We had never tried Korean food before, so today’s lunch adventure was out to One Family Korean Restaurant on Hillsborough. It’s a hidden little gem located in the back of a shopping center. From the moment we walked in the door, the aromas from the kitchen tempted our tastebuds. We started off with some fried dumplings.
We didn’t expect quite so many of them, but they were delicious. The dipping sauce was savory, but not overly spicy. The dumplings were crispy and had a pork and veggie filling. For his entree, Loren tried the spicy pork lunch box.
There was a ton of food in this box. He said the pork was spicy and tender and he really enjoyed all the different sides that came with it. He even asked for more of the bean sprouts to take home with his leftovers. And trust me, there were leftovers all around. I got the sweet & sour shrimp which was also served with a bunch of sides.
The waitress said the side dishes change every day so you never know what you’re going to get. I like the potato and apple salad the best. There was also spinach & the bean sprouts that Loren loved, plus two other veggie dishes. As for the sweet & sour shrimp, it was probably one of the best sweet & sour dishes I’ve ever eaten. There were plenty of shrimp and they were perfectly cooked and nice and crispy. The veggies included peppers, onions, mushrooms, cucumber pickles, and I think pears. It was yummy and I had plenty for a second meal as well. Total bill with a drink was $42 and we’ll definitely be back.
One Family Korean Restaurant
7030 W Hillsborough Ave
We walked around Lowry Park Zoo this morning and ended up La Pequena Columbia for lunch. We really love the food at this restaurant. Loren ordered the Bandeja Montaner.
This dish had a little bit of everything in it, but his favorite was the sausage. He just loved the flavor of it. Along with that, there was steak, plantains, rice, beans, a corn cake, pork skin and salad. Needless to say, he had leftovers. I tried the chicken with mushroom sauce.
It also came with rice & beans. The chicken could have been more tender and the extra egg I ordered was overcooked, but my favorite thing about this place is the beans & rice. So yummy. I even ordered more beans to take home with us. Service was a bit lacking during our visit. Total bill with a drink was $40.
La Pequena Colombia
6312 N Armenia Ave
We were headed to the Florida Aquarium today, so walked over to Thai Thani in Channelside for lunch. They weren’t very busy at all during lunch. A simple salad came with our entrees and we started off with the steamed dumplings.
The dumplings were dense, but had a really nice flavor to them. There was even a little bit of shrimp in the top of all of them. Loren went for the ginger beef and I choose the chicken pad se-ew.
Loren said the beef was very tender and the sauce flavorful. I really enjoyed the flavor of the pad se-ew. The noodles were thick and tender and the veggies were cooked just right. The sauce was slightly sweet, which I like. I thought the chicken could have been a little more tender, but overall it was a good version of the dish. Total bill with a drink was $22.
615 Channelside Drive, Ste 204
We went over to Surf Shack for lunch today. They were pretty busy, but we were able to get a table inside which was good because it was a bit warm out on the patio. Loren tried the Hula Burrito again with a salad.
I love how colorful the salad is. As for the burrito, just like last time, he had to put some of the salsa from the chips & salsa on it to give it some flavor. I ordered the West Coast tacos and added avocado to them. For some reason, I just think a West Coast taco should already have avocado as one of its main ingredients.
I did the upgrade for mac & cheese as my side and that was a mistake. I’ve tried it here several times with mixed results, but the majority of the time, it’s just too dry. There’s just not enough cheese sauce on it. The tacos were ok. They’re pretty plain, just chicken, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Total bill with a drink was $22.
Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
We went over to the Little Greek on Linebaugh for lunch today. It’s almost identical to the one over at Boot Ranch. We both got Greek salads and Loren also got some dolmades.
I always forget that the mini-Greek is plenty of food. Loren had ordered the mini with chicken and I got the regular with gyro meat. I think the main difference is that there’s two scoops of potato salad and some more lettuce in the regular one. The gyro meat was very fresh and tasty today. Total bill with a drink was $24.
