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
Chilly day in Florida today, so we caught an early movie and then got some BBQ take out from Eli’s BBQ in Dunedin.
$27 got us a full rack of ribs, cole slaw & baked beans which will feed us for both lunch & dinner today. Eli’s got it going on when it comes to ribs. They are fall off the bone tender with just the right amount of smoky goodness. There’s a reason there’s always a line here for the two days a week he’s open. It’s cash only and definitely worth every penny.
Today there was also a sign out front for free hamburgers & hot dogs on Monday, 1/16/2012 starting at 10am until they run out in celebration of MLK Day.
360 Skinner Blvd
We ate lunch at Andy’s By the Bay today and both ended up ordering the same thing, a small roasted pork, rice & beans.
I don’t know how anyone could eat a large bowl. The pork is always super tender and the rice and beans are yummy. Plus, the prices are really cheap. Two orders and a drink ran us about $14.
Andy’s on the Bay
472 East Douglas
We drove up Hillsborough Ave tonight and ate dinner at Mi Bandera Restaurant. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve driven right by it and never even noticed it was there. It’s in a small shopping center on the opposite corner of the Ranch House Restaurant. The dominant language for both staff and customers is Spanish and the whole place had a very community type feel to it. You could tell it has a lot of regular customers just by the greetings and smiles.
Our waitress started us off with some bread which was quite awesome.
Let’s face it, bread is one of my favorite things, and when it’s served warm smothered in butter and garlic, I’m one happy gal. We ordered a couple of appetizers, some calamari and an empanada.
The enpanada was very tasty. It had a mixture of potato and beef in it. It was very crispy on the outside and the flavors were excellent. Loren really liked the salsa that came with it. At $1 each, we should have just gotten a few of them.
The calamari, unfortunately, was the downfall of the meal.
Completely overcooked and totally inedible. It was like trying to bite into rubber. Luckily our meals came out pretty quick.
Have you ever watched Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? Do you remember the episode where the guy was making mofongo? Well, they had mofongo on the menu and how in the world were we supposed to pass that up after Guy Fieri was so enthralled by it?
Loren ordered it with fried pork. It was interesting. Fried green plantains smashed with lots of garlic, plus a whole bunch of other stuff in it. It was very unique and tasty. He said the pork was good too. It came with another sauce on the side, a green chimichurri sauce that he really liked.
I wasn’t feeling very adventurous tonight, so just ordered the chicken breast with mushroom sauce which came with three sides. I got rice, red beans, and boiled red potatoes.
The mushroom sauce was just like a marsala sauce. It was very good. The chicken was pounded very thin which made it a little tough. The red beans had a lot of flavor to them. There was enough food on this plate for 3 meals. We both ended up taking a lot of food home for lunch tomorrow. Our waitress was very friendly and seemed genuinely sincere about us having an enjoyable meal. Overall, the flavors were very good throughout the dishes. Total bill was $31.
Mi Bandera Restaurant
7748 W Hillsborough Ave
Not too many people in Cuban Breezes tonight. I figured it’d be crowded since the football playoffs were tonight, but since they close at 8pm on Sunday, it makes sense that people wouldn’t want to have to leave halfway through the game.
Loren got the masitas with some ultimate black beans and a salad.
He said the pork was very tender and flavorful. He even had a little left over for tomorrow. I ordered the fricase de pollo with beans.
This is one of my favorite dishes here. It’s got some wonderful flavors and textures with just a little bit of spice. I kept telling myself to save some for tomorrow, but I ended up eating the entire thing.
And yet, I still managed to save room for the chocolate lava cake.
Thick, rich, chocolately oozing warmth with some vanilla ice cream. It was yummy. We had a $10 Restaurant.com coupon, so the total bill after the coupon was $18.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
Let’s face it, we eat at Cuban Breezes a lot. We just can’t help it. The food is consistently good and the prices are great. Especially when you have a Restaurant.com coupon to boot. $10 off when you spend $20, you just can’t beat that for lunch.
We started off with the Pan con Queso y Tomate aka grilled cheese and tomato on Cuban bread.
I think I could have just eaten this for lunch and been happy. Their Cuban bread is so light and fluffy, add some garlic spread, melted cheese, and tomatoes and you’ve got a little bit of heaven in your mouth.
