Archive for ‘My Favorite Restaurants In Tampa Bay & Beyond’
November 15, 2018
My friends Suzanne and Roger Perry, along with Ray Lampe (aka Dr. BBQ) opened an innovative and really good BBQ restaurant on 1st Avenue in St. Pete right across from Tropicana Field. And let me tell you…it is the BEST brisket I’ve ever had anywhere. You guys know that I don’t recommend something unless I mean it – and I can wholeheartedly tell you to run, don’t walk – to Dr. BBQ for their moist, succulent, flavorful brisket.
And don’t forget the humongous peanut butter pie.
1101 – 1st Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33705
August 18, 2017
If you enjoy Indian food like I do – Flames Indian Cuisine on MacDill across from DATZ will truly excite your taste-buds. Ok, when I go to an Indian or Asian restaurant I always go with friends who like to eat so I can taste as many dishes as possible. I need a true sampling of a wide array of their offerings so I can report back to you. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
While there was only 3 of us this time – I can tell you, we did the restaurant proud with the abundant amount of delicacies we ordered. The best thing about our experience – all three of us felt it was the BEST Indian food in Tampa, and we could not really decide on what menu item we liked better.
We had: Samosa’s, Chicken Pakora, Mix Vegetable Pakora (maybe my favorite of the apps), Mulligatawny, Chicken Khorma, Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani, Goan Shrimp Curry, Lamb Vindaloo, Garlic Naan – well, I told you we did a lot of sampling. While I must try other dishes on my next visit – it will be hard to stay away from the Goan Shrimp Curry (I dreamed about it that night), or the 15 dishes we consumed.
Go. Go with friends. Go now. Call me – and I’ll go with you. You will thank me. Please do let me know of your experience.
FLAMES INDIAN CUISINE
2601 South MacDill Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33629
June 07, 2017
Last week while visiting Frazier Farms in Brooksville foraging for fresh corn, we decided to have lunch at a local favorite which is only opened for breakfast and lunch, the Florida Cracker Kitchen – and we were not disappointed.
My shrimp and sausage gumbo had the rich roux flavor I look for and it was “loaded” with andouille sausage and okra…signs of a great gumbo for my taste. My shrimp and grits were perfectly seasoned. Because my dad taught me how to fry shrimp (remember Palios on MacDill – OMG the best fried shrimp in town before Bailey’s) I love fried shrimp so I had an order thrown in to see how they were prepared as well. Research ya’ know. They were very good…big shrimp and not too much breading.
By the way, their grits are the only ones I have ever had at a restaurant that needed no salt or butter…they were very good. Most restaurant grits are made with just water thinking that the patron can add their own salt and butter. Big mistake. And some even put sugar in them which is a Yankee thing and a big no-no. Horrible idea. We at Bailey’s, make ours with lots of cream, butter, and salt – but we cook the grits with these ingredients as opposed to adding them after the grits are cooked. Makes for better tasting grits.
The table next to me was having breakfast – and I was dying to reach over and fork her plate. I needed one of those extension forks. The omelet was huge and she said was incredible. I started to cry. Her slab bacon looked so good I got an order. I’m going to take a drive with some friends some morning for breakfast – because the dishes I saw are still on my mind. I need to go with lots of friends, so I can do a tasting. Want to join me?
Florida Cracker Kitchen 966 East Jefferson Street
Brooksville, Florida 34601
OPEN 6 Days-A-Week: 7:00am – 2:30pm
May 25, 2017
If you have been to Restaurant BT on MacDill across from DATZ, you will love the fast carry-out of BT’s incredible affordable Vietnamese food at BT-ToGo – also on MacDill, across Bay-To-Bay in a quaint shopping Plaza. BT Nguyen is one of my favorite chefs and while I was at the restaurant recently she asked if I’d been to BT ToGo??? The next day I was there.
You will find pork banh mi’s, beef & rice bowls, fresh stuffed rice paper rolls, curry chicken stew, and of course many of your Restaurant BT notables like her pumpkin soup and chocolate mousse.