12117 W Linebaugh Ave
I’ve been wanting to try the new Yummy House out on Hillsborough for a while and we were finally out that way today so we stopped in for lunch. It was really crowded. The restaurant is a lot bigger than the other one, but the waiting area was very small and people just kept coming in the door. We had to wait about 15-20 minutes, but the food was worth the wait. We started off with the salt and pepper calamari.
This is one tasty appetizer. Granted, I shake off most of the pepper and other stuff on it, but Loren enjoys every last bite. The batter it’s dipped in is light and crunchy, the calamari is tender and the salt just adds an amazing little zing to it. There are a lot of items on the menu and it’s all very reasonably priced. Loren settled on the beef short ribs with black pepper sauce.
He said it was good, but he probably wouldn’t order it again because it was difficult to eat since the ribs were still on the bone. It had a very intense black pepper flavor to it. I ordered the orange chicken.
It was very tender with a sweet mandarin orange flavor. You do have to order rice separately here, but with a drink the entire meal was $36. Everything is just very fresh and flavorful. They also walk around with dim sum and other items on carts that you can order, but we both had leftovers as it was, so we didn’t try anything else.
Yummy House China Bistro
2620 E Hillsborough Ave
We went out to the Garden Grille Cafe for dinner tonight and had a waitress in training. Luckily, she had another waitress working with her whispering in her ear everything she forgot to do. We started off with some clam chowder and some calamari.
The clam chowder was a bit on the gritty side. They definitely needed to rinse the clams more. It needed some salt, but was ok otherwise. The calamari also needed some seasoning. Loren got a Greek salad with chicken.
He said the chicken was very tender and the salad was ok. I ordered a mushroom burger.
It was cooked way past medium and was pretty dry. They brought out the dessert tray and I was surprised at how many choices there were. We settled on a raspberry cake with cheesecake filling.
Unfortunately, this cake must have come frozen and was not thawed out properly. Parts of it were frozen solid, part of the cake was dry and the other part was wet. Not moist, but wet. The actually cheesecake filling was pretty tasty. Service was lacking in some areas as there were dishes left on our table way longer than they should have been. Total bill with a drink was $36.
Garden Grille Cafe
8425 Hillsborough Ave
Surf Shack was our destination for lunch today. The weather was gorgeous today so having the big door open out to the patio was great. Loren likes the chips & salsa here.
I wasn’t able to stop eating the chips either. They’re sort of like Doritos and somewhat addictive. They had salmon tacos on their specials for today, so Loren decided to try them.
He said they were pretty good. He also liked the Shangai cucumbers that came as a side dish. He said it was amazing how something so simple could be so tasty. Normally, I get tacos here, but I decided to try the mushroom burger instead.
It was one big burger! It was juicy and cooked a perfect medium, but it desperately needed some additional seasoning. A little salt & pepper would have gone a long way to take this from a good burger to a great one. As is, I was more aware of the taste of the bun than I was the taste of the burger itself. Overall though, it was a pretty good lunch for $20.
Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
We went to a holiday dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Westshore Plaza with about a dozen people. The only reservation they could get was at 4:30pm, but we didn’t get out of there until around 8:30pm. I didn’t take any photos during the meal, but still wanted to comment on the food.
The bread on the table was soft and chewy and very good. We also got the fried calamari, fried zucchini, stuffed mushrooms and mussels for appetizers. I didn’t try the mussels, but the people who did seemed to really enjoy them. The zucchini was very good. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I’d definitely order it again. Both the stuffed mushrooms and calamari were good too. I think everyone at the table was full before our entrees came out.
Loren got the salmon oscar and really liked it. The salmon was cooked well and the crab and sauce on top had some wonderful flavors. I ordered the mushroom ravioli with braised veal in a marsala cream sauce. It was delicious. From the first bite to the last, the textures and flavors just danced in my mouth. It was yummy. Everyone at the table seemed to really enjoy the food. We also got dessert which I ended up taking over half of it home because it was huge.
