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Java Cafe>Cedars (Tampa)

CFishman Feb 3, 2011 04:22 PM

Feeling like Mediterranean food, my wife and I ended up at Java Cafe which is under new new management and is now Cedars. It seems like they are still getting things straightened out (no dinner menus yet), but the food was very good. We were trying to eat light, so we ordered an appetizer platter and a chicken shwarma. The owner/chef/waiter suggested we go for the appetizer platter and we happily acquiesced. First out was an array of pickled items, then hummus with warm whole-grain pita and spinach pies. I am generally not a big fan of spinnach pies (fatayer is the proper name according to google), but these were excellent: the spinach was flavorful and the dough/filling ratio was perfect. All hummus has to be is right and this was. My wife and I both started making hints that we were full when a gigantic plate of kebabs came out: chicken (shish taouk), steak, and a ground beef or lamb. I liked them all but the chicken was outstanding. The kebabs came with two whole grilled onions, which was a nice twist, and were sitting on top of a simple but tasty salad. I don't know how we found room (couldn't resist really) but we managed to finish off with two semolina cakes. I love semolina cakes and these were awesome. I need a go to Mediterranean place and I think Cedars is going to end the debate for me. I hope they will fare better in that location than the last couple of owners/chefs who have given it a shot.

  1. a
    andy huse Feb 4, 2011 06:05 AM

    Thanks much for this. Down the street, Sahara struggled last year and cut some of my faves off their menu. I've been looking for a replacement.

    2 Replies
    1. re: andy huse
      CFishman Jul 1, 2012 03:15 PM

      After many changes in management, it seems like Java is back on their game again. I apologize for the shaky photo but I was eager to get eating. This is hummus, babaghanoush, falafel, and knafeh. My only gripe is that I am not crazy about the lavash-type bread they serve with their food. I remedied that with a big bag of super-fresh pitas from the market next door.

      1. re: CFishman
        CFishman Nov 1, 2012 06:10 PM

        Just talking to myself here. My most recent kebabs. New ownership, again. This time on the market side. Java is now Cairo Market.

    2. Mild Bill Feb 3, 2011 09:48 PM

      Is this the place on Busch Blvd? Next to the grocery store?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Mild Bill
        CFishman Feb 4, 2011 03:39 AM

        That's right, Bill. I should have included an address. 4702 E. Busch Blvd.

        1. re: CFishman
          askdrtodd Feb 4, 2011 05:47 AM

          aaaaaaaaaah for a minute I thought this was Cedar Paradise over on Memorial near me.

          1. re: askdrtodd
            rhnault Feb 5, 2011 05:23 AM

            is that still open?

            1. re: rhnault
              askdrtodd Feb 6, 2011 12:30 PM

              yep! and they just expanded the menu as I understand it, to include some Indian food! it's a mom & pop joint, mom is Lebanese, pop is Indian :)

      2. m
        Manderley Feb 3, 2011 08:18 PM

        we need a "like" button on chowhounds.

        1. c
          CFishman Feb 3, 2011 04:27 PM

          I am still trying to figure out the food photography. Maybe the side shot of the kebabs is better:

          7 Replies
          1. re: CFishman
            gfr1111 Feb 4, 2011 09:49 AM

            Thanks for the review, CFishman. The only Middle Eastern place I've been to in Tampa was Cedar Paradise on Memorial. I look forward to trying this place.

            1. re: gfr1111
              askdrtodd Feb 4, 2011 09:51 AM

              gfr- there are a few others that are of note, I'm sure CF & Andy can fill you in. I was look at (but never got to try) the Saudi Arabian place by Chopstix on Fletcher... anyone been?

              1441 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL

              1. re: askdrtodd
                CFishman Feb 4, 2011 10:02 AM

                Hmm, I have never noticed the Saudi Arabian place. I will have to check that out. I have been to Petra, Green Land, and Oasis but not the Cedar Paradise you guys have mentioned. There are places in Orlando that are worth our attention, Cedars and Anatolia. I am still trying to get to Anatolia.


                1. re: CFishman
                  Mild Bill Feb 4, 2011 12:30 PM

                  And Mirage across the Causeway... I really love their lunch buffet and supposedly the weekend dinner buffet is off da hook, with belly dancers and self immolation...

                  1. re: Mild Bill
                    CFishman Feb 4, 2011 12:36 PM

                    Wrong, very wrong.

                    1. re: CFishman
                      Mild Bill Feb 4, 2011 03:47 PM

                      I was serious until that last part... I love their juicy 'fire-grill tasting' ground beef kebabs and lamb w/ eggplant... The last dish, with their green rice, is reason enough for me to make the trip... There's a seasoning or flavor combination that's new to me, and super appealing...

                  2. re: CFishman
                    askdrtodd Feb 6, 2011 12:29 PM

                    Cedars in Orlando is the best Lebanese food I've ever had. One of the owners of my company is Lebanese and whenever I'm in Orlando at a trade show we eat there and hookah it up for a bit, I've really enjoyed it every time. There is a lot of good food to be had in the Dr Phillips / Sand Lake Road area. I would love to field trip out there sometime soon!

                    Also right next door to Cedars is a Tapas place I ate at recently and really enjoyed, Le Rouge.

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