When you want a great meal FAST – dash on over to BT To-Go
3215 South MacDill Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33629
Monday – Saturday: 11:00am to 8:00pm
May 19, 2017
Is there a better bakery in Tampa for Cuban bread? Absolutely not. Most fine Tampa Bay restaurants use La Segunda for their Cuban bread…a Cuban is not a Cuban unless made with La Segunda which has been around since 1905.
There is not much better in life than sitting down at the famed Columbia Restaurant with a hot bowl of Spanish Bean Soup served with a hunk of “warm & crusty” La SegundaCuban Bread wrapped in white tissue-like paper and a crock of soft whipped butter. It is simply the best.
For those of you who are fortunate to be in an UBER-EATS delivery area that handles La Segunda – you can order all your bread (and other goodies) delivered right to your door. That’s what I do most half the time these days.
Today however, I had a hankering for the smells and tastes of this old-world bakery that only a visit would accomplish. Cuban bread was what I was after – just Cuban bread. Well, I walked out with a Cuban sandwich, 2 chocolate bon-bons, 1 apple turnover, 1 guava pastry, and almost forgot my loaf of Cuban bread. Impossible not to be tempted. Impossible. Go find out for yourself.
La Segunda Central Bakery 2512 North 15th Street
Ybor City, Florida 33605
Monday – Friday: 6:30am to 5:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 7:00am to 3:00pm
(ACROSS From The Academy Prep)
May 11, 2017
This small non-descript 12 seat, ten menu item restaurant packs a big tasty punch you should not miss. Anytime I find a gem like this I almost don’t want to tell anyone so I can keep it all to myself. Chef William is Italian through-and-through making everything from scratch including the pasta; and you will be delighted with his offerings all for $9.95 each (he needs to raise his prices) – except for the couple of specials he runs daily.
I love to see artisans who care about what do and Chef William shows his love of craft by the quality of the food he puts on your plate. The Bolognese was stupendous, meatballs excellent, primavera and carbonara perfect. Tiramisu was spot on as well.
This “no-frills” eatery is tops. Let me know what you think.
Piccola Italia Bistro
2140 West Doctor MLK, Jr. Boulevard
Tampa, Florida 33607
NEAR: Armenia & MLK
February 10, 2017
My friend Missy Casselli introduced me to the Ravioli Company more than 15 years ago. She asked if I’d ever been – that she met a nice couple and suggested I go. When I walked into their first store on Platt Street and smelled the smells, and took a bite of their homemade knot rolls I knew I was hooked.
This many years later, Dwight and Lauren Otis are great friends. It has been fun to watch their growth. They provide ravioli for many restaurants all around the Bay area, including Carmel Kitchen whom I consult for.
The care, passion, and love they put into each ravioli, lasagna, sauce, meatball is immediately felt upon the first bite of one of their homemade products. This is no ordinary mom & pop. They have a knack, a talent for making good food – and Lauren always greets you with a friendly smile.
Once I dropped 3 gallons of my homemade marinara sauce an hour before it had to be served. I panicked big-time. What will I do? I am very particular about what I serve to my clients – it all must be top quality and homemade. I called Lauren and Dwight and they hooked me up; and wouldn’t even let me pay. True friendship.
I remember walking in one day and Dwight making me a special caprese sandwich on one of their homemade knot rolls and handed it to me as I was walking out the door. It might be the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. But even better is their friendship.
I love walking into their shop on Manhattan and delighting in the labyrinth of smells as soon as my nose breaches the door. Wonderful goodness.
3413 South Manhattan Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33629
11:00am to 7:00pm – Tuesday thru Saturday
February 10, 2017
Tampa has such a rich Spanish, Latin, Cuban, and Italian heritage. I got my first inkling (or tasting) of authentic Italian food as a first grader at Most Holy Name Catholic School in Ybor City…right across the street from the old Garcia’s Instant Service station. While the school is long gone – I still drive by the huge old oak tree which is still there.
