Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tampa Bay Brewing - Ybor City, FL

With the number of local breweries opening around the Tampa Bay area, I have been trying a number of places that make or host our local beers.  One that I was very happy to try was Tampa Bay Brewing in Ybor city.  It is apparently a very popular place, because we stopped in on a weeknight and it was bursting at the seams with people.  It seemed like a very happy crowd and everyone appeared to be having fun.  We were seated at a very large booth, and a server was promptly there to describe some of their beers and answer any questions we might have about them.  I decided to go with a weizen beer because I have not yet learned to acquire a taste for overly hoppy beers that seems to fit the the flavor profile of a lot of craft beers.  The weizen was a very good choice and I happily sipped away.  I did sneak a taste of my son's root beer that they make there and I thought it was very good for those of you out there who enjoy a good root beer.

I am happy to say the food here was very good and the beer is not the only star of the show.  I tried the
Brew House Cheese Burger, the fish and chips, and the shepard's pie.  Everything was very good, especially the shepherd's pie, which is always a favorite of mine.  Even though the servings were huge and ample for sharing, I couldn't resist trying the Deep Dish Apple Crisp, which is another favorite of mine.  I am glad I didn't pass that up because it was delicious!  I would recommend this as a stop if visiting Ybor City to experience some local brews and fun.

Tampa Bay Brewing
1600 East 8th Avenue
Ybor City, FL  33605
Tampa Bay Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Fort De Soto Park and Pizza - Tierra Verde, FL

Among my favorite parks in the Tampa Bay area is Fort De Soto Park.  It has beautiful, white sand beaches, bird watching, a paved path for pedestrians and bicyclists, plenty of picnic tables and grills, among many of its attributes.  When I have finished doing whatever I have been doing at the park, I love to stop in at Marco's Pizzeria and grab a pizza to take home.  They have excellent thin crust style pizza, and their menu also offers items like wings and pasta, but I haven't ventured beyond the pizza, yet.  This one is a favorite for the whole family.

Marco's Pizzeria
1120 Pinellas Bayway
Tierra Verde, FL  33715

Marco's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nicko's Fine Foods - Seminole Heights, FL

This place is pure fun with good, old fashioned diner food.  First, I love eating in boxcar diners.  We have one of the most famous ones, Mickey's Diner in St. Paul, and I miss that.  So, you can imagine how happy I was when I found out we had one here in the Tampa Bay area.  The place was bustling when we went inside, but we were able to snag three stools at the counter.  We were rather amused at the owner who went around performing magic tricks at our spot and all around the diner.  He was very skilled at performing his slights of hand, and there were a lot of laughs.

We tried the eggs and hash browns with toast, a burger and fries, and the chicken souvlaki platter.  All of the food was very good, but the chicken souvlaki was a favorite for all.  This is definitely one place I definitely don't mind driving across the bridge for a weekend morning breakfast.

Nicko's Fine Foods
4603 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, FL  33603

Nicko's Fine Foods on Urbanspoon

The Burg Bar and Grill - Saint Petersburg, FL

This is one of your friendly neighborhood burger joints.  I swear that every time I drive past this place, that it is packed with people.  Granted, the place is small, but inside and out on the sidewalk tables are always full.  The place is comfortable and a good place to relax and stay for a while.  The menu has a few specialties along with some greek menu options and some healthy options, but I just love to have a good, basic cheeseburger.  They are tasty and juicy here and they are served simply with fries in a basket. It doesn't get any better than this.

The Burg Bar and Grill
1752 Central Avenue South
Saint Petersburg, FL  33712

The Burg Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Engine No. 9 - Downtown Saint Petersburg, FL

I am going to come right out and say I really like this place.  I have already been here a few times with my family and what's not to love?  Each of the comfy booths has its own tv, if you need to catch the game or whatever.  There is a bar out front for the big kids who don't want to sit in back.  Did I say you can see red everywhere?  The service is friendly, and the burger choices are awesome.  My favorite burger so far is the Tex Mex melt which is a burger served on Texas Toast with cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and crispy onion rings on top.  I like the fries here, but the tator tots are my favorite and they take me back to my childhood.  Does anyone remember tator tot casserole? (or hotdish as we say in Minnesota)  Burgers not your thing?  I have tried the exotic mushroom risotto served with grilled chicken.  I could take or leave the chicken in the risotto, but the risotto itself was pretty darn good.  This is a good choice when you are downtown and in the mood for a good burger.

Engine No. 9
56 Doctor Martin Luther King Jr St N
Saint Petersburg, FL

Engine No. 9 on Urbanspoon

Tap Room at the Hollander Hotel - downtown Saint Petersburg, FL

I have mixed feelings about the Tap Room. I went there on a busy Saturday evening and a few things may have clouded my judgement.  First, we were seated at a booth which shook every single time the booth behind us moved.  They needed to bolt that in better or something.  Second, they had a performer playing awful covers. There is nothing worse I hate than somebody else slaughtering a great song, one after the other.  I know the Tap Room also has some great local singers on certain nights who sing their own music, but no such luck the night I was there.  Third, we had a really lackluster server.  This is the one person who can make or break a dining experience and ours was right on the edge.  This person did what they had to do, and nothing more and no personality.

We all ordered burgers and they were about average on my burger meter.  We had to wait a little longer than we would have preferred to for drinks, which can be a pain when you are sitting with food in hand and nothing to drink.  Overall, the evening was a let down.  I would like to go back and give them another try as I have heard from other people who swear by the place.  Maybe a weekday when they are not so crowded?  Any thoughts out there?

Tap Room at the Hollander
421 4th Avenue North
Saint Petersburg, FL  33701

Tap Room at the Hollander on Urbanspoon

Trip's Diner - Saint Petersburg, FL

Always on the lookout for a weekend breakfast place, I tried Trip's Diner one morning.  Arriving there, I found out this place is popular.  The small parking lot was filled, but there was plenty of street parking and space available in the parking lot across the street.  There was a bunch of people inside and outside the door waiting to be seated, so I put my name on the list and awaited my turn.  Luckily, things seemed to move along pretty smoothly and my family and I were seated in a roomy booth.  I would have loved to sit at one of the old fashioned stools at the counter, but they were in high demand.  There are tables outside if you prefer, because with a crowded house, it can get pretty noisy.

Our friendly but no nonsense server was quick to take our order and pour our coffee.  We decided to order a pancake, a burger and fries, a mushroom, cheese, and scallion omelette with home fries, grits, and a biscuit on the side.  I am gonna go with what I didn't like first.  The pancake tasted good the first couple of bites, but then quickly turned rubbery.  This is usually a sign of a boxed mix or pancake batter that has been over mixed.  Either way, I didn't like it.  The burger was just okay and I didn't like the spicy fries that came with it, but spicy fries are a matter of preference.  Now, let me get to the good stuff.  First, our coffee cup was never empty.  I loved my omelette, and the home fries and grits were out of this world.  I had heard a lot of good things about the those three things and I am happy to say they lived up to my expectations.  I will definitely be back to explore some more items on the menu and I need to try a repeat performance of the menu items I loved.

Trip's Diner
2339 9th Street North
Saint Petersburg, FL  33704

Trip's Diner on Urbanspoon