Posts Tagged ‘FL’

Emily’s Restaurant, Pinellas Park, FL

9 September 2016

Emily's Family Restaurant III Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had breakfast at Emily’s this morning. Again, I got there about 0720 and it was empty.

I thought I would have another skillet. This one was PERFECT. Again, ham and sausage and cheese (grated, this time). The potatoes were thin sliced (like I would get in a potato casserole in Omaha), and they were cooked up just right. This one had a layer of sausage gravy between the meats and the eggs, and the combination of flavors was fantastic! This thing was right on the edge of eat-it-until-I-explode territory, it was that good.

The meal came with an excellent biscuit that hosted strawberry jam. The iced tea was great, service was extraordinarily friendly, and my check was $10.60. That may have been the best skillet meal I’ve had, anywhere. Great stuff, highly recommended.

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Peter’s Family Restaurant, Largo, FL

9 September 2016

Peters Family Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had breakfast at Peter’s Wednesday morning. I got there about 0730 and it was pretty much empty. It’s another in the plethora of family restaurants in the area.

I had a country skillet. Now, I like skillet meals as they are usually just a mess of flavors, and that’s a Good Thing. 🙂 This one was advertised as having green peppers, but I asked for them to be not there, and they weren’t. The rest of the meal was some home fries, ham, onion, sausage, and cheese, with a couple eggs (over easy). Two things that were kind of odd, the cheese was a couple slices of American laid on top of the mound of other stuff, right under the eggs, and the sausage was basically links that had been cut up. I’m a bit particular, but I like my sausage as ground up and cooked in with the meal, and I prefer shredded cheese. Beyond my whining about that, it was a pretty good skillet. As is my custom, I cut up the eggies so that the yolks ran down into the mess of food. It was very good.

The meal came with some wheat toast, that hosted some grape jelly. I had some decent iced tea to drink. Service was very friendly. The place was uncrowded (more like mostly empty), so I had time to digest the USA Today while I ate. My check was $9.31. I would happily go back.

Kristina’s Cafe, St. Petersburg, FL

8 September 2016

Kristina's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I’ve mentioned before that the Tampa area is filled with small family restaurants that resemble east coast diners in that they have a huge menu. I visited three of them on this trip, the first one being Kristina’s.

I had the pot roast. It wasn’t what I expected. It was presented as a slab of roast beast, lying on a bed of egg noodles, and with a red sauce with carrots and onions spooned over it. Although it’s not what I expected, it was pretty good.

I had a small bowl of rice pudding for dessert.

Service was very fast and friendly, and the iced tea was good. My check was $10.49. I’d have no problem going back.

Red Mesa Cantina, St. Petersburg, FL

8 September 2016

Red Mesa Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Continuing my current business trip, I had dinner with a group of work friends at Red Mesa. There were 11 of us, and I figured that it would be hours, but I have to say up front that the server was outstanding. I never ran out of iced tea, and stuff got to the table in good time.

That being said, this is not a true Mexican place. It’s more Tex-Mex and stuffy. Regardless, it was good.

I got the table a couple bowls each of refried beans and queso con carne to dip our chips in. The beans needed some salsa added, but the queso was great stuff.

I had a beef burrito, it was filled with shredded barbacoa, cheese, and the like. I gutted it to eat it, and the filling was great stuff, just the right amount of heat, and wonderful flavor.

The iced tea was very good, and kept refilled in spite of the size of our group. Our server, as I mentioned, was very attentive, and we had our orders taken, food dispensed, and checks taken care of very efficiently, and he was a very friendly guy. My check was $47.20, but bear in mind that my meal was actually about $12; the rest of it was the appetizers, and a $6.80 forced gratuity (that I significantly sweeted, I will add, the guy busted his tail). I would go back again. The place was only a couple blocks from my hotel in downtown St. Pete.

Longhorn Steakhouse, Tampa, FL (Westshore)

8 September 2016

LongHorn Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So I am in Florida this week on business, and I had a couple really good meals.

I’m starting with Longhorn. I can count on Longhorn for a decent steak when I don’t want to take a chance. It was even so here.

I had my standby ribeye. It came a perfect medium, and was very tender and flavorful. I had most of a baker with bacon, cheese, and butter. The soup was a bit of a disappointment. I always get the baked potato, but I received some chowder. The correct soup came right before the steak, and the flavor was off. Didn’t really matter, the steak made up for it.

Service was OK. The iced tea was GREAT as always. My check was $23.32. Reliable.

Rudi’s Deli, Winter Park, CO

19 July 2014

Rudi's Deli on Urbanspoon

We drove up to check out Winter Park and have lunch this afternoon. We wanted sandwiches and chose Rudi’s based on good Urbanspoon reviews.

We all got sandwiches; Raegan and I had varieties of turkey sandwiches (hers came with pasta salad, I got chips), and Erin had chicken. The sandwiches were pretty good. We also got a brownie and a carmalita, which is a supercharged caramel brownie. Raegan said the pasta salad was vinegar based, which wasn’t completely to her liking; she also said the pasta salad needed more blasted olives, although she thinks about olives like I think about brisket.

Service was fast and friendly. The iced tea was great. Our check was $30.72. We would gladly have another lunch here.

Kojak’s House of Ribs, Tampa, FL

7 December 2012

Kojak's House of Ribs on Urbanspoon

This was a wonderful find! I chose Kojak’s for lunch based on reviews on Google. It was close to MacDill, which was also nice.