I often remember being invited to my friend’s home for dinner and being served tomato gravy made the true Italian way…and watching my friend’s mom make cannoli shells from scratch, even her ricotta cheese was homemade. Her tomato gravy (or sauce as us gringo’s call it) had pork, meatballs, and sometimes even chicken and hard-boiled eggs in it…which was always an extra treat.
I was the ripe old age of six was when I first became aware of Cacciatore and Sons, who have been serving Tampa for 100 years or better. Italian sausage is a mainstay in my home and if I am not making it myself – there is only one place I will buy it from – and that is Cacciatore and Sons.
Cacciatore and Sons
3614 North Armenia Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33607
Open Monday thru Saturday 8:30am to 6:00pm
January 06, 2017
…I stopped to eat lunch last week, on a beautiful cool Friday afternoon, with a friend and my dog Nikki at Fodder and Shine on Florida Avenue in Seminole Heights. I know our server was happy, for we ordered just about everything on the menu…for it all looked so delicious…I couldn’t help myself.
I started with two housemade spreads of pimento cheese and black eyed peas with Cuban crostini’s, pickled onions, and jalapenos. We cleaned that plate. Then we ordered the meatloaf, the chicken pot pie, the Carolina BBQ chicken, side of bacon fat cornbread served with honey and butter, mashed potatoes, RC Cola Baked Black Eyed Peas, and all 3 desserts they were offering that day. Mind you, there were only 2 people and a dog.
The standouts that I would order again were: The meatloaf with a creamy mustard gravy, served with PBR (Pabst Blue Ribben) infused Mac & Cheese, creamed kale, the chicken pot pie, the Carolina BBQ chicken, side of bacon fat cornbread served with honey and butter, mashed potatoes, RC Cola Baked Black Eyed Peas, and all 3 desserts, and the spreads. Wait, can it be? Everything I ate – I would order again? That’s right.
On my next visit I am ordering the hand pounded country fried steak, the hardwood smoked mullet, the cornmeal fried chicken, the Frito pie, the fried green tomatoes, the butternut squash soup, the classic cheeseburger, and all 3 desserts they are offering. Who wants to come with me? Text me at (813) 928-2210 and I’ll meet you there.
Owners Greg Baker, and his wife Michelle (also owners of the ever popular The Refinery) – have done a super job with this menu. It’s a fun bar as well, and has an eclectic atmosphere with games in the dining room.
Yes, I like this place. And yes, I will be back. Any yes again, I recommend you go.
Fodder and Shine
5910 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33604
November 07, 2016
The Google” directed me to a wonderful place in Zephyrhills when I typed in Fried Whole-Belly Ipswich Clams one day last week. My favorite places for fried clams are The Clam Box in Ipswich, and Woodman’s in Essex, both in Massachusettes. When I operated Bailey’s Restaurant, we would have them flown in right from Ipswich.
When The Chowder House popped up as serving these delicious clams – and whole belly at that, well, I was on my way. And yes, it does take an hour from my house – but it was well worth the drive.
The Chowder Hous Ipswich fried clams were pefectly battered, perfectly fried, and perfectly briny sweet as they should be. Honestly, they may have been better than any I’ve had on the North Shore but it may have been that I was pining for my mom and dad. My mom was from Boston, and the first things us kids would do as we hit the shores of Boston in our Bill Currie Ford Country Squire station wagon, was to scream out: “Fried Clams” – and my dad would heed the calling and head right to the nearest local seafood market for a mess of these clams. Yes! We were happy campers.
A major homorable mention must go to the Lobster Roll – it was fresh and loaded with lobster – with no fillers.
Of course The Chowder House serves other fresh seafood as well – and everything I took a bite of (scallops, seabass, shrimp) were all great – but for me – I was being a “one trip pony” for my clams. Go. Go Now.
The Chowder House
Zephyrhills, Florida 3541