We didn’t eat out as much in September as we have other months. Looks like a total of $418 at 20 restaurants.
Best Spice: Shrimp Etoufee at Cajun Cafe
Best Pizza: Grandma’s Rustic at Corteos
Best Dessert: Bubba’s Brownie at Chicos Woodfired Grill
Worst Service: Sakua Japanese Restaurant
Worst Atmosphere: City Fish
We eat at Cuban Breezes quite a bit since it’s close, inexpensive, and the food’s pretty good. Loren and I went there for lunch today. He ordered a Havana burger with fries and I ordered a chicken philly with rice & beans.
Loren was only able to eat half of the Havana burger. It’s a half pound burger and very filling. Their seasoned fries are yummy.
Unfortunately, either the waitress or the kitchen didn’t get my order right and it came out as a chicken wrap. Fortunately, though, when I told them it wasn’t right, they very quickly made it right and took it off the bill. That’s the kind of service we’ve come to appreciate here.
The chicken philly has onions and peppers on their delicious Cuban bread. I drench it in Havana sauce and my taste buds are happy. Total bill was $9 for the burger and a drink.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
Loren was heading out of town today, so we thought we’d grab a quick sushi lunch at Sakura. Every other time I’ve been here, the service was wonderful and the food was quick. Not this time.
Our waitress took forever to take our orders and was rather rude. Her attitude was terrible. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a waitress come to the table and just say “go ahead” and she did that with every table in there.
Both our lunches came with miso soup and salad.
I liked the dressing on the salad, but I’m not a fan of miso soup. It took almost an hour to get our food after the soup and salad.
I had ordered a bento box with shrimp katzu. It also came with rice, 4 pieces of a California roll, and two egg rolls.
Overall, it was ok, but not great. The shrimp were overcooked and a little tough. Loren got two sushi rolls, a salmon and avacado and a spicy salmon.
The rolls were ok, but again nothing spectacular and certainly not worth the wait. Lunch ran us $21. The overall experience was just really poor today.
Sakura Japanese Restaurant
13823 W. Hillsborough Ave
Loren chose our lunch stop today and if he’s in Oldsmar during lunchtime, his first choice is always Andy’s. We got there early, so the lunch crowd hadn’t shown up yet.
I always like to try something different, so I got the chicken cordon bleu. He got what he always gets, the roast pork with a side of yellow rice and black beans.
It’s a lot of food for $15. Neither of us finished our bowls of rice and beans. The pork was tender and juicy as usual. The chicken was ok, but a little on the dry side.
I should know by now that the best thing on the menu is the roasted pork and just get that every time.
Andy’s on the Bay
472 East Douglas
My friend Cathy & I went over to Fratelli’s for lunch today. They’ve got a really inexpensive lunch menu and the food’s been great both times I’ve been there.
Today I got the cheese ravioli which came with garlic bread.
The raviolis were big and covered in a very tasty tomato sauce. The mozzerella on top was also very fresh and had a wonderful flavor. The garlic bread needed to be toasted a little longer, but it still had a really nice texture. For under $6, this is probably one of the better lunches around the area.
Fratelli Italian Restaurant and Bar
120 Commerce Blvd, Ste 1
We had dinner at Daddy’s Grill in Oldsmar tonight. Looks like the last time we were here was New Year’s Day. There was a baby shower going on in their banquet room, so lots of ooooh’s and aaaahhh’s could be heard throughout the restaurant.
I started out with a salad and Loren got a bowl of the vegetable beef soup.
The rolls were tasty, especially dipped in the soup. Everything in the soup was nice and tender and the broth had a good flavor to it. Loren thought it sort of had the flavor of French onion soup.
For his entree, he ordered off of the specials menu and got the salmon mediterranean with a baked potato.
He really enjoyed the salmon. It was topped with spinach, olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese. The baked potato was overcooked and had a burnt taste to it. The waitress brought him some mashed potatoes instead, but they weren’t that great either.
I ordered the lasagne which came with garlic bread.
The lasagne was pretty good. It had lots of ricotta cheese (which I love) and also a meat layer that was heavy on the sausage. The sauce was a little sweet, but didn’t really have any depth of flavor.
Total dinner ran us $30. It was nice to get an experienced waitress for a change. She knew how to pace the dishes coming out to the table and kept drinks filled.
3682 Tampa Road
We went over to Jack Willies around 3:30pm today for lunch. It must have been in-between shifts as the service seemed to be lacking throughout the restaurant. Our waiter took our orders before another table who had been seated before us and several people seated on the deck came inside to ask when someone would be coming to take their orders.
Loren ordered a blackened grouper sandwich with fries.
He said it was tasty. I ordered the mushroom swiss burger with fries.
