Sunday, March 23, 2008

South Westshore Blvd Hop and Chassahowitzka WIldlife Refuge

I enjoy my little neighborhood in South Tampa, Bayside West, it's no Hyde Park, but South Westshore Blvd from just north of El Prado Blvd to just south of Euclid Ave has a number of great amenities, all within walking distance to the house.
Friday we walked up to CDB's Southside from my house for some dinner al fresco on the upper outdoor deck. I was never a big fan of their sweet and thick tomato sauce, but they do make a great Greek Salad, the small is big enough for 3-4 people, and it's nice to sit outside and enjoy the spring weather while having a few Friday afternoon cocktails with friends. We also tried the Southside Sampler, combination of Fried Cheese, overly stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Clams Casino and Fried Ravioli...a very good combo of tasty apps. The Hard Hat Grinder was just ok, not enough meat on the Sandwich that has Provolone Cheese, Salami, Pepperoni, Capicola Ham and Roast Beef(which was overcooked and a bit chewy).
After enjoying a few hours here, we walked a block down to the The Wooden Door, a new Irish Bar and Grill that just opened this weekend. Again it's nice to be able to sit outside, they have a large patio in the front, there was a decent crowd all ready taking advantage of the great evening weather. Inside they had a nice new Wooden Bar, with about a dozen bar stools, and a few tables scattered about on one half, and dart boards and a video game and juke box on the other half. The kitchen was only serving wings and onion rings, I believe the Grand Opening with the Full Menu is around April 1st. They did a nice job renovating the space, my only question was why the ceramic tile floors, it would have been alot more comfortable with wood floors. We shot a few games of darts, and were ready to head to the next venue...the Green Iguana Westshore.

We walked about 2 more blocks, where the original Green Iguana was celebrating their 20th Anniversary...and I can't believe I have been coming to this place for 20 years! And what a difference 20 years makes, from what was once a dive, hole in the wall, drinking establishment with bands every night in a very tightly spaced, dimly lit bar, is now a spacious, Bar and Restaurant, with an added Tiki Deck outside, expanded game room in the back with pool table and darts, and all upgraded's nice they have really upgraded this place, but sometimes you just miss that original feel the place used to have, where the bartenders were the same(I miss Chrissie and Linda)..and knew exactly what you wanted right when you walked in the door. But my fav bartender/manager, John, is still there after joining a few years ago, it just seems the wait staff and bartenders come and go very often....Anyways, the food has been upgraded they now have a full brand new kitchen and full menu, the place was hopping this evening with, as usual, alot of interesting people....again, I can never go to this place without ever meeting and talking with just has that laid back friendly atmosphere...and having live music every night makes for even more great entertainment.

Saturday, it was up and early with the Kayak, and out to Citrus County with some friends to explore the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. About an hours drive north of Tampa, it was a great kayaking experience on the river, we ran into a very playful dolphin who almost ran into use a few times, the waters were crystal clear. We also kayaked up to the Springs, where the crystal clear waters come up from underground. Some of us even went into the springs(always a cool 72 degrees year round), and you were able to dive through the limestone caverns which are all throughout the underground. We ran into some very old homes along the river banks, I kept hearing the music from the movie 'Deliverance' playing in my head as we all strolled down the very quiet area, with no one else around, it's definitely a different part of Florida in these parts.
We were starving after about 5 hours in the Refuge, and heading out we stopped at Brooksville area and had a great meal at Besta One Italian Restaurant - the Calzones were HUGE!

It's EASTER so i'll be taking the kids to Madre's for our annual Easter Feast today.

Work takes me to New Jersey this week.

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