I got the two meat of ribs and chicken. In short, on a scale of 1 to JT’s, those ribs were a 9.8. They had a smoky taste that was unique to me. Tender and flavorful. They were just a touch greasy (I think they were short ribs, instead of spare ribs, maybe?). They didn’t need much sauce. The chicken was perfect, with wonderful flavor, moist all the way through. Great stuff. I got green beans (great!) and something new, parsley potatoes. While these red skin-on potatoes had some chopped parsley, they were in pure butter, and had just the right amount of garlic. Wonderful. I liked the BBQ sauce also. They had excellent sweet tea.

We got there at 1115 and were back at work at 1210. My check was $16.48, excellent value. Service was prompt (we had to wait TWO minutes between our order and delivery of our food :). I would be happy to return.

A postscript: As we were paying, I saw the business card for Kojak’s. It had the motto “Famous Oklahoma Style”. This is the second Oklahoma connection I’ve run across in Tampa (the first being Square 1 Burgers last week). I asked, and it turns out Kojak’s was originally along 29th street across from Tinker Air Force Base! They had a photo of the place, and it looked like where the Bomber Club now is across from the golf course. Pretty cool!

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Tampa, FL (Downtown)

7 December 2012

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here this evening, after a nice walk from my hotel. I got my usual for a Five Guys – Cheeseburger (double) with bacon, regular fries, and a drink. It was not the best experience I’ve had at a Five Guys. The burger was not as tasty as others I’ve had at Five Guys. The fries; they needed to change the oil, as the fries were quite burned tasting. The tea was Gold Peak, and was not good; I switched to Coke, which was pretty good.

The staff was really friendly. My check was $13.56. They have free wifi!

Walking Around Downtown Tampa

7 December 2012

I’m in Tampa, FL. I finished the work day at 1830 and needed dinner, but I didn’t want too much. I had noticed a Five Guys about a half mile north of me (I’m in an Embassy Suites south of downtown), and I decided to walk there.

I walked up there along one set of roads, and walked back along a second. It was a wonderful walk!

Downtown Tampa is a jewel. It’s clean. There is a nice pedestrian area that used to be a road; it has running water, places to sit for lunch, and trees and arbors for cover. There were hundreds of people walking around. There were many restaurants, bookstores, and other stores open. Lots of people were walking their dogs.

I didn’t get hit up by a single panhandler. The architecture of the buildings was really nice to see. The streets had plenty of crosswalks, and every one of them I saw had protected walk signs. At a park near the Five Guys, an ice skating rink was operating, very cool.

This is a nice downtown. I think that the Tampa downtown is a model for others to emulate. I’ve been to the Tampa area literally dozens of times. 99% of my time has been spent on the St. Petersburg peninsula, and I generally cross the bay to the Westshore area near the airport for my flight the next day. I think I would rather spend those evenings in the downtown area from now on.

Frankie’s of Tampa, Tampa, FL

6 December 2012

Frankies, the Gourmet of Fast Food on Urbanspoon

I was looking for a non-fancy place to have dinner, and found this place, which is near a local college. I got there about 1800 and left at 1900. I ordered a double cheeseburger with bacon (mayo and pickles), six BBQ wings, and some chili cheese tots.

That was a darn fine cheeseburger! Great beef, perfectly cooked, juicy but not dripping. Not too huge, either. The wings were very good, with a slightly sweet, tangy sauce, and they were plump and tender. The tots were good, but the amount was HUGE. I couldn’t finish over half of the serving.

They have decent iced tea. My check was $16.66. Looks expensive, but it was a meal and a half. Good stuff.

Square 1 Burgers, Tampa, FL

28 November 2012

Square 1 Burgers & Bar on Urbanspoon

This was a great find! I wanted a quick dinner after a long day at work, and Square 1 fit the bill. I got there about 1945, and left about 2045.

First thing I noticed, a lot of references OU-related. “Boomer Sooner” something, and “Sooner Sauce” (more on this later). The owner is from Norman originally, and is an OU fan. He makes good burgers, regardless.

I ordered an Angus All American Double – basically a double meat cheeseburger, medium well. I had them delete the tomato and red onion. That was one damn fine cheeseburger. Great flavor, excellent crust, and cooked just as I asked. The burger self-destructed as I ate it, and I finished about half of it with a fork. I have to say that burger is in my top 10 cheeseburgers of all time. Really good.

I also got onion rings. PERFECT. Cooked to perfection, great breading, sweet onion, absolutely yummy. They came with “Sooner Sauce”, which is chipotle ranch dressing. The dressing was very tangy, and had a bit of bite when first eaten, that went away before the next bite. I liked that stuff.

I think the tea was Gold Coast; it had a slightly odd aftertaste. It wasn’t too bad. I also got a vanilla milkshake for dessert.

All in all, an excellent meal. My check was $24.33. Maybe a bit expensive, but that was a wonderful burger. Service was prompt and very friendly. I like this place! Recommended.

Fireplace Restaurant, Seminole, FL

27 November 2012

Fireplace on Urbanspoon

Fireplace is one approximately 10,000 family restaurants within a 10 mile radius of my hotel. I drove past it this evening, and decided to give it a try. I had breakfast; two thick slices of french toast, two eggs over easy, and a side of bacon. This was all perfect. The bacon in particular was just the right amount of crunchy and tasty. Not a scrap of any of this was left. The iced tea was excellent, and service was fast.

