I had some co-workers in town from Pennsylvania, they were very happy to be here for the whole week, even if the temps got to the 30's in the eve and hovered near 60 the past two days. I took them to Ybor City, they have heard so much about it, and we dined on Italian food - The Laughing Cat restaurant on the corner of 8th Avenue and 15th Street. By far one of the best Italian establishments in the Tampa area, everything is very fresh and tasty. Its a small NY style place, with about a dozen or so tables, and art from area artists is hung around the walls and changes each time I visit. Shamus provided us excellent service this evening, we dined on a Tortellini Special that included Filet of Beef and Shrimp in a light white wine/tomato sauce, the swordfish special, which looked like like half the fish, again with a light wine sauce with a hint of lemon, Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair, very garlicky with the right amount of spices and a bountiful amount of Shrimp, and salads and Pasta Fagioli, loaded with beans and flavor. I visit this place many times a year, and have never once been disappointed with service, and food quality. One note, the dishes are HUGE!
We needed a walk after dinner, and thats another thing nice about Ybor, is it allows you to walk 7th Avenue and do some people watching or window browsing at the interesting and funky shops, cafe's and bars that line the street. It was early, about 730pm, but the clubs were just starting to open, live music was just starting to pour out of some of the establishments, and people were starting to converge on the Avenue.
We stopped by Tre Amici at The Bunker, excellent coffee/espresso shoppe with fresh made desserts. The was an acoustic guitar player providing some interesting alternative vibe to this very well kept and clean coffee house. Splitting a HUGE piece of Chocolate Chocolate Cake and some coffee's made for a perfect ending to the evening, and my co-workers last night in Tampa.
This weekend looks to be another busy one in town, the following are some of the bigger and busier in the area:
Bay Area Renaissance Festival
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
Gasparilla International Film Festival
Florida Strawberry Festival
Safety Harbor Seafood Festival