Looks like we ate out 23 times in March and spent about $615 between the two of us.
Here are the highs and lows from March:
Best Salsa: Casa Tina
Best Sushi: Kaiko – especially the Super Crunchy roll
Best Service: Marie at Eagle’s Landing
Best Dessert: Crepe-ology
Best Mac and Cheese: Cracker Barrel
Most Food for the Money: Yanny’s
Worst Pasta: JC Cravers
Worst Appetizer: Fish Tail Willie’s
Mexican food sounded good for dinner tonight, so headed over to Casa Tina’s in Dunedin. It wasn’t very busy tonight which was nice because it can get loud in there when there’s a crowd.
We started out with some chips and salsa.
The salsa is very fresh at Casa Tina’s. Definitely not out of a jar. Loren ordered the Carne Asada.
It came with rice, beans, and a cheese enchilada in a spicy red sauce. Loren said it was yummy.
I ordered the chicken flutes.
This is one of my favorite menu items. It’s two deep fried chicken flutes with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, plus rice and beans. It has great textures and flavors. Crunchy, yet with a nice smooth, tasty filling.
About half way through our meal, a loud soundtrack came on and there were two acrobats doing some incredible feats in the middle of the dining room. They’re from BB’s Dance & Circus Arts.
We like Casa Tina’s. The food is always fresh and has some wonderful flavors. Two entrees and a drink ran us $31.
365 Main Street
We headed over to Kaiko Japanese Restaurant on McMullen Booth for some sushi tonight. This is our favorite sushi restaurant. Everything is always fresh and prepared just right and Charlie’s quite the character.
Tonight we got a Mexican roll, a California roll, a Scott roll (Loren’s favorite) and some salmon plus my all time favorite, the Super Crunchy roll.
The Super Crunchy is a scallop roll that’s fried like tempura. The combination of flavors and textures is amazing. This roll alone would keep me coming back here.
Kaiko is a small restaurant and it’s almost always busy. The regulars come in and Charlie greets them with a big hello and then he whips up some amazing sushi. $37 for 4 rolls and 4 pieces of salmon.
Kaiko Japanese Restaurant
2475 N McMullen Booth Rd
I met my sister in Orlando today to go see the “Out of this World” costume exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center. Last time we were in Orlando we ate at the Crooked Bayou and really enjoyed it, so we headed there again today.
It’s more of a bar than a restaurant and you really need to sit outside. Inside smells really stale. But since it was such a beautiful day today we wanted to be outside anyway.
I ordered the oyster po’ boy with tater tots.
This place makes a great tater tot. My sister got an order of the spicy tots plus a cup of jambalaya. The po’ boy was really good. Nice crisp oysters with lettuce, tomato and mayo lightly pressed in French bread. For $14, it was plenty of food for both of us.
50 E Central Blvd
I downloaded a coupon from Restaurant.com for $25 off a $35 meal at J.C. Cravers in Palm Harbor. As soon as we walked in the door, the noise level was overwhelming. It didn’t help that we were seated near the bar, but the acoustics in this place were terrible.
We started out with some calamari.
We both like calamari and order it almost everywhere we go. I don’t think I’d order it again here. It was a bit on the chewy side and the batter had no seasoning whatsoever. It was very bland. The remoulade sauce it came with was tasty and completely necessary in order to get any flavor.
When our dinners showed up, I was a little surprised because I thought the menu had said you get a salad with your meal. Then I thought maybe I read it wrong, but no, I took another look and sure enough we were supposed to get salads, but never did. Maybe you have to ask for the salad or they just assume if you ordered an appetizer that you don’t want one?
Since our dinners had already arrived, it seemed pointless to ask about the salads. Plus our waitress was sort of a drive-by waitress. She’d ask if everything was ok and be long gone before you could get a reply out.
Loren ordered the grouper, lightly blackened.
His dinner came with rice and zucchini. He said there was something off about the fish. Couldn’t quite put his finger on it, just said it was ok, not great. The veggies were mushy but the rice was pretty good.