I got there about 1810 and left at 1855. My check was $7.12, great value. Recommended.

Firehouse Subs, Largo, FL (Bardmoor)

27 November 2012

Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

A new Firehouse location opened up just down the road from where I work in Largo, so we went there for lunch today.

They make a fine sandwich at this location. I got a turkey, bacon, and ranch without the tomato or onion, on wheat. The ranch was a very nice chipotle variety. It cames with chips and some very good iced tea. The sandwich came quickly and to order.

My check was $8.86. Great stuff, much better then my first Firehouse experience. I’ll gladly go here again.

Ranch House Grill, Tampa, FL

7 September 2012

Ranch House Grill on Urbanspoon

I was headed towards an Italian restaurant in south Tampa when I drove past Ranch House and diverted.

I got there around 1745 and left around 1850. I ordered a 14oz ribeye, and for my two sides I got spaghetti. The ribeye had a bit of charring on it, but it was medium like I asked. The steak was pretty tender and had good flavor. I cut the char off and left nothing else. The spaghetti marinara was quite chunky, and there wasn’t enough of it (there never is…), but I ate all of it, and it had pretty good flavor. My iced tea was good and kept refilled. Service was perfect; my server made several “silent” passes while I worked on my USA Today puzzle page, which I appreciated. I got a chocolate mousse for dessert; it was pretty good.

My check was $25.65. Would I return to Ranch House? If I was in south Tampa, and someone wanted steak, I wouldn’t mind going back again. OTOH, there are a lot of other restaurants to try in the area, so that would be my priority. So Ranch House was far from the worst food I have had, and there were some other interesting looking things on the menu.

Sun Coast Cafe, Largo, FL

6 September 2012

Sun Coast Cafe on Urbanspoon

I chose this restaurant pretty much at random. I got there around 1715 and left around 1810.

I ordered honey fried chicken. It was very good. The pieces were kind of small, but there were four pieces. The stuff was right out of the deep fryer, and was hotter than heck. I got soup for my appetizer; vegetable beef. Pretty standard stuff, and I ate all of it. The chicken was very crispy and had good flavor, and wasn’t dry at all (it wasn’t greasy, either). My side was applesauce, and was a good complement to the meal. Dessert was included; I got tapioca (I need to get tapioca more often).

My check was $10.17. Service was very good. The iced tea was very good, and kept refilled. Nice restaurant.

Singha Thai Cusine, Pinellas Park, FL

13 July 2012

Singha Thai Cusine on Urbanspoon

A group of work friends like Thai a lot, so suggested this place for dinner after work tonight. It was excellent!

I got a chicken fried rice dinner as a appetizer for five, and there was still some left. Great stuff, some of the best fried rice I have had.

I got pad thai for my second Thai experience. This meal had a LOT of carrot in it; it’s quite orange. The meal had a delicate taste that is quite distinct from any other food I have tried. There was a LOT of it, the same size dish that the fried rice came in. It probably would easily have been enough for two. I got it with no spice/peppers (maybe next time).

The iced tea was not very good. Service was excellent. My check was $22.98. Expensive, but I essentially got two meals between the fried rice and the pad thai, so about $11.00 for dinner is much more reasonable. I would gladly go here again.

Codys Original Roadhouse, Belleair Bluffs, FL

12 July 2012

Cody's Original Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

I have wanted to try Cody’s but timing has not worked out to date. This evening, it did. I went to the location just west of where I was staying in Largo. I got there around 1830, and left around 2000. There were a lot of people waiting. Turns out that Wednesday is 2-for-1 fajita day.

The meal started with a basket of rolls and some cinnamon butter. Great stuff!

I ordered an appetizer of BBQ wings, but those could have been a meal for one themselves. The wings were large, with a lot of meat, and a very good BBQ sauce.

My main course was rotisserie chicken. The half chicken had a very nice smoky flavor. Most of it was moist and tasty, but there were a couple places that the chicken was a bit dry. Overall, very good. The chicken came with a baked potato that could have used just a bit more time baking.

Iced tea was great. Service was outstanding, in spite of how crowded the place was. My check was $22.23. I’d go back anytime.

Winghouse, Pinellas Park, FL

10 May 2012

Winghouse on Urbanspoon

A group of seven of us went to Winghouse for lunch today. It was a decent experience. As I’ve said before, if you disapprove of Hooters or Twin Peaks, you will likely disapprove of Winghouse.

I got chili cheese fries for the table, not bad. I ordered 10 BBQ wings, and a western cheeseburger, which has bacon and BBQ sauce. The burger was really good, lots of beef flavor. The wings were OK, sort of thin and not plump, but tasty enough.

Service was pretty good in spite of the fact we had seven people and it was the middle of lunch. My check was $24.89. I’d go back.

Savory, Largo, FL

10 May 2012

Savory Restaurant Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Yesterday, I was headed to Five Guys for a burger, when I ran across a BBQ place a couple blocks from the hotel. This evening, I was headed to Five Guys for a burger, when I ran across Savory a couple of block short of Five Guys. Semper Gumby!

Service was disinterested at best. I waited a bit to get a drink order, and had to ask for a menu after I got the drink, and then had to ask for a napkin and cutlery after dinner was delivered.

