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
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
Craving some etouffee, so that meant a trip down to Pinellas Park to the Cajun Cafe. We really enjoyed sitting on the back patio watching people drift by in their kayaks. Loren got Mama Lynn’s supper with okra and a side salad.
The Mama Lynn’s supper is just their etouffee sauce with rice. The okra was a bit mushy this time. I usually like it with a little more crunch. My crawfish etouffee was mighty tasty though.
They definitely don’t skimp on the crawfish. Sometimes the sauce is fairly mild, sometimes it has a bit of a kick to it. Today was one of those days where it had a spicy kick, but it was soooo good. $31 with a drink and so worth the drive.
Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
8101 Park Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL
We ate lunch at Chef Li in Oldsmar today. Loren ordered the Kung Po chicken and some wonton soup.
I ordered the sweet & sour chicken with an eggroll.
There was a lot of chicken in this dish and it was cooked perfectly. The batter was crunchy but not too thick and the chicken was very tender. The sauce was very sweet and tangy. There was so much chicken on the plate that I was only able to eat about half of the eggroll. Total lunch with a drink was $14.
4013 Tampa Rd, Ste 20
Our experience with Indian cuisine is less than a year old and given my aversion to very spicy food, I’m probably not the best judge of authenticity, but I do know what I like. We’ve been to a few places in the area, most recently, Laziz Indian Cuisine tonight and before that, the new place in Oldsmar, 5th Element Indian Cuisine.
I order pretty much the same thing no matter which restaurant we go to. I like the creamy, tomato based sauces. Tonight at Laziz, I ordered the butter chicken.
The dish here has a more earthy taste. I’m not sure how to explain it. The cilantro (at least I think it’s cilantro) permeates the dish more. Unfortunately, I find it detracts from the dish more than enhances it. I prefer the sauce at 5th Element. The chicken, however, was cooked better here. At 5th Element the pieces are thinly sliced and I’ve found more inedible pieces of chicken in their dish.
I like the garlic naan bread at Laziz, even though occasionally, some of the pieces are a little burnt. I found the naan bread at 5th Element to be a little more doughy and softer. It has good flavor, but I think the texture should be a little firmer.
Loren ordered the chicken saagwala at Laziz tonight. It had chicken and spinach with some spices.
He really liked it. He said you could definitely taste the spinach and even though he ordered it medium spicy, he said it wasn’t too spicy to eat. I don’t have anything to compare it to since this is a new dish for him.
Portion size is about the same. As for pricing, Laziz is more expensive. Tonight’s dinner was $34. Our last meal at 5th Element was $31, plus we had an appetizer. Where 5th Element really shines, though, is in the service. The owners are very friendly and seem happy to see you. Granted, it’s a brand new restaurant, so they’re trying to impress, but I prefer their smiles to the almost standoffish service at Laziz. 5th Element stikes me more as a family-type restaurant.
So, which would I choose? I’m leaning more toward 5th Element, mostly because I feel more comfortable there. The flavors are similar at both restaurants, but I find I enjoy the experience at 5th Element more.
Laziz Indian Cuisine
2475 N McMullen Booth Rd
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
We headed up Hillsborough Ave today at ate lunch at Thai Ginger. This was our first time here. It’s a small restaurant in a strip mall and we were the only customers in there today around 1pm.
As usual, Loren ordered the ginger chicken. He’s got to try it at every Thai place we go.
He said it was flavorful and his medium spicy had his nose running a little. I tried something different, the Thai Tamarind with shrimp.
I have to say, when both dishes came to the table, I thought the amount of food was very small compared to other places we eat at. I think we’re just so used to oversized meals that when a normal sized plate is placed in front of us, we don’t know how to react. Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely enough food on the plates for lunch and both meals came with an egg roll and jasmine rice.
The tamarind sauce on my dish was very tangy. The dish had onions, peppers, and pineapple in it and the shrimp were lightly fried and crunchy. The service was good and the food came out really quick. Overall, it was a tasty lunch for $16.
Thai Ginger Restaurant
6821 W. Hillsborough Ave
We haven’t had a loco moco since our trip to Hawaii, so when we saw the menu for the Ohana Cafe in Palm Harbor, we had to go check it out.
It’s a cute little place on Orange St. We got there before the rain this morning, so were able to sit out on the patio. They said they also have a tent out back with heaters for when it gets too chilly. The menu is filled with healthy items. Lots of organically grown food as well as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options.
