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FabulousFoodBabe
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Actually, he's there now -- we just got home from moving him into his dorm. He's at University of Tampa, along with half the Northeast!

We were only there for a couple of days, and ate at Jackson's (on the water, a quick walk from our hotel). It was so-so, but we were so pooped from the long drive from New York, that we didn't care. The view was lovely, the room was comfortable, service was nice, the caesar was decent, and we had a nice relaxing time.

Bern's, of course, was amazing, and we've already got reservations for Parents' Weekend. Husband and sons were too stuffed for the dessert room, and I'm still steamed about it. Next time, I'll go it alone if I have to. We were surprised at the number of people in jeans, shorts/t-shirts and sandals walking around (men) -- I'd thought the place was a little more businesslike?

We drove into Belleair one night for dinner with some friends, and went to Frenchy's -- the kids loved it, and it was just a nice rowdy casual meal. That crab soup is a winner, and I ordered a Grouper Reuben (because our host was so enthusiastic about it). It was okay, but not a Reuben. Grouper disappears under the other flavors, but the meal was about more than that.

Any other must-do things in Tampa/St Pete?

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I am a pretty big fan of Gourmet Pizza Co. in the Hyde Park area of Tampa. Just minutes from UT in fact. Your son probably knows people that go there. (or will soon know.)

http://www.gourmetpizza-company.com/

I have been going there for years and am in fact headed over for lunch with some friends tomorrow. We are big fans of the heavy yet fantastic 5 cheese pizza. A small 5-cheese (I think the cheeses are cheddar, mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmesan, and provolone) is plenty for 4-5 people since it's so heavy, especially if you have had salad and/or bread sticks.

I am not a fan of the Thai Chicken pizza or the escargot as pizza topping. I think it dries it out WAY too much. Other than that I have never been disappointed by the food there. Give it a try!

Any other must-do things in Tampa/St Pete?

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Well, it's been many years, but if I could go back in time I'd go to Bern's steak house and then to the Mullet Inn. There used to be a great pizza place called CDB's in Temple Terrace, near USF. I don't know if any of these places still exist.

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Well, it's been many years, but if I could go back in time I'd go to Bern's steak house and then to the Mullet Inn.  There used to be a great pizza place called CDB's in Temple Terrace, near USF.  I don't know if any of these places still exist.

I have great memories of the Mullet Inn on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. I lived there so long ago that the Kapok Tree Inn was considered a great place. And the little cafe on the corner of the Columbia Restaurant, going there for a real cuban sandwich and a bowl of spanish bean soup for a study break. Of couse the best cuban came from the Silver Ring. And Las Novidades was the best Cuban restaurant in town. And Cafe Pepe on Kennedy had the best Sangria. And the late night ads for the Valencia Garden, Salud and Happy Day #(however many times the ad had run), just about the time we had the serious munchies and close to the time the Right Reverend Adel Moncrief did the signoff. (remember when tv was not 24 hours) omg.

edited to add, remember the hippie vegie place in Temple Terrace? I think that was the first time I ever had brown rice.

Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Bern's, of course, was amazing, and we've already got reservations for Parents' Weekend.  Husband and sons were too stuffed for the dessert room, and I'm still steamed about it.  Next time, I'll go it alone if I have to.  We were surprised at the number of people in jeans, shorts/t-shirts and sandals walking around (men) -- I'd thought the place was a little more businesslike? 

Welcome to Florida! :biggrin:

You will find that attire even at fine dining establishments is often more casual than what you are probably used to - panty hose, black suits and makeup don't cut it in the heat and humidity. Wait until you take the extra few hours to run down to the Keys. It can be eye popping.

Unfortunately I don't get over to the Gulf Coast as often as I should. I think we may be taking a drive down I-75 in a few weeks though, and will look around.

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Congratulations, Fabby.

My children visit that area several times a year, including spending most of the summer there.

I found one post to a place I visited (though there were several posts on places in St. Pete, too, I'll try to find them a bit later):

Bernini's of Ybor City is a very nice place to have lunch.

Elegant but not stuffy, dress code casual but not scruffy  . Apparently it is being touted as "the best place to impress". I didn't know that, but liked the way it looked and was not disappointed.

The woodfired pizzas were pretty good (a bit too much cheese for my liking) but the standout was a dish of clams in a garlic butter sauce. Grrrrrr.   You can *not* have too many of these. Perfectly wonderful. Add a glass of champagne and all is well with the world.

Tin-stamped high ceilings, light and airy, big windows, good friendly service. Not expensive. Bustling but not too much so. (Hah! All this I can speak of from one visit! :biggrin: )

Good time to buy real estate there, too, right now. You do intend to visit him a lot, no? :wink:

For an interest in oddities, there's a place about twenty miles down the coast that was touted as "one of the ten wierdest restaurants in the world" in a msnbc (I think) poll. Serves "roadkill" supposedly, or what people like to think of as roadkill types of food.