The iced tea was decent. I ordered chicken parm, with soup to start. Never got the soup. The parm was three chicken breasts, medium sized, but enough to fill me up nicely, and was nicely cheesed and breaded. The spaghetti was almost angel hair and cooked just right. The marinara was just a bit on the thin side (in quantity). The meal as a whole was OK. Not really bursting with flavor, but bland.

For dessert I got a slice of chocolate cake. It was six inches tall and four inches at the end. HUGE. I ate maybe 10% of it at the restaurant, and brought the rest to the hotel. Probably have it for breakfast tomorrow…

The meal was $16.21. I would go back if someone else suggested it.

Smokin Rib Shack BBQ, Largo, FL

9 May 2012

Smokin Rib Shack on Urbanspoon

This evening, I was headed to Five Guys for a quick dinner, and I drove past this place less than five blocks from my hotel. I swung around to check it out.

I ordered a two-meat of chopped brisket and chicken. Turns out the chicken was chopped also :). The food comes in a foam to-go container whether you eat in or head out. The brisket was mushy; there is a fine line between tender and mushy. But it wasn’t tough in the slightest. It had decent flavor as well, and there was a fair amount of it. The chicken was pretty darn good, tender and juicy all the way through. Both meats were covered in a mustard-based sauce that did a good job of enhancing the flavor of the meats without being overwhelming.

The meal came with a couple sides, I got potato salad and baked beans. The salad was good (mustard-based), and the beans were pretty plain (I like it when they are cooked with brisket in it).

There is no iced tea (ahhhhhh!!!!!). If you eat in, you can get a can of Coke or a bottle of water. Service was order at the counter and carry it to the table. The food was done before I finished paying, and my check was $10.70. Good meal, I would go back anytime.

Clubhouse Restaurant, Largo, FL

9 May 2012

Club House on Urbanspoon

I ate at Clubhouse the first time last September. I just went back to read that blog post, and it turns out I got the same thing this time as then, a Skillet. Hash browns and onions, covered with gravy, cheese, and sausage, with eggs on top. Wheat toast. All excellent. Tea was excellent. I was there with four other guys, and we were in and out in 45 minutes. Service was great.

This place is on the list for future visits. My check was $9.40.

The Floridian, Tampa, FL

4 March 2012

The Floridian on Urbanspoon

There is some part of me that for some reason really wants to have a “real” Cuban sandwich. I don’t know why this is.

A couple years ago, I was in Salt Lake City, and the place I ate dinner at had an “authentic Cuban”. It was pretty good, but I wondered if it was authentic. Then about a month ago, I got a Cuban at a place at BWI airport that I didn’t like at all.

So on this trip to Tampa, I asked around among some of the locals, and had no less than three recommendations for The Floridian. Happily enough, it was about eight blocks from my hotel, and had a Verizon store next door where I went and bought a replacement headset after dinner. The Floridian says that it had the very best Cuban on the planet. I don’t have a good basis for comparison, but it was pretty darn good.

My order was a Cuban, fries, and a drink. So the sandwich was very good! It was a 10″ size, was hot off the press, and yet not so hot as to burn the mouth. The press made the bread fairly hard, and it takes a good bite to get through it. I noticed the sandwich had ham, pork, and salami on it, all thin sliced. It had some yellow sauce. It had an interesting flavor, just a hint of spice, and was very good.

The fries were perfect, medium cut and fried just to the point of crisp. The fries were black peppered. The tea was brewed on-site and self serve, and excellent.

So I enjoyed the sandwich. I got there about 1900 and left about 1945. I was the only customer in the place, although a couple to-go folks came in. My check was $8,30.

After this meal, I looked up Cuban sandwiches on Wikipedia, and to my surprise found out that I had *not* had a pure Cuban. The salami was the difference. Well, I guess I will have to have another in pure form! Next trip.

Amici Italian Restaurant, Largo, FL

1 March 2012

Amici Italian Eatery on Urbanspoon

This was a wonderful find! I chose Amicis for two reasons; I was looking for Italian for dinner, and it near my hotel. I headed over there about 1900 and left an hour later. The place was sparsely occupied.

The meal started with some very good crusty bread, along with a dish of EEVO with small crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. I asked for balsamic vinegar, which added a great flavor to the EEVO dip.

I got a ceasar salad. It was a creamy ceasar and was very good.

The star of the show was the fettuccine alfredo with chicken. To put it out fast, this fettuccine alfredo was the best I have ever had. It was delicious. Spectacularly delicious. This stuff was so good, I could have eaten it until I exploded. It was that good. The alfredo was not so rich that it overwhelmed the egg noodles; it had a light but extremely enjoyable flavor. The noodles were a perfect al dente, and we full of flavor. That stuff was GOOD.

The iced tea was excellent as well. It was kept refilled. Service was excellent as well. My check was $21.67; well worth it. I look forward to trying some of the other entrees at Amici. Great stuff. Highly recommended.

Jimbo’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Tampa, FL

21 January 2012

Jimbo's Pit Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Wow, this was a good find! I was driving to my hotel-near-the-airport and had just filled up my rental in anticipation of turning it in tomorrow morning, and looking for a light dinner. As I drove along, getting ready to head to a Chipotle, I saw Jimbo’s, and just turning in to the parking lot. Light dinner? That’s not even close to what I got, but it was very good.