It tasted good, but was cooked a medium well instead of medium. I usually love the fries at Jack Willies, but these weren’t as good as they have been in the past.
I wanted a chocolate dessert, but they were out, instead on the advice of the waiter, we got the apple crumble.
It wasn’t very good. The apples weren’t cooked long enough. We ate the ice cream and some of the crust but left almost all of the apples on the plate. Total bill was $33. We used to love going to Jack Willies. The food and service were always good. Lately though, it seems to have gone downhill.
Jack Willie’s Tiki Bar and Grill
1013 St Petersburg Dr
Since Los Mexicanos was closed when we tried to go on Labor Day, we decided to head out there tonight. The first thing we noticed upon walking in the door was how loud it was. On the plus side, it means a lot of people are eating there, however, it was rather difficult to hold a conversation.
They brought out some chips and salsa.
It’s not a chunky salsa, but Loren still enjoyed it. He ordered the steak fajitas.
The waitress brought the pan of fajitas to the table along with my entree. She said she’d be right back with the plate that came with the fajitas. Then she disappeared for awhile. She came back and grabbed his empty drink glass and brought it back, before disappearing into the kitchen one more time to get the plate that goes with the fajitas. We were just sitting there stunned. How hard is it to bring all the food to the table?
The fajita meat was tender, but in tiny strips. We weren’t impressed. I ordered the chicken chimichanga dinner. Since it only came with rice, I also ordered a side of refried beans.
If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times, chimichangas should be crispy on the outside. If they’re not crispy, they’re burritos. These were definitely stuffed full of chicken though. Unfortunately, without the crispy exterior, it just lacked the texture I was craving.
Overall, the entire dining experience was just lacking. Sure, there was plenty of food and I probably brought over a pound of it home as leftovers, but neither the quality of the food, nor the service was worth the $27 bill.
38954 US Hwy 19
Tarpon Springs, FL
Went over to Pacific Thai Cuisine for lunch today. When we walked in the door, it was like walking into a freezer. Man, it was cold in there. Luckily, another group of customers flagged down the waitress and got her to turn down the air.
Soup and salad came with our lunches.
The chicken and rice soup has a toasted garlic taste to it. It’s different from the soup you get at a lot of other Thai places. Most of them have more of a ginger flavor instead of garlic. The salad, though there isn’t much of it, has a tasty ginger dressing.
Loren ordered Garlic and Black Pepper chicken.
He enjoyed it. Lots of veggies and good flavors going on. I ordered the massaman curry with shrimp.
Even though I asked for mild, it was still pretty spicy. It had really good flavors though. The potatoes, carrots, and onions were all cooked perfectly. The waitress seemed a bit overwhelmed today. She was very nice, but seemed like she could have used some help.
Total lunch ran us $18. I’ve never tried the appetizers here, but the lady at the next table kept raving about the crab rangoons, so I’m going to have to try those next time we come here.
Pacific Thai Cuisine
4058 Tampa Road
Had to run to an autoparts store in Oldsmar at lunch today and since Subway was right next door, figured it’d be a quick, easy, cheap lunch.
I got a sweet onion teriyaki chicken on wheat.
It was ok, nothing to write home about. I swear the lady at the counter told me 5 times that it was really hot, having just come out of the microwave. I was a little dismayed to not be able to grab a couple of extra napkins at the beverage stand. Guess you have to go back to the counter for those. Subway has never been my favorite sub shop, but for $5 it was a quick and inexpensive lunch.
3775 Tampa Rd
Still in search of places we haven’t eaten at yet, we headed over to the Peggy O’Neill’s in Oldsmar. It’s an Irish pub sports bar and I’m pretty sure they had at least one TV tuned to every football game playing today.
Since we’re not into sports or beer, we were there to try out the food. We started off with a cup of lobster bisque blessed with sherry.
Yeah, that’s how the cup looked when it came to the table. Crusty soup stuck to the inside made me think perhaps it was placed in a microwave a bit too long. I didn’t like it. It tasted more like tomato soup instead of lobster bisque. It was thick and creamy, but also started to separate a bit as Loren ate it. The weirdest thing though, was that there was a metallic taste coming off the spoon.
Loren ordered the French dip sandwich with fries.
That was one salty sandwich. He said it was ok. I’m the one that usually complains about too much salt in things, but when he says something is salty, it really has a lot of salt in it.
I ordered the Irish stew and a side salad.
The stew had a really nice overall flavor, but the meat was way too tough for me. I ate the pototoes and carrots and Loren ate some of the meat. Some of the beef chunks were less tough than other pieces, but I’m a firm believer that if you’re making stew, it should cook until the meat is tender.
