.

                                                            Ciros SpeakEasy- Had appetizers here one night they were awesome. This place also has the best drinks you will find in Tampa, it is a chill spot, with great drinks and good food, definately go and make a reservation.

                                                            -----
                                                            Capital Grille
                                                            9101 International Dr Ste 1000, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                            31 Replies
                                                            1. re: hrl422
                                                              Manderley RE: hrl422 Mar 15, 2011 10:42 AM

                                                              i need a "like" button for your review. glad you liked the refinery, and i feel the same way about bern's. but remember, this ain't new york! i do love their dessert room, but also wasn't blown away by the steak.

                                                              1. re: hrl422
                                                                askdrtodd RE: hrl422 Mar 15, 2011 12:59 PM

                                                                Yeah I tried 4 different kinds of steak at Berns last night (the "Luxe Trio" steak tasting and a few bites of my friend's strip), and nothing blew me away. They were all great, but I enjoyed the apps more than the steak.

                                                                1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                  Birdcage_Chef RE: askdrtodd Mar 16, 2011 05:13 AM

                                                                  As far as steaks go, I agree Berns is disappointing, it is however without peer for wine & desserts. I live me some vino. For a consistently good if not great steak, Malio's is, my choice. I dine there often & only once was I not completely happy. The ribeye is succulent and nicely seasoned. It includes 2 sides. Their french onion soup is terrific with great depth of flavor, similar to Capital Grill. The smoked gouda mac & cheese along with the potato malios - scalloped spuds with crabmeat, makes for a fantastic meal. If u like bacon, try the Newskie bacon with a coctail...sooo good. I usually do dinner here then a short drive to Bern's for dessert - either banana's foster or molten choc cake with a turkish coffee. Now thats a dining experience! If you try Malio's ask for Derek or Sandy...tell them Jerry sent ya. Come to think of it, I need to make a reservation :)

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Malios
                                                                  400 North Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

                                                                  1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                    askdrtodd RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 16, 2011 05:33 AM

                                                                    hm. I need to try Malio's again, the last (and only) two times I went I thought it was grossly overpriced and our food wasn't very impressive (and we got to try a decent amount of the menu). I love FOS though, I'll go back if for nothing just that, I've been trying to find the best bowl in the bay :)

                                                                    1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                      Birdcage_Chef RE: askdrtodd Mar 16, 2011 05:58 AM

                                                                      Let ne know when u plan on going, i'll call Sandy & Derek myself. Best FOS is my own, 2nd is Cap Grill, then Malios imo.
                                                                      Btw taking recommendations on steak houses...we have a lot in town. I tried most except for Gallaghers.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Malios
                                                                      400 North Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

                                                                      1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                        askdrtodd RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 16, 2011 10:44 AM

                                                                        Gallaghers - good but not great. if you look around there are crazy deals out there for Gallaghers for two people, lobster & filet dinner with app and desert and salad for like $60 or something cheep cheep like that. last time I was there it was pretty dead tho. If you're a fan of beef, check out the various cuts at Boizao by international plaza. yuuuuummy.

                                                                        I had a FOS in Paris that ruined me forever. It was the highlight of the whole trip. unreal.

                                                                        1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                          Delucacheesemonger RE: askdrtodd Mar 23, 2011 11:38 AM

                                                                          As you feel Berns steaks are just OK, l wonder what you consider good onion soup in Paris. l like Berns a lot, best wine list ever and their 18 oz rib eye is damn good for me.

                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                            askdrtodd RE: Delucacheesemonger Mar 23, 2011 05:22 PM

                                                                            I don't disagree, I think Berns is an excellent restaurant, just not worth the ethereal rating given to it by so many. It's an experience and an institution, and the wine list is unrivaled, but typically the last thing to wow me there is the steak. The deserts, the apps, the burger, the steak sandwich, the caviar presentation (and I try to stick with one in the ~$20 range), everything to me there is somewhere between good and superb, with the exception of the steak, which is typically just "good".

                                                                            I've made steaks on my buddy's big green egg (even tho his is technically one of the really big blue ones) that have caused more oohs, ahhs, and closed-eye transcendent mastication than I'd witnessed between most all of my visits to the "velvet labyrinth".

                                                                            And I am by no means an expert.

                                                                            1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                              Delucacheesemonger RE: askdrtodd Mar 23, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                                              Onion soup in Paris, if you please. l have taken a trip to Paris to compare the onion soups and would like to know what you consider super.

                                                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                                askdrtodd RE: Delucacheesemonger Mar 24, 2011 06:01 AM

                                                                                Below is (unfortunately) the only pic I snapped of it, it was flawless. I wish I'd spent more time analyzing it, but I was too blown away by it to speak for a while. The soup was super fragrant, even before it made it to the table you could smell the cheese (and we sat outside!), which filled your nostrils with a warm, rich aroma, not too rubbery smelling, perhaps like sometimes when you get FOS with cheaper gruyere on it...

