The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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    The Restaurants at My End of the Universe Tampa Bay restaurants

Long Wait, Tasty Food


I honestly didn’t think we’d have an hour wait at 3pm on a Sunday, but it looks like Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs is busy no matter the time of day.  We wondered around the sponge docks for a while and then got seated out on the porch which was perfect.  Our waitress brought over some hush puppies while we looked at the menu.

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I had to make myself stop eating these or I was never going to eat my dinner.  They weren’t overly seasoned which is the way I like hush puppies. Quite addictive though.  It was a chilly afternoon, so we started off with a cup of crab corn chowder and a cup of seafood gumbo.

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Loren was amazed at all of the seafood in the gumbo. It had a little kick to it and he really enjoyed it.  The crab corn chowder was quite tasty.  Everything in it was cooked perfectly and it had a nice flavor.  For his entree, Loren tried the grilled grouper souvlaki pita.

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He said the tzatziki sauce was a bit too runny, but other than that, he said the fish was perfectly cooked and tasty.  I saw whole belly Ipswich clams on the menu and I was sold.

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Mmmm.  I love fried clams and these did not disappoint.  Crispy little bundles of memories growing up in Massachusetts.  For my sides, I got the potato salad and corn pudding.  I’d easily order this entire plate again.  And although we were both stuffed, I just couldn’t pass up the homemade orange pineapple cake.

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This was moist and flavorful with sweet bits of citrus and a creamy frosting.  We ate every last bite of it.  Total bill with a drink was $51.

Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill
937 Dodecanese Blvd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-934-4047

Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.4/5

Cuban Sandwiches


We were running a car rally today and it finished up in Masaryktown at the Cafe Masaryktown.  They handled our group of 16 very well and Loren and I went for a Cuban sandwich and a Havana Club with fries.

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The best part of the Cuban sandwich is the fresh roasted pork.  We both ended up taking half a sandwich home because they were so big and filling.  It was a lot of tasty food for $16.

Cafe Masaryktown
398 Broad St
Masaryktown, FL
352-754-2822

Cafe Masaryktown on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

Delicious Food


We were driving through downtown Safety Harbor looking for a different restaurant when we came across Marker 39 Floribbean Grill.   I think we’ve been in two other restaurants in this same location.  Hopefully, this one will stick around a while.  It’s a small space but we got there early so were able to get a table in the backroom.  We started off with the Nemo roll.

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This little salmon appetizer was gone before we knew it.  Tasty little bites of ginger cured salmon with pickled cucumber.  It was fresh and light.   We could have easily eaten another plate or two of them.  Instead, Loren got a side salad and I had to try the shrimp bisque bowl.

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Loren really liked the salad and the vinaigrette that came on it.  It had greens, cucumber, tomato, roasted corn, and sundried cherries.  The shrimp bisque was very creamy and had a deep, rich flavor to it.  It was garnished with a little bit of blue crab, but I sort of wished that there was a crispy texture element to go along with it.   For his entree, Loren decided on the ahi tuna.

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It was seared and the inside was a nice rare.  I liked the crispy wonton on top and he liked the wasabi sauce, but said it really cleared his sinuses because it was so strong.  It was one of those things to eat in moderation.  I went for the Cuban Crisis.

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This is the way roast pork should taste.  It was very tender and it was marinated and cooked long enough for all the flavors to meld together perfectly.  I also really enjoyed the plantains.  They added a bit of sweetness to the dish.  The rice, however, was overcooked and mushy and there weren’t enough black beans in the dish.  At this point, I was pretty full and Loren had to finish off the last of the pork, but we couldn’t pass up dessert.

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Unfortunately, this didn’t quite live up to the expectation.  It’s a doughnut tossed in cinnamon sugar with a caramel sauce, bacon, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I think we’re used to desserts built for two and this was a single serving dessert.  Loren liked the bacon, but it just didn’t add anything worthwhile to the dish for me.  I think I would have liked it better if the bacon had been caramelized and was sweeter.  The doughnut was tasty, but compared to everything else we ate tonight, this just didn’t shine.  Total bill with a drink was $74 and worth every penny,  but for as often as we go out to eat, it is a little high for us to come back very often.

Marker 39
155 5th Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
727-791-1939

Marker 39 on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.4/5

Great Flavors


We don’t get out to Johnny Grits as often as we like because they were only a breakfast and lunch restaurant, but we were happy to see that they now serve dinner Wednesday through Saturday.  No surprise that they were busy this Sunday morning, but luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for a table.  The table next to us had the most amazing looking fried chicken benedict, but I’d been craving shrimp and grits so I had to just put that benedict on my list for next time.

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Perfectly cooked shrimp on a bed of creamy grits and one of my favorite sauces.  It’s not spicy, but it has a wonderful blend of flavors in it.  The only thing I’m not keen on is the bacon.  Loren likes it, but I feel like it adds an odd texture to the dish.  Loren tried the grouper sandwich with a side of mac & cheese.

 

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He said the grouper was cooked nicely, but the ratio or bread to fish was a little off.  It was a big bun.  It was also served in this metal pail that made it difficult to try to cut the sandwich.  A plate would have worked just fine.  I admit, I couldn’t keep my fork out of the mac & cheese either.  Total bill with a drink was $27.

Johnny Grits
857 E. Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-942-4748

Johnny Grits on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.7/5

BBQ


When we’re looking for a meal that will yield leftovers, there’s nothing better than the Boss Hog Special at Ozona Pig.

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It’s enough food for way more than 2 people.  Ribs, pulled pork, chicken & brisket, plus two sides and deviled eggs.  They do a really tasty job with their BBQ.  The ribs were smoky and tender.  None of those made it home.  The pulled pork was also very tender and we just kept nibbling until we forced ourselves to put the rest away.  If you want to taste a little bit of everything, this is the way to go.  Total bill with a drink was $31.

The Ozona Pig
311 Orange St
Ozona, FL
727-773-0744

Ozona Pig on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.4/5