Saturday, December 10, 2011

San's Pizzeria, Tampa(Westchase), FL

In the neighborhood, my family and I stopped in at San's Pizzeria to have some pizza. San's is a casual pizza joint and you can order a slice to go or sit down at a table or booth to enjoy your meal. Besides pizza you can also enjoy pasta, a Philly cheese steak, and wings, among other things. However, we were there to try the pizza, so that is what we ordered. Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know that we love to eat a basic cheese pizza and sometimes we will get fresh basil on top if they have it, which they did here. So after getting a glass of wine and a putting in our pizza order, we had a bit of a wait. The wait wasn't too long, but pushing close to the limit. The pizza arrived and we were impressed. It was a nice tender and crispy crust with a good sauce and we loved the melted cheese topped with basil. A good place to enjoy great pizza in a very casual environment.

13048 Race Track Road
Tampa, FL 33626

San's Pizzeria (Westchase) on Urbanspoon

Burger 21 - Tampa(Westchase), FL

After observing that Burger 21 has been the talk of the town forever, I decided it was time to pay a visit. When I first arrived there, I had a bit of a let down because I didn't realize that it was barely removed from being a fast food joint and it is part of a franchise with another location in Carrollwood. Instead of being seated, you place your order at the cash register and you are given a number that you insert into a placeholder, then your food is brought to you. I didn't let it faze me too much, though. We ordered our food, paid, and then grabbed a spot at the stools at the counter. While waiting for our food, I went to grab some ketchup. If you want something other than the usual to cover your sandwich with or dip your fries in, they had ordinary ketchup, mango ketchup, chipotle mayo, a spicy ketchup, among others.

The first thing to arrive was our chocolate shake and root beer float that we watched them make, while sitting at the counter. They were yummy and just the right thing to go along with our burgers. The next thing to come out were our basket of fries. They were good, but not the greatest and although we skipped the small and medium fries and ordered the basket, I thought it was rather small. One thing I wasn't happy about was that they brought the fries out to us before our burgers were done, so that by the time our burgers arrived, our fries were just about gone. For burgers, we tried "The Cheesy Burger," with cheddar cheese, minus the vegetables. The other burger we tried was "The Shroom," which was covered in crimini mushrooms, fontina cheese, and garlic butter. Both of the burgers were delicious and I loved the soft and toasted brioche bun that they were both served on. Both burgers were cooked as ordered and they were juicy and just awesome. A great burger alternative to mainstream fast food.

9664 West Linebaugh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33626

Burger 21 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Five Bucks Drinkery - downtown St Petersburg, FL

The Five Bucks Drinkery is located right in the heart of downtown St Petersburg on Central Avenue. The name of this little spot says it all, in that nothing is over five dollars, which is great when you are on a budget. When I went there with my family, it was a bit quiet, and we were able to take our pick of seating at one of the bar tables inside. We ordered a couple of beers and were disappointed when our beers arrived in plastic glasses, which is part of their whole money saving theme. However, we did learn later on that you can get your beer in a real glass, but you have to ask, which we did after the first drink. For food we ordered some burger, fries, and tots. Each item is priced separately, which is probably what keeps the costs under five dollars. The burger was ok, but nothing exciting. Even so, this is not a bad place to hang out and have inexpensive drinks and food, especially when on a budget.

247 Central Avenue
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

Five Bucks Drinkery on Urbanspoon

Sweet Divas Chocolates - downtown St Petersburg, FL

Sweet Divas is a wonderful addition to downtown St Petersburg, and I have already been there a number of times to partake of their delicious chocolate. I was told that they get their chocolate from Belgium that they use to make their chocolates, maybe that is why they taste so good. Not only do they have chocolate, they have an assortment of yummy cupcakes. There is a vanilla cupcake that I especially love that is covered with fudge frosting that has shavings of white chocolate all over it. Then, there is the muffins and if you come on the weekends, I believe they have some sort of muffin and mimosa special. Oops, did I forget to mention that they serve wine and champagne here? If you want to skip the wine, they serve coffee and tea. Finally, they have artisan ice cream that is out of this world. Sweet Divas is just off of Beach Drive on Fourth Avenue and you don't want to miss it!

400 Beach Drive NE
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Sweet Divas Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Ohana Cafe - Palm Harbor, FL

One Friday evening, my family and I headed over to Ohana Cafe in Palm Harbor to hear a friend, Rebecca Zapen sing. It was quite a hike over to Palm Harbor, but it was well worth it. The Ohana Cafe has a Hawaiian influenced theme going on and you will see that reflected in their food, as well as, the Hawaiian Hula dance that happens between the music performance on Friday and Saturday nights. We were lucky to get the last remaining table on the patio, so we could see the Hula dance and the music. As this was a chilly December evening in Florida, we were glad there was a covering over the patio, along with some gas heaters.