(Edited to add: Here's the link to St. Pete Beach.)

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Carrot Top - The odd restaurant that you're referring to is the Linger Lodge in Bradenton. A copy of their menu can be found here.

There are any number of unique places in the area, especially when you start going inland (East of I-75). In some cases, it's like a different world.

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There are any number of unique places in the area, especially when you start going inland (East of I-75). In some cases, it's like a different world.

I might post questions as to where these unique places are for you to answer next time I visit, dls.

I like different worlds. :biggrin:

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Welcome to Florida!  :biggrin:

You will find that attire even at fine dining establishments is often more casual than what you are probably used to - panty hose, black suits and makeup don't cut it in the heat and humidity. Wait until you take the extra few hours to run down to the Keys. It can be eye popping.

Unfortunately I don't get over to the Gulf Coast as often as I should. I think we may be taking a drive down I-75 in a few weeks though, and will look around.

Where I grew up, everyone vacationed on the Gulf coast of Florida and we kept it up when we lived in Atlanta as well. That whole side is a favorite, from Destin to the Keys, and a place where we all feel comfortable. We have lots of friends who live there year-round and part-time, and some have sent their kids to school up our way. We have a reciprocal "no bailing out" agreement!

Even though I expected casual, especially in that heat last week, I was still a little surprised that Bern's (who says "no shorts, no jeans" when you reserve), had customers that looked like they strolled in off the beach -- gym shorts, sandals with socks, and undershirts, and a couple of muffin-top women showing their whale tails. Ick! I think it's more the Ohio in me than the New York in me that is taken aback by that.

Keep the suggestions rolling -- one person whose taste I question suggested "mis en place" across from the campus, in the Grand Concourse (?). We didn't have time this trip, but it would certainly be convenient. And with so many kids from the Northeast there, I'm sure they'll be showing us some good pizza when we go back for a visit.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Where I grew up, everyone vacationed on the Gulf coast of Florida and we kept it up when we lived in Atlanta as well.  That whole side is a favorite, from Destin to the Keys, and a place where we all feel comfortable.  We have lots of friends who live there year-round and part-time, and some have sent their kids to school up our way.  We have a reciprocal "no bailing out" agreement! 

Even though I expected casual, especially in that heat last week, I was still a little surprised that Bern's (who says "no shorts, no jeans" when you reserve), had customers that looked like they strolled in off the beach -- gym shorts, sandals with socks, and undershirts, and a couple of muffin-top women showing their whale tails.  Ick!  I think it's more the Ohio in me than the New York in me that  is taken aback by that. 

Keep the suggestions rolling -- one person whose taste I question suggested "mis en place" across from the campus, in the Grand Concourse (?).  We didn't have time this trip, but it would certainly be convenient.  And with so many kids from the Northeast there, I'm sure they'll be showing us some good pizza when we go back for a visit.

Our triannual vacation spot as a kid was Carrabelle Beach, FL. Sugar sand, a very natural beach at the time and my first real introduction to seafood, as my mother did not cook it. It "smelled up the house" too much for her. :biggrin:

There is a lot of good pizza around Florida. College towns, as you have surmised, are especially good for pizza and bagels.

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Fabby, congratulations on your son's college venture. We just dropped off our daughter at UCF in Orlando. It's been awhile since I've been to Berns. Always enjoyed it and the dress was more business casual but people seem to be getting more casual these days. Mise en Place was good the last time I was there but again it's been a long time. You may want to try Side Berns on your next trip to Tampa. French's has very good grouper and since they have their own boats the fish is usually extremely fresh. My brother loves the grouper Ruben but I would prefer some thing simple to savor the fish, which it's all about.

Are you looking to travel around the Tampa Bay area for food or stay close to the university?

BTW, how's the new kitchen coming along?

Special K you bring back fond memories. I was born in Tampa but raised in Clearwater and we would travel the causeway every week to visit my grandparents in Tampa. The Mullet Inn was a real Florida fish house and was a part of the scenery for so many years. That was really "Old Florida" which is so hard to find these days. My favorite was the smoked roe.

Edited by scubadoo97 (log)
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Our triannual vacation spot as a kid was Carrabelle Beach, FL. Sugar sand, a very natural beach at the time and my first real introduction to seafood, as my mother did not cook it. It "smelled up the house" too much for her. :biggrin:

There is a lot of good pizza around Florida. College towns, as you have surmised, are especially good for pizza and bagels.

:laugh: In our case, shrimp smelled the house up so much that we kids shrieked whenever Mom could cook it! And that was rarely, because we were (a) broke, and (b)living in Ohio in the early 60s. Not much in the way of fresh fish then; sometimes my dad would bring it back when he traveled.

I really hope the kid eats better than the Einsteins' Bagels in the rec center, where his dorm is. I just hope he eats!