                                                                                The cheese layer was perfect consistency, not overly gooey (like hot pizza cheese, not like a soft cheese) with a great bite. The bread inside was likely added right before broiling the cheese on top, because it too had a great resistance to the spoon as I dug through. With your eyes closed you could've picked the layers apart just from the different textures of the cheese/bread/onions. The onions (which were likely shallots) were amazing, sometimes I get FOS here and they're like overcooked pasta, these were perfectly "al dente" and made the broth (which was flawlessly seasoned) unreal.

                                                                                One of the few things I've eaten that would've caused me to try to stab someone in the face with a spoon, should they attempt to take from me.

                                                                                The restaurant was a corner bistro, just north of Jardin du Forum des Halles, just south of the Restaurant "Frenchie" (which we'd initially intended to eat at but it wasn't open for lunch on Saturday (thank God). I believe it was on Rue Montorgueil?

                                                                                 
                                                                    2. re: Birdcage_Chef
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                                                                      gemuse RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 16, 2011 08:12 AM

                                                                      Birdcage, your comment caught my eye and I just thought I'd mention that if you like Nueske's bacon, you can buy a 12 oz package at Mazzaro's Market in St. Pete. I was so excited to find a local source. It truly is the king of bacon.

                                                                      1. re: gemuse
                                                                        askdrtodd RE: gemuse Mar 16, 2011 10:45 AM

                                                                        Datz uses Neuske's on their sammiches and in their chocolate-caramel-covered-bacon...

                                                                        1. re: gemuse
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                                                                          RibDog RE: gemuse Mar 18, 2011 08:49 AM

                                                                          The premium bacon in the meat dept at Fresh Market is also Nueske bacon.

                                                                          1. re: RibDog
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                                                                            Birdcage_Chef RE: RibDog Mar 18, 2011 03:10 PM

                                                                            Nueske bacon....yummy....making my way there for some tomorrow morning for b'fast. Think I'll do China Yuan for dinner tonite.

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

                                                                            1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                              rhnault RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 19, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                                              Have you ever had the honey walnut shrimp at CY? It is a tasty dish.

                                                                              1. re: rhnault
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                                                                                Birdcage_Chef RE: rhnault Mar 23, 2011 06:01 AM

                                                                                Call me crazy. Went to CY Fri for dinner, roast pork wonton noodle soup, steamed pork dumplings, house special fried rice made spicey, house special hot pot...soooo good, & lobster cantonese. Went back on Sun after golf for lunch with my buddies for hot & sour soup, general tso chicken, shreded pork stir fry, beef w ginger & scallions, honey roast pork and more of those tasty dumplings. Mon was there again with colleagues from work. Wonton noodle soup - delicious & hit the spot. Singapore stir fry rice noodles - had a nice curry kick w a little heat, more of the delicious kang pao chicken, next time i'll ask for it spicy. Pork w ginger and scallions - this combo is great w any meat. Think i'll stay away for awhile, had my CY fix :)

                                                                                1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                                  rhnault RE: Birdcage_Chef Mar 23, 2011 06:19 AM

                                                                                  I love CY. Overall, it is probably my favorite restaurant in Tampa. If you like squid, try their curried squid some time. The sauce is luscious and will knock your socks off. I love the pan fried dumplings, the chive dumplings, the shrimp dumplings, fish balls, shrimp balls, etc... you get the idea. The staff there is great and we always have such great service. Now I need to go. I haven't been for about 6 weeks.

                                                                                  1. re: rhnault
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                                                                                    andy huse RE: rhnault Mar 24, 2011 02:09 PM

                                                                                    a friend who was once a dedicated Yummy House fan is now frequenting CY instead. He thinks the food has slipped at Yummy House a bit...

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

                                                                                    1. re: andy huse
                                                                                      askdrtodd RE: andy huse Mar 25, 2011 05:21 AM

                                                                                      Not sure if you guys could make it, but Bill and are going to do lunch first week in April to beat up the menu at TC Choy... see how it stacks up lately...

                                                                                      1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                        rhnault RE: askdrtodd Mar 25, 2011 05:30 AM

                                                                                        do they have dim sum during the week?

                                                                                        1. re: rhnault
                                                                                          askdrtodd RE: rhnault Mar 25, 2011 07:55 AM

                                                                                          TC? Yup. Last time I went it was 80-90% as good as it is on the weekends, and much less busy so the service was excellent.

                                                                                      2. re: andy huse
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                                                                                        herbert1 RE: andy huse Mar 27, 2011 12:07 PM

                                                                                        Went to CY for first time last week, I thought it more americanized than Yummy House. Enjoyed my meal at CY.

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

                                                                                        1. re: herbert1
                                                                                          rhnault RE: herbert1 Mar 27, 2011 02:00 PM

                                                                                          We ate at CY today and every table was full. Other than myself and my husband, there were 2 other non-asians in the restaurant. Tampa's Chinese population must enjoy Americanized Chinese food.

