The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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Feeling Wicked


I’ve been whining for weeks that I wanted to go see Wicked again (I’ve seen it twice), but that the ticket prices were way too high.  There’s no way I was going to shell out $180/ticket.  Then last night, TBPAC posts $49 tickets on Facebook.  Seriously, $49, 8th row, I’m so there.

Since the show was in Tampa at 7:30pm, we needed to eat somewhere that was going to be quick, so we headed over to Cuban Breezes.

They had their Havana burger on special, so Loren got one of those with the ultimate beans and rice.

Cuban Breezes makes a pretty good burger.  He scarfed it.  I opted for the steak philly with beans and rice.

Their steak philly is different than a cheesesteak you get other places.  It has it’s own special blend of spices, onions and peppers on their yummy Cuban bread.  I smother the whole thing in their Havana sauce.  Good stuff.  The rice and beans were a little dry this time, though. 

We were in and out of there for $15 in about 45 minutes.  Got to Tampa in plenty of time.  The show was great.  The actress playing Elphaba had a fantastic voice and Richard Kline (yup, Larry from Three’s Company) played the Wizard of Oz. 

Cuban Breezes
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL

Cuban Breezes on Urbanspoon

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Lunch at Brady’s


Had an unscheduled lunch with the boss today.  Conveniently, he chose a place near me this time.  One of our favorite lunch places (yes, we have a lot of favorite lunch places), Brady’s Backyard BBQ in Safety Harbor.

I forgot to take pictures of the food, but I had my phone out while I was waiting for the boss, so you get an “atmosphere” shot.

Brady’s has been around for 4-5 years, and used to be in a quaint old house on 3rd street across from the post office.  I liked that place, it had a homey feel to it.  But, I guess it wasn’t the greatest place to run a restaurant, and the parking wasn’t the best.  They moved a couple blocks to one of the strips along Main street a few months ago.

I love me some pulled pork, and some ribs (their rib tips are AWESOME), but a few months ago I discovered their brisket sandwich, and that’s what I had today.  It’s pretty basic.  A bun with two huge chunks of super-tender and tasty brisket.  It’s gotta be a half-pound of meat, and it’s good stuff.

The small sandwich comes with chips and a pickle.  What else do you need?  Well, you need collard greens!  Fortunately, their chip guy hadn’t shown up yet today, so we got to choose a side.  Did I mention that their collard greens are top notch?  Really, all of their sides are good.

The kicker for me, however, is their mango barbecue sauce.  It is to die for!  Very unique flavor, just sweet enough, just tangy enough… MmmMmmMmm!

The small sandwich basket is only like $7, you can’t go wrong.  So, yeah.  We like Brady’s.  Best BBQ in this area.  I like Hot Rod’s a little better, but I’d have to drive 20 miles to Lutz for that.  Within 5 miles, nobody else challenges them.

Brady’s Backyard BBQ
340 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL 34695
727-712-3727

Brady's Backyard Grill on Urbanspoon

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Given the choice between going to the grocery store or going out to eat, I’m choosing a restaurant every time.  Tonight’s choice was Cafe’ Alfresco in downtown Dunedin.  The patio was really loud, so we sat inside.

Let’s face it, we both like soup.

I got the Sicilian white bean soup and Loren got a cup of the creole.  The rice wasn’t quite done enough in his, but overall the flavor was good.  My bean soup was very tasty.

We got the “must try” appetizer, the Feta Alfresco.

It’s feta cheese, lightly breaded in panko crumbs, fried golden brown
and served over red sauce with garlic cheese bread.  Neither of us had ever had feta cheese this way.  At first, the flavor seemed overwhelming, but the more you ate, the more it mellowed out.  The garlic bread was good too.  I doubt we’d order it again, though.  As usual, we were both pretty stuffed at this point, but then came the entrees.

Loren ordered the salmon salad.

It was a huge piece of blackened salmon over a salad of lettuce, olives, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and artichokes with a Greek dressing.  He said it was very good.

I ordered the half portion of the chicken marsala.

It had a very nice marsala sauce.  The chicken was very tender and the pasta was good.  Both meals came with rolls that were really tasty too.

And because I just can’t pass up dessert, I got a slice of raspberry cheesecake to take home.

It was a hard choice between this and the death by chocolate cake.  I’ll have to try the cake next time.

Appetizer, two soups, two entrees, dessert and a drink for $38.  The food was fresh and had very good flavors.  The only downside was that our waitress wasn’t very good at refilling drinks.  Otherwise, it was a really nice dining experience.

Cafe Alfresco
344 Main St
Dunedin, FL
813-736-4299

Cafe Alfresco on Urbanspoon

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How about Mexican food tonight?


Loren and I constantly play the “where do you want to go for dinner?, I don’t know, where do you want to go to dinner?” game.  We finally narrowed it down to Mexican food and decided on Carambas Restaurant in Clearwater.

It’s a small restaurant, but most of the tables were filled when we got there.  There was only one waitress, but she seemed to handle things pretty well.  First up, some chips and salsa.

The salsa is not your typical tomato salsa, this one was more of a roasted pepper salsa.  Loren thoroughly enjoyed it and finished all the chips before our entrees showed up.

I can’t remember the name of what he ordered.  It was some sort of skirt steak with rice and beans.

He said the steak itself was nothing to write home about, but when you added the pico de gallo and guacamole, that’s what made the dish.  He normally doesn’t eat all of the refried beans when we go out for Mexican food, but he scarfed these down.  They had a nice flavor to them. 

I ordered the Chicken and Shrimp Mexicano.

It was really tasty.  The chicken was so tender and the shrimp were nice and fresh.  It was all covered in a tomato/onion/garlic sauce.  Not spicy at all which is just the way I like it. 

Everything tasted fresh and had great flavors.  It took a little time to get our food, but when the result is something that tastes this good, it’s worth the wait.  Definitely one of the better $28 meals we’ve had.

Caramba’s Restaurant
1840 Drew St
Clearwater, FL

Caramba's Mexican on Urbanspoon

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Spicy Thai


The bi-weekly lunch meeting was at Chiang Mai in downtown Clearwater today.  It’s one of those upscale-looking places that is probably expensive in the evenings (don’t know, never been there for dinner!), but caters to the downtown business crowd for lunch with affordable and tasty meals.  I used to work 2 blocks from the place, so I’ve been there for lunch a few times.

My favorite Thai dish is Ginger Chicken.  It’s just good stuff, and I really like it, so it’s what I almost always get at a Thai restaurant.  This being an “authentic” Thai restaurant, they asked me how hot I wanted it.  My answer was a risky (for me) “medium”.  You just never know what you’re going to get with Medium, but it’s usually not deathly hot.  This batch was perfect for me.  Yes, it was a little spicy, but it seemed like a great deal of the heat simply came from a lot of fresh ginger, which is fine by me.

The main course was preceded by a bowl of chicken and rice soup, which was excellent, as well.

Another lunch on the company’s dime, but it was probably about $9 before the tip.

Parking kinda sucks in downtown Clearwater, though.  Not many places to park besides on-street metered parking.  I didn’t feel like running around, so I just parked close and fed the meter.  As I was dropping quickly dropping my two quarters in the meter, I noticed that it already had 43 minutes on it from the last user… and that since the meter maxes at 1 hour, my second quarter was of no use (but was greedily accepted, just the same).  Insult to that minor injury:  I was there for more than an hour and got a $20 parking ticket!  So, my “free lunch” cost me $20.50 for parking.

Chiang Mai Thai and Sushi
(727) 461-0414
415 Cleveland Street
Clearwater, FL 33755

Chiang Mai Thai & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

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