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Farmers Market in/near Anna Maria

While it's a bit of a drive, I highly recommend the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Pete. It's one of the biggest markets in the Southeast. There are at least two local farms that sell fresh-picked organic produce. You'll also find fresh fish, meats, cheeses, baked goods, citrus, and a variety of other food products made locally. Add interesting crafts, some good food vendors and live music, and you have a festive market that's a destination in and of itself. I make the 30-minute drive (from Clearwater) at least twice a month during the season.

Nov 02, 2010
laurie in Florida

Chowdown - Tampa- Vizcaya Restaurante & Tapas Bar - 8/15/10

Sounds good to me! Count me in on the next one.

Aug 21, 2010
laurie in Florida

Catering a Casual 50thB-Day Party for 50-60 people

Congrats on your hubby's big day! I'm running about 6 months behind him. :)

While I don't have specific recommendations for your area, we periodically throw parties for as many as 60 - 70 people and have found that a casual buffet-style dinner usually fits the bill. We will typically order big platters of easy-to-serve food from a favorite local restaurant that fares well in buffet warmers for extended periods, such as penne pasta with sauce and cheese (which the kids should like) and Italian sausage, or Latin-style chicken and rice (we order ours from a local Colombian restaurant). Sometimes we'll order platters of two or three different entrees to offer variety, depending on the crowd. We then supplement with several cold sides and plenty of finger foods, pick up a couple cases of red and white wine that complement the entrees, and fill a big ice chest with beer, soda and water. We usually spend under $20 a head when we go this route (including alcohol), and it's not hard to pull off with a little planning. Good luck!

Aug 21, 2010
laurie in Florida

Chowdown - Tampa- Vizcaya Restaurante & Tapas Bar - 8/15/10

MAN, so sorry I missed this. When are you guys planning your next Chowdown?

Aug 19, 2010
laurie in Florida

Tahlequah, OK recs, please?

Thanks! I was hoping for some good eats a little closer to town, if possible. Anybody have Tahlequah recs? Anything at all?

Aug 09, 2010
laurie in Great Plains

I want to like Tampa/Clearwater, but I don't. Please help.

OK, while we are talking St. Pete Beach, I gotta add that DH and I recently had an incredible meal at Maritana Grill in the Don Cesar Hotel: habanero BBQ grouper served atop a bed of sweet plantain, chorizo and pineapple hash. The sweet-spicy mix of flavors was a fabulous foil to this area's favorite local seafood. Best grouper I've ever eaten, hands-down!!

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Maritana Grill
Don CeSar Beach Resort Spa, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

Aug 09, 2010
laurie in Florida

Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericana (Tampa)

Thanks so much for the rec! I love pupusas, but have not had any Salvadoran food since moving to TB. I will definitely check it out.

Aug 09, 2010
laurie in Florida

Tahlequah, OK recs, please?

DH and I will be traveling to Tahlequah in a few weeks and would like some recommendations for local restos. On past trips we have been underwhelmed with the food choices. We'd be interested in good BBQ, Southern, Mexican or Tex-Mex, healthy fare, good b'fasts, and at a "splurge" restaurant (if there are any in town, that is). Please save us from repeat visits to Chili's!! Thanks for your suggestions.

Jul 30, 2010
laurie in Great Plains

One night in Tampa, part II

I would also go with Bahama Breeze in your price range. Just keep in mind the patio gets pretty crowded, and you don't really get a view from inside (other than the parking lot).

I also agree that if you're willing to pay a bit more for fabulous food and views, head to Oystercatcher's. Call ahead and reserve a table close to a window to enjoy the great sunset views over the bay.

Whiskey Joe's isn't a bad choice, however. The food is just okay, but there are some dishes there I like. Their gumbo is particularly good, IMO. If you care more about the view than the food, want to be outdoors, and want to stick to a modest price point, Whiskey Joe's may fit the bill.

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Whiskey Joes
7720 W Courtney Campbell Cswy, Tampa, FL 33607

Jul 26, 2010
laurie in Florida

I want to like Tampa/Clearwater, but I don't. Please help.