I ordered the linguine alfredo with shrimp.
I’ve had pasta with alfredo sauce in a lot of restaurants. If it’s on the menu, I usually order it. And if I have leftovers, I rarely bring it home because once an alfredo sauce separates, it’s no longer creamy and you’re basically just eating pasta in oily butter.
Here’s a close up of my plate.
Notice the complete lack of creaminess and lovely pool of oil? Not a great alfredo sauce to say the least. And did you also notice the burnt bread? Yeah, it didn’t exactly scream “eat me”. The shrimp were ok, but they were covered in a spicy seasoning and I’m not a fan of spicy.
Overall, it was a rather disappointing experience. Mediocre food, it was really loud, and the service wasn’t great. I’m glad we left just as the live music was starting. I couldn’t imagine it being any louder in there. After the coupon, the total bill was $22.
191 Orange St
Palm Harbor, FL
I’ve driven by Ellie’s Family Restaurant on Race Track Road a bunch of times and finally stopped in today for lunch.
They were pretty busy and the service was really bad. It took way too long for our waitress to come take our drink orders and give us menus and even longer to get our food ordered.
My friend Cathy ordered their fish and fries special.
At first glance, we both thought it was a huge piece of fish, but when she cut into it, she realized it was mostly batter. She ended up taking the majority of it off.
I ordered a cheeseburger and fries.
Nothing special about it. It tasted like a generic meat patty thrown on the grill. I think if they don’t ask you how you want it cooked, you’ve got to assume the worst. The fries weren’t all that great either.
It’s a good thing we didn’t need anything else from our waitress because when she brought the food, she also left the check and we never saw her again.
The only thing the place had going for it was the prices. My meal was $6, hers was $7.
Ellie’s Family Restaurant
12008 Race Track Rd
What used to be the Happy Greek in Palm Harbor is now Little Greek. We asked the guy at the counter why they weren’t happy anymore and he said well, the economy’s rough right now. He then went on to explain that they didn’t own the Happy Greek name and they’re part of the Little Greek franchise.
Today was a gyro day for both of us, one chicken and one with gyro meat.
I also got a side of potato salad. It was typical gyro fare. Nothing out of the ordinary. The tzatziki sauce had me tasting garlic the whole rest of the day though.
I saw this is the dessert case and had to have one.
It was chocolate sponge cake with layers of chocolate mouse and some chocolate sprinkles. It was pretty good. Not a deep down rich chocolate, but rather a lighter, fluffier chocolate dessert. Total lunch was $20.
320 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
Tonight’s conversation on what to have for dinner ended up on sandwiches. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many decent sandwich shops open for dinner on Sunday night. We ended up at Paul’s Chicago Pizza in Clearwater.
We’d been here before a long time ago, but neither of us really remembered much about the food. The restaurant is pretty small and you have to order at the counter. You’d think they would put a sign by the door explaining this instead of the one cashier/waitress having to walk out and tell everyone the same thing.
Loren ordered the Italian Beef sub.
He said the beef was tender, but on its own, didn’t have much flavor. That’s where the aujous came into play. That was really tasty. The crusty gonnella roll let it soak right in. It came with 4 wedge fries that weren’t much to write home about.
I got the meatball parmesan sub.
The meatballs were homemade, but didn’t really have a lot of flavor. The same with the sauce, it was fairly bland. It wasn’t a bad sandwich, by any means, but not something I’d go out of my way for to order again.
And since there were cannoli on the menu, I had to have one.
I’m picky when it comes to cannoli. The first thing I tasted in this one was cinnamon and that’s not the flavor I want in a cannoli. It also had some chocolate chips in it, again, not what I’m looking for. The filling itself had a nice texture, and the shell was crispy, but it was a little too thick. Now, don’t think I didn’t eat the entire thing, because I did, but I’m still searching for that perfect cannoli.
Total bill was $19 including a drink.
