Thursday, June 28, 2007

Back Home in Tampa....Knocked Up!

Getting back home from a week in Boston, what a great trip, it's nice to escape to the Northeast during the summer, and Im a huge history buff, so hangin in Beantown was a great escape!
Went to the Stadium Chili's the other night with a buddy, always loved there Nachos appetizer, each nacho has cheese, beans, and a jalapeno, to be dipped in sour cream and salsa. Chili's still seems to be one of my fav chain restaurants. Afterwards we went to La Casa Dolce for Gelato and people watchin along Howard Ave in South Tampa. It seems no matter what evening you go to sit outside along Howard Ave, there are always things to see along the Avenue in Hyde Park/SOHO sections of Tampa.
Last night, did dinner at Panera Bread - this spot seems to be a great area to meet blind dates, as its next to Starbucks, and just seemed like couples were meeting for the first time....then I got back into my weekly movie thinggy, and saw "Knocked Up". Laughs and many of them out loud laughs...lots of great one-liners, great cast, and overall one of the better comedies to come along in a while..i'll see it again for sure. Wednesday nights at AMC are always free popcorn nights with your Movie Watcher card.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tampa Flatwoods Bike Trails-Happy Father's Day!

Sunday was spent with the family, I took my brother, a new father 5 months ago, to Flatwoods Wilderness Parks to do some off-road biking. We decided to complete the entire Main Trail(20 miles), starting at Morris Bridge Park, looping throughout Flatwoods-Wilderness Park system in North Tampa areas. One of the best rated off-road biking in the Tampa Bay area(Alafaya is #1), there are many terrains we travelled over, about 95% is shaded, and every now and then it crosses the Wilderness Paved trail with water stops and maps. The trails are very well plotted through Florida scrubs, pine barrens, and marshy areas, along the Hillsborough River and large lake areas. There are deer, wild boars, snakes, lizards, all kinds of wildlife, the best of Florida wildlife, and can be hiked also. Afterwards it was dinner with the family with all the kids(my Pointer and Min-Pin, my nephew, my Moms Chiuaua, and the two border collies).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

South Tampa evenin' - CDB's Southside and Stuff!

Another great work week come to an end...last night we decided to check out the new CDB Southside on Westshore Blvd in South Tampa. What a GREAT place. With all the cars outside, and limited parking, you would think it was packed, but they had the upstairs and downstairs open, and outdoor balcony overlooking Westshore Blvd open. They did a great job with the two bars, and very classy, but casual atmosphere. Eating outside was on tap for us, so at 7pm, we were able to be seated promptly on the 2nd floor balcony, they even set a fan up on the floor next to our table, as the breezes were limited this evening. Very friendly service, prompt and always checked up on us, but not intruding, and best of all, great tasting food. the menu reminded me a little of Bella's on South Howard, but the portions are huge, real tomatoes in the sauce! Some of the best Pizza in the area as well. All our dishes were cooked to perfection and tasty(Chicken Parm, Chicken Bianco, and Seafood Pasta). It was nice just casually sitting outside above Westshore, listening to some tunes, having some drinks, and eating great food. Will be back for sure! It was than on to the Green Iguana Westshore down the street, packed house, and a good band playing, again we sat out in the tiki bar area. It was getting late, and some of us wanted to check out some 'alternative' bars. The last days of the Male Room were this weekend, so some of us headed there, only to learn that they were moving to Ybor City as a bar on 7th Ave and 14th Street called '7 at 14' another alternative bar was opening in Ybor(this makes 6 now, and overheard that there were three others in the works, all on 7th Ave)..seems to be turning into a mecca for the gay bars, like a mini boystown. For the heck of it, we then decided to keep the alternative bar crawl going in South Tampa, so we headed to The Rainbow Room on MacDill Ave, a lesbian bar that is male friendly - they had great jello shots, kick ass juke box, and a huge back area with volleyball sand courts....we ended at City Side on Henderson Ave, about a couple dozen late night peeps listening to great tunes as they played the videos to the songs simultaneously on the video monitors throughout the bar. Interesting diverse evening with lots of laughs, and great people watchin'.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I found a Tampa Dentist..and Arco Iris dinner

Ive been looking for a while for a good referral since I fired my last dentist(long story), and am very Happy with Ed Tony Francisco, DDS, on MacDill Ave in South Tampa. So much so that I had to add this to my blog. Took my appointment right on time, flat screen monitors showing not only TV, but your instant xrays, and they take photos of your teeth to further explain in detail everything about your mouth, teeth and gums. I'm just happy I have great teeth, and glad the dentist was happy about that also(even though he won't be making a mint off of me). Just glad to have Competent people from the receptionist, Hygienist and Dentist himself, to pleasant surroundings.
For dinner this evening, we went to "Little Cuba" section of Tampa(Columbus Avenue in West Tampa. There are about a dozen or so small cafe's/restaurants, and even more specialty shops in this area with a large Cuban population. Arco Iris continues to be one of my favs, I had two HUGE breaded Pork Chops, that came with black beans and rice. YUM!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shuttle Launch from Tampa, "Totally Electric", and Fort DeSoto Park

Friday was the Space Shuttle Launch from Cape Canaveral, and you can actually watch the launch right from Tampa..we went to Darin's highrise condo on Bayshore Blvd, it was just after an incredibly strong summer thunderstorm, and overlooking the Bay were two double rainbows across the water, an amazing sight. Right on time, the shuttle took of from the East Coast of Florida, and you can watch the plume of smoke rising in the air through the rainbows. Afterwards we did some apt hopping in Darin's building, heading to John's apt on the 11th florr, then late night at Dan's on the 12th floor. Looking out over the Bayshore, you get a great vantage point to see just how beautiful Tampa really is, with the winding Bayshore Blvd to the skyscrapers of downtown, and all the greenery fom the many old trees throughout South Tampa.
Saturday, Debi and I went kayaking out in Riviera Bay in Northeast St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water, temps were hovering around 90 today. Afterwards, we headed to Ybor City to see the M.A.D. Theater production of "Totally Electric" at the Ritz Theater(old Masquerade). The theater was done up so to look like a high school reunion, there were cocktails being served, and food from the Silver Ring Cafe. The play was very good, taking an interesting look at everything 80's(music, fashion, lingo), there was just about every type of kid you went to high school with in the play. It was amusing at times, and all in all it was entertaining. We headed to Big City Tavern for dinner in Centro Ybor. It was late(around 10:30pm), so many items on the menu were not available, but they were able to cook up a great 14oz ribeye, and the Salmon stuffed with Crabmeat was excellent as well. It was nice to get a table out on the balcony overlooking 7th Ave. Ybor just isn't the same anymore, as it's heydays in the 90's. The crowds are very different, and there are definitely alot less people in the evenings. With about a dozen people on the ground bantering Christian and religious verbiage, with huge signs condeming sinners, I wondered if they had a permit to make all that noise and Fuss, very disturbing. I miss the good old Ybor days, and it seems some recent incident from a couple of clubs(Empire and Fuel), have led to even less people taking advantage of some great restaurants and entertainment in the City's Historic District. I find myself just going into Ybor for an event, play, or dinner nowadays. After Ybor we met up with some friends at St. Bart's Island House on Howard Ave in Hyde Park. Great Band was playing Jazz/Blues/Dance, with a very lively crowd. St. Bart's is an upscale historic type lounge, great Martini Bar type atmosphere, they are known for their Rum Drinks. A nice outdoor patio with fountains had a lot of people mingling together outside as well. For our last stop, it was the Green Iguana Westshore, closing the night with the Band playing "Crazy Bitch" by Buck Cherry.
Sunday we made it out to Fort DeSoto Park with the bikes, the beach was busier than I had seen in some time, but still PLENTY of room for all to enjoy, while riding today along the paved paths from North Beach to East Beach, this has to be one of the nicest Parks in the Tampa Bay area, where you can truly enjoy everything Florida has to offer: Biking, Kayaking, Historic Fort, Fishing, Pier, Ferry to Egmont Key, Wide open pristine beaches, great views of the Skyway and area islands, and Great Homemade Lemonade!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Middle East in Tampa! Byblos!

Took Donna to Byblos Cafe on MacDill Ave near Bay to Bay in South Tampa this evening for her going away party. They did an amazing job re-doing the restaurant(it's been over a year since Ive been there), much bigger bar area, and great seating areas. Byblos is amazing with a Lebanese atmosphere, most wait staff are all Middle Eastern, very authentic. Then you have the Middle Eastern music, and Belly Dancers a few times during each night to entertain. And that is just the atmosphere, the food is INCREDIBLE. Our table ordered Lamb Chops, Kabobs, lots of Appetizers, and Lebanese wine(the Cabernet was very good). Service is top notch! We ended the evening with Hookah on the patio outside, where many people gathered to enjoy Hookah themselves, and it turned out to be a huge , friendly social gathering. This is one place not to miss, great times, and GREAT eats, with an authentic atmosphere.
Tropical Storm Barry is rolling in this evening, being much needed rain...finally! What a great way to start the Hurricane and Tropical Season!
Im headin out to Chicago tomorrow, to play then to work, be back on Wednesday.