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Hot and Saucy


We drove over to Tampa tonight for some BBQ at Alex’s Southern Style BBQ.  Let me preface this review by saying that it was a very hot August evening and there was a definite lack of air conditioning in the restaurant.  Couple that with the overwhelming BBQ smokiness in the air and you end up with an overall uncomfortableness that definitely had an effect on how we felt about the food.  After a while, the air felt so thick and pungent that my eyes started to water.

Our initial reaction when we walked in the door was that the BBQ smokiness in the air was a good sign; that the food was going to have that deep rich smoked flavor to it.  We wanted to try a little bit of everything, so we got two of the two meat meals, one with chicken and pork, the other with beef and ribs.

Unfortunately, there was so much BBQ sauce on everything that we couldn’t really taste the meat.  It was a sweet and tangy sauce and a little went a long way.  The meats were all tender, but neither of us could make a good judgement on the flavor.  What’s funny is that so many of the other reviews we’d read said that they usually didn’t put a lot of sauce on the plate.  As for the sides, the onion rings and okra were both crispy and tasty, the cole slaw was good, but Loren didn’t like his greens.  He said it had a flavor that just wasn’t what he expected.

Total bill was $22 and the smell of BBQ smoke lingered on our clothes for hours.  I began to understand why people were coming in and getting take out instead of eating in the restaurant.

Alex’s Southern Style BBQ
5362 W Village Drive
Tampa, FL
813-269-0050

Alex's Southern Style Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere1/5
Value3/5
2.7/5
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  • Filed under: BBQ, Tampa
  • Tonight we tried Lebanese food for the first time at Cedar Paradise Lebanese on Memorial Hwy.  It’s a really small restaurant and we were the only ones there.  We asked the waiter what he suggested and he immediately said the stuffed grape leaves, so we had to try those.

     

    They had a very interesting flavor.  Lots of spices, similar to what we’ve found in Indian cuisine.  The only other place we’ve tried stuffed grape leaves has been at Greek restaurants and these were very different.  They had a lemony flavor as well, not sure if that was the grape leaves themselves or part of the filling.

    Loren decided to try the beef pita which came with fries.

     

    The ground beef was mixed with lots of spices and had a very unique flavor to it.  The yogurt sauce wasn’t overly garlicy but definitely cooled the spiciness of the beef.  He really enjoyed the dish.  I got a combo plate which had lamb, chicken, and beef.

    It also came with hummus and tabbouleh (which Loren ate) plus fries and pita bread.  Out of the three meats, I really liked the chicken best.  It was incredibly tender and had a wonderful flavor.  The lamb was a little tough, but still pretty good.  I wrapped the beef in the pita bread along with the yogurt sauce to try to minimize some of the spice.  Even though I think fries don’t really fit in with the meal, I scarfed all of them in short order.  They were good.  Overall, we were both intrigued by the flavors.  I think we’ll be adding Lebanese food to the list of flavorful cuisines that we’ll seek out.  Total bill with two drinks was $31.

    Cedar Paradise Lebanese
    5831 Memorial Hwy
    Tampa, FL
    813-888-5340

    Cedar Paradise Lebanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    3.4/5
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  • Filed under: Lebanese, Tampa
  • Drove into Dunedin tonight for some Mexican food at Casa Tina.  I’m still amazed at how much this place has grown in the last 10 years.  The first time we ate here, it was just a tiny little place.  You almost always had to wait for a table and it was really cramped.  Now, they have a much bigger space, it’s still crowded, and the prices have gone up, but it’s still one of our favorite places with fresh, tasty food.

    I’m never very original on what I order here.  I just love the chicken and cheese flautas.

    The guac is too spicy for my taste, so Loren and I trade, my guac for his sour cream.  The flautas are crispy and the filling is tender and flavorful.  Loren went for the beef fajitas tonight.

    He said the beef was tender and tasty.  Total bill was $35 with a drink.  Then we headed down to the pier and watched the sunset.

    Casa Tina’s
    365 Main Street
    Dunedin, FL
    727-734-9226

    Casa Tina on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    3.4/5
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  • Filed under: Dunedin, Mexican
  • Quiet Dinner


    We attempted to eat dinner at Bonefish tonight, but it was mobbed, so we headed over to Big Bok Choy.  With several other food events going on in the area tonight, the restaurant was empty except for us, which makes for a nice, quiet meal.

    We both started off with the wonton soup.  Loren’s with green onions, mine without.

    Loren got the Hunan Beef and I tried something different tonight, the chicken chop suey.

    Mine had very mellow flavors, which is what I was after tonight.  The chicken was tender and there were plenty of veggies.  Loren’s had just enough heat for him.  He likes this dish because it has a lot of vegetables. 

    I don’t think we’ve ever had room for dessert here, but the owner surprised us with a complimentary piece of cheesecake. 

    It was very thick and creamy with a nice overall flavor.  Even though we were stuffed from dinner, we managed to eat the whole thing.  Total bill was $39.

    Big Bok Choy Bistro
    3730 Tampa Road #6
    Oldsmar, FL
    813-854-1961

    Big Bok Choy Bistro on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    3.7/5

    We ate at Red Mesa Cantina tonight on our way to see “Rent” on Demen’s Landing.  We got a little lost finding it since the street numbers didn’t seem to match up right.

    Loren ordered the beef cazuela and I got the duck quesadillas.  Our food came out very quickly.   It really seemed odd as to how fast it got to the table.

    Both dishes were overpriced and unimpressive.  The duck could have been any kind of shredded meat and there wasn’t all that much of it in the dish.  There was also a miniscule amount of goat cheese in the quesadilla.  The sauce on the plate was pretty spicy.  Loren didn’t think much of his dish either.  Total bill was $29 with a drink. 

    Red Mesa Cantina
    128 Third St. S.
    St Petersburg, FL
    (727) 896-8226

    Red Mesa Cantina on Urbanspoon

    Food2/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value2/5
    2.5/5