Paul’s Chicago Pizza
1500 N McMullen Booth Rd, Ste A11
Watched “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” the other night and they were doing a French toast throwdown. I’ve been craving French toast since then, so I dragged Loren out of bed and we headed over to Yanny’s in Clearwater because the reviews I read said they had the best pancakes and French toast around.
Yanny’s is a small diner type restaurant. Looked like a lot of locals in there. Luckily, we were able to get a table without a wait. While we looked over the menu, I ordered a Jungle Juice.
It had bananas, strawberries, cranberries, kiwi, and blueberries in it. It was tasty, but the banana was definitely the overwhelming flavor in it. I had to add some ice cubes to it because it wasn’t cold enough for me.
Loren ordered their homemade corned beef hash.
It also comes with 2 eggs and toast. The corned beef hash was really good. Lots of fresh corned beef, not out of a can, onions, peppers, mushrooms, mixed with hashbrowns. We got scrambled eggs with cheese with it and they were ok. I admit, I like my scrambled eggs a little mushy with the cheese mixed in, not just melted on top. He also ordered a pancake.
Do not adjust your screen. That’s one pancake. It’s huge and thick. Not your typical light and fluffy pancake. This one definitely has some texture going on. We had to drench it in syrup, otherwise, it was kind of dry. It almost had a biscuit-like feel to it.
And I ordered one piece of French toast.
This was the most bizarre looking French toast I’ve ever had. They cook extra custard over the piece of French toast to give it a very unique presentation. The French toast was good, but the extra custard around the outside didn’t do much for me. This wasn’t my idea of great French toast. Good flavor, yes, but texture-wise it wasn’t what I was looking for.
The portions are definitely big here. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could eat more than one of those pancakes. We don’t drink coffee, but they were constantly stopping by the table next to us with refills.
Believe it or not, the whole meal was just $16. There was enough pancake left over for another meal.
1258 S Highland Ave
The first thing you notice when you walk into the Tilted Kilt in Clearwater is that it’s really noisy. Granted it was the middle of March Madness, but you could hardly hear yourself think in there. Ok, I’m a woman, that’s the first thing I noticed. The men however, probably notice the waitress outfits that make the Hooters uniforms look tame. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much cleavage and skin outside of a beach.
Being a sports pub, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the food, but I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered the Sloppy Jane.
It’s thinly sliced ribeye with swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. The cole slaw is what makes it sloppy, but I got it on the side. The sandwich was really good. The beef was incredibly tender. The homemade coleslaw was surprisingly good. Extremely rich and creamy. The fries were nice and crispy and seasoned well too.
Loren tried their corned beef and cabbage.
He said it was a very mild corned beef, but very tasty. It came with potatoes and carrots too.
And then for dessert we had to try the Tilted Guilt.
It’s a warm chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was awesome.
For $30, it was a really good meal. The ratio of men to women was pretty high in there. It could have been because of the basketball games, but I’m guessing it’s always that way.
2571 Drew St
We decided to do some geocaching in Lake Seminole Park today and I realized the Cajun Cafe was close by so that was our lunch stop on the way to the park.
Granted, I don’t normally eat anything spicy, but the shrimp etoufee at the Cajun Cafe has won me over.
Mind you, this is the least spicy thing on the menu and the only thing I ever eat here, but it is just so good. I’ve tried to make it at home, but I just can’t get the same flavors. Onions, peppers, celery, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce with rice. Mmmmm, mmmmm, good.
Loren started out with some gumbo.
It has a very dark flavor to it. Made with a dark, rich roux. I can eat a little of the broth with some bread, but the andoille sausage is very spicy. Lots of yummy flavors melding together.
He got a crab cake wrap with some fried okra for his entree.
The okra was good. Crispy on the outside, nice and mushy on the inside. He said the crabcake was tasty too, especially with the spicy roumalade sauce.
It’s nice being able to sit on the back deck and just look out on the river. It ran us $35 for the gumbo, two entrees, and a drink.