I'm a La Cabana del Tio fan myself, but my husband recently had a great meal at Don Huichos, so I need to check it out. As far as Greektown Grille goes, I'm not a big fan. The space is very nice, as is the service, but instead of driving five minutes from my home to Greektown Grille, I typically drive the half-hour to Mykonos in Tarpon when I have a hankering for Greek.

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Mykonos
628 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Jul 25, 2010
laurie in Florida

Gluten-free in TB?

I need to mention too that this is mainly a lunch place--open 10 - 5 during the week, 10 - 2 weekends. I think they're closed Mondays.

Dr. Todd, I actually like The Livingroom, so maybe you should take my recs with a grain of salt. . . .

Jul 21, 2010
laurie in Florida

Gluten-free in TB?

Thanks, guys, for the recs. We may check some of them out with the limited time she has left in town.

We went for lunch today to Serendipity Cafe, which is in the little strip center next to The Livingroom on Main St. in Dunedin. Gosh, was it good! I am now officially a huge fan of kale chips--delicate oven-roasted fresh kale leaves that have been oh-so-lightly sprayed with olive oil and dusted with sea salt. Wow, how could something so GOOD for you taste so GOOD? This little place is entirely gluten-free and offers such wonders as cornmeal-based pancakes, lasagna made with polenta instead of noodles, and seriously delicious wraps. We'll be back there for lunch while my friend's in town, and I plan to become a regular once she's gone home--and I don't have any gluten issues at all. Highly recommended!

Jul 20, 2010
laurie in Florida

Gluten-free in TB?

My same friend is back in town and interestingly, there are quite a few more restaurants making an effort on behalf of those who must (or choose to) avoid gluten. Some of our observations to date:

Guppy's and Columbia both offer gluten-free menus. When I took my friend to Guppy's last year, the waitress was completely clueless, so this is real progress. Columbia has quite a few dishes that my friend can enjoy, so we've been there a couple times during her trip. Andy Huse, if you're reading this post, you'll be pleased to know that she purchased three copies of your book. :)

On the other hand, Park Shore Grill in St. Pete was a terrible disappointment. The indifferent hostess pretty much brushed us off when we asked if they had a gluten-free menu or could otherwide accomodate her needs. Not what I would expect from Park Shore at ALL--especially since they weren't particularly busy at the time. Instead, we went down the street to Moon Under Water, where we were cheerfully accomodated with a print-out of the dishes that did have gluten, so my friend could compare to the menu. We then had a perfectly delightful meal there.

There is also a new lunch spot in downtown Dunedin called Serendipity that is completely gluten-free. We plan to check it out this week.

Any other suggestions of restos in the greater TB area that do a good job catering to the needs of the gluten-free? Please share, and thank you!

Jul 18, 2010
laurie in Florida

I want to like Tampa/Clearwater, but I don't. Please help.

I've been intrigued by this place; will definitely check it out and report back.

Jul 18, 2010
laurie in Florida

I want to like Tampa/Clearwater, but I don't. Please help.

Yeah, Cristino's pizza is wonderful (although I do not recommend their pasta dishes). And their gelato is the best to be had in the area, IMO.

Jul 16, 2010
laurie in Florida

I want to like Tampa/Clearwater, but I don't. Please help.

There are actually several really good restos in Clearwater and environs. Here are some:

Clearwater Beach:

--Shor Grill (in the new Hyatt) for superb, fresh fish in a stunning setting. Try to get seated by a window or on the patio to enjoy the sunset views of the Gulf.

--Al & Stella (on Mandalay) for house-made pasta. It's become a mainstay of ours, and we've spoken with Italian expats who drive from as far as Naples to enjoy Sra. Stella's cooking.

--Kiku for excellent sushi.

Honestly, I am not a fan of Island Way Grill. My last few meals there have been disappointing. I think Shor Grill does a much better job at a similar price point.

Clearwater (mainland):

--The new Ceviche on Gulf-to-Bay for Spanish-style tapas

--Pierogi Grill, for real good Polish home-style cooking

--The Mirage for a reasonably-priced, Persian-style lunch buffet (or dinner buffet and belly dancer show on the weekends)

Dunedin:

--The Livingroom for an interesting small plates menu

--Casa Tina for "healthy mex" in fun, Frida Kahlo/Day of the Dead-inspired space

--Pan y Vino (next to Casa Tina) for interesting pizzas such as pistacio, Mexican chorizo, and goat cheese and figs

--Kelly's for Just About Anything (yes, that's the name of the restaurant, and the moniker applies--they serve b-fast, lunch and dinner in a quirky space)

Tarpon Springs:

--Mykonos for AWESOME Greek dishes and seafood. Grilled octopus is one of their specialties, or you can also get a whole fresh catch of the day (once when we ordered this, the fisherman who'd just caught it was eating lunch at a nearby table).