I got there around 1830 and left at 1922. It was uncrowded the entire time, but about 40% full when I left.

I ordered a three-meat dinner, chicken, beef, and ribs. All – great! It came with two sides, I got baked beans (OK) and mac and cheese (very good). The chicken was wonderful, a light quarter bird that was smoked to perfection. It wasn’t dry in the middle, but not greasy either. Excellent. The beek was thin-sliced beef brisket. A wonderful smoky flavor, and tender. The ribs has that red crust on them, were tender, had outstanding good flavor. I rated the ribs as 9.5 on a scale of 1 to JTs. They were great. The meal came with three hush puppies, which were nice and light and not greasy.

The iced tea was excellent. Service was casual but prompt.

Did I mention that there was a heck of a lot of food? There was enough to feed me, Raegan and Erin. Ian would have to get his own.

My check was $16.74. For the amount of food I got, that’s excellent value. If I hadn’t been flying out in the morning, I would have brought it back to the room for dinner tomorrow. Instead, I brought the beef and chicken to the hotel and left it for the kitties that live outside.

I would gladly go back to Jimbo’s. Great stuff.

Mo’ Ziki, Largo, FL

20 January 2012

Mo' Ziki on Urbanspoon

Today, we were running a bit behind in our meeting, and so we were looking at shortening lunch a bit. I fired up Google Maps and looked for a Chipotle, but the nearest one was about eight miles away. I commented on that to one of our hosts, who suggested Mo’ Ziki, as being a “greek Chipotle”. OK… I thought.

So we went to Mo’s. The serving style is like Chipotle, you get a burrito or bowl, rice, meat, and veg stuff. I got a bowl, with grilled steak, rice, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and traditional sauce, which is a variation of yogurt sauce. The meal was OK. I thought it was a little small for a meal. There was little meat in the bowl, and the beef didn’t have a lot of flavor.

So would I go back? I think I would. The meal wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that good. I would try the chicken or the gyros meat next time.

The iced tea was Gold Coast. It wasn’t horrible, but again, it wasn’t good. As a general note, I have to say again that I really wish that all restaurants would put fresh brewed iced tea out. None of the concentratres are very good, and most are downright nasty.

We were there around 1210, and left around 1250. The place was fairly crowded. My check was $9.21. One note: Urban Spoon as Mo’ Ziki in Seminole, but it’s in Largo.

Widow Brown’s, Largo, FL

20 January 2012

Widow Brown's on Urbanspoon

Widow Brown’s is one of the dozens of family restaurants in the St. Petersburg area. I pass by it several times on each trip to this area, it seems. I decided to try it for dinner this evening, and liked it.

I got there about 1800, the place was about 1/3 full, and left 1845, and it was getting full.

I ordered the Yankee Pot Roast. On the menu, the Yankee Pot Roast was right above the Pot Roast. I asked my server what the difference was, and she said that the plain Pot Roast was more traditional. Well, I’ll get that next time.

The Yankee Pot Roast was pretty darn good! It was a good-sized chunk of roast, a smallish amount of gravy, and it was smothered with veg stuff. The roast had decent flavor and was pretty tender. The stuff on the top was carrot strings, potatoes, onions, a couple small broccoli crowns, and some other veg strips. The only thing I didn’t like was some largish slices of green pepper. Like stew, roast does not need or want green or red peppers. I fished them out, and still tasted pepper a couple of times. The meal was a decent size, not too huge to overload my stomach.

The meal came with a trip to the salad bar. It was a smallish bar, but the lettuce was good, the applesauce was a nice addition, and the ranch dressing was excellent.

The meal also came with dessert. I got rice pudding with whipped cream on top, good stuff.

The tea was excellent and kept refilled. Service was super nice and prompt. In fact, everyone at the restaurant was very nice, and there were obvious regulars in there.

My check was $11.32, a really good value. I will be back.

Antonio’s Pasta Grille, Temple Terrace (Tampa), FL

13 December 2011

Antonio's Pasta Grille on Urbanspoon

I picked this restaurant based on one criteria: it was near I-75. My buddy Harold was in the east Tampa area, and I was in the west Tampa area, and it was a convenient meeting place for dinner.

We got there about 1745; the place was mostly empty; it still was when we left around 1845.

The meal started with some really, really good bread, hot and crusty, and a dip of EEVO, garlic, a bit of red pepper, and balsamic vinegar. That stuff was so good I could have eaten about three times what I ate.

I got the chicken marsala. I had wanted the potatoes that the meal came with replaced with a side of fettuccine alfredo, but our server brought both. It turned out to be way too much food.

That being said, the meal was really good. The marsala was light and not overwhelming in the least. The alfredo noodles were perfect, al dente and just the right amount of rich, and the potatoes were good as well. The iced tea was strong. Our server was enthusiastic and motivated and took good care of us.

So the food was good, the company outstanding, and so it was a great evening. I’d eat at Antonio’s again. My check was $21.98.

Acropol Family Restaurant, Largo, FL

27 October 2011

Acropol Family on Urbanspoon

I’ve passed this place a number of times driving between my hotel and work here in Largo. It was recommended to me by a coworker today, and I stopped for dinner. I got there around 1730 and left around 1830. The place was about 50% full when I got there, and getting crowded when I left.

The menu had amazing variation. There was Italian, Greek, American, Tex-Mex, and probably other stuff.