Our loco moco was made with a lean buffalo patty and organic egg covered with gravy, onions and served over jasmine rice. I also couldn’t resist a popover and some red potato home fries.
The home fries were my favorite thing. They were yummy. My favorite loco moco in Hawaii actually had roast pork on it, but this one was pretty good. Loren thought everything needed more salt on it. The popover would have been much better if it had been fresh out of the oven. It wasn’t warm, so didn’t have the burst of steam and goodness that you’d expect if it had been served piping hot.
The service was good and everyone was really friendly. Total bill was $17.
The Ohana Cafe
306 Orange St N
Palm Harbor, FL
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
Chef Li has opened up in the space where Hin Lee II was in Oldsmar. The restaurant looks exactly the same, but I have to say, the food was much better.
I ordered the teriyaki chicken lunch special which came with an egg roll and white or fried rice.
The chicken was tender and flavorful and the white rice was cooked really well. I guess I’ve just been to too many places where the rice has been sticky or not cooked enough that it was quite delightful to actually have rice that was cooked just right. The egg roll was ok, but nothing special. Lots of food for under $6. We’ll definitely be back to try some other dishes.
4013 Tampa Rd, Ste 20
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
Went over to Pacific Thai Cuisine for lunch today. When we walked in the door, it was like walking into a freezer. Man, it was cold in there. Luckily, another group of customers flagged down the waitress and got her to turn down the air.
Soup and salad came with our lunches.
The chicken and rice soup has a toasted garlic taste to it. It’s different from the soup you get at a lot of other Thai places. Most of them have more of a ginger flavor instead of garlic. The salad, though there isn’t much of it, has a tasty ginger dressing.
Loren ordered Garlic and Black Pepper chicken.
He enjoyed it. Lots of veggies and good flavors going on. I ordered the massaman curry with shrimp.
Even though I asked for mild, it was still pretty spicy. It had really good flavors though. The potatoes, carrots, and onions were all cooked perfectly. The waitress seemed a bit overwhelmed today. She was very nice, but seemed like she could have used some help.
Total lunch ran us $18. I’ve never tried the appetizers here, but the lady at the next table kept raving about the crab rangoons, so I’m going to have to try those next time we come here.
Pacific Thai Cuisine
4058 Tampa Road
I saw the signs for Takee Outee on East Lake Road and figured Chinese food would be good for lunch today. Unfortunately, there were no redeeming qualities about it.
I ordered the honey chicken lunch special which came with an egg roll and I also ordered some crab rangoons.
My idea of honey chicken is not battered chicken and a bowl of thin honey to dip it in. I expect the chicken to be cooked in the honey sauce so it gets a nice gooey coating on it. The chicken was tough, I managed to break my plastic fork just trying to pick up a piece. Both the crab rangoons and the egg roll were less than appetizing. This is definitely a place I will not eat at again. This was $10 of wasted lunch money.
3408 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
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
Sometimes I just don’t want to go grocery shopping, so it makes it difficult to bring my lunch to work. Today it just seemed easier to grab something from Amarit Thai.
I really enjoyed the mussamun curry I had last time, so I wanted to try it again, this time with shrimp instead of chicken.
You definitely get more chicken than shrimp. There were only 4 shrimp in the dish and a bunch of onions. I really enjoy the flavors though. It’s almost sweet with a wonderful coconut and lemongrass flavor.
Loren got his usual, the ginger chicken.
It’s one of his favorite dishes. For $20, it was a warm and tasty lunch and kept me from having to go to the grocery store for another day.
328 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
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
We got out of work early today for the holiday weekend and bought tickets for the 2pm showing of Eclipse. Yeah, my friend Cathy and I are Twilighters. It was raining so we wanted something warm and cozy for lunch so we headed over to Amarit Thai.
We both got curry dishes. She got the peanut curry and I got a yellow curry. I can’t remember the name of it, something like massaman, but it came with potatoes and onions.
This has probably been one of my most favorite curry dishes so far. I got it mild, but it had a wonderful, almost sweet coconut, lemongrass flavor. It was awesome. I will definitely be back and order this dish again. For under $10 each, we were warmed from the rain and ready for an afternoon at the movies.
328 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
On our way home from the track today, Jeff and I stopped in Ocala for dinner. Jeff popped up Urban Spoon and picked out a well-ranked place in the appropriate price range, and off we went. I used to live very near Ocala when I was younger (in the early 80′s!), imagine my surprise to see that Ocala now has an “old town” district with a bunch of nice restaurants! After a little circling and some odd right-turn-from-the-left-lane action from Jeff, we found a place to park and we walked across the street to this place called Harry’s Seafood.