Total bill was $26 and I doubt we’d go back. Granted most sports bars aren’t known for their food, but we had such a great food experience at Grind House, that we were hoping other sports bars were just as good.
Peggy O’Neill’s Irish Pub & Eatery
13910 W. Hillsborough Ave
I’ve been craving Chinese food for a while now, so we headed over to Big Bok Choy in Oldsmar. Greeted by my favorite young host, he sat us in a booth, gave us our menus and did his formal little bow. There is something about that kid that puts a big ol’ smile on my face every time.
The last time we were here was in February, and yet the owner still remembers us. In fact, this was the first time I had been recognized from this blog. But what amazes me most of all, is that she remembered that I don’t like green onions in my soup. I know it seems like a little thing, but for someone that pulls green onions out of everything, it’s a nice little touch.
They were fairly busy tonight, so the food took a while to get out. In the meantime, though, she brought us some egg rolls.
I don’t think we’d had them before and they were really tasty. The first bite, I got a slightly peppery flavor, but it wasn’t overwhelming. They were nice and crispy and went well with the sweet dipping sauce. I also scarfed the pickled veggies on the side. Those are just yummy.
We both got wonton soup and Loren ordered Hunan Pork tonight.
This dish had tender, thin pork slices and lots of veggies. He had to spend a little time removing the evil peppers, but the dish just wouldn’t taste as good without them. They’re great for seasoning the dish, but killer if you actually bite into one.
I ordered the honey garlic chicken.
Now, this is how honey chicken is supposed to be cooked. Tender chicken covered in a sweet, thick sauce. Soooo delicious. There was a lot of chicken on the plate, but I still managed to finish it off. It was too good to leave any.
Total dinner was $33 and we both left very happy. The funniest thing about the dinner though, were the fortune cookies. This is the first time I ever got a fortune that was written in Spanish on one side and of course, that was the side I opened first. It just made me giggle.
Big Bok Choy Bistro
3730 Tampa Road #6
Since I didn’t go grocery shopping over the weekend, I ate out a few extra times for lunch this week. Hit the usual places, Amari Thai and Cuban Breezes and ordered some of my favorites, the mussamun curry $11 and a Cuban philly $7.50.
I’m running out of new places in Oldsmar to eat for lunch.
Headed back over to Green Market Cafe for lunch today. I was so pleased with the wrap I got last time, that I wanted to go back and try the flatbreads.
Loren got the chicken pepperjack flatbread.
It has chicken and peppers with pepperjack cheese and a spicy pepper sauce. He said the sauce had a little kick to it, but not overly spicy. I got the chicken portobello flatbread and substituted the gorgonzola cheese with goat cheese.
I could eat goat cheese on everything. This was tasty. Lots of mushrooms, chicken and tomatoes. The only downside is that the flatbread is open on all sides so the food tries to escape. Both sandwiches came with kettle chips and with one drink the total bill was $15.
Green Market Cafe
3150 Tampa Road, Unit 1a
We try to avoid fast food burgers as much as possible, but tonight was one of those nights where it was just convenient to drive through Burger King on the way home. Surprisingly, this was our first Burger King stop all year.
I grabbed a couple of Whoppers, some fries and onion rings and brought them home. Typical fast food. The burgers were plopped together and messy and the onion rings had been waiting around too long. I’m convinced the only way you can get fresh onion rings at BK is if you stand there and wait until a new batch comes up. They just don’t have a long shelf life. Total was $10.
27282 U. S. Hwy. 19 North
The plan was to head out to Los Mexicanos in Tarpon Springs for dinner, but when we got there, we discovered they were closed for Labor Day. Bummer. So, we headed back down US 19 and since we were craving Mexican food, we stopped at Aunt Chilada’s instead.
They had the weekday buffet set up, so that’s what I ordered.
Some things were definitely better than others on the buffet. The tortillas were kind of hard, they’d definitely been sitting out too long. Same with the refried beans and rice, they were in need of being refreshed. The meatballs had a little bit of spiciness to them and there was a Mexican lasagne, for lack of a better description, that was pretty good. Rounding out the buffet, was some taco meat and chopped chicken that weren’t anything special, plus a tomato based chicken dish which was pretty good.
Loren ordered the tacos carnitas.
He liked it. Lots of cilantro on top and the meat was tender and tasty. Total bill was $23.
34718 US Hwy 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL
Two for one fajitas on Sundays at Chico’s Wood Fired Grill on Linebaugh is a great deal. Loren got the steak fajitas and I got the chicken.
There’s enough food for both of us to make 3 fajitas each plus a little extra left over. Comes with all the fixin’s, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream. Fresh and tasty, still steaming when it gets to your table. You could hear the sizzling throughout the restaurant as almost every table had at least one pair of fajita pans heading their way.