One of the daily specials was fried chicken. I asked my server, and she said it was one of her favorites, and then she cautioned me that I didn’t want to be in a hurry, as it took longer to cook. That’s a positive sign! It means they cook it right.

The meal started with some navy bean soup, it was a biggish bowl, and was really good (and HOT). The chicken arrived just as I was finishing up the bowl, and it was still sizzling from the frying. It was four pieces, a leg, wing, thigh, and breast. And it was good stuff. The breading was not super greasy, and the chicken was juicy and had good flavor. It came with whipped potatoes and chicken gravy. The tea was good, strong, and kept refilled.

Overall the meal was simple, filled me up, and was tasty. I looked at several other meals walking in and out of the restaurant that also looked good.

My check was $10.75. Service was good also. I would eat here again anytime.

Balla’s Steakhouse, Largo, FL

26 October 2011

Balla's Steak House on Urbanspoon

I have run by this place many times over the past couple years, as it is right up the road from my hotel. It’s a fairly casual place, and I hit it for dinner this evening. Great experience!

First, I was there on Karaoke Tuesday! The singers were enthusiastic, and were actually not dreadful.

The meal started with a soup course; I chose chili, and it was really good; I was surprised. The chili had some beans, but not too much, and some very few cut-up jalapenos in it, and it had just the right amount of heat to it. There was also a loaf of semi-rough white bread, with some EEVO and garlic. Good start.

I got a ribeye, it was great! About 95% fork tender, good presentation, and lots of flavor. Great steak. It came with rice pilaf, and with some steamed mixed veg (mainly carrots and squash), all good. There was not a scrap left on the plate. I got some iced tea with it, good stuff also.

Service was decent. My check was $21.35, which I think was very good value. I will gladly eat here again. They also have some Italian entrees on the menu.

Courtside Grille, St. Petersburg, FL

25 October 2011

Courtside Grille on Urbanspoon

The check says the restaurant is in Feathersound, FL, but I think it’s St. Petersburg; probably a suburb.

I ate here for lunch today, on the way between the airport and the hotel. I got there around 1200 and left around 1400.

I got a BBQ Burger Stacker. It is a decent sized burger patty (1/3 lb, probably), on a bun with cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, and fried onions. The burger was a touch overcooked. The bacon was really good, and the BBQ sauce was a nice touch. The bun was a touch overtoasted on the edges; a knive solved that. I was not impressed by the fried onions – they were dry and hard, so I scraped them off the sandwich. The meal came with chips, they look like they were made there, and were pretty good. The tea was Gold Coast (the taste cannot be masked).

Service was spotty, but not too bad. My check was $12.26. This place falls into the class of restaurants that I would go to if someone else wanted to go.

I think that the menu was kind of limited, at least for my taste. That’s not a general criticism, just a personal comment on my part.

Hiking Starkey Wilderness Park, New Port Richey, FL

19 September 2011

Last Monday I got into TPA near noon, got across the Bay, had lunch, got checked into the hotel, and got the accumulated email taken care of. I wanted to go for a hike, and picked this area. It was about 30 miles from my hotel in Largo.

I got there about 1600. There is a staffed booth for campers. They sort of rudely have a sign in the window that they did not make change. The fee to enter the park was $2. It cost me $5 since they did not make change.

I walked 6.9 miles at this park. I really had no idea where I was going, there were no trail maps at the entrance station. I saw two trail markers – one for the nature trail, and one for the bike trail. I ended up stumbling across another trail, and I essentially walked until I got so sweaty that I decided I was done for the day. It was pretty humid, but not terribly hot.

The first thing I did was find one of the parking areas. On the way there, I passed this guy scarfing grass on the side of the road; he’s about a foot long. I believe this is a Gopher Tortoise, which is native to and common in Florida. I saw one just like him right before I got on the nature trail.

I started off walking along what I thought was a trail through the trees. Not so much. I walked on a road for a while, detoured off the road to an open play area, and then ran across a sign that pointed to the nature trail. The nature trail was a little more like it.

At some point the trail branched, so I took the branch. I ended up in a swamp. It should be noted that there were many places on the nature trail (and everywhere else) where the ground was waterlogged and muddy. But this was a no-kidding, the-body-will-never-be-found, swamp. There were a lot of mosquitoes there as well. I backtracked.

Eventually the nature trail came back to a playground. I came right back to the parking lot my car was in, and that’s where I ran across this very wide trail that led to the south.

I wandered along this trail for a while. I have a pretty good internal compass and distance indicator, so I knew how to get back (and I had set a waypoint in the GPS as well). There was lots more swamp and mud to walk around. I walked out to a point, looked at my sweaty shirt, and turned around and walked back. I sort of looped around another swampy area, then near the entrance station, and finally back to my car.

Here is my path on a topo map, a Google Earth overlay, and finally the park trail map that a work friend found online and sent to me.

The area I hiked is outlined in yellow. There is a lot of park left to hike.

I left around 1830.

Signage for the park is not very good. It’s flat. It’s got a lot of pretty trees and shade. It’s a swamp in places. It was nice hike. Max altitude gain was… 6″ (that was going from the trail to the road surface 🙂 ).

I really thought the “no change” sign was rude.

One thing that I find myself amused by. My last hike was thousands of feet of altitude change. This one was the equivalent of walking across a parking lot. Both were sweaty.

Farmer’s Kitchen, Largo, FL

16 September 2011

Farmer's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I saw this place as I drove along Bay Drive on Monday. I decided to try it for dinner this evening, as I was going from Largo to Tampa, to spend the night 1 mile from the airport instead of driving there in the morning.

They have a pretty neat special called “Beat the Clock”. There are a bunch (more than 10) of choices, and the cost goes up as the clock goes on: $5 from 1500-1600, $6 from 1600-1700, and $7 from 1700-1800 (note: the amounts here are approximate, close, but representative).

You get a cup of soup or a salad; I got a salad with really good ranch dressing. The was a big roll of white bread that was just a little rough, and OK if a little bland.

I chose the pot roast over noodles. Turns out, it is really roast beef (sliced) over egg noodles, with a tomato-based gravy. The gravy had carrots, onion, and celery in it. The whole dish was simple, filling, and tasty. The beef was fairly tender, the noodles were tasty, and the gravy was very good.

The meal came with a drink (great iced tea) and dessert. You had a choice of jello, something else, or three puddings. I almost got bread pudding, but got rice pudding instead, and it was very good.

My check was $8.28, for an entire dinner. Great value, very good food. Service was great.

The restaurant was playing WDUV the Dove, one of my favorite stations, so that was a bonus.

When I am in the LA area, one of the common sites are restaurants that share a common characteristic: a huge variety of food. Here in the St. Petersburg area, there is a bunch of restaurants that are similar in that they share a common characteristic of basic comfort food in a family setting. Farmer’s Kitchen is one example, the restaurant I ate in Monday is another. I think that supporting these kinds of local eateries – as long as the food is good! – is a worthwhile endeavor.

You have to eat; you might was well make sure the food tastes good.

Cesare on the Beach, Clearwater, FL

15 September 2011

Cesare's on the Beach on Urbanspoon

I was heading towards the beach for the semi-obligatory view of the ocean (or in this case, the Gulf of Mexico), and drove past this place. I wanted some Italian food, and so decided to give it a try. I got there around 1840, and left an hour later. It was not crowded.

Iced tea came to the table, good. There was also some rough crusty bread, and a dip made from olive oil, with garlic, pesto, and a bit of red pepper, which was GREAT.

I got a ceasar salad, the dressing was creamy and excellent. I ordered fettuccine alfredo with chicken. I asked, and the chicken is usually grilled, but they sauteed it for me. It was a good amount of food, not too much. There was just the right amount of alfredo. They make there own pasta there, and I overheard a server say they had made a batch that morning. It was really good, and cooked perfectly.

So overall, it was a good meal, especially for having a near-beach location. Service was good, my check was $29.96.

Clubhouse Restaurant, Largo, FL

14 September 2011

This was a great little place. I was in a bit of a hurry, I had let work eat into my lunch time, and found Clubhouse via a Google Maps search.

I got there at 1145 and left at 1225. The iced tea was good and kept refilled. The place was 50% full when I got there, and 75% full when I left.

I ordered a Skillet. This is eggs scrambled with sausage chunks, hash browns, and onions. Then it’s covered with sausage gravy and some shredded cheese. EXCELLENT! The gravy really made the meal. It was some of the best restaurant gravy I have had. The meal comes with peppers by default, but I asked and they were not added; a good thing.

Service was fast. My check was only $9.39. This place is on the list when I am in the area.

Pappas Ranch, Clearwater, FL

14 September 2011

Pappas Ranch on Urbanspoon

I had been on a nice hike yesterday afternoon, and so needed some calories. I decided to cruise down US19, and saw Pappas as I drove by, and decided to try it. It’s on Gulf-To-Bay Road.

I got there around 1845, the place was about 1/3 full.

I ordered a ribeye. It came just a little less cooked than the medium I asked for, so I let it rest a bit, and it eventually came up to almost medium. The steak was pretty darn good, very tender (fork tender for a lot of it), and had really good flavor. I was happy that there wasn’t any charring on it anywhere. Not a bit of the steak was left. It had a couple onion straws on top of it, and they were good also.

The steak came with a side, and I got “Kick-Ass Beans”. I didn’t like them. They were baked beans, but were thick with jalapenos, and so not to my taste.

The iced tea was OK. Service was spotty. My check was $25.96, and the steak was pretty darned good, so decent value.

Country Skillet Restaurant, Clearwater, FL

14 September 2011

Country Skillet on Urbanspoon

I got into TPA around lunch, and hadn’t had much breakfast due to an 0600 departure from OKC, and so I was getting hungry as I drove through the St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Largo area. I saw Country Skillet as I drove by, the parking lot was full, and I also saw the “Free Wifi” sign, so I flipped a U and headed back.

The mix of people ranged all over – age, dress. That’s a good sign to me. I got there around 1215 and was immediately seated, but the place kept filling up the entire time.

The iced tea was excellent, and kept refilled. I fired up my laptop (it takes forever to boot), and ordered the daily special, which was Shepherd’s Pie. It arrived just after I had caught up on the day’s emails so far.

The meal started out with a cup of navy bean and ham soup. It was good, and it had extra stuff in it like carrot and tomato chunks. I liked it.

The pie got there, and it was wonderful! HOT! There was a good amount of slightly spicy beef, with carrots, peas, and potato chunks mixed in. This was covered with very good mashers. The mashers had a thin layer of cheese melted on top (in fact, that was the only thing I could say about the meal – if they had baked the pie to get a good crust on the mashers, it would have been perfect!). It was excellent regardless. The amount was perfect as well, enough to fill up, but not get to the point of exploding.

So I would gladly go back to the Skillet. The other food I saw looked very good. My check was $8.54, outstanding value. Recommended.

Jose Cuervo Tequileria, Tampa International Airport, Tampa, FL

14 December 2010

I had dinner in this restaurant inside Terminal A this evening. I got there about 1720, and the place was about half full. When I left around 1800, it was about 75% full.

I got chicken enchiladas verdes. The meal came with rice and black beans. My server told me that the rice was really a rice/pinto beans mix, so I got a double of that instead. The rice/beans mix was excellent! Tasty stuff. The enchiladas were also very, very good. They had salsa verde on the top of them, and it had been added before baking, so the stuff had soaked into the tortillas and added a great flavor to the chicken. The meal was not huge, and so was a good size before a 3-hour flight.

I got iced tea, and it was fresh brewed and good. Service was excellent, which means fast and attentive in an airport, which is built around deadlines.

My check was $14.43, a bit expensive if you are not at an airport.

The menu was, I suspect, a subset of the “outside the airport” menu. I look forward to trying one of these again.

Rockwell’s Corner Pub, Largo, FL

14 December 2010

A couple coworkers and I ate lunch here today. A good meal. We got there around 1205, and left at 1250. The restaurant was mainly empty while we were there.

I got a bowl of their homemade chili. It was pretty good. It had a couple varieties of beans (kidney and at least one other). There was good flavor, but no heat at all. I found one piece of green bell pepper in it. One too many, but easily fished out. I also got an order of honey BBQ wings; they were good, the BBQ tangy and not too sweet. All wings scarfed down (I did offer them to my coworkers, but they didn’t take me up on the offer).

The iced tea was good and kept refilled. Service was personal and good. My check was $12.19. A good, fast lunch.

Hometown Family Restaurant, Seminole, FL

14 December 2010

Hometown Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After work today, my two coworkers and I were driving back to the hotel, and drove past this place and decided to try it. We got there around 1900, and left around 1950. There was no karaoke.

I ordered roast beef. The meal came with a salad that was pretty good, and had decent ranch dressing. The roast beef was pretty tough. It was mostly flavored with Worcestershire sauce (did I spell that right, I wonder?). It took some serious chewing to get it down. There was quite a bit of it, being two largish slices. The meal also came with mixed veg (OK) and mashers (OK) with brown gravy (OK).

The iced tea was good, and service was good, and quick. I got a slice of chocolate cake for dessert – it was HUGE. Too much to eat, it came back to the hotel with me, and was consumed later this evening with some milk from the CVS just down the road.

My check was $16.22. You could do worse than eat here, I guess.

Bella Italia Pizzeria & Deli, Largo, FL

13 December 2010

Bella Italia Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I have been here for lunch several times over the years. A group of us went here for lunch today, it was excellent! We got there around 1145, and left around 1240.

We got toasted garlic bread with the lunch, and some marinara to dip it in. The bread was perfect, and the marinara was excellent.

I got the lunch special of chicken parmesean. It was a single chicken breast, breaded and covered with cheese, and was very tasty. It was also the perfect size for lunch. It came with some spaghetti and more of that excellent marinara.

I got iced tea to drink. Service was perfect. My check was only $8.40. This place is highly recommended.

Largo Family Restaurant, Largo, FL

13 December 2010

Largo Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I am pretty sure that I ate at this restaurant a number of years ago. The place has quite the varied menu. It’s only a couple blocks north of my hotel here in Largo. I went there with a couple work associates this evening. We got there around 1715, and were immediately seated, the restaurant was only about 15% full.

Ron got the fish platter (mainly fried stuff, it looked like), and Tom got turkey. Both said their meal was good.

I got roast chicken. The meal came with a salad that was loaded with stuff. I got ranch dressing that was really good. The chicken was of variable quality. There were parts that were very good, but more that was not, either stringy, or way dried out. I think that I only ate about half of that half chicken. The meal came with some dressing (not to my taste), mashers (good) and green beans (good), and poultry gravy (excellent). I think I would get something else next time, like the turkey.

I got tapioca for dessert, and it was small but very good. The tea was good (although our server kept bringing me sweet tea after the first unsweetened).

We left around 1755, the restaurant was probably more than half full. Service was pretty good. My check was $9.96.

One thing – Sunday evenings around 1745 is karaoke night!

Winghouse, Largo, FL

15 July 2009

Winghouse on Urbanspoon

OK, so let’s be up front about it, this place is a knockoff of Hooters. Or Hooters is a knockoff of Winghouse.

Regardless, the wings at Wnghouse are better than the wings at Hooters.

A couple work friends and I had lunch here today, at the location on Ulmerton. I got a pulled pork sandwich. It was not just super outstanding BBQ, but it was not bad at all. I also got “Dallas style” wings, which had a nice BBQ coating on them. They were really good wings too, lots of meat on them, and nice and juicy. The iced tea was good. Service was pretty good. I don’t remember what Harold and Ray got, but I think they liked it.

My check was $19.00. Kind of high, but I added the 10 wings to my order for us to share.