Back from a week of work in New Jersey, on Friday I went for my bi-weekly haircut at Westshore Mens Hair Shoppe, it just a few blocks from my house, and consistently do a great job with the trim of what ive got left on my head, lots of local neighborhood men get their haircuts here, alot of local flavor.
Friday evening, we all went to Black Beans Cafe on Westshore Blvd in South Tampa, which is also in my local neighborhood. It was my first time here, in the same small strip center as I get my haircut. They have a few tables outside for dining, we decided to venture in, a very authentic Spanish looking atmosphere, the place is split in two separate areas, one bar area that is soon to do mostly tapas specialties, and the other is an intimate dining room that also serves as dance area with a dance floor and lights/DJ booth for special event nights. Immediately as we were seated a very friendly server came by, she was the daughter of the owner, and we were also greeted by the son of the owner who sorta manages things throughout the restaurant. All the menu items are from special recipes handed down from generations in the family owned business, there are a few Black Beans Cuban restaurants in the Tampa area, but this one is unique and different than the others. They informed us that Red Sangria was just freshly made, so we ordered a large pitcher to share amongst us all. Ive had great Sangria at Red Mesa in St. Pete and Ceviche in Tampa, this was good, but there it was sans fruit and a little too sweet and watery for my liking. The owners son let us know they make it several ways, and found that most of the patrons liked it this way, a little thin and sweet. He would be more than happy to make it a little stronger if we requested. We started with the Cuban Salad, a very large plate that can be shared with up to 4 people, with crisp greens, cheeses and meats rolled together, and a great, light dressing on the side. For meals we tried the Beef Tips, Cuban Chicken and Roast Pork. All very large helpings, with two sides that included Arroz Moro, Red Beans and Rice, and Black Bean Soup and Rice. Very fresh and homemade taste, the Roast Pork was very tender and enough for two, Beef Tips were tender with mixed veges, and the Chicken was tender in a Mojo/Garlic sauce. All a great dining experience, they also offer a $10 lunch buffet which I may try soon, since it is right up the street from my home office.
Saturday, we ventured off to Ybor City for lunch, and the first ever Ybor ArtWalk, which will continue to take place on the first Saturday of each month. This was a great opportunity to explore all the arts and creative talents in Ybor City. Over 19 areas showcased local artists, their working studios, performance venues, and also the Italian Club and Ybor Museum were on the list as well. My favorite part was actually going into several of the artists studios, where they create some of their masterpieces, there were also some wine tastings, and just an opportunity to see creative folk around Ybor City. For lunch we stopped by El Puerto Argentinian Grill, on 5th Avenue near 17th street. A great find, nice open space with a bar, Argentinian music in the background, in an old historic building. A very friendly Argentianian server and Fresh Bread greeted us with Chimichurri Sauce and butter for dipping. We tried the Skirt Steak sandwich and Argentianian Sausage Sandwich's, both came with a large helping of fries and served on Fresh Baked soft hero style rolls. Tender marinated skirt steak sliced in small strips with onions and peppers, and a very flavorful sausage split in half with a light mustard sauce. We devoured the lunch with the Chimchurri sauce, i'm looking forward to trying out their dinner menu soon.
The afternoon was still very sunny and dry, so after getting back home from Ybor, we hopped on our bikes and rode across the Interbay Peninsula from Westshore Blvd to my friends condo tower on Bayshore Blvd. They were having a Pool/BBQ gathering. It was nice hanging with some good friends, with beautiful views of the Bay, Bayshore Blvd, and downtown Tampa skyline in the background.