And, as if we hadn’t eaten enough, Bubba’s brownie just sounded too good to pass up.
A warm fudgy brownie topped with vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauces. Mmmm…. It was tasty.
Total dinner ran us $23.
Chico’s Wood Fired Grill
12217 W Linebaugh Ave
Some mornings you just wake up and already have a craving for what you want for dinner. For me, it was shrimp etouffee from the Cajun Cafe down in Pinellas Park.
We’ve eaten here countless times and I always get the same thing. Mainly because most of their food is too spicy for me, but the etouffee has such a wonderful, rich flavor to it. I try and try to replicate it at home, but still can’t quite get it to match theirs.
Tonight’s dish was a little spicier than usual, but it didn’t stop me from licking the plate clean. We also got some fried okra.
Crispy on the outside, mushy on the inside, just the way okra should be. The batter also had a little spice to it. Loren ordered something different tonight, the roast pork dinner with a side of jambalaya.
I found something else I could eat here. The pork wasn’t spicy at all. It had a rich, almost sweet flavor to it. It was very tender and tasty. The jambalaya made up for the lack of spice in the pork.
Total dinner ran us $35. Then we headed down to Indian Rocks Beach to watch the sunset.
Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
8101 Park Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL
It used to be if we wanted pizza, we just called Pizza Hut, but after our last visit to Corteo’s in Palm Harbor, there’s no other pizza for us but Grandma’s Rustic pie.
For starters, we decided to try the calamari tonight.
The batter was crispy and the calamari was pretty good. It didn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, but the tomato sauce that came with it did.
The Grandma’s pizza is a huge 16 slice square pie. We got the same toppings as last time, mushrooms and meatballs.
The meatballs are sliced paper thin and the mushrooms are piled on. The key to this pizza, though, is the sauce. It’s a fresh chunky tomato and basil sauce with plenty of garlic. It’s to die for. Thin crust and fresh mozzeralla finish it off.
Total bill was $30, but we had plenty of pizza for lunch tomorrow.
Corteo’s Pizza and Pasta
32922 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
The last thing we expected on entering City Fish in Oldsmar tonight was to be accosted by the stench of cigarette smoke. At first we thought we had just passed by someone who had been smoking, but sitting at our table the smell continued to permeate the air. When we asked our waitress about it, she asked it we were smelling the oak wood they grill on. Umm, no. Then she turned toward the bar and said the door was open to the smoking area on the patio and she’d see if it could be closed.
Well, no such luck. She returned and said people were going in and out of the door (which we hadn’t seen anyone go through the door), but would we like to move to another table? If you’ve been to City Fish, you know it’s one big open room, it’s not like moving a few tables over would have resolved the issue.
We should have left at this point, but the food was good the last time we were here, so we decided to stay. And aside from my entree, the rest of the food was actually pretty good.
The bread was hot, fresh and tasty. You know it’s good when Loren digs in.
We ordered a bowl of the New England Crab Chowder and a side salad.
The chowder was delish! Creamy and thick with lots of crab in it. Loren enjoyed the salad as well. We also ordered a California Roll.
I wasn’t too impressed with it. The rice wasn’t prepared very well. It was too gooey. Then came the entrees. Loren ordered the swordfish with Thai mango salsa, mashed potatoes and house veggies.
He was a happy guy. The swordfish was cooked perfectly and he ate every bite.
The house veggies that came with both meals had squash and mushrooms in a tomato based sauce. It was tasty.
I ordered the Chicken Portobello with mashed potatoes.
The chicken was topped with portobello mushrooms, spinach and fontina cheese. Unfortunately, when I tried to cut into the chicken, my knife wasn’t making much of a dent. The chicken was overcooked and tough. By this point, I’d been breathing second hand smoke for over an hour and my patience was completely gone.
At this point, the manager stopped by our table and we had the same conversation with him as we did with the waitress, “oh are you smelling the oak grill?”, “No, it’s the smoke from the patio”, “Would you like to move to another table?”. He told us the door was broken between the restaurant and the patio so they couldn’t close it. Then he asked about the food and when I told him about the chicken, he offered to replace it with something else, but I was just ready to get out of there. He did, however, take the chicken off our bill.
Though our waitress was good about refilling drinks and checking on us, her attitude about our complaints was a bit offputting. She’d cock her head to the side and stick out her bottom lip and make a pouty face and spoke to me like I was a child while she was apologizing. I know she was trying to be sincere, but it just didn’t work.
Our bill ended up at $40 after my entree was removed. We came home and put our clothes in the laundry and took a shower to get the cigarette smoke smell off of us. Though most of the food was good, we won’t be back again.
City Fish Seafood Grill and Chop House
4022 Tampa Rd