Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tampa's BBQ - Jimbos's and another Feel Good Movie of the Summer-Stardust!

Was craving some BBQ, so we headed to Jimbo's on Kennedy Blvd near Lois Ave in Tampa. This place has been around awhile, head in the front door and your welcomed by lots of Picnic style tables, with long benches to sit on, and a few booths. Service has always been swift when I come in, friendly southern ladies. Lunch times this place can get packed, we arrived around 6pm, but by 7pm, most tables were filled with dinner crowd. Nothing Fancy, just down home BBQ - Chicken, Pork, Ribs, Beef, and Ham - Chopped or Sliced, Dinner or Sandwich. Side choices are Baked Beans, which are in a rather thick sweet sauce, smokey flavor, potato salad, plenty of eggs and mayo used with red new potatoes(skins on), French Fries, seasoned just right, or Cole Slaw, tangy. The portions are big. Each plate also comes with Hush Puppies, crispy on the outside, fresh, soft and warm on the inside. When seated, they immediately bring over the warm BBQ sauce, and you help yourself to the all you can eat pickle and hot pepper bar. Ive never has a disappointing meal at Jimbo's.

Afterwards we headed to Westshore AMC theaters for what I would consider another great feel good movie of the summer-Stardust. Everything is in this movie, comedy, tragedy, drama, and great acting, Robert DeNiro had us rolling in the aisles with his part. it is just a let everything go, and pick up your spirits kind of flick, with purpose filled messages about love and life mixed in.
On a side note, movies are now $9.00, Small popcorn is $4.00, where are we NYC? Seems just like gas, the prices just crept up within the past 18 months, as if we wouldn't notice. Same service, same theaters, as long as movies like Stardust continue to show, it'll be worth it I guess.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to Tampa from South Beach

Took off to South Beach Friday for this past weekend, it's nice to have many convenient flights to Miami, and not very expensive. Turns a 5 hour drive into 45 minutes, worth it! Its also nice to know that so close to Tampa is an International(very international) city. I get to Miami a few times a year for work, but this was a first time in a while for pleasure and to South Beach. Stayed at the Royal Palm resort, on the ocean next to Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road. Interesting to hear languages from all over(Europe, Latin America), a nice getaway, and since it was off-season, the pool areas, and beaches were bearable, as was the many fine restaurants and nightlife along Washington Ave and Lincoln Road areas.

As usual, it was nice to be back in smaller city of Tampa! Just flying over the city, there is so much greenery from all the trees and conservation areas throughout the city and county, and the abundance of waterways throughout the bay area.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tampa's Ballast Point Dinner - Cellini's

Madre visited today, dropped off little Coco at the house before she ran her errands for the day. On the way out the door, she exclaimed how much she misses South Tampa, and being able to have all her needs within a few miles of each other in a one convenient area(she does not have this convenience living in South Hillsborough County....). When she came back we went to dinner to Cellini's, a great South Tampa Italian spot, in the Ballast Point neighborhood, just off Bayshore Blvd, south of Gandy Blvd. Very clean, and welcoming, open floor plan with tables and booths, nice but not stuffy, and casual. A nice bar area also welcomed patrons to the restaurant. They immediately took out drink order and placed fresh bread and very fresh diced tomatoes in a garlicky/basil/evoo to spoon on top of the bread. Delicious! We decided to split a 10" Cellini Pizza, and Chicken Parmigiana. The Cellini Pizza was baked fresh, and had calamati olives, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheeses...thin and crispy dough. The Chicken parm was cooked perfectly, crispy and pan fried, smothered in a delicious red pomodoro sauce with plenty of cheese. This is a great casual Italian eatery in South Tampa, and I will be returning. After dinner we took a quick drive by Ballast Point, where thre are the best views of Tampa Bay, the entire Bayshore Blvd lined with highrise Condo towers, and the Tampa downtown skyline can be seen.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Tampa Dog Beach, A Tampa Diner, A Tampa Neighborhood, and A Tampa Evening

