Johnny Grit’s recently opened up where Nana’s was in Tarpon Springs. We were amazed at how different the interior looked. It went from kitschy to classy. It was like watching an episode of Restaurant Impossible. Remove the clutter, remove the carpet, repaint and all of a sudden the whole restaurant seems brighter. Loren went for the shrimp and grits with andouille sausage.
Johnny definitely knows his grits. I kept stealing bites off of Loren’s plate. The grits were creamy and cheesy and perfectly cooked and seasoned. Loren said he could have eaten just a bowl of grits with the sauce on top. The andouille was spicy and flavorful. The only thing he didn’t like was that the shrimp still had the tails on so that made them a little difficult to eat. I’d definitely order this dish again. I went for the Southern Chicken Hash which came with two sides.
The hash was delicious. The chicken was tender and the gravy was flavorful and rich. It also had potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. So good. I ate every last bite of this dish. The sweet potato fries were good. Loren actually liked the mac & cheese more than I did. I like a more mild, creamy cheddar and this one was a bit too sharp for me. The menu said that the chef is Italian and his mother made him put cannoli on the menu, so how could I pass that up?
It was a pretty tasty cannoli. Mom knows best. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, but we’ll definitely be back. I wish I had a bowl of those grits right now. Mmmm.. Total bill with a drink was $29.
857 E. Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
We went to lunch with a friend of ours today and he hadn’t been to the Surfside Cafe yet, so that was our destination. They had a shrimp burger on their specials menu today and we each got one. He went for the grilled and I went for the fried with sweet potato fries.
My expectation was that it was going to be ground up shrimp with lots of filler, boy, was I wrong! This was made with whole shrimp, no filler and a nice, crispy exterior. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and it had a nice crunch. The tarter sauce served with it had a distinct fresh dill flavor to it. Very yummy! The grilled version was identical except for the breading on the outside. Loren decided to try the blackened grouper sandwich.
He was very impressed with it as well. He commented how he’d been so disappointed in grouper sandwiches in general lately that he’s been ordering mahi more often than not. He said this sandwich put him back on the grouper bandwagon. Fresh, perfectly cooked, and lightly blackened. I got the distinct feeling he’ll be ordering this again. This was our second visit here and everything was delicious. I expect we’ll be back many more times. Total bill for the three sandwiches & two drinks was $34.
Harr’s Surfside Cafe
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We were over in Clearwater tonight and ended up at Greektown Grille for dinner. It’s been a while since we’ve been here, but luckily we got here early and it wasn’t too crowded. They started us off with very yummy bread.
This was one of those addictive breads. We had to move the basket away or we weren’t going to eat any of our dinner. Soft and thick and just yummy. We ordered the crab and spinach dip appetizer.
Though neither of us could actually identify any crab in the dip, it was still very good. There weren’t really enough pita chips to finish the dip, but I don’t think there was any way we were going to finish it anyway. Loren ordered the seafood platter.
It came with calamari, flounder and shrimp along with some rice and horta. We had no idea what horta was and it turns out it was boiled greens similar to spinach. The rice was a little on the spicy side and the fish was covered in a lobster cream sauce. I ordered the seafood pasta which had the same lobster cream sauce on it.
My dinner also came with a small Greek salad. The seafood pasta had both shrimp and scallops, but there really weren’t a lot of scallops in it. Some little pieces and maybe one full sized scallop. There was something about the lobster cream sauce that I didn’t really like. I can’t put my finger on what the flavor was, but it just wasn’t vibrant enough. I know that’s a vague description, but there are sauces that sing to me and this one was just flat. Total bill with a drink was $50.
1230 Cleveland St
We went to the Matchbox Twenty concert at Universal Studios tonight and took in a late dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in City Walk. We got there a little after 10pm and there was a good 45 minute wait for a table. The restaurant was pretty loud, but luckily we were seated in a back corner so it wasn’t too bad. The whole place is filled with memorabilia from Forest Gump and our waiter even quizzed us on the movie. Loren went for Lt Dan’s Drunken Shrimp.
It had shrimp and a very mild andouille sausage over mashed potatoes. He really liked it. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the mashed potatoes were smooth and tasty. He ate every last bite on the plate. I got the stuffed shrimp.