                                                                                          1. re: herbert1
                                                                                            Mild Bill RE: herbert1 Mar 27, 2011 02:43 PM

                                                                                            'Why' did you think that?

                                                                                            I think CY can get authentic with the best of them, as authentic as you wanna get... That's a real Chinese kitchen...
                                                                                            But they'll also make your Aunt Dorothy a Beef & Broccoli combo platter...

                                                                                            The Americanized places simply 'won't have' Pork Intestines with Mustard Greens or Boneless Duck Feet on the menu...

                                                                                            If you hear the continuous drumbeat of cleavers slamming into wood, chopping up chickens & ducks, you ain't at the food court...

                                                                                            1. re: Mild Bill
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                                                                                              herbert1 RE: Mild Bill Mar 28, 2011 08:53 AM

                                                                                              Mainly based on the menu offerings, you dont find general Tso chicken and other Americanized dishes on the yummy house menu. I've only eaten at cy once, so I haven't decided yet which I prefer.

                                                                                              1. re: Mild Bill
                                                                                                Manderley RE: Mild Bill Mar 28, 2011 10:34 PM

                                                                                                bill, i love the way you write. is your blog fit for public consumption yet?

                                                                                                1. re: Manderley
                                                                                                  Mild Bill RE: Manderley Apr 15, 2011 03:08 PM

                                                                                                  Hey, I didn't see this nice compliment till just now... Thanks!

                                                                                                  I'm pokin' at it...
                                                                                                  The economy's beatin' my butt, but I'm trying to generate the enthusiasm it takes to write and share with the humor and passion that I used to hold back...

                                                                                              2. re: herbert1
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                                                                                                andy huse RE: herbert1 May 25, 2011 06:38 PM

                                                                                                i took some family there and some one ordered the General Tso's chicken. Damn good! I ate it unashamed of its dubious cultural origins. my mother loves the creamy walnut shrimp, but that's not my thing. too many faves to name off that menu. CY is consistently in my top 10 if not my top 5. I like YH too, but i always come by to CY.

                                                                                                1. re: andy huse
                                                                                                  rhnault RE: andy huse May 26, 2011 05:13 AM

                                                                                                  The walnut shrimp seems to be popular with Moms ;-)

                                                                                                  1. re: rhnault
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                                                                                                    RibDog RE: rhnault May 26, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                                    Don't know what that says about me cuz I like the Honey Walnut Shrimp also!

                                                                                                    1. re: RibDog
                                                                                                      rhnault RE: RibDog May 26, 2011 08:50 AM

                                                                                                      and I know your sister likes it and I thought you also said your Mom

                                                                          2. Katafer RE: Birdcage_Chef May 25, 2011 02:24 PM

                                                                            Hi BC,

                                                                            Here's my list in no particular order:

                                                                            1. Machu Picchu – Said it before and I’ll say it again, a Peruvian place on Hillsborough with no décor, no ambiance, but a to-die-for Ceviche Mixto. That’s the only thing I’m vouching for there, so be adventurous at your own risk.
                                                                            2. Pho Quyen – My comfort food place – which is weird to say about a Vietnamese restaurant, but their Curry Chicken Soup w/vermicelli, or “make your own rolls”, or Bird’s Nest, never fail to make me feel better. Also on Hillsborough.
                                                                            3. Taco Bus – Yep, joining the crowd on this one – just love it – especially their chicken soft tacos in a flour tortilla shell. The Cochinita Pibil (marinated pork) is also a crowd pleaser, although the past couple times it was a bit too greasy for me. And while you’re at the Bus – pick up their red sauce and green sauce to go –they are good on almost anything!
                                                                            4. Go-Go’s Greek Grill –semi-fast-food on Kennedy - I am addicted to their Greek Salad with chicken. Is it because of what the meat is marinated in? The potato salad? The salad dressing? I don’t know, but about every other week, I start needing my fix.
                                                                            5. Last, but not least – I’m torn, so I’m jumbling a bunch of favorites all together, since they each fill an eating niche for me: Samurai Blue’s tuna tataki, Mellow Mushroom’s Mega Veggie pizza, Byblos’ lamb kabobs & hummus, and Too Jay’s matzah ball soup. Is this cheating?

                                                                            I’m sure I’ll think of who/what I left off as soon as I post! Cheers!

                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Katafer
                                                                              rhnault RE: Katafer May 25, 2011 02:47 PM

                                                                              Vietnamese is also my "go to" comfort food. I think there are quite a few posters here who feel that way.

                                                                              1. re: rhnault
                                                                                askdrtodd RE: rhnault May 26, 2011 10:04 AM

                                                                                Asian food is definitely mine, but I usually lean toward Vietnamese. Huge fan of Pho Quyen too!