And this is what we ran into when we went to the park:
I think he was eyeballing us as a tasty lunch treat.
Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
8101 Park Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL
Tonight seemed like a good night to head over to Ban Thai on McMullen Booth. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been there yet this year. Seems like we were just there a few weeks ago, but the last time we were there was probably sometime in December.
We like Ban Thai. It’s a cozy little restaurant with a nice ambiance and decor. Even the wait staff is dressed in shimmering gold gowns.
Loren ordered his usual, ginger chicken
He said it was tasty. Fresh veggies and lots of ginger, but a mild flavor. He was happy. For me, it’s all about the sushi.
Ban Thai is the first place I ever tried sushi. I was completely against it, the thought of raw fish just didn’t seem right to me at the time. But the first roll I had was a Tampa roll, so it had fried fish in it. Now, here we are quite a few years later and whenever there’s sushi on the menu, I have to try it.
Tonight, I got another Tampa roll for old times sake, though they changed it from grouper to snapper. It had a nice crunch to it. Mexican rolls are still my favorite, so I had to get one of those. Fried shrimp and avacado just have such a wonderful flavor/texture combination together. I also tried an Arizona roll which was yellow tail and cucumber. It was ok, but the cucumber overwhelmed the tuna. And just for fun a couple of pieces of salmon. Loren got a spicy tuna garlic roll. He said it had waves of flavor to it. The tuna, the garlic, then a bit of heat at the end.
We didn’t see too much of our waiter, but since the entire waitstaff looks out for the tables, it wasn’t much of an issue. There was always someone checking to see if our drinks were full. Total for dinner was $45. Not too bad really for 4 maki rolls, 2 pieces of sushi, and an entree.
Ban Thai Restaurant
2519 McMullen Booth Road
Headed over to Tijuana Flats in Oldsmar for lunch today. Surprisingly, for a Friday at noon, they weren’t very busy.
I ordered the same thing I always get, a chicken chimichanga with rice and beans.
I just get it with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream, but you can also get it with onions, jalapenos and black olives too. There’s also the hot sauce bar, which I avoid completely. I just don’t do spicy. For the most part, it’s typical chain restaurant food, but I’ve never been disappointed eating here.
The staff checks on you constantly. We had at least 4 different people ask if they could refill our drinks or get us anything else. It’s nice to go somewhere and actually feel as though they make an effort to keep their customers happy. And for $8.75, my tummy was content the rest of the day.
3687 Tampa Road
Lunch with the boss at Joe’s Crab Shack in Clearwater today. They like to play music at Joe’s. Seems they have a loop that runs for about an hour. Mostly old stuff from the 70′s and 80′s, or remixes of same. Fairly listenable when they don’t have it turned up too loud. But, about every hour, they play “Car Wash”. Yeah, you know the one. Car wash, yeah! That, in itself isn’t so bad, but the wait staff gets out and dances and shouts to it… every hour. (gets old in a hurry if you happen to be there more than an hour… which we have, on occasion) Joe’s is probably a fun place in the evenings… personally, I think they try to be TOO fun at lunch time. Glad I don’t work at Joe’s!
Anyway, the food at Joe’s is decent. Typical chain restaurant fare, but pretty good seafood for a chain. Nothing to write home about, but we eat lunch there fairly often. Must not be too bad if we keep going back, right?
Had their blackened Mahi sandwich today with some fries. It was not overly blackened, was nicely cooked, and quite tasty. Huge chunk of fish, too… I cut about 2″ off of it to eat after I was done with the sandwich! In the past, I’ve had their surf & turf burger (fried shrimp on a burger, really good!) and several other things that I can’t think of right now.
Looked like they had reworked their menu again since the last time we were there. A lot of pricier menu items, but the sandwich page was still reasonable. $7-8 for a good-sized sandwich. Pretty sure they charge extra for the fries, though. So, not the cheapest food, but good. They have a large covered patio for comfortable outdoor seating, too… that’s the main reason we go there aside from being a central location for us.