This is what was left after Loren & I ate some and we gave some to another person at the table. It was a huge piece of chocolate cake with a Sambuca mousse. It was moist and rich and very chocolatety; however, I probably wouldn’t order it again. I didn’t know what Sambuca was before I ordered it (an anise flavored liqueur), but it seems that both Loren & I had the same reaction to it. It numbed the roof of my mouth and my tongue. It was a very odd feeling.
There were a few issues with the evening. There was one entree that didn’t come out until almost everyone was halfway through eating. I guess it got overcooked in the kitchen, so they had to prepare a new one. The restaurant is very loud and parking is a small nightmare, but granted this was the Friday before Christmas. I don’t know what the final bill was, but it wasn’t cheap. The prices are a bit on the high side, but the food was really good. We don’t get over to that part of Tampa very often, but we’d definitely eat at Maggiano’s again.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
203 Westshore Plz
I attended a luncheon at Oystercatchers with a group of about 20 people. The restaurant is very pretty, overlooking the bay, but the service was lacking and although the food was good, it seemed very overpriced for the quantity of food on each plate.
We started off with some calamari fries & crabcakes, though I forgot to take a photo. Both were very tasty. The calamari wasn’t cut in rings, but rather long, thick pieces. It was tender and the breading was good. The crab cakes had lots of crab in them.
For my entrée, I ordered the sautéed scallops and side salad.
I guess I was just a little surprised that there were only 3 scallops in the dish. They were tender and sautéed nicely in garlic and butter; but for the price, the serving size seemed rather small. They actually serve a single fried oyster with the dish, and I’d have been happy with a plate of those, though I didn’t see them on the menu. I also ordered the Godiva Chocolate mousse for dessert.
When I think of mousse, I imagine a very light, fluffy chocolaty dish. This was more like a piece of fudge. It was thick and rich and yummy, but not exactly what I was expecting.
As for the service, I think a lot of us were unimpressed. The wait staff for our table seemed very abrupt and unfriendly, even rude at times. When our entrees came out, they placed the wrong plates in front of several people and one lady had to send hers back because her salmon was undercooked. I believe every entree was $20+ each, so for those prices you expect better service. Several people told me they’ve enjoyed the Sunday brunch here, but many of them said they wouldn’t come back for lunch.
2900 Bayport Dr
We ate dinner at Cuban Breezes. Luckily we got there just as the crowd started coming in, so we didn’t have to wait for a table. I know they’re usually busy at lunchtime, but I didn’t realize they were so busy on weekend nights as well. Loren started off with the soup they had on special, the caldo gallego.
It was a Cuban bean soup with lots of good flavors and ingredients. He also got the mahi wrap.
I’ve always thought Cuban Breezes had really good mahi and tonight’s lived up to the reputation. They just cook it very well; it’s never dry and always tastes fresh. I got the fricase de pollo.
This is one of my favorite dishes here. Flavorful chicken, potatoes, herbs, and spices with rice and a side of beans. There was enough for two on the plate and I ended up bringing half of it home. I love the mix of flavors in this dish. Total bill with a drink was $25.
13980 W. Hillsborough Ave.
We went to Lowry Park Zoo this morning and ate lunch at La Pequena Colombia on the way home. We’d eaten here once before and really liked the food. This visit was more of the same homemade goodness.
Empanadas were first on the list.
They have a very creamy, tasty filling with a nice crunch on the outside. I wasn’t going anywhere near the sauce served with it though. Loren said it was spicy and tasty.
He went for the chicken fajitas with a side of chicharron. That fried pork skin is one of the main reasons we’re back here.
