The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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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
Brandon, FL
813-684-1948

La Septima on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Brandon, Cuban, Spanish
  • 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. 

    Senor Locos
    2680 Gulf to Bay Blvd
    Clearwater, FL
    727-797-8581

    Senor Loco's on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Clearwater, Mexican
  • Comfort Cuban


    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.

    Cuban Breezes
    13980 W Hillsborough Ave
    Tampa, FL

    Cuban Breezes on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Cuban, Oldsmar
  • Mucho Bueno


    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.

    Pico Rojo
    2475 McMullen Booth Rd, Ste E
    Clearwater, FL
    727-474-3826

    Pico Rojo on Urbanspoon

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    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.

    Guadalajara Mexican
    (813) 879-4096
    4502 W Hillsborough Ave
    Tampa, FL 33614

    Guadalajara Mexican on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Mexican, Tampa