                                                                                1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                                  triff RE: askdrtodd May 26, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                                  So are we (except we go the Pho Quyen in Pinellas Park). An order of spring rolls and a bowl of Bún Thịt Nướng for DH and me, and we have our fav comfort food! Even went there at the last minute on our 30th anniversary, when our original beach plans got rained out!

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Pho Quyen Restaurant
                                                                                  4505 Park Blvd Ste 10, Pinellas Park, FL 33781

                                                                                  1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                                    Birdcage_Chef RE: askdrtodd Jun 2, 2011 03:22 PM

                                                                                    I very much enjoy Pho Quyen (Hillsborough Av.) too. If you haven't as yet and like spicy food, please try D1 on the menu under Beef or Bo. It's stir fried beef with lemon grass, peppers, onion and garlic with white rice. Definitely my comfort food there. You can also get it with chicken instead. I also recommend the house fried rice (#57). The Chinese sausage is deeeelish. They also give you a broth/sauce to pour over the dish which makes it even better. When I visit with my Sous Chef she orders the steamed snapper with ginger, green onions & mushrooms. Absolutely fantastic dish. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Pho Quyen Restaurant
                                                                                    4505 Park Blvd Ste 10, Pinellas Park, FL 33781

                                                                                    1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                                      Katafer RE: Birdcage_Chef Jun 2, 2011 04:00 PM

                                                                                      They used to run a special of Mussels with the lemon grass, peppers, onions and garlic - so I had that for a couple months straight! Spicy and delicious. That snapper sounds amazing, too - that might be my next splurge there, thanks for the recommendation!

                                                                                      1. re: Birdcage_Chef
                                                                                        rhnault RE: Birdcage_Chef Jun 2, 2011 04:12 PM

                                                                                        I love the shrimp stuffed squid with curry sauce. So good. Their quail are also amazingly good.

                                                                                        1. re: Birdcage_Chef
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                                                                                          lakeforester RE: Birdcage_Chef Feb 29, 2012 09:38 AM

                                                                                          Went to Pho Quyen for lunch thanks to this board. Not disappointed. Forget wanting the service to be "good" because it just isn't the way with this type of restaurant. It was FINE. Food was wonderful and the price was great too!Great spring rolls and I had Beef Bun, delicious.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Pho Quyen Restaurant
                                                                                          4505 Park Blvd Ste 10, Pinellas Park, FL 33781

                                                                                    2. re: Katafer
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                                                                                      DoubleBurger RE: Katafer May 26, 2011 06:30 AM

                                                                                      I prefer the Matzoh Ball Soup at Lucky DIll Deli, unreal, closest thing since I left Philly. Too Jays = Meh!

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Too Jay's
                                                                                      3501 S Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34239

                                                                                      1. re: DoubleBurger
                                                                                        Katafer RE: DoubleBurger Jun 2, 2011 04:03 PM

                                                                                        I have never known anyone not to love Too Jays MB soup. I'm in shock. That being said, I can not wait to try Lucky Dill's now - I just never seem to be near one at meal time. Thanks!

                                                                                        1. re: DoubleBurger
                                                                                          askdrtodd RE: DoubleBurger Jun 3, 2011 06:57 AM

                                                                                          yeah the TooJays at International Plaza has turned into a real dump. I rarely use the word "pathetic" but that place is in the same category as crappy bills to me now. perhaps there are better ones out there but if I live to be 100 I doubt I'll head back in to that one.

                                                                                          1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                                            DoubleBurger RE: askdrtodd Jun 3, 2011 08:14 AM

                                                                                            lol! Good one. There is one at the Country Side Mall in Clearwater that is not much better, if not worse. Lucky Dill Deli is moving from Alt 19 into what used to be Johnny Garlics on 19, near Palm Harbor. Hopefully the service and seating will improve.

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Lucky Dill Deli
                                                                                            2800 Alt 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683

                                                                                            1. re: DoubleBurger
                                                                                              Manderley RE: DoubleBurger Jun 3, 2011 08:19 PM

                                                                                              i heard the one at countryside mall closed about a month or so ago. i was there the day before, i had a chopped liver sandwich, it wasn't bad, but i like Lucky Dill better. Actually, my first choice would have to be Katz's Deli in NYC.

                                                                                              1. re: Manderley
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                                                                                                DoubleBurger RE: Manderley Jun 4, 2011 12:00 PM

                                                                                                Katz's rules! My daughter went to NYU, so eating there while visiting was a given. Best pastrami, bar none.

                                                                                                1. re: DoubleBurger
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                                                                                                  ospreycove RE: DoubleBurger Jun 4, 2011 02:40 PM

                                                                                                  The Too-Jays in Southgate Mall, Sarasota is not anything to drop what you are doing and run to it. If youare in the mall It is the 2nd best place to go; Cosimo's Brick Oven being way superior.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Cosimo's Brick Oven
                                                                                                  3501 S Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34239

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                                                                                        limetruk RE: Birdcage_Chef Jun 4, 2011 03:22 PM

                                                                                        Hi All. This page got me excited. I just moved here from Atlanta and was looking for where to eat. The China Yuan and Refinery shout outs make me excited to try them. I live around the corner from the Taco Bus and have eaten there 4 times in the month I have been back in Tampa.