For my entree, I ordered the Fricase de Pollo, shredded chicken and diced potatoes simmered in a tomato-based sauce over rice.
When it comes to the table, the aroma is amazing. Everything is tender and flavorful. Half of it came home with me for dinner. It was so comforting and warm on a chilly Florida day.
Loren got the ultimate beans and rice with lechon, their marinated shredded pork.
Fresh and tasty as always. After the coupon, the total bill was $13. You just can’t beat the value for the wonderfully consistent fresh and tasty food.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
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
We ordered the whole chicken meal which came with 4 sides.
The rice and beans were good, the fried cheese, not so much. It was rubbery and didn’t have any flavor whatsoever.
I liked the cole slaw, it had a nice tangy flavor. I didn’t like the plantains though. They were kind of tough. The chicken, however, was as good as we remembered it from the last time we were here. It has a nice texture and flavor. And we also had to get the chicken empanadas.
This is just one of the tastiest empanadas around. So many different flavors going on inside. Total dinner was $30, but we had quite a bit of leftovers.
2475 McMullen Booth Rd, Ste E
Poblano’s is another one of those local places we eat at a lot. It’s close, it’s inexpensive, and we’re usually pretty happy with the food. We’ve been having some issues with the service lately though. I don’t know if they’ve hired new staff or what, but they definitely need some more training.
Loren ordered the Carnitas Verdes.
Tender pork in a tomato based sauce. He enjoyed it. I ordered one shrimp chimichanga with refried beans.
It was really good. The chimichanga was crispy this time (last time I ordered it, it was more like a burrito). It had some queso on it and a layer of onions and peppers on the plate, plus lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream.
Our waitress never came back to check drinks and Loren’s glass was empty for a while. She was really slow about bringing the check and then coming back to take the payment. She had also asked if I wanted rice or the salad with my meal, I said rice, but got the salad. I don’t think it was actually an option. Total meal was $22. We like the food, so we’ll definitely be back, but hopefully the service will improve.
Poblanos Mexican Grill
245 McMullen Booth Road
Spent my day driving my car on a race track today, good times! But, a racer has to eat… and that’s what this is about. Now, “track food” isn’t known for being good eats. Occasionally it’s okay, but more often than not… it’s merely expensive and convenient nutrition that you’re stuck with because you’re at a race track in the middle of nowhere. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the concessions at this track were closed today! Darn! But, the track is within 5 miles of Keystone Heights, FL… which isn’t far from nowhere, but at least they have some restaurants!
My buddy Steve and I tried our luck at a fairly well-established local BBQ joint called Johnny’s. The place “felt” like a Sonny’s, but the food was marginally better. Good barbecue, not “great” barbecue.
Steve ordered the pulled pork and commented on it being moist and tender, but not “greasy”. And he got that and a giant glass of iced tea for 8 bucks and change! Me? I saw St. Louis style pork ribs on the menu for $9.99 and just couldn’t come up with any good reason to not order them. They were very well-smoked with lovely pinkness and flavor. Could have been meatier, but I didn’t go away hungry. For sides, I got a baked potato and baked beans. Baked potatoes are hit or miss in a place like this, but in this case, it was definitely a hit. Well-cooked, fresh and hot. The beans were from a can, but very well seasoned. I like fresh-cooked beans better, but I’ll take really good canned beans over weak fresh beans, so I’m not complaining. I was sad that there were no greens on the menu. As “country” as this place was, I really expected some fresh-cooked down home sides. At least the waitresses were cute!
A nice cool break from the 104-degree heat-index at the track, some good grub, and much-needed hydration. Would could ask for more?
Johnny’s BBQ and Catering
7411 State Rd 21
Keystone Heights, FL
Having not satisfied our Mexican food craving from Friday night, we headed out to Los Mayas in Clearwater. This used to be a Los Mariachis, but they changed the name.
Started off with some chips and salsa.
The chips were fresh, warm and crispy. They definitely didn’t taste like they’d been sitting around for too long.
I ordered the Pollo en Crema (Mayan Style).
It didn’t have a lot of flavor, but it was still pretty good. The chicken was cooked with onions and mushrooms and it came with some tortillas and refried beans.