Took the kids to their fav beach, Picnic Island Dog Beach/Park. This excellent Tampa Park and Beach is just down Westshore Blvd at the very end, almost a hidden Tampa treasure. In the mornings there are very few people and their dogs on the dog beach section, which is very long and wide. The park also has a large hill with wide open spaces for them to run around, and great views of the Bay, and downtown St. Pete. It's nice to have this within a few miles of home.
Afterwards John and I headed to Three Coins Diner on Nebraska Ave in Seminole Heights. I have heard about this place, and wanted to check it out, I miss the real diners of the northeast, and there are very few in this area. It's a small place, maybe a dozen or so booths, and a counter with a few stools. But a diner it is, and the menu shows the variety of choices that are often scene at diners. I like the 24 hour breakfasts, and the Triple Decker Club Sandwich's that come with Onion Rings and Steak Fries on the menu. I decided to go for the Feta and Spinach Omelet. It was rather large portion, stuffed with alot of Feta and Spinach, and with fresh home fries and buttered toast. Not the best of breakfasts, they cook the eggs on too hot of a skillet which causes it to brown slightly, but this greasy spoon diner find is good and worth the trip. The service is top notch, the atmosphere and diversity of people is even better, (over heard conversations ins Spanish, and a few patrons with many piercings and tattoos) an interesting part of Tampa.
I have been wanting to discover more of Tampa's neighborhoods, and we drove around Riverside Heights after brunch. A very nice small neighborhood a few miles north of downtown Tampa bordered by the Hillsborough River on the west, N Boulevard on the east, Columbus Ave and MLK Blvd. A variety of homes, large and small, brick lined streets, large mature oaks.
Saturday evening we met up with a bunch of friends to celebrate a birthday at Channelside. First stop was Splitsville, there was 10 of us all together, we ordered mostly sliders(small cheeseburgers), salads, sushi and chicken fingers. The food was very good, although sushi is not their specialty, but then again this is an upscale bowling alley. The place was very busy, there was a 2 hour wait to get a bowling lane, and most of the patrons were all young professionals. Tunes from the 80's/90's kept the crowds heads bopping, we opted to play pool for a while instead of bowl. Outside in the Channelside courtyard there was a band set up on stage. We then headed to McGraw's, which was just starting to get busy. They were having line dancing lessons early on, but later, there was a mixture of dance and country tunes. We played darts, and boxing, while doing some people watching. It's a Big space inside, the ceiling fan is something to see at this place, must be the biggest one ove ever seen, got to see it to believe it. We then ventured from Channelside up the street about a mile to Ybor City, and Lounge 7-14. The last stop of the evening before going home was Green Iguana Westshore, walking distance to home. A round of pool, and listing to a great band topped off the night. They have been doing some major renovations at this green Iguana, a larger space inside, and the pool room area is also getting a make-over and bigger. Im going to miss the small, dive place this used to be, lots of memories in the 17 years i have been going here.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

South Tampa Ice Cream

After a great BBQ dinner at Selmons(great pulled pork, collard greens and Chedder Grits w/Bacon), we decided on some Ice Cream, and pulled into the Old Meeting House/Joffrey's Coffee on MacDill Avenue south of Euclid Ave. in South Tampa. Great Ice Cream place, with over 2 dozen homemade varieties. I tried the Blueberry Cheesecake, and also Cherry Chocolate Chunk. They have board games and seating areas inside, and also covered seating outside along the side walk. It's also a block away from Bayshore Blvd. They also carry Mike's Pies, a variety of coffee's and deserts.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Treasure Island beaches and an Ybor City weekend!

Friday I did what is now becoming a bit of a routine, but a good routine, seeing my friend Rob from the band Buffalo Strange play solo at The Hut on John's Pass, Madeira Beach. This time I ordered the Black n Blue burger, and the burger just seemed to be a bit tough. My friend Debi advised me last time that her burger was also a bit tough. The mellow tunes kept us happy, it was very warm, we haven't had the typical afternoon thunderstorms in about a week to cool things off during the day, but there were plenty of fans blowing in this LARGE tiki hut on the water. After taking Debi home, John and I wanted Ice Cream, and found the Dairy Inn, located on MLK Blvd(9th Street) near 11th Avenue in St. Pete. Kind of like Dairy Joy in South Tampa, a walk up window with soft serve ice cream cones and sundaes, with a few covered tables. There is a video game room in the back with a few 'old school' video games. Lisa and Brian gave us a shout to join them at their Beach Condo they had for the weekend on Treasure Island, so we ventured back out there. It was nice overlooking the WIDE white, sandy beaches of Treasure Island in the evening from the condo. For a late night snack, we venured out to Monster Slice Pizza on St. Pete Beach, for some very good, very thin and crispy pizza. They were loaded with toppings, and plenty of cheese.

Saturday, John and I ventured back to Treasure Island, and brought our bikes. We saw a bike/walking path behind the condo along the beach, and wanted to bike it today. To our surprise it only went about 6 blocks to the north of the condo, and about 10 blocks to the south. I would have thought it to be much longer, and span the entire Treasure Island beach behind all the hotels, motels and condo areas. What was nice was you can bike or walk to a few good places for a cool drink and maybe catch a band or guitarist(runs behind Bilmar Resort, Thunderbird Resort, and many mom and pop type motels as well as two Public Beach areas for Treasure Island with restrooms and snacks). For lunch by the pool at the condo, we headed to ABC liquor for refreshments and The Floridian for Cubans. I have heard about The Floridian(located on the causeway heading to Treasure Island), and how famous their Cuban Sandwiches are, and no doubt, some of the best. Piled high ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, mustard and pickle slices.
Saturday night, we cleaned up and headed to Ybor City for dinner. Italian was on my mind, and there is no better than The Laughing Cat on the corner of 8th Ave and 15th Street. The dark skies, and rain kept most of the crowds away this evening in Ybor, so we were able to be seated promptly. The menu is huge, as is the portions. It is best to split most of the items, they are that big. I had the Salmon with Mussels, very Large portion of Salmon, with about 8 HUGE mussles in their shell around the Salmon in a light tomato/garlic, white wine sauce. The others had Chicken Fettuccine with huge chucks of chicken, and Farfalle diMare, loaded with Seafood and Boe Tie pasta in a Vodka Sauce. Everything is FRESH, and can be made to order. For fun we then ventured out to the area of Ybor what is quickly becoming known 'gaYbor' district(bordered by 9th ave and 6th Ave and 12th street to 16th Street). Lounge 7-14, G. Bar, Flirt, MC Film Festival, and soon the new location of Wranglers are all in this area. I dont venture to these type places much, but Lounge 7-14 was actually very cool, we played darts, and there was some great rock and commercial tunes/videos playing. G.Bar was just opening when we went so there was no cover, and you can play pool there for free, so we did just that until the crowds started filling up(around 11:30). We then headed to Wranglers, only to find out they are closed until there new location opens up soon. A quick drink in Green Iguana, which used to be my favorite hang out in Ybor, was barely holding a crowd, and the people there this evening seemed a little sleazy(two very heavy set women, with barely any clothes on, pole dancing in front of the band and making out together). Its difficult to listen to a live band, when there is dance/hip-hop blaring from the room next door, they should place a thick curtain between the two rooms. We went back to Lounge 7-14, which had become filled, and very smokey(seems they need a filter to get rid of the smoke that quickly fills up this lounge when more than a few people are puffing on some smokes).
All in all, and nice weekend to get out to Tampa's beaches, and explore the Tampa's historic district.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hanging out in the Tampa Burbs!

After an afternoon hanging out my buddies pool in Cheval(subdivision in Lutz), we all decided to grab some Sushi and cocktails, but where can we find great eats and cocktails in the Burbs?? We came across Sushi Alive in Northdale burbs shopping strip, and what a great find. An eclectic type of place, lounge music beating in the background, dim lighting, and pretty people. The choices of rolls were great, the Crispy Crunchy and Spider Rolls were a hit with the table. The sushi was very fresh. Heather our server was one of the nicest servers and made the evening even more pleasurable. I tried Plum Wine for the first time, kinda sweet. Afterwards we wanted some cocktails in a loungy type atmosphere...and a few stores down in this suburban strip mall was Grille One Sixteen...what a surprise, It felt like walking into a South Beach, or Manhattan type place, very large lounge area, long white drapery, very pretty people everywhere, great loungy music in the background. I have heard the food here is excellent, and worth a trip to the burbs to enjoy. After a few Martinis and cocktails, it was off to meet some other friends and be a little more down to earth place, the Wild Wing Cafe, on Anderson Road near Carrollwood suburbs. This same area is home to several other establishments, the HUGE AMC 24 theaters, The Green Iguana, which supposedly has the largest Tiki Bar in Florida, a Logan's Steakhouse and a few others...Wild Wing Cafe had a nice outdoor bar shaped like a boat overlooking a large lake. There was a a great band rocking out 80's and 90's tunes.
It's not often I'm out in the burbs, but when out there, I did find a great Sushi place, and a premium lounge.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Hidden Tampa Bay GEM!! in Ruskin?????

Went to see madre, back from a 10 day Baltic Sea cruise, at her new home in Valencia Lakes near Sun City Center. We are always looking for places to eat out in this area. Stumbled upon a great resort/residential waterfront oasis - Little Harbor in Ruskin. Yes, Ruskin, who knew that there were such beautiful beaches on Tampa Bay, with amazing views of downtown St Pete, and Tampa, Skyway Bridge, and excellent sunsets. This is truly a Hidden gem, within 25-30 min from downtown Tampa, and only 10 min from my mom's new home. We found Little harbor resort, and there specialty restaurant overlooking the Bay, Sunset Grille. Every seat has a great view of the Bay, sunsets, and downtown St. Pete in the distance. There is a small boardwalk, the Lounge next door had indoor and outdoor seating, live band, and huge tiki bar on the water. There is a small park, and long pier out into the Bay. The sands on the beach are power white(like the Gulf). Sunset Grille serves an excellent seafood buffet Fri and Saturday nights, only $25.00 includes all you can eat, Raw oysters, peel and eat shrimp, oyster Rockefeller, huge salad bar, soups and thats just the starters, for entrees they had Salmon, Grouper, Seafood Newberg, and huge Crab Legs, very meaty, and all you can eat. They were also carving Prime Rib, and a large dessert offering. Food was hot, and fresh, and always plentiful, service was impeccable, always stopping by to refill drinks, clean the crab legs away, etc. They also have a Full menu, specializing in Seafood and Steaks. This place is a MUST of you either are in the Ruskin/Apollo Beach/Sun City area, or just want to escape Tampa, and head along the Bay. The resort is beautiful, reminds me of being up north with the large townhome style buildings. A gem of a find, we will be back..and often, even just to have a drink in the tiki bar outdoors.