The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.


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Taste of New England

I grew up in New England and there are some foods that immediately bring back the flavors I grew up on.  The Boston Cooker in Oldsmar does it best with one simple dish, fried Ipswich clams with bellies.   But, let’s not start there, first there’s the yeast rolls.

As soon as you sit down, someone comes to your table with a pan of fresh out of the oven yeast rolls.  They’re hot and light and so delicious.  And they keep coming by your table to offer you more.  I’d love to say I stopped at one, or even two, but I finally made myself stop at three because otherwise I’d never eat my dinner.

Then there’s the chowda. (yes, that’s how you say it)

Thick, rich creamy clam chowder.  It has great flavor and we all but licked the bowl clean.  Next up, the salad.

The salad is served family style and they’ll bring you more if you want it.  It’s got a light, creamy dressing on it.  Not quite ranch, not quite Ceasar, but very good.

Ok, at this point, we’re already pretty full, and then come the entrees.  Loren got the Mahi special. 

It had a dijon, horseradish, and breadcrumb coating and he got garlic mashed potatoes for his side dish.  He said the fish was really flaky and tender.

I ordered what I always order when I come here.  The Ipswich clam dinner (with bellies) and steamed red potatoes.

Just one bite of these and I’m back in New England.  There aren’t that many places that serve clams with bellies and it’s a taste straight out of my childhood.  Loren wanted to take pictures of the silly, happy face I kept making every time I bit into one. 

Everytime we go to the Boston Cooker, I always wonder why we don’t go back more often.  We’ve always gotten great food there and it’s not that expensive.  Two entrees with sides, soup, salad, rolls and a drink for $42.  Plus a stroll down memory lane of the flavors I grew up on.

Even the artwork reminds me of  home.

Boston Cooker
3705 Tampa Road Unit 6  
Oldsmar, FL

Boston Cooker on Urbanspoon


Lechon Asado

Coincidentally, I also had Cuban food for lunch today!  This was the bi-weekly work lunch meeting at another one of our favorite places, La Terasita in Pinellas Park.   Not a fancy place, just good cheap Cuban food.

We almost always go there on a Friday, and their Friday special is one of my favorites:  Lechon Asado (or Roast Pork, if you prefer).  I like it with black beans and yellow rice, thank you.  I didn’t even think about taking a photo, just dug right in and before I knew it, my bowl was empty.

For the record, I go to three cheap Cuban restaurants fairly regularly.  This one, Cuban Breezes, and a little place called Andy’s in Oldsmar.  Cuban Breezes is okay, the food is decent, quick and cheap… but really, the only reason we go there is that Cathy likes their Cuban sandwiches.  Andy’s is IT, as far as I’m concerned.  Very authentic Cuban flavor, just awesome.  But, Cathy thinks Cuban Breezes has a better Cuban sandwich, so she never goes there with me.  La Teresita is somewhere between the two.  Their beans don’t taste like they’re out of a can like they do at Cuban Breezes, but they’re not quite as good as Andy’s.  But, if you’re down in the Pinellas Park area… La Teresita, it is!

La Teresita
7101 66th Street
Pinellas Park, FL 33781-4004
(727) 546-5785

La Teresita on Urbanspoon


Rainy Friday

Did a quick lunch run today between downpours and decided a Cuban sandwich with some black beans and rice would hit the spot. 

Since Cuban Breezes is right around the corner, I called ahead & picked up lunch within 15 minutes.  Even though they were busy with the lunch rush, they had my order ready when I walked in the door. 

Let’s face it, Cuban Breezes puts out a nice lunch for $6.50.  Their Cuban sandwich is tasty; ham, pork, cheese, pickles and mustard pressed in their yummy Cuban bread.  I could just eat the bread alone and be happy.  And I have to have their Havana sauce on everything.  It’s sort of like a ranch dressing, but oh so good.    The beans and rice are very filling.  For me it’s usually a choice of finish the sandwich or finish the side dish. 

Cuban Breezes
13980 W. Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL (it’s on the Oldsmar/Tampa line)

Cuban Breezes on Urbanspoon


January Recap

Hard to believe January is over already.   Looks like we visited 23 different restaurants and spent about $560 between the two of us.  There were definitely some memorable dining experiences… both good and bad. 

Here’s my best and worst of January dining:

Best Appetizer:  Mexican roll at Thirsty Marlin

Best Dessert:  7 Layer Dark Chocolate Cake at Green Springs Bistro

Best Bread:  Garlic bread at Panos Kouzina

Best use of Cheese: Queso Supremo at Tia’s

Best Fries:  Sweet potato fries at Whistlestop Grill

Best Value:  2 for 1 Fajitas at Chicos

Best Atmosphere Green Springs Bistro

Worst ServiceOzona Pig

Worst use of Cheese:  Wild Mushroom Risotto at Kuzina Mediterranean Grill

Worst entree: Shrimp Lo Mein at Hin Lee II

Worst Side Dish: Potato Salad at Thirsty Marlin

The Restaurants at My End of the Universe Tampa Bay restaurants

Two for One

After going to the 11:30am showing of “Edge of Darkness” (good movie, definitely worth seeing), we were ready for some lunch.  Chico’s Wood Fired Grill on Linebaugh offers two-for-one fajitas on Sundays, so off we went.

We didn’t get there until almost 2pm, so they weren’t very busy.  It’s nice to be able to eat a quiet lunch. They start you off with some colorful chips and salsa.

We didn’t even need to look at a menu.  I ordered the chicken fajitas and Loren got the steak and chicken combo fajitas.

Chico’s makes a pretty good fajita.  Fresh and tasty with lots of onions and peppers and all the fixin’s.  You can easily get 3-4 fajitas out of the lunch serving. 

You just can’t beat this deal, two orders of fajitas and a soda for $16.  If you like fajitas this is definitely the place to go on Sundays.

This was the mural above our table:

Chico’s Wood Fired Grill
12217 W Linebaugh Ave
Tampa, FL

Chicos Woodfired Grill on Urbanspoon