This was also a really tasty dish. The crabmeat stuffing was plentiful and had a good flavor and the shrimp were cooked well. It also came with rice and a piece of garlic bread. Service was quick and efficient and our waiter was really friendly. Total bill with a drink was $41.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
6000 Universal Blvd
We went over to Rumba Island in Oldsmar for dinner tonight. They were pretty busy tonight & we ended up with a table in the bar area. Surprisingly, the noise level wasn’t too bad. I think the fact that the bar area is open to the outside makes a big difference. We started off with some conch fritters and my favorite little corn muffins.
The conch fritters were really good. They were tender and just a little spicy, nothing that overwhelmed my taste buds. Overall, they just had a really nice flavor and texture. Loren got the tuna rumba salad for his entree.
He said the tuna was cooked a nice rare and had good seasoning. I went for the kbobs & shrimp which came with a salad.
The shrimp were cooked ok, but the batter had very little seasoning. They were just kind of plain. The kbobs weren’t tender enough for me and some of the chunks were bigger than bite size and really hard to cut with a butter knife. I also got the island rice and mashed sweet potatoes which were both tasty. Total bill with a drink was $43.
Rumba Island Bar & Grill
3687 Tampa Road
A new Thai restaurant just opened up on the corner of McMullen Booth & Enterprise. Sabai Thai Cuisine is a cute little restaurant with a variety of Thai dishes and sushi. We started off with an appetizer platter.
I’m a sucker for a plate of fried appetizers. The shrimp were really good and my favorite on the plate. I’d definitely order the dumplings again, they had some nice flavors. The eggrolls, spring rolls and curry puffs were also tasty. Since we ordered the appetizer platter, we only ordered four sushi rolls. Surprising, huh? We ordered a tuna and avocado, a salmon and avocado, a Mexican roll and a spicy tuna roll.
Their sushi menu is pretty standard without a lot of specialty rolls. The sushi was a bit on the bland side, except for the sauce on the spicy tuna which was really spicy. Loren took a lot of it off before eating it. The shrimp in the Mexican roll wasn’t as warm as I would have liked it. I’m guessing it was done before we had finished our appetizer platter and they just didn’t bring it to the table soon enough. I wasn’t a fan of the texture of the tuna roll either. It was like it was chopped up and as such had a mushy texture. We’ll probably go back again to try the Thai dishes. I’m not sure that this was the best location to open up another Thai restaurant though, especially with Ban Thai right across the street and Ocean Blue just across McMullen Booth. Total bill with a drink was $42.
Sabai Thai Cuisine
2454 McMullen Booth Road
If you haven’t been to Nauti-Nancy’s in Clearwater, I highly recommend that you head on over there and give your taste buds a treat. The place looks like a little bar, but the food that comes out of that kitchen is just awesome. Let’s face it, I’m a picky eater, but they manage to put a smile on my face every time we eat there.
We started off with the crab stuffed mushrooms.
Six little bundles of tasty crab and cheese. Loren liked the horseradish dipping sauce, but I wasn’t going anywhere near it. When we were looking at the specials tonight, I asked how spicy the shrimp creole was and the waiter brought out a sample. It was tasty, but a little too spicy for me. Loren ended up changing what he had planned to order and got it instead. We were thinking that’s a great way to get people to order a dish.
The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the dish had a wonderful blend of flavors. He cleaned his plate, but then again, so did I. I got the Crab Stuffed Tilapia with spinach and hollandaise.
I’m always a bit leary about ordering fish because so many restaurants over cook it. This was cooked perfectly. The tilapia was tender and served over rice and a vegetable mix that I loved. Eggplant, squash & mushrooms, plus the creaminess of the hollandaise. It was delicious. I all but licked the plate.
Then to top it off, there are the complimentary beingets.
Yum! And here’s the kicker. With a drink, the total bill was $34. We spend more than that at so many restaurants and don’t leave near as satisfied. Another thing I like is that they post their specials on their Facebook page.
700 Eldridge St
Outback Steakhouse seems to always have a wait, but as we were driving by this afternoon on our way to another restaurant for lunch, the parking lot looked fairly empty so we made a quick U-turn and pulled in. We were just ahead of the Sunday lunch crowd and able to get a table right away.
