Visting Tampa from NYC. Recommendation please (researched)!
A few us us are planning to visit Tampa over the Labor day weekend. We're looking for something unique to Tampa that it does better than NYC.
The last time I was there, we had gone to the following,
1. Taco Bus
2. Mid Peninsula
4. Pane Rustica
6. Ciro's speakeasy
Out of these, my favorite was Mid Peninsula which we're planning to go back to. Pane Rustica's "Shut Up" dishes were very good. Columbia was OK and I thought Ceviches was a little less than OK.
I'm trying to finalize 2 lunches, 2 dinners and 1 late night dinner. Based on what I've read, I've narrowed down some places and would appreciate some help finalizing my list. Here is what I've found,
1. Friday, late night dinner: Mr. Dunderbak's (This is close to where my friend lives and stays open till 12:30 so we're planning to go here on Friday)
2. Saturday, lunch: Need to decide. Pane Rustica (only the "Shut Up" dishes)?
3. Saturday, dinner: We would like to keep this casual and quick. We're planning to be in the South Howard area, maybe doing a bar crawl or something. Any suggestions on something that one could walk to from here, quick and delicious.
4. Sunday, lunch: Mid Peninsula + Ted Peters
5. Sunday, dinner: We wanted to do one, nice sit down dinner. Need to decide.
- Considering Oystercatchers, Edison (how is this? I did not read a lot but since it's Jeannie Pierola, I added it to the list of probables) and Side Berns. Out of these, I'm leaning towards Oystercatchers only because the menus at Edison and Side Berns do not seem like something that I wouldn't get easily in NYC.
- Any suggestions on where to buy awesome sausages, steaks, etc for BBQ? Cacciatore Bros., Land & Sea, Mazzaro Italian Market?
Are there any don't miss places (Ice cream places, coffee shops, bakeries, etc.) that I may have skipped?
Thank you for you help!
I don't live in Tampa or St. Pete, but I can vouch for Datz being awesome (and try their brand-new bakery, Dough, directly next door), and Mr. Dunderbak's is fantastic. Great choice -- you'll have a lot of fun there.
If you're going to be at Ted Peters (which I liked but did not love), you should get some gelato at Larry's Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, which is less than ten minutes away: http://larrysicecream.com/
If you have time, you can drive up to Clearwater Beach and have some incredible casual seafood at Frenchy's. The Rockaway Grille location is the largest Frenchy's, and it's right on one of the prettiest beaches I've ever seen.
For sausages I would look at Dunderbak's I don't care for Land and Sea for anything. If you're going all the way to Mid Peninsula, you could stop by Mazzaro's. For steaks, I am not too impressed with anywhere around here. They all seem to be hit or miss. May as well just go to Pube's. Whole Foods has good meat often, and they have really good sausages.
As far as Pane Rustica's Shut Up selection, the one time I got it, it was a lamb chop that was completely unseasoned and tougher than a flip flop. Pane's is good, but it ain't all that.
Mid Peninsula is one of very few places even in FL that prepares cracked conch, and they do a good job of it. It's a great appetizer before a grouper sandwich! They source the conch from the farm in Turks & Caicos.
EDIT: I just noticed your schedule - Mid Peninsula is closed on Sundays. You might check Rosie's Clam Shack fairly nearby in Pinellas Park and closer to Tampa, with a caution that Rosie's has new ownership since I last visited, but she always had whole belly clams and Maine lobster specials on Sunday.
Your line-up sounds delicious. I would second the Bern's mention. If your goal is to get something unique to our area -- and if you drink wine, especially -- I think your "nice" dinner would have to be there. I also love Edison, but I get the impression that places like that are a dime a dozen in Brooklyn/NYC, and probably just as good. AND your meal at Bern's even with wine will likely be no more expensive than your meal at Edison. All that being said, if you have the time and dough to go to both, you'd probably enjoy both.
Ideally, though, you would be able to do your "nice" dinner on Saturday, and leave Sunday for the soul food menu at Ella's. I don't think this place get enough love around here, especially for their Sunday soul food menu (not available any other day). I think it is fantastic, from the smoked ribs, down to the fried green tomatoes. The atmosphere is really nice too, and they have folk/indie live music starting at 4pm. The whole experience is very artsy "Americana", and the beer/drinks selection is excellent. The "regular" menu on other days is good, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it coming from NYC. There will be a wait on Sunday, but not too long if you call ahead to be put on the list.
The other suggestions you received are also good.
I agree you can skip Columbia (since you've already been there) and Ceviche (used to be special, once upon a time).
I can't help with sausages/steaks, though I can't see how you wouldn't have much better up in NYC.
Lastly, since you mention coffee shop, I think a stop at Oxford Exchange is warranted, even coming from NYC. The restaurant is good, the cafe is very good, but I think the tea counter (and the afternoon tea service) is worth the stop. Ask to sit in the conservatory with the fountain, and soak in the beauty of the space. It just opened in October of last year, and is a one-of-a-kind interior in Tampa, IMHO.
Enjoy your visit and let us know what you liked.