He says it’s addictive. Crunchy, porky goodness. I liked the taste of his fajitas. They had this carmelized flavor to them. A little bit of sweetness and spiciness. Much better than I’ve had at a lot of the Mexican restaurants around. The chicken was very tender and there were plenty of leftovers. I got the Arroz con pollo which came with chicken stew.
This also had great flavors and there was way too much of it for one meal. The chicken was flavorful and tender and mixed well with some of Loren’s red beans. I ended up ordering an extra side of red beans to take home with my leftovers. Everything just has that homemade, authentic scrumptiousness. Total bill with a drink was $32.
La Pequena Colombia
6312 N Armenia Ave
I’m on vacation this week and we were heading to an 11:30am movie so decided to grab some brunch at Cracker Barrel. I say brunch because Loren’s not much of a breakfast eater. He got a chicken BLT and some soup, while I went for pancakes, eggs, and hashbrowns.
He said the sandwich was ok, not a lot of seasoning on it. His soup went missing and he was half way finished with his meal before our waitress came back & we could tell her.
My over-easy eggs were perfect and they make a darn good pancake here, especially with the warmed up syrup. I don’t know how anyone could get through a stack of pancakes with just one little bottle of their syrup though. I barely manage it with two. Total bill with a drink was $21.
13833 West Hillsborough Avenue
We ate dinner at the Hungry Greek over on Race Track Road tonight. I swear, all these little Greek places have the exact same look and the food tastes pretty much the same. Loren got the dolmades and I went for a gyro.
He said the dolmades were ok. I liked the gyro, but I found it rather difficult to eat. They really packed on the meat (which is ok) but the one slice of tomato on top didn’t exactly make it easy to bite into without getting the whole thing in one bite. Total bill with a drink was $21.
The Hungry Greek
12950 Race Track Road
You really don’t wanna know how often we eat at Cuban Breezes. We can’t help it, the food is fast, tasty and inexpensive. We don’t vary too much on what we get either. Tonight it was the Lecho with ultimate beans and rice for Loren and the Prime Rib Dip for me.
It was all tasty and good. I’ve had the prime rib dip a few times and this one was one of the better times. It’s been too salty in the past. This one was just right. We decided to try the apple pie empanada tonight.
Loren liked it more than I did. I just didn’t find the filling or the empanada to be sweet enough and the syrup that was on it had an almost bitter taste. I don’t know how to describe it. Almost like a molasses/honey type mixture. Whatever it was, it just didn’t do it for me. Total bill with a drink was $24.
13980 W. Hillsborough Ave.
We ate dinner at Surf Shack tonight and couldn’t figure out why they were so busy on a Thursday until our waitress told us it was $2 taco night. So, of course, we had to get tacos.
We got a variety of tacos. The Bangin’ shrimp, west coast, surf, filet, pork and pulled chicken taco. The only downside with the $2 deal is that you can’t make any changes to the tacos so I ended up with some fairly spicy sauces on a couple of them. They were all pretty tasty though. The surf taco with beef and shrimp was my favorite with the bangin’ shrimp a close second. Total bill with a drink was $16.
Also want to give a shout out to Surf Shack for supplying some gift certificates for the Road Rally car event Loren is hosting. If you’re interested in getting lost in a time-speed-distance rally, check out his road rally website at www.RallyFL.org.
Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
We were going to a play in Tampa today so we ate lunch at Oakley’s Grille. It’s a little sandwich shop and I’m glad we got there when we did because the place filled up fast. I went for a mushroom burger since they’re famous for their burgers. Loren got the muffaleta sandwich.
He said it was good, but more like a Cuban sandwich. He prefers the muffalettas at the Cleveland Street Café. He said he would have liked some additional veggies on it, maybe some lettuce and tomato and would have preferred it not pressed.
My burger was really flavorful. Cooked a perfect medium, juicy, and dripping cheese and mushrooms. They actually put the mushrooms on top of the cheese. I think I would have put them under the cheese to help seal them in. We split an order of fries between us. At first, I really liked them, but the more I ate, the more I realized just how salty they were. The staff was very friendly, though with the open kitchen, I could see the cooks getting a little confused with some of the orders. Overall, though a pretty tasty lunch for $20.