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Fabby, congratulations on your son's college venture.  We just dropped off our daughter at UCF in Orlando.  It's been awhile since I've been to Berns.  Always enjoyed it and the dress was more business casual but people seem to be getting more casual these days.  Mise en Place was good the last time I was there but again it's been a long time.  You may want to try Side Berns on your next trip to Tampa.  French's has very good grouper and since they have their own boats the fish is usually extremely fresh.  My brother loves the grouper Ruben but I would prefer some thing  simple to savor the fish, which it's all about. 

Are you looking to travel around the Tampa Bay area for food or stay close to the university?

 

BTW, how's the new kitchen coming along?

Special K you bring back fond memories.  I was born in Tampa but raised in Clearwater and we would travel the causeway every week to visit my grandparents in Tampa.  The Mullet Inn was a real Florida fish house and was a part of the scenery for so many years.  That was really "Old Florida" which is so hard to find these days.  My favorite was the smoked roe.

Thanks, scubadoo. (This kid isn't the one who lives for diving; his brother could dive every day.) Firstborn looked at UCF and even applied there; all bets were off once he was accepted at Tampa. It's his place.

When we go to visit, we expect to see him for, oh, about as long as it takes to pick up the check! We'll be spending a bit of time with the friends in Belleair as well, and another friend on the West Coast (also a native midwesterner) has a condo on Siesta Key, that's going to see some action. We'll be all over the place but want to stay close to the water.

Another friend of mine who lives on the other side of Florida tells the most amazing Old Florida stories -- she's in her 60s. I love to hear them.

The kitchen is being chronicled on a thread here, and a daily blog that you can reach under my signature. Now that all the structural stuff is done, things are speeding up.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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The below are places I would want my parents to take me if I were at UT or places I would want to take them. A lot of these places he will discover on his own because with the exception of Sidebern's if he's the normal UT kid, they won't break his bank. Give him a heads up by suggesting First Watch- MUCH better than Einstein's!, Mema's Alaskan Fish Tacos and Bella's late night.

You need to get to SideBern's now that you've done Bern's.

Spain, downtown. Pane Rustica- definitely one of the best places in South Tampa or most of Florida. Wine Exchange- another best place. Laughing Cat. Genghiz Khan. Byblos Cafe. Cafe BT. Wright's Deli. Best sushi- Samurai Blue and JoTo's.

Best seafood? Crab Shack, on Gandy. The chef at Mangroves told me he gets the best fish in town, but I haven't been there and he might have just been blowing his own horn.

Unfortunately, Cafe Pepe's is no longer with us (how I miss their brown bread and special salad!). I don't know what the Mullet Inn is but Peters' Smoked Fish always has mullet and whitefish and other good stuff.

Good luck and enjoy!

Edited by artemisanne (log)
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  • 1 month later...

And it's Family Weekend at UT! (BTW, who cares about Major College Football when you've got the Yanks!?) Can't wait to see the kid -- we're taking bets on whether he's cut his hair or shaved since August.

Friday night, we're going to Pane Rustica, with a few of his buds and their parents. Saturday, he's asked for Mexican or Cuban, and I'm trying to figure it out. The rest of the time, he's going to take us to "his" spots.

He asked that we please not go to Bern's this time and since it's about him, we won't. This time. :wink:

And thank you, artimisanne, for your list as well! I think he's spent a good bit of time at Beef O'Brady's on Clearwater Beach :rolleyes: should I be afraid, if he takes us there?

Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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  • 1 month later...

Beef O'Brady's is a sports bar/restaurant chain. They have never impressed me. But your son is probably going there more for the patrons than the food.

Some other special places that I enjoy in the area are Ted Peters's/Pasadena, Arco Iris/Tampa(Cuban), Coney Island Hot Dog Stand/St. Pete(pretty obvious).

Ted Peter's does killer smoked fish and has been doing it for a very long time. Smoked mullet is my favorite there. Their burgers along with their hot potato salad are good also.

Arco Iris is my favorite cuban restaurant in the area. Very reasonable and extensive menu with lots of specials. They even have fried rice which goes back to the early days of Tampa when asians immigrated to Tampa along with the Cubans.

Coney Island does not have the best coney dogs you have ever had but the atmoshpere is outstanding. If you like nostalgic, this place looks like a lunch room out of the 20s. And has also been around that long. Fun place to go.

By the way, another good place to go is Cacciatore & Sons on Armenia. This is actually a grocery store that also makes the best deviled crab in Tampa! Their cuban sandwiches are also pretty good. Along with other prepared items such as their crab pasta sauce.

Have fun.

John

P.S. - I have been a lurker of Egullet for a long time but mostly posted on Chowhounds, Roadfood, and the BBQ Forums. Guess I need to spend more time over here though.

P.P.S. - I have always enjoyed Mise En Place across from UT. My office used to be in the same bldg as MEP so I became very familiar with the owners and their restaurant. I would recommend you give it a try. And another top notch place is Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. High end prices but excellent food also.

Edited by RibDog (log)
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