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2 Suggestions Needed for Tampa & Surrounding Area

Hi Tampa area Hounds – have a couple of questions but want to provide some background first.
My husband and I will be visiting Tampa from Kansas City later this month for 3 nights. We’re staying downtown, will have a car and will be driving quite a bit during our stay. We’re big craft beer people so we’re going to spend Friday & Saturday touring/tasting. Just need a little help filling in holes for our meals. Already have the following reserved:

Thursday night: Bern’s for dinner and dessert, nightcap at Ciro’s (we also enjoy craft cocktails)
Friday lunch: Columbia (Ybor location)

We’ve got a 1pm tour/tasting @Cigar City Brewery, then we’ll be driving to Tarpon Springs for the 6-8pm tasting at Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. From there, we plan to drive to Dunedin and hit 7venth Sun, Dunedin House of Beer and Dunedin Brewery.

Question 1: Should we stay in Tarpon Springs for dinner (Hellas, Rusty Bellies, Mykonos?) or drive on to Dunedin for dinner there? We have plenty of Greek food options here in KC, but looks like the addition of fresh seafood makes for a much more exciting menu than what we’re used to.
Have heard the food at Dunedin Brewery is good, and Kelly’s seems to get a lot of love on the board. We wouldn’t be dressed for Black Pearl, although it looks great, and Sea Sea Riders closes at 9 so we’d be cutting it close. Would like to stay under $100 inc tax/tip. No preferences on food type, although we’d rather stay away from chains (local franchises OK).

Saturday:
Planning to have lunch at Tampa Bay Brewing Co (any positives or negatives on this place?), visit Florida Avenue Brewing Co., and then drive to Largo to visit Barley Mow Brewing. From there we’ll begin driving back towards Tampa with stops at Pair O’ Dice Brewing in Clearwater, Rapp Brewing in Seminole and Brewers’ Tasting Room in St. Pete.

Question 2: Are there any great spots for dinner on the drive between Largo, Clearwater, Seminole, St. Pete and Tampa? Since it will be late evening (after 8 probably) Ted Peters is out. We’ll be in casual clothing and again prefer to keep it under $100 inc tax/tip. Since we’ll have already had our “big meal” for the trip at Bern’s we’re not as interested in elegance/ambiance as we are just getting something tasty that we don’t have at home (mainly BBQ and steakhouses—with the exception of Bern’s, of course).

Apologies for the lengthy post and thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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  1. Don't have any really good suggestions on the food, although there are some really good southeast asian (mainly Vietnamese options) in the St Pete area if you are interested. Most within 10 min or less the of Rapp/Pair O Dice area. Suggestions on which Vietnamese restaurant would depend on what type of dishes you were interested in.
    Am glad to see you have Rapp Brewing on the agenda....that is the best microbrewery in the area IMHO....definitely allot some time for there, as he has 20 of his own beers on tap and they are all good. I like the other breweries in the area, but none have compared so far in terms of variety and quality across the board.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kempshark

      Thanks, Kempshark. Glad to hear Rapp is a solid choice. With such limited time, and knowing so little about the area, my brewery picks were sort of a shot in the dark.
      We love Vietnamese and have a few good places here in KC, but always interested in local variations. Since we'll be dining later in the evening (after 8 or 9) we'll have to take that into consideration too. Thanks again for the info.

      1. re: butterfli311

        Pho Kien Giang on 49th St is open until 10:00pm on weekends and has excellent Pho and chicken wings. Pho Queyen on Park Blvd is open until 10:00pm and has good Nem Nuong, Broken Rice dishes, Bun dishes and very good springrolls. There is ABC Seafood (good authentic Chinese restaurant) on 54th Ave North that is open until 12:00am or 1:00am.

    2. Chicken Wings at Dunedin Brewery

      8 Replies
      1. re: byrd

        The wings at the Dunedin Brewery are pretty good, but the food and service there has always been a bit hit or miss. IMO, the beer is what you go for, and they do have some solid beers on tap. Oh, 7venth Sun's Key Lime Berliner Weisse is great. Plus all of our local brewers are starting to gear up for the Tampa Bay Beer festival, so yay!

        As for eating in Tarpon Springs, I say go for it. IMO, y'all should soak up some of the touristy vibe while you're down here. The Sponge Docks could use the business. Rusty Bellies, Mykanos, or Mr. Souvalaki are all solid choices for good food while you're here.

        As for eating at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, it's solid pub food. You won't be disappointed, but you won't be overwhelmed either.

        If you're in Ybor City, I suggest you try out the Columbia Restaurant. Their lunch menu won't break the bank, and the restaurant is worth going to just to see it.
        http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/ybo...

        Just make certain y'all are out of Ybor before the sun sets, or you'll have to deal with the stupidity of Saturday night Ybor traffic.

        As for the second question, I'll have to think about that.

        1. re: deet13

          I always go to Dunedin Brewery during the day, food and staff are spot on. It gets real busy there at night with the bands.

          1. re: byrd

            Yeah every time I end up there, it's usually later in the evening. I never get a chance to get up there during the day.

          2. re: deet13

            Deet -- is there a reason you didn't suggest Hellas in Tarpon Springs? We'll probably do Mykanos but just wondering if you'd had a bad experience at Hellas.

            The key lime Berliner weisse sounds aweomse! Which also reminds me I'll need to get my key lime pie fix while I'm there. Argh! So much to eat, so little time! :)

            1. re: butterfli311

              No real reason outside of personal preference.

              I've had solid dinners at Hellas. In fact my wife enjoys dinner Hellas over dinner at Mykonos because she enjoys perusing the bakery.

              It's just every time we go, it's always jam packed and noisy; but then, I think that's the case for most of the joints around the sponge docks.

              I've always found that I enjoy a meal at better at Mykonos than at Hellas.

              1. re: butterfli311

                CCotB (Cajun Cafe on the Bayou) is great. That's one of my favorite places to eat in Largo.

                Make sure y'all get the bread pudding and a platter of crawfish if they're in season. They also have an excellent selection of beer on draft.

                IMO, Cigar City's Jai Alai IPA works nicely with a platter of crawfish.

                The owner of CCotB holds several beer festivals annually, and works with most of the local breweries to get their product out on the market, including most of the seasonal stuff.

                Here's a link to their site.
                http://cajuncafeonthebayou.com/1.html

                1. re: deet13

                  Yeah, the beer festivals are great. Too bad the next one won't be until May.

                  1. re: kempshark

                    Thank you so much -- that helps solidify CCotB for lunch. Bread pudding and crawfish...yum!
                    We'll just go wherever the night takes us in Tarpon Springs. :)
                    Thank you again for the advice. Will report back in a few weeks to let you know how everything was.

          3. TBBC- beer is better than the food. IMO there are better places to eat in Ybor City. You are already lunching at the Columbia on Friday so I'd suggest Row Boat for Mediterranean lunch or NYNY for excellent pizza. Also good for lunch is the Bricks. They also tend to have interesting taps with good rotation.

            1. Saw your beer destinations and thought this place may interest you-very good reviews on Yelp and Google-haven't been myself but plan to later this month.
              http://www.willardstaphouse.com/

              2 Replies
              1. re: Beermonger

                Thanks so much, everyone! After looking into Willard's I noticed they recommended a place called Cajun Café on the Bayou. My husband loves Cajun food and we only have one place here at home (that truthfully isn't very good) so I'm considering lunch there Saturday instead of TBBC. Anyone been there?
                We'll definitely hit up Willard's as well.

                As for Friday, we'll probably eat in Tarpon Springs just for the "experience" and have some wings later that night at DB. Glad to have the Chinese and Vietnamese reccos in our back pocket at well.

                Thanks again and keep the ideas coming :)

                1. re: Beermonger

                  Willard's is a cool craft beer bar, but I would probably stick to visiting the local breweries' tasting rooms. A lot of what Willard's has on tap you may be able to get back at home. You can always check their website to see what they have on tap that night and swing by if there is something that really interests you. It is very close to Rapp and Pair O Dice

                2. Glad to see I was of some help, I found most of the restos in Tarpon Springs work on sheer volume-I have had much better Greek food elsewhere but perhaps we haven't hit the right one(s)...one place we did enjoy more than once was here http://www.rustybellies.com/ but it has been a couple of years-I see they now have a Tiki bar. Not Greek but more seafood...I hope to try Willards and Café on the Bayou in the next month or so..