The bread & salad make me happy here. There’s just a touch of spice in their ranch dressing which I like especially mixed with the cool of the cucumbers.
Loren went for one of their specials, a mixed grill with a 6 oz sirloin.
The steak was cooked very nicely and the shrimp & scallops were also pretty good. It came with a mango salsa that he seemed to enjoy as well. I went for my tried & true favorite here, the Alice Springs chicken.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s the honey mustard that really makes this dish for me. The chicken was tender and the baked potato was good. Even though I get this dish without the bacon, it’s still about a zillion calories of goodness. No room for dessert today, so the total bill with a drink was $38.
31988 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
We went to the Botanical Gardens in Largo tonight to see the holiday lights display and stopped at Los Mariachis on the way home for dinner.
Loren got the two taco dinner & I got the shrimp chimichangas.
Both dishes were ok. Pretty standard Mexican fare around here. I would have preferred beans to rice with my dish, but I just stole some of Loren’s. The chimichangas were cooked pretty well, though could have used just a little more crunch. Overall, a pretty filling meal for $23.
9100 Ulmerton Rd
We ate dinner at Cody’s in Clearwater tonight. I’ve come to the conclusion that I should just order rolls and salad here and not bother with an entree anymore. The last few times we’ve eaten here, it’s just been disappointing.
Loren munches out on peanuts and I devour the yeast rolls. Ok, he devours them too.
These were fresh out of the oven and so delicious. The cinnamon butter just puts them right over the top. The salad is also yummy minus the onions.
Loren ordered their 7 oz sirloin steak & shrimp special.
He said it was ok, not great. It lacked seasoning, but was cooked ok. The garlic shrimp were also just ok. I thought I ordered something that couldn’t be screwed up, a mushroom burger with baked potato.
The bottom bun on this was soggy, not juice running off of the burger juicy, but actually soggy. It was just gross. By the time our waitress came back to the table, Loren was finished eating, so they just took it off the bill and instead charged me for a side salad. Total bill was still $22.
Cody’s Original Roadhouse
26210 US 19 Clearwater, FL
Always wanting to try new restaurants, we headed over to Dunedin tonight to eat at Bistro Atlantis. It’s in the space where Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine used to be. The menu is mostly Greek with a flair all their own. Our waiter dropped off some bread and convinced us to try the Shrimp Atlantis appetizer.
The bread was good, slightly warmed and the oil had a hint of herbs and garlic. The appetizer was a great recommendation, their signature dish as it were. The shrimp was placed on toast points with a creamy, garlicy white wine sauce. We would have been happy just to have a bowl of the sauce to dip bread in. It was yummy. I could do without the shrimp tails as it made it difficult to eat, but overall, a win in the appetizer category.
My first visit to any Greek restaurant, it’s a gimme that I’m ordering the pastitsio.
It came with sauteed veggies, rice, and a potato wedge. It didn’t wow me, so I’d probably order something different next time, but it was ok. It was a fairly big piece and I ended up with leftovers.
Loren tried the chicken Atlantis.
The very tender chicken was in a creamy, garlicy sauce, similar to the appetizer, but with artichokes, capers, sun dried tomatoes, basil and served over angel hair pasta. He really liked it and ended up with some leftovers too.
Service was really good at the beginning, but sort of waned by the end of the meal. The space could really use something to dampen the noise level. It’s not a big room, has tile floors, and when there’s a couple of big groups, it gets difficult to have a conversation. Overall, though, this is one of those restaurants that, as Loren would say, “gets it”. The food was fresh, had delicious flavors, was well seasoned, and they served some unique dishes you don’t see everywhere else. Definitely a restaurant we’ll go back to. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1140 Main St
We took a road trip up to Cedar Key today to try the championship clam chowder at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant. The restaurant was packed, but luckily some tables had just cleared and we were able to get a table without much of a wait. There’s actually a front and back dining room and every table had some bowls of chowder on them.
We ordered both a cup and a bowl and I can understand why they’ve won world championships with this recipe.
It was a very creamy chowder filled with chunks of clam, potato, and a little bit of heat. It’s one of those dishes that has a good mouth feel to it. I did think it was priced a bit high, but the quality was there, so it was worth it.
Loren got a blackened grouper sandwich with fries.
He enjoyed it. He said the fish was tender and