                                                                                        So my top five is going to be based off of restaurants that made me excited to be back in Tampa, or that I would eat at whenever we visited over the last few years.

                                                                                        Brocatos-my favorite cuban sandwich of the past 20 years. you can't get a good one in Atlanta
                                                                                        Sideberns- food really wowed me
                                                                                        Ceviche
                                                                                        First Choice BBQ
                                                                                        La Septima

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

                                                                                        Sidebern's
                                                                                        2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

                                                                                        La Septima Cafe
                                                                                        140 N Parsons Ave, Brandon, FL 33510

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: limetruk
                                                                                          rhnault RE: limetruk Jun 4, 2011 06:14 PM

                                                                                          We just tried La Septima for the first time a couple weeks back. It was really really good. Excellent devil crab and the best roast pork sandwich I have ever had.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          La Septima Cafe
                                                                                          140 N Parsons Ave, Brandon, FL 33510

                                                                                          1. re: rhnault
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                                                                                            limetruk RE: rhnault Jun 5, 2011 08:30 AM

                                                                                            I used to live off their chicken and yellow rice, but have switched to whatever special they are offering nowadays.

                                                                                          2. re: limetruk
                                                                                            askdrtodd RE: limetruk Jun 5, 2011 07:43 AM

                                                                                            Nice list! me likey sideberns.

                                                                                            1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                                              limetruk RE: askdrtodd Jun 5, 2011 08:29 AM

                                                                                              yeah, i was a little worried about missing out on some dining experiences coming back to Tampa, but from what ive been reading on the boards, there will be plenty of places to give a good try to.

                                                                                          3. jme1beachbum RE: Birdcage_Chef Jun 19, 2011 10:12 AM

                                                                                            Refinery- love the ever changing but always delicious menu, and the lack of ambiance, ambiance

                                                                                            atz- lunch and brunch ;)

                                                                                            Toasted Pheasant- small menu but very fine tuned. Best version of chili fries i've ever had (spicy boar ragu and cheese curds- to die for), plus its very close to my house

                                                                                            Yummy House- s&p calamari, short ribs, duck fried rice

                                                                                            Black Pearl- romance, excellent food (killer pork belly, mmm) quiet, elegant

                                                                                            (Old standard that I sadly haven't been to in '11) Mystic Fish- never lets me down, south african lobster tail and or sea bass, nice for a special "date night"

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

                                                                                            Mystic Fish
                                                                                            3253 Tampa Rd, Palm Harbor, FL 34684

                                                                                            Black Pearl
                                                                                            1450 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE Unit 104, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jme1beachbum
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                                                                                              DoubleBurger RE: jme1beachbum Jun 19, 2011 12:14 PM

                                                                                              Holy Cow, Duck Fried Rice? Nice! I should have said, Holy Duck! Quack...

                                                                                              1. re: DoubleBurger
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                                                                                                NictheQuick RE: DoubleBurger Jun 22, 2011 06:38 AM

                                                                                                Toasted Pheasant - Small Plates nicely executed

                                                                                                Ceviches - Love their scallops in Manchego Cream Sauce

                                                                                                Fleming's- I know its a chain but Can't Go Wrong, consistent and solid everytime I've been.

                                                                                                Pane Rustica - Great bread and overall lunch experience. I could eat there all the time.

                                                                                                Alesia Restaurant - Tried this New Restaurant in St. Pete. that finally opened. It really suprized me on solid fresh food and on price. Vietnamese - French concept. Great Pho and Banh Mi Sandwiches

                                                                                                1. re: NictheQuick
                                                                                                  Katafer RE: NictheQuick Jun 22, 2011 07:06 AM

                                                                                                  That's the 2nd rave I've read recently for Toasted Pheasant - it's officially on my "to try" list, thanks! Love, love, love the meatballs at Ceviches - and the baked goat cheese.. mmm...

                                                                                                  1. re: NictheQuick
                                                                                                    askdrtodd RE: NictheQuick Jun 22, 2011 09:23 AM

                                                                                                    We didn't have the best experience at the Toasted Pheasant. It occupies the space that was formerly Chateau France and prior to that Opium right?

                                                                                                    Damn I miss Opium. That lavender vanilla bean creme brulee was so good it was unfair.

                                                                                                    1. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                      rhnault RE: askdrtodd Jun 22, 2011 10:29 AM

                                                                                                      I did not have a good experience at Toasted Pheasant either. The only place in Carrolwood that is worth the drive to me is Vizcaya.

                                                                                                      1. re: rhnault
                                                                                                        askdrtodd RE: rhnault Jun 22, 2011 12:26 PM

                                                                                                        Vizcaya is yummy, for sure. We had a good experience at BluFIGS, and also dug the breakfast burger (with eggos for buns and syrup and a fried egg on it) at Tank's Tap Room (which I believe is now Tampa Tap Room?)

                                                                                                        1. re: askdrtodd
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                                                                                                          markatz RE: askdrtodd Jul 2, 2011 12:55 PM

                                                                                                          I'll have to try Vizcaya again. One of the best restaurants in town for Peruvian is Terra Sur in Carrollwood. The best Ceviche in town. Its a small strip mall but don't be fooled. Also, I would skip Tank's and head over to World of Beers and order some Anthony's coal fired pizza while you drink. Great Tacos and some authentic Mexican, check out Tacqueria Monterrey on Fletcher near USF. And last, I love the Calamari and rolls at Kaisen sushi but I think their sashimi is second rate and has gone down hill. I've been going there for over 10 years. I wish we had some more new places in town!

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                                                                                                          Terra Sur Cafe
                                                                                                          5358 W Village Dr, Tampa, FL 33624

                                                                                                          1. re: markatz
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                                                                                                            DoubleBurger RE: markatz Jul 2, 2011 03:09 PM

                                                                                                            second Anthony's, great lunch specials and a terrific pie. Also, had my first Bahn Mi today at Saigon Deli, superb! Also, headed to Acapulco Mexican Grocery for an excellent Taco for $1.75. What a deal! Thank you Hounds for the great recs.

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                                                                                                            Acapulco Mexican Grocery
                                                                                                            1001 N Macdill Ave, Tampa, FL

                                                                                                      2. re: askdrtodd
                                                                                                        ladlelady RE: askdrtodd Jul 4, 2011 02:53 PM

                                                                                                        I always get a little bummed when I hear people did not have a good experience at the Toasted Pheasant. Had one mediocre experience but the other times it was pretty good. I'm wondering if the vast differences are because of who is working in the kitchen. My all time favorite lunch was a the Pheasant, prepared by Chef Peter. Had a very nice birthday dinner once, also prepared by Chef Peter. The mediocre occasion, I don't think he was in the kitchen. Maybe I've just been lucky?

                                                                                                      3. re: NictheQuick
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                                                                                                        stpetedr RE: NictheQuick Jul 12, 2011 12:35 PM

                                                                                                        I agree on Fleming's - it's a chain but the experience has usually been very good.

                                                                                                  2. s
                                                                                                    stpetedr RE: Birdcage_Chef Jul 12, 2011 12:33 PM

                                                                                                    Not necessarily in any ranked order - depends on my mood...

                                                                                                    Gratzzi Italian Grille
                                                                                                    Red Mesa
                                                                                                    Red Mesa Cantina
                                                                                                    Z-Grille
                                                                                                    Charley's Steakhouse (Tampa)

                                                                                                    Gratzzi is the best Italian in Tampa Bay. Consistently great food (try the Bada Bing or the duck), excellent service, and it won't empty your wallet. The wine list is decent as well.

                                                                                                    Red Mesa (4th St) is very upscale southwestern/mexican cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. I recommend Puntas de Filet Mignon. I've been there countless times and the food and service have been excellent every time.

                                                                                                    Red Mesa Cantina (3rd St S - Dwtn St. Pete) - The tacos are phenomenal - all small plate. I highly recommend the duck tacos. The sirloin chorizo burger with yuca fries and chiptole ketchup is excellent as well. I've also been here many, many times and only had bad service once. Otherwise, it's been great!

                                                                                                    Z-Grille - everything on the menu is great. Many people on the board have recommended the deviled eggs and Dr Pepper ribs and I will wholeheartedly echo that sentiment. Service has been very good. Sometimes, it can get a bit noisy and difficult to hear your dining partners.

                                                                                                    Charley's - The best in Tampa Bay for the steakhouse experience. Excellent food, top notch wine list, and the service has always been excellent.

                                                                                                    However, I must respectfully disagree with some of the recommendations I've seen here though...

                                                                                                    Bella Brava - the food has been consistently horrible and not what I would consider Italian by any stretch of the truth and the service was even worse. I'm not even going to bother with their new location because I've been told multiple times that it's not any better.

                                                                                                    Cassis - while the food is decent, the service was some of the slowest I've ever had. The wait staff seems to be more attentive to the outside diners than the inside diners. I've tried it three times and each time, the service was consistently poor - won't go back.

                                                                                                    Ceviche - I found the tapas to be mediocre and the service to match. The prices were far higher than similar tapas bars. With all the other non-tapas choices around that can provide a much better experience, I'd avoid Ceviche.
                                                                                                    Berns - Overrated, Overpriced, Overcrowded, Over-hyped.

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                                                                                                    Red Mesa Restaurant
                                                                                                    4912 4th St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33703

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

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: stpetedr
                                                                                                      Delucacheesemonger RE: stpetedr Jul 12, 2011 12:45 PM

                                                                                                      Sorry you do not like Bern's, better for me as l can more easily get a table when needed. But to mention Charley's wine list and dis Bern's ,come on. Bern's list is the best in he world, according to the people who rate them. When in Sarasota, eat at Bern's once a week, there last night, had five wines from the 60's and 70's for a total cost of $ 158. Steak was great as always, service exceptional as well.

                                                                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger
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                                                                                                        stpetedr RE: Delucacheesemonger Jul 12, 2011 12:58 PM

                                                                                                        If you have a consistently good experience at Bern's - that's great. A wine list is only as good as its contents and the reasonableness of its prices. The occasions that I've been to Bern's (probably 4-5 in total and usually as someone's guest), we spend a ridiculous amount of time picking out a wine that they actually have in stock. The prices charged, usually reds, either Napa or WA state, have been far higher for the same winery/vintage in other restaurants. As for people who rate wine lists, they review the list only. I can make up any list I choose but if I can't keep the contents in stock, then its worthless to the customer. For service, my last visit there was the only time the server was not extremely condescending to our party. I will give kudos to the dessert room though. Haven't visited it each of my visits to Bern's but when I have, food, drink & service have been good.

                                                                                                        1. re: stpetedr
                                                                                                          Delucacheesemonger RE: stpetedr Jul 13, 2011 03:22 AM

                                                                                                          Funny, the exact opposite experience. wines always there, always far far under current price. On this occasion ordered three very old beaujolais, all there, all under $ 30, one was off, sommelier replaced without even being asked, when he sniffed the bottle. Guess they can be snotty, but have not seen it and wines of current vintage are, as you say, not inexpensive.

                                                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger
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                                                                                                            stpetedr RE: Delucacheesemonger Jul 13, 2011 04:58 AM

                                                                                                            Glad you've had good experiences there. I think we all go out to these types of establishments not just for the food but for the entire experience that the food, service, wine, ambiance lend to it and if many of those components are off - it trashes the experience.

                                                                                                            On a brighter note, if you want top notch food, service and wine, go to Victoria and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian resort. & course meal in the dining room or 10 course at the Chef's table. The absolute best experience I've ever had bar none. It's not cheap but it's definitely a special occasion place. One example of the service: our second dining experience was about 10 months after our first one and when the manager came to our table to greet us, he reflected, very specifically, on some of my comments during the first experience. They definitely take good notes and know how to please their customers. Anyway, try it - you won't be disappointed.

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                                                                                                            Victoria and Albert's
                                                                                                            , Orlando, FL 32830

                                                                                                            1. re: stpetedr
                                                                                                              Delucacheesemonger RE: stpetedr Jul 13, 2011 06:32 AM

                                                                                                              Interesting, you should mention the remembering thing. When last with this server at Bern's, due to a mixup, she comped up a small app, this time 4 months later, when we arrived at the table, the same app was waiting for us gratis. Hopefully will get to V & A someday, thanks.

                                                                                                        2. re: Delucacheesemonger
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                                                                                                          ospreycove RE: Delucacheesemonger Jul 13, 2011 07:15 AM

                                                                                                          Bern's wine collection/list consistently is bestowed with Winw Spectator's "Grand Award", The WS highest honor".800 different selections are in stock; and the cellar has a total of half a million bottles!!!!....... I find the list to be a good value for some very special wines as well as for the more available selections.Good enough for me!!.....lol....

                                                                                                          1. re: ospreycove
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                                                                                                            ospreycove RE: ospreycove Jul 13, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                                                                            Oh, what a typo!!!!! I meant to write there are 6800 different selections in stock......not 800 as written above............

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                                                                                                        jakski RE: Birdcage_Chef Jul 16, 2011 09:20 AM

                                                                                                        Five of my favorite Tampa restaurants (in no particular order):

                                                                                                        1) Pane Rustica (By far the best restaurant in South Tampa. I've never had a medicore meal there -- always delicious, perfectly prepared, interesting menu, the waitstaff is wonderful.)

                                                                                                        2) Laughing Cat (I was surprised reading through the comments no one had mentioned this restaurant. Yolanda's Chicken and the Crazy Chicken dishes are amazing. No atmosphere, but it doesn't matter when the food is so good. Huge portions, which isn't a selling point for me, but I love that I can have it again for lunch the next day. BTW, the restauarant is moving across the street to a new location.)

                                                                                                        3) Taj (Indian restaurant by USF's main campus. It's the best Indian cuisine I have found since moving from Chicago. The Butter Chicken is absolutely delicious.)

                                                                                                        4) Ocean Prime (Specifically for the Tuna TarTar and Cucumber Gimlet. The crowd is a little young and needs attention, but I can overlook that for the tuna and cocktail.)

                                                                                                        5) Yoko's (The best tuna tataki in Tampa. I've been going there for years and it's always great.)

                                                                                                        Other favorites:

                                                                                                        - Pinky's (for breakfast)

                                                                                                        - Mangroves

                                                                                                        - Sideburns

                                                                                                        - Burns (you can order a steak sandwich at the bar - delicious)

                                                                                                        - El Porto

                                                                                                        - Datz

                                                                                                        - BTs (used to be in my top 5 until it moved from Hyde Park)

                                                                                                        - Six Tables (but only for very special occasions)

                                                                                                        BTW, I'm going to the Refinery tonight for the first time. Can't wait!!

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                                                                                                        Ocean Prime
                                                                                                        7339 W Sand Lake Rd # 400, Orlando, FL

                                                                                                        Laughing Cat
                                                                                                        1811 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605

                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jakski
                                                                                                          sweet_polly RE: jakski Jul 16, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                                                          I tried Laughing Cat for the first time a couple of months ago and was very impressed. The Seafood Bisque and Melanzana Rollatini were both outstanding and my Pappardelle Piemontese (prosciutto, wild mushrooms, onions, and peas paired with large egg noodles in an Alfredo sauce topped with parmesan) was the second best pasta dish I've ever eaten in my life...exceeded only by a Fiochetta with Pears, Asparagus and Taleggio I had in Italy a few years back.

                                                                                                          I hope you like The Refinery better than I did. It seems to be a real crowd-pleaser on this board, but my experience wasn't that great. Perhaps it was just an "off night".

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                                                                                                          Laughing Cat
                                                                                                          1811 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605

                                                                                                          Rollatini Restaurant
                                                                                                          7125 Lake Worth Rd, Lake Worth, FL 33467

                                                                                                          1. re: sweet_polly
                                                                                                            rhnault RE: sweet_polly Jul 17, 2011 07:19 AM

                                                                                                            Does Laughing Cat make their pasta in house? We finally did the Bernini happy hour and that Pistachio grouper is wonderful and my husband loved the veal chop. That is such an awesome deal they have going.

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                                                                                                            Laughing Cat
                                                                                                            1811 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605

                                                                                                            1. re: rhnault
                                                                                                              sweet_polly RE: rhnault Jul 17, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                                                                              I don't know for a fact that they do, but I'd be shocked to hear that they didn't. It was SO good...and I'm not a person who is typically bowled over by pasta dishes.

                                                                                                              The Bernini deal is the best in town. Half price entrees and $2 Finlandia vodka drinks sure take the sting out of of feeling like you're aged enough to be doing the "Early Bird Special" thing. ;)

                                                                                                              1. re: sweet_polly
                                                                                                                rhnault RE: sweet_polly Jul 17, 2011 10:36 AM

                                                                                                                They were packed when we went and all ages represented. We even got to chat with Alex Sink who was there having an early dinner.Fantastic service and they didn't mind that people were enjoying the deal. It irritates me places that have happy hour or accept restaurant.com and then get annoyed when people want to take advantage of the offers.

                                                                                                                1. re: rhnault
                                                                                                                  sweet_polly RE: rhnault Jul 17, 2011 03:02 PM

                                                                                                                  Agreed on all counts. :) Service is always great there and they are always gracious about offering the deal. Over the past couple of years, I've noticed the spousal unit and I going for more and more "late lunches" at around 4:00 PM and making that the last meal of our day...it finally dawned on me what was actually happening. That's right...we've become our parents and are "early birds" in denial. lol Back in the day, I wouldn't have dreamed of going out to dinner before 7:30 at the earliest. The truth hurts. ;)

                                                                                                                  rhnault, have you tried Sunday's Fine Dining in Ybor, yet? We were pretty impressed with this "new kid on the block". They have a restaurant.com cert available online as well and accepted it nicely.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sweet_polly
                                                                                                                    rhnault RE: sweet_polly Jul 17, 2011 03:46 PM

                                                                                                                    We went to Sunday's for lunch about a month ago on a Saturday. We both liked it a lot and will be back. I worry about their location though since they are in a bit of an Ybor dead zone. I hope they get enough business to stay open. Their cheese tray is the deal!

                                                                                                          2. re: jakski
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                                                                                                            limetruk RE: jakski Jul 17, 2011 08:54 AM

                                                                                                            I've yet to go to Laughing Cat for dinner but that lunch buffet is such a good deal. I'm not a huge fan of buffets typically but pork chop parmesan and their lasagna are so good.

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                                                                                                            Laughing Cat
                                                                                                            1811 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605

                                                                                                            1. re: jakski
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                                                                                                              SlapnChop RE: jakski Jul 19, 2011 06:44 PM

                                                                                                              I second that emotion on Taj

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                                                                                                              Taj Restaurant
                                                                                                              201 SE 15th Ter Ste 101, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

                                                                                                            2. j
                                                                                                              JPR RE: Birdcage_Chef Jan 20, 2013 05:52 AM

                                                                                                              As a frequent visitor to the area, I have taken to Agave in St. Pete Beach for good Mexican fare. Family owned and operated, Food is always fresh and well-prepared.

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