Indian Rocks Beach:

--Guppy's for fabulous seafood; the Sunset Trio of three fresh fish offerings of the day never disappoints

I've focused on North County and am surely not thinking of several at the moment, but this should get you started. Also, downtown St. Pete has plenty of interesting options.

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Island Way Grill
20 Island Way, Clearwater, FL 33767

Jul 12, 2010
laurie in Florida

Ex-Californians: Great Mexican Restaurants in Tampa Bay?

Ted Peter's is a must-do! It's a local institution--it's been run for something like 40 or 50 years by the same family. Cash-only. You can eat on the patio, inside, or buy smoked fish by the pound at their smokehouse next door. Menu is limited. They have smoked fish meals (the salmon is my favorite, even though it isn't a local fish; mullet is a taste I have yet to acquire). I adore their cheeseburgers--they're pure old-fashioned goodness, like the ones served up by diners in the 60s.

Jul 11, 2010
laurie in Florida

Ceviche - Tapas Restaurant in Tampa, fl.

Wow, I couldn't disagree more. I'm a huge fan of Ceviche. Their tapas are some of the best I've had--so much so that I've researched the Web high and low to try to replicate some at home. I do agree, however, that they are not always consistent; seems as though the recipes change somewhat depending on the cook (I've noticed a difference in the amount of garlic or sherry in a dish, for example).

On the other hand, I thought that Tina Tapas was horrible, both food and service. I will not be back there. Vizcaya is good, but I think Ceviche is the better value. Maybe it's just a matter of what you order and what your expectations are.

Jul 11, 2010
laurie in Florida

Clearwater and vicinity recs

ON CB proper, you can't beat the grouper sandwich at Frenchy's (any of the four locations, although Rockaway Grill,which is right on North Beach, has the best view). For a Cuban sandwich in the CB area, your best bet is probably the Columbia on Sand Key (which is just south, over the bridge, from CB. Go at lunch time. Another good lunch option there (and my personal fave) is the soup and salad combo of their famous 1905 salad with a cup of the scrumptious garbanzo bean soup. These lunch items are moderately priced, plus you can sit on the deck if the weather's nice and enjoy great views of the Intercoastal.

Another favorite on CB in your price range is Clear Sky Cafe on Mandalay--great for b'fast, lunch, and dinner. It's our go-to resto for breakfast in the area.

CB is full of laid-back beach dive types of restos, most with rather mediocre food. Other than the aformentioned Frenchys, Cooters is another good bet. I think they are still doing their all you can eat snow crab on Mondays and Tuesdays, a really good deal for the money.

If you're willing to drive a ways down Gulf Blvd, try Caddy's in Treasure Island. It's the quintessential beach bar--with picnic tables nestled on a beautiful stretch of Sunset Beach--with incredibly good smoked corned beef and Reuben sandwiches, of all things. Plant your bathing suited body at a picnic table, enjoy a sandwich with a brewsky or Rum Runner, and enjoy the people watching. Caddy's can be quite the scene.

Finally, allllllll the way down on St. Pete Beach is my fave Cuban resto in the area, Bella Havana. I tend to crave their mojitos (which are flavorful but not too strong rumwise, which is perfect for a lightweight like me). If you are into paella or arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), theirs is definitely worth the 45-minute wait. I also love their masas de puerco (fried pork chunks) and of course their fried plantains and yucca.

I've limited my recs to beach area restos only--let me know if you'd like some recs on the mainland. Enjoy your stay!

I'm assuming your definition of "moderate" is under $15 an entree on average. If you're willing to go a bit beyond that price point, I definitely recommend Al & Stellason CB for awesome Italian (otherwise, at least check out their gelato); Shor in the new Hyatt; Kiku for uber-good sushi; and Guppys on Indian Rocks Beach.