Joe’s Crab Shack
2730 Gulf to Bay Blvd.
I checked to see what Restaurant.com had to offer and found a deal for $25 off a $45 check at Eagles Landing Restaurant in Palm Harbor. We had actually eaten here before when it was another restaurant.
We were seated by our waitress Marie who had a very distinct Minnesota accent. I gotta say, she’s probably the nicest waitress we’ve had in a very long time. It’s not often that a waitress makes this kind of impression on us. She was constantly checking on things and had such a pleasant personality. Unfortunately, I wish I could rate the food as high as I’d rate the service.
We started with the spring rolls.
I don’t think I’ve ever had spring rolls made with ground beef before. It was an odd flavor. There was a sauce on the plate that Loren said was spicy, so I avoided it and went for the sweet Asian dipping sauce instead.
Both dinners came with a salad and roll.
Nothing special on the salad and the roll wasn’t as soft as it looked at first glance. I also ordered some cheddar broccoli soup.
This was a much creamier soup than most broccoli cheese soups. There really wasn’t a lot of cheese or broccoli in it.
Loren ordered the ribeye with a baked potato.
He said the steak lacked seasoning. We both got the baked potatoes and they were not cooked enough. They were also not very warm. It was as if they had taken them out of the oven earlier in the day and forgot to finish them off.
I ordered the tenderloin tips.
Sadly, they weren’t very tender. You really had to put a lot of effort into chewing the pieces. The gravy was nice and flavorful though.
And to finish things off, we ordered the Mile High Chocolate Cake.
It had a nice rich chocolate flavor, but the cake itself was dry.
After the coupon, the bill with added gratuity was $30. Our waitress was definitely the best part of the experience, but based on the food, I doubt we’ll go back again.
Eagles Landing Restaurant
36221 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
Brady’s Backyard BBQ is our go to place for BBQ. They’re located on Main Street in Safety Harbor and we’ve never had a bad experience there.
They were busy tonight, but we were lucky enough to find a small table when we walked in.
Loren ordered his usual, riblets with a side of collard greens and a “try” of baked beans.
The riblets have a lot of meat on them and they give you a bunch of them. He always has a few left over to take home. He likes to dip them in their mango BBQ sauce.
I ordered the BBQ pork sandwich with a side of corn bread pudding.
I love their corn bread pudding. It has a wonderful flavor and texture to it. Their pulled pork is very tasty too. They pile it on the sandwiches. I got a small sandwich and there was easily enough pork on it for two people.
We tried the apple pie for dessert.
It was ok, but didn’t taste homemade, more like something you’d buy in a grocery store.
Two entrees, dessert and a drink ran us $29. Brady’s smokes all their meats on site for 14-20 hours and you can definitely taste it. Everything is fresh and flavorful.
Brady’s Backyard BBQ
340 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL
We were both craving burgers for lunch so we headed to the Athens Restaurant in downtown Safety Harbor. It’s a small Greek place right on Main Street. It doesn’t seem like the sort of place you would go for a burger, but they’re actually pretty good.
I got the regular cheeseburger with fries and Loren got the jumbo bacon cheeseburger.
He wanted to show off the juicy, tasty, goodness inside. I think we’ve eaten breakfast here a few times, but mostly we just go back for the burgers. The fries are good too. $15 and our burger craving was satisfied.
226 Main St
Safety Harbor, FL
In our quest for different restaurants to try, I searched Google for restaurants in Safety Harbor and Crepe-ology came up on the list. I hadn’t heard of it before, but their online menu looked tasty (ok, I sort of saw the dessert menu first and that sealed the deal), so we headed downtown to try it out.
It’s another one of those small restaurants off of Main Street built in an old house. When we walked in the owner handed us some menus and pointed us to the patio seating in back.
Loren ordered a mixed green salad to start with. It had baby greens, grape tomatoes and cucumbers. The balsamic vinegrette dressing was a bit strong, but the salad itself was very fresh.