Loren ordered the carnitas.
Plenty of big chunks of fried pork, plus rice, beans, onions, jalepenos, guacamole and tortillas to wrap it all in. He had plenty of leftovers for tomorrow too. For $25, this was much better than what we had Friday night.
1200 Cleveland St
For a four day workweek, this one seemed to last forever, so when it came time for lunch on Friday, a few of us headed over to the Latin American Grill in Oldsmar.
My two co-workers hadn’t eaten there before, but I’ve had dinner there a few times and it’s always been good. The restaurant was empty though, which was a surprise for a Friday afternoon.
For $18, we got pork chops, steak fajitas, and a small Cuban sandwich.
Everyone enjoyed the food. I got the Cuban and if that was a small, I don’t even want to imagine what a large looks like. The pork was really tasty in it. For a quick, inexpensive lunch, this is a great place in Oldsmar.
Latin American Grill Argentine
3780 Tampa Road
When all I’ve brought for lunch is a sandwich, it doesn’t take much to convince me to go out for lunch. Loren likes Andy’s on the Bay and since they’re only open during the week for lunch, I suggested we head over there.
Andy’s is a small cafeteria style restaurant that’s usually very crowded at lunchtime. I was surprised there weren’t more people in there today. The name is a bit confusing, since the restaurant isn’t on the water. Instead it’s located in an industrial neighborhood in Oldsmar.
I decided to try the chicken today and Loren got some pork with rice and beans.
The chicken was a bit dry. The pork was really good and tender. I should know better than to order anything except the pork. I think this is Loren’s favorite place to get rice and beans. For $11, it’s a cheap, quick lunch.
Andy’s on the Bay
472 East Douglas
We headed over to Poblanos for a quick lunch today. We’ve been on vacation in Hawaii for the past 10 days and even though we hiked all over the Big Island, we both managed to gain weight, so we decided to split an order of chicken fajitas.
Ok, rather we thought we were going to split an order of chicken fajitas, instead our waitress brought us out steak fajitas. Personally, I don’t think chicken and steak sound anything alike, but since we were in a hurry, we just ate what she brought.
I ended up only eating one fajita because the steak was really tough. Luckily, it came with rice and beans, so I ate some of that instead.
And Loren was happy with chips and salsa.
Total bill was $16 and next time I’ll just have to make sure the waitress reads back our order so we actually get what we ordered.
Poblanos Mexican Grill & Bar
2451 McMullen Booth Road
We drove over to Brandon today for some Spanish food at La Septima Cafe. The restaurant’s been there since 1995 and the menu is filled with traditional dishes.
Loren decided to get a taste of a few of them with the “Walk Around La Septima” dish.
This had Ropa Vieja, which is a shredded tender flank steak simmered in a burgandy wine sauce, Picadillo, which is ground beef, olives and capers in a tomato sauce, and Lechon Asado, which is marinated pork, plus yellow rice and black beans. It was a lot of food. He liked the pork and beans the best. I liked the taste of the Ropa Vieja.
I ordered the Arroz Con Pollo with black beans and some Cuban bread.
The dish had a wing and a chicken breast. The wing was great. The flavors in the chicken were really incredible. The breast, however, was really dry. All of the flavor was in the chicken skin. The rice and beans were ok and the bread was good.
We got a piece of their caramel chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
The “chocolate” consisted of a few chocolate chips tossed on top. The caramel sauce was good, but there wasn’t much of it. The cheesecake was very thick. This wasn’t a creamy cheesecake. It was made with ricotta cheese and had an almost grainy texture. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not a very smooth cheesecake.
Lunch ran us $29. The food was ok, but I doubt we’d drive back to Brandon to visit again.
La Septima Cafe
140 N Parsons Ave
Since we only had breakfast today, we were both hungry for dinner. Loren wanted Mexican food, so we tried Senor Loco’s over on Gulf to Bay. The last time Loren was there, the service was terrible, but we figured they wouldn’t still be open if it hadn’t gotten any better.
They brought chips and salsa to the table and we ordered some bean and cheese dip.
Both the salsa and the bean dip had a little kick to them. Not over the top spicy, but you definitely knew jalepenos had been used.