Apr 22, 2010
laurie in Florida

THE BEST PIZZA in TAMPA BAY???

Pan y Vino--Casa Tina's companion resto in Dunedin--recently switched its menu from tapas to pizza and wow, it's really great. I wouldn't recommend it for those NY-style or Chicago-style purists; except for a couple traditional pizzas like margherita and veggie, the offerings are quite innovative. My favorite is the pistachio with pesto. Also delish are the one with fig spread, goat cheese (although we had feta on ours--DH is not a chevre fan), and basil as well as their Mexican chorizo pizza. This is certainly a bit upscale from your typical pizzeria, but give it a try if you are looking for something a little different and happen to be in the Dunedin area.

Apr 22, 2010
laurie in Florida

Clearwater: Dinner recommendation before concert on Friday?

If you decide to dine on the beach, I would also recommend Al & Stella's (on Mandalay, in the same building as Kiku) for OUTSTANDING Italian and Shor at the new Hyatt for awesome seafood with beautiful views of the beach and gulf. If you don't want to hedge your bets traffic-wise and prefer a resto on the mainland on the way to Ruth Eckard, you might like Rumba on Gulf-to-Bay and Keene. They have a varied menu, including some good seafood dishes, and a very pleasant outdoor patio. I love their new oysters bienville appetizer.

Apr 08, 2010
laurie in Florida

Tampa, Sunday Brunch recomendations

I second the emotion for Oystercatchers. And I agree that Island Way Grill is a good value for the price. I've noticed that 400 Beach in St. Pete has a Sunday brunch buffet for around 20 bucks, but I have yet to try it.

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Island Way Grill
20 Island Way, Clearwater, FL 33767

Apr 08, 2010
laurie in Florida

Kifla recipe, please?

Could I bug you guys for the kifla and stuffed cabbage recipes? I would love to try them and see if they are anything like my grandma's. BTW, I was born on the East Side but graduated from Oswego H.S. in '79. . . .

Mar 09, 2010
laurie in Home Cooking

Great Colombian Food (Tampa)

Correctomundo. It's "an-to-HEE-tos".

Mar 09, 2010
laurie in Florida

Great Colombian Food (Tampa)

Hmmm, I don't think they're related, but I'll sleuth it some. . . .

Mar 09, 2010
laurie in Florida

Al & Stella - Clearwater Beach

NJ, glad you enjoyed this CB gem. It's become one of our "go-to" restos; we're there at least a couple times a month. Stella never disappoints!

Feb 15, 2010
laurie in Florida

Great Colombian Food (Tampa)

Antojitos, IMO, is the best Colombian food we've found in Tampa Bay (my husband is Colombian and I used to live in Bogota). The whole fried fish is delish. The various appetizers, such as the empanadas and stuffed yuca, are also really good. Stick-to-your-ribs soups and stews are Colombian standards; try the day's offering, which might include ajiaco, sancocho, or chicken soup. Finally, you GOTTA try the fresh-made Colombian rolls (which are popular street food in Colombia): pan de yuca, pan de bono, almojabanas (my favorite), or bunuelos.

And if you see a guy in a motorcycle T-shirt sitting at the counter exchanging jokes with the owner, say "hi"--it may very well be my husband, who is a regular at Antojitos.

Enjoy!

Feb 11, 2010
laurie in Florida

Thanksgiving Ideas in Tampa

The past couple years we've done T-day at Island Way Grill on Clearwater Beach, mainly because DH and DS hate turkey but love sushi, while DD and I could do the traditional thing. They do a nice job, and of course the setting is beautiful. (We won't be there this year, as we'll be hosting a bunch of fam from out-of-state).

Nov 22, 2009
laurie in Florida

Thanksgiving chow in Tampa?

Hey, Andy! Since I started this post a few years back, the Columbia has become our go-to resto on Christmas Day for their melt-in-your-mouth lechon with all the trimmings. Congrats on your book and your launch party tonight! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Nov 11, 2009
laurie in Florida

Pies in Palm Harbor/Tarpon Springs

Oooohhhh, I'm excited. I've been looking for a good source of T-day desserts, and it looks like this place will fill the bill.

Nov 11, 2009
laurie in Florida