17631 Bruce B Downs Blvd
We ate lunch at the Surf Shack in Westchase today. It was too hot to sit outside on the patio and luckily they had the big doors closed and the air conditioning cranking inside. They bring chips & salsa to the table and there’s something about the chips that I really like. They’re almost Dorrito like. I tried the Orange Chicken Bowl.
It was spicy and had quite a few things in it that I didn’t really care for. The menu said it had “house veggies” in it. Unfortunately, the term “house veggies” could mean anything and the ones in this dish weren’t ones that I liked. The whole dish just fell flat for me. It tasted more processed than fresh and the chicken wasn’t very tender. Loren tried the hula pork burrito.
He didn’t care for it much. The pork had very little flavor and the pineapples in it added both a texture and flavor that didn’t work well together. I thought the whole thing tasted sort of watery. There just weren’t any prominent flavors and he ended up putting some salsa on it just to give it some taste. Neither of us would order these dishes again. Total bill with a drink was $20.
Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
We were on our way back from Orlando and stopped at Yummy House in Tampa for dinner. I’d read some reviews that said how awesome the food was, so we had to check it out. It’s not a very big restaurant and it was packed. We weren’t greeted when we walked in and that always bugs me. From the get go, it just wasn’t a friendly environment, but the food was really amazing.
We decided to try the salt & pepper calamari since a lot of people had recommended it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the name, but this dish had some amazing flavors in it. The calamari was thick and tender with a wonderful crunchy coating on it. The pepper in it was hot red pepper, which I ended up scraping some off since it was really intense. Loren liked the combination of scallions and cilantro that it was tossed in. Very, very yummy. Our entrees came out almost immediately after the calamari, so timing of the meal wasn’t great. I guess since the line at the door never stopped, their main goal is to get you in & out as quickly as possible.
Loren ordered the Kung Po chicken.
He said it had a depth of flavor to it that just kept him eating more. The chicken was tender and it had zucchini, celery, peppers and peanuts in it, plus a few of those really spicy peppers too. I ordered the orange chicken.
This dish had a really tangy sweet orange sauce and perfectly cooked chicken. It was really good. Our waiter asked us if we wanted rice and then forgot to bring it out. When we asked about it, he finally brought it out, but I was a bit dismayed to find out that a bowl of rice costs an extra $2.
Service was strange here. I’m not sure if the same server came to our table more than once. We had different people taking our order, bringing our drinks, bringing our food, our bill, etc. While they were at the table, they seemed friendly, but otherwise they all seemed rather aloof. I think this is a restaurant where I’d order take-out because the food was delicious, but probably not want to eat inside the restaurant again. Total bill with a very flat Pepsi was $30.
2202 W Waters Ave
So, did you know that April 27th is National Prime Rib Day? Prom was also going on tonight, so we needed to find a place that the kids weren’t going to be, so we settled on Cody’s out on Hillsborough. I have a love/hate relationship with Cody’s. Love the rolls & salad, but the entrees don’t always live up to expectations.
They were pretty busy tonight and it took our waiter quite a while and two tries to get us a salad without onions and some rolls.
The rolls were fresh and so good that we had to order a second basket. Like I said, this is the best part of the meal to me. Loren, being in the holiday spirit, decided to try the prime rib.
He said it was pretty tender and he enjoyed it. Surprisingly, he actually ate the whole thing. I ordered the half rack of baby back ribs.
Some of the ribs were tender, some parts were not. They definitely don’t have the smoked taste and flavor you get from an actual BBQ joint. I’m still working my way through the menu. Eventually, I’ll find something I like. Total bill with a drink was $33.
Cody’s Original Roadhouse
11202 West Hillsborough Ave