Loren ordered some steak fajitas.
There was enough that he was able to make 4 fajitas. He said they were pretty good. I ordered a chicken chimichanga.
Maybe I’m just picky, but I expect a chimichanga to be crispy on the outside. This was more like a burrito, just barely dipped in the fryer. It did have a lot of chicken inside though. The beans and rice were typical, nothing overwhelming about them. I do have to say, the tomatoes were really fresh. It’s not often anymore that you get a tomato that actually has flavor.
Overall, there was nothing spectacular about the restaurant. The service was ok, the food was ok, and the total bill was $31.
2680 Gulf to Bay Blvd
Cuban Breezes is only a few miles from our house, so we eat there quite a bit. This is my fourth time since January. It’s like comfort food to me. We’ve never had a bad meal, the service is good, and the prices are great. What’s not to like?
I was hungry so we ordered the appetizer sampler platter.
It had Pan con Queso, croquetas, yucca fritters, and an empanada. The only one I didn’t like much were the yucca fritters. They were a little spicy. The chicken empanada was really good. Especially dipped in the Havana sauce. The Pan con Queso is basically a grilled cheese on their Cuban bread with a light garlic spread and the croquetas are filled with ham and lightly fried.
Loren ordered the Masitas de Puerco. It came with two sides, so he got a salad and beans and rice.
He really liked the Masitas. It’s slow cooked pork chunks, boiled until tender, marinated, then lightly fried.
I was going to order the Grouper Cuban, but the waitress said they use Mahi Mahi now instead. Ok, sounded good to me.
And it was. The Mahi was really tender and really good. A little cheese, lettuce and Havana sauce, then lightly pressed and it made for a very enjoyable dinner.
With our $10 off coupon, the total dinner came out to $16, plus we have some leftovers for tomorrow.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
We’d seen the signs for Pico Rojo when we ate at Kaiko and finally decided to try it. Plus we had a $10 Restaurant.com coupon.
You can smell the charcoal rotisserie as you walk in the door. The owner was really nice and explained the menu to us and how they prepare the food. Everything sounded really good.
We started off with a chicken empanada.
I’ve eaten a lot of empanadas in my day, but none quite like this. I can’t even begin to describe the amazing flavors in it. One bite and I was ready to order a few more. It had a nice crispy shell with a chicken and vegetable mixture, plus a slice of black olive, hard-boiled egg, and raisins. It came with a jalapeno sauce, but honestly didn’t need any flavor enhancements.
We opted for a whole chicken which came with 4 sides. We got a side salad, coleslaw, black beans, and jasmine rice.
Everything was so fresh and tasty. I was surprised they used jasmine rice (which is one of my favorites) and mixing it with the beans made for a wonderful flavor combination. The cole slaw was fresh with a light dressing on it. The chicken was incredibly tender with a nice mellow charcoal flavor. The owner told us they had the charcoal rotisserie oven shipped all the way from South America.
This is definitely a restaurant we’ll go back to. With the $10 off coupon, the total bill was $14 and we have plenty of leftover chicken for tomorrow.
2475 McMullen Booth Rd, Ste E
That was the plan. Pollo Tropical in Oldsmar at 12:15. But, in Justin’s mind, anything west of Dale Mabry on Hillsborough is Oldsmar… so we ended up waiting for each other at different locations!
We opted to meet in the middle(ish) and eat at Guadalajara instead. Much better choice, in my opinion. This is another of those places with awesome salsa, and if you haven’t noticed, I tend to judge the quality of a Mexican restaurant by their salsa. This is also a locally-owned, non-chain, fairly authentic Mexican restaurant, so the food is pretty good.
Today, I ordered a #13 from their lunch menu, which consisted of a taco, an enchilada, rice and beans. Doesn’t sound like much, but I was surprised at the size of the plate and the amount of food on it for $6.99! I left the rice and ate most of the rest. Oh, and this photo doesn’t do it justice. Poor lighting and a crappy cell phone. But, at least I don’t have to listen to Cathy complain about me not taking a photo this time!
Good authentic Mexican food, complimentary chips and salsa, full lunch and a drink for less than $10. Can’t go wrong with that.
4502 W Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL 33614
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