We ordered two types of crepes. I got the chicken and mushroom with Monterey Jack cheese and Loren got one of the specials, chicken, mushrooms, and goat cheese with a roasted red pepper sauce.
I almost ordered the one he got but was afraid the sauce would be too spicy. It wasn’t. It was a mild sweet red pepper sauce. I like goat cheese, so we had to do some trading. Overall the crepes were tasty. They’re not very crispy on the outside, but rather soft throughout. The fillings were good, though there’s a part of me that would have liked some sort of sauce to go with it.
And then, there was dessert.
Let’s face it, if you put the words chocolate, raspberry, and whipped cream together, it’s a given that I’m going to get it. I told Loren he should order his own dessert because it was unlikely that I was going to share. He ordered the apple caramel crepe.
Both of the dessert crepes were good. Again, the crepe itself was soft all the way through, but very tasty. The apples were crispy and the caramel sauce was yummy. The raspberries in mine were cold, which sort of surprised me. I was expecting them to be warmed. There really weren’t a lot of raspberries in it, but it did have a raspberry sauce. Mostly the crepe was filled with whipped cream and dark chocolate and you just can’t go wrong there.
Total bill was $27 and we were both stuffed. Everything was served in disposable containers, a paper basket for the salad, drinks in plastic cups and we ate with plastic utensils on paper plates. It’s not exactly an upscale restaurant, but the prices are definitely reasonable.
155 5th Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
It’s been raining for two days and all I wanted for lunch today was warm and cozy comfort food. For me, that’s Cracker Barrel a big ol’ heaping helping of macaroni and cheese.
I did order some meatloaf with my mac and cheese and some cole slaw too. There’s just something about the mac and cheese at Cracker Barrel that makes me so very happy. It’s always thick and creamy and cheesy with so much ooey gooey goodness. I’m addicted.
I usually get the chicken fried chicken, but since I had chicken last night, went for the meatloaf. It’s standard fare, nothing out of the ordinary, but it doesn’t disappoint. The biscuits were fresh and tasty too.
It’s a lot of food for $8. I couldn’t finish all of the meatloaf. It wasn’t very crowded in there today at lunch which was nice too. Sometimes it can get kind of loud in there. It was a shame I had to go back to work because after all those carbs, I was ready for a nap.
13833 West Hillsborough Avenue
Didn’t feel like cooking tonight, so we headed over the Latin American Grill Argentine in Oldsmar.
We’ve been here a few times. It’s a small restaurant, but the food packs a lot of flavor. They start you off with some cuban bread with a chimichurri sauce to dip it in.
You know it has to be good when Loren eats more bread that I do. The sauce is very garlicy and full of herbs.
We split a chicken empanada for an appetizer.
It was nice and crispy and the chicken filling was really tasty. I’d be happy with just a couple of these for dinner. My dinner came with 2 sides and I chose the chicken soup as one of them.
It was chicken and rice with a lot of veggies. It had a really nice flavor to it, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. There was almost a sweetness to it, but I don’t know if it was just from the fresh vegetables or if something else was added. In either case, it was a yummy bowl of soup on a rainy night.
Loren got the roasted pork with yellow rice and beans.
Inevitably, if there’s roasted pork on the menu, he’s going to get it. This one had a bunch of onions plus the chimichurri sauce mixed it. He scarfed the entire thing.
I went for the Milanesa de Pollo with mashed potatoes.
There was enough chicken here to feed at least two people. It was nicely pan fried with a lot of seasoning on it. Maybe a little too much for my taste. It sort of tasted salty, but maybe with a little lemon thrown in. The chicken was very tender and the mashed potatoes were homemade, which is the way all mashed potatoes should be.
For $35 we got an appetizer, two entrees and a drink, plus have of my chicken for leftovers. Everything was really tasty and flavorful and the service was good too. It’s one of those restaurants we enjoy whenever we go there, but we just keep forgetting that it’s there.
Latin American Grill Argentine
3780 Tampa Road