We were given a wine list that had quite a few organic wine offerings on the menu. After choosing drinks, we looked at the menu, which featured a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, along with options for meat eaters. We decided to order the Hawaii 5-0, which is a buffalo patty served on Ciabatta with cheese and a variety of toppings. Also, we ordered the Ohana's Kalua Chicken and cabbage served over rice and the very veggie omelette with home fries. The burger was delicious, but we didn't like the veggie straws that were served along with it. I liked the Ohana's Kalua Chicken with Chicken and cabbage, but I did add a little sriracha sauce to kick it up a little. The veggie omelette was very good, but on the small side. For dessert, we had to try the popover, which was covered with macadamia nut sauce. This was very good, and a great way to end the meal. I enjoyed our experience and it was nice to have a large selection of healthy dining options.

306 Orange Street North
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Ohana Cafe on Urbanspoon

Laughing Cat Bar - Ybor(Tampa), FL

One Friday afternoon, my family and I decided to head to Laughing Cat Bistro for lunch. This restaurant is a friendly little place located just off the main drag in Ybor. Nothing fancy, just great food. We were quickly seated at a table and given a description of the wines. Then our server told us we had a choice of dining from the lunch buffet or from the dinner menu. I took a quick peek at the lunch buffet, which looked really good, and was very reasonable priced, but I decided I wanted to order from the dinner menu.

While waiting for our wines, we looked over the menu. We decided to start with an Eggplant Rollatini, which was eggplant wrapped around ricotta cheese and covered with a lovely tomato sauce. For our entrees, we chose the penne alla vodka and the farfalle al granchio, which was a crab and cream based sauce. While waiting for our food to come out, we were served with a huge basket of bread. Then, our appetizers and entrees came out and they were huge, but more importantly, delicious. The eggplant appetizer was great and by the time we were done with that, we were already full. Then the entrees arrived and they were just as good, but we could barely make a dent after the appetizer. However, this was fine as we had leftovers for lunch the next day. All during our meal the service was very attentive and we never lacked for anything. I would have liked to try dessert, but did I mention I was full?

1811 North 15th Street
Tampa, FL 33605

Laughing Cat on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Moscato's Bella Cucina - downtown St Petersburg, FL

One Saturday afternoon, my family and I decided we wanted to try Moscato's for lunch. An art show was happening on Central Avenue, and Moscato's is located right on one of the blocks where the art show was happening, so we were expecting it to busy, and it was. Nevertheless, one of the tables were open, so we were able to get seated right away. Even though the place was hopping, our server wasn't too long in getting to us to take our drink order and she gave us the abridged menu that they were having for the art weekend. The menu had more than enough options and we decided to order Grandma's Pizza, which was a basic cheese pizza, and the cheese lasagna. While waiting for our food, we were given some bread and dipping oil, and the cheese lasagna came with a nice side salad with cucumbers, almonds, tomatoes, and cranberries. After that, it was a bit of a wait, but it was pretty much what we had expected after eating at another restaurant during last year's art show. Our food arrived and we were very happy with everything. The pizza was a nice sized rectangle with a lovely thick crust, a rich tomato sauce, and a generous cheesy topping. Everything turned out wonderful and I would not hesitate to pay a visit again.

449 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Moscato's Bella Cucina on Urbanspoon

The Avenue Eatery - downtown St Petersburg, FL

Driving down 2nd Avenue south in downtown St Pete one evening, my family and I spied a new restaurant. Having time on out hands, we decided to stop in and give it a try. When we were greeted at the door, we found out it was only their second night open. The restaurant has a cozy appearance of a cabin with a fireplace on one wall. There is some funky looking see through pails filled with corks that hang from the ceiling with lights in the bottom. For seating, there is a number of options. First, there is the outside seating in the back patio, seating on the sidewalk out front, a long bar with bar stools, big booths along one wall, or tables in the rest of the restaurant. There are flat screen tv's on every wall for your viewing pleasure. After checking out the back patio where music was playing, we decided to grab one of the huge booths.

Our server took our drink order and gave us a few minutes to check out the menu. The house made potato chips with barbecue sauce and blue cheese looked intriguing, and we also decided to try the Lucy Juicy cheeseburger, and the Cajun Crab cake sandwich. Everything came out delicious. The chips were addictive, the burger was just what a burger should be, and the crab cake sandwich was yummy and the server was obliging enough to bring us extra sweet pickles to put on top of our sandwich. This restaurant is the perfect addition to the downtown scene. We liked it so much, that we stopped a few days, and they had started serving the cupcakes that are part of their dessert menu. The cupcakes are provided by an outside caterer and they are a mini cupcake that is just the right size indulgence for ending an already calorie laden meal. They come in some traditional flavors and some flavors that I haven't seen before. You can order three flavors for $5. We tried the chocolate chocolate, the strawberry shortcake, and the apple pie. They were all yummy and I loved the strawberry shortcake with its bit of strawberry inside the cupcake the apple pie with its bit of pie crust in the frosting, and you can never go wrong with chocolate. This is sure to be a great local hang out to grab a drink and a bite.

330 1st Avenue South
St Petersburg, FL 33701

The Avenue Eat/Drink on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fray's Donuts - Northeast St Petersburg, FL

Having a hankering for donuts one rainy morning, I headed over to Fray's Donuts in Northeast St Petersburg. Fray's is an old fashioned sort of place with quaint stools at the counter. The donuts are what really drew my attention, though. Although there was a selection of muffins along with the donuts, I went with a traditional pick of donuts. I ordered a chocolate honey dipped, a sour cream donut, and my favorite, powdered sugar. All three tasted delicious, but my favorite was the powdered sugar. It had a great taste and powdered sugar was dropping everywhere, so it was messy, just how it should be. Along with the donuts, I had a plain old cup of joe with cream and it hit the spot just right. This is a great place to get a donut fix.

5236 16th St North
St Petersburg, FL 33703

Fray's Donuts on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nordstrom Cafe Bistro - International Mall, Tampa

On a recent shopping expedition to International Mall in Tampa, my family and I needed a break from the shopping madness and decided to stop in for lunch at Nordstrom's Cafe Bistro. I didn't know whether or not to expect good things from a cafe inside a store, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at my experience. I was worried for a moment when we had to place our order at the cash register before being seated, but after that everything was perfect. After placing our order, we were seated by the hostess and then our server stopped by our table to look at our order receipt and to let us know he would be back with our drink orders. A short while later and he was back with a lovely chardonnay we had ordered.

So, we enjoyed our wine and while waiting for our food, we observed other food orders coming out and thought the fries looked really good and we wanted to order some, but I wasn't sure if we would need to go back to the register to order or if we could place an order at the table. When our server stopped by, he assured us that any further orders could be placed at our table. Soon, our food arrived. We had ordered the crab bisque, margarita pizza, and the yummy looking french fries. The crab bisque was amazing with the perfect spicy kick to it. The margarita pizza was delicious with a nice tender crust. Then there were the fries, which we were glad we ordered. They were wonderful and they had a lovely aioli that tasted like kalamata olives were one of the key ingredients. Finally, we ended our meal with the white chocolate bread pudding, which was pure decadence. The bread pudding was topped with shaved white chocolate and surrounded by a white chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis, and a generous dollop of whip cream. What a perfect way to end the meal. The service there was great and we didn't want for anything. This is a great little oasis to enjoy a great meal when you are ready to get away from all that hustle and bustle in the mall.

Nordstrom Cafe Bistro
2223 North West Shore Blvd #300
Tampa, FL 33607

Nordstrom Cafe Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 4, 2011

L'Eden Restaurant and Bar - downtown Tampa

My family and I popped into L'Eden one Saturday afternoon and had quite a lovely experience. The inside of the restaurant is quaint with its small tables by the large windows. This space itself is very small and has a european flavor. There is a small bar that had brioche and croissants on it, when we were there. We were seated at a lovely corner spot by the windows.

After a quick look at the menu, we were excited to see they offered sweet and savory crepes. We had one vegetable crepe, of which leeks was the lovely and dominant filling. We also ordered one croissant sandwich with melted brie. Both of these were served a generous serving of roasted potatoes and leafy greens. Both dishes were divine and went lovely with a glass of red wine. After that, we had to try some sweet crepes, so we ordered one filled with chocolate and one butter and sugar crepe. Both were so yummy and the crepes were thin and delicate, just like they should be. I can't wait until I have another lazy Saturday, so we can pay a visit there again.

500 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602

L'Eden on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Samaria Cafe - Tampa, FL

Looking for breakfast on a beautiful Saturday morning, my family and I headed to downtown Tampa to try the breakfast at Samaria Cafe. We were greeted warmly upon entering the cafe and observed that was the rule for whoever walked in the door. The cafe has a lot of bright and open space and you can be seated at a booth or regular table. We asked for a table right in the center of things, so we could observe our surroundings.

After looking over the menu, we ordered a cheeseburger and fries, a mushroom omelette, and pancakes. After a reasonable period of time, our food arrived. All of the food was okay, but nothing really wowed me. I really wished we had enjoyed the food there more because the setting was a cozy breakfast spot and the service and attention offered to the customers by the owners and servers was excellent. However, I do notice that there are a lot of raves on the food by other urbanspoon users, so I would still say one should give it a try if they are in the area because you very well may have a different perspective on the food than we did.

502 North Tampa St
Tampa, FL 33602

Samaria Cafe on Urbanspoon