Just as we were crossing the street, at least 3 parties of 4-6 people walked in the door right ahead of us! But, it was 5:30, so they weren’t packed yet, and we didn’t have to wait for our table for two. A quick look at the menu revealed that Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill has the tagline of “A New Orleans Style Restaurant”. Cool!
We figured out why the crowd was rolling in at 5:30, too. They have a 4-6pm “early bird” menu (they call it something else, but that’s what it is) with some very reasonable prices on it!
So, we ordered some typical cajun fare with not a lot of great expectations, this being Ocala and all. Our waiter was quick with our drinks and did a good job of keeping them topped up and taking care of us in general. While we were waiting for our entrees, we got bread. Now, I’m not a huge bread fan. I often don’t even bother tasting it, but if it’s good and/or has something good to dip it in, I’ll enjoy it. This bread was AWESOME! Very fresh, just a little crispy on the outside, and oh-so-tasty with a spread of their delicious herbed butter. We had to get a second loaf, it was so good!
Our entrees arrived VERY quickly. Jeff’s comment was “did I order yet?” But, there it was. His steaming plate of Crawfish Etouffe, which looked and smelled great! He commented on it being a bit spicy… of course he dumped some of the Harry’s-branded hot sauce that was on the table on there, anyway. I ordered the Jambalaya, which had ample portions of shrimp, smoked sausage and chicken and was pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself! Not “hot”, but definitely spicy. We both ordered off of the “early” menu, which is smaller portions than what’s on the regular menu, and neither of us could imagine needing more food than we got. I even boxed up about 1/3 of mine to take home. (could have eaten it… just wanted to enjoy it later)
I guess Jeff picked up from Urban Spoon that this place is supposed to have an incredible mud pie, and he couldn’t live without trying it. It’s like a coffee-flavored ice cream cake with a crisp layer of chocolate on top and who knows what else. I was kinda turned off by the coffee (not a fan) and wasn’t going to try it. But, it was HUGE, and Jeff didn’t get too far past half-way with it. Being ice cream, he couldn’t take it home… so, I tried a bite. To my pleasant surprise, the coffee flavor was very mild and with the giant mound of whipped cream on the side… well, let’s just say there wasn’t a lot left on the plate!
We got out of there for about $35 with extremely happy tastebuds and full bellies. Too bad it’s so far away, I’d go back here often!
Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill
24 SE 1st Ave
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
I honestly never knew there were so many Thai restaurants around here. Everytime I go out to Urbanspoon I find another one close to my house. Tonight we decided to try Bua Siam Thai in Palm Harbor.
The strip mall it’s in had a facelift recently and we couldn’t remember if we’d eaten here before or not. It’s a very open restaurant inside and I liked the decor. It wasn’t over the top and I found the artwork to be very tranquil.
Since there’s sushi on the menu, we had to try at least one roll and landed on the Ocean Roll.
We rarely order sushi that doesn’t have rice, but I’m thinking we should do it more often. This roll was amazingly light and fresh tasting. It had tuna, salmon, avacado and asparagus wrapped in cucumber with a really delicious panzu sauce. We decided we’ll have to come back again just for sushi some night because if this roll is any indication of their sushi expertise then we’ll be very happy customers.
Loren orderd ginger pork tonight since I tease him about always ordering ginger chicken at every Thai place we go.
He ordered it medium spicy and it had just the right amount of spice. The pork and veggies were cooked well and the sauce was very tasty.
I ordered the Panang Curry with shrimp. I’ve just been hooked on yellow curry lately.
I loved that their rice is served in the shape of a heart. I ordered the curry mild and it still made my lips tingle. It had a very flavorful sauce with bell peppers, onions, baby corn and carrots. The shrimp were also done well.
Decided I needed something sweet to cool down my mouth, so we ordered some Thai donuts.
How can you go wrong with deep fried dough and a creamy dipping sauce? I kept imagining some chocolate or raspberry sauce would have gone nicely with them as well.
There weren’t a lot of people in the restaurant and the service seemed slow at times even though there were several people who attended to our table. The servers were very friendly though. Total dinner ran us $40 and this is definitely a Thai place we’ll eat at again.
Bua Siam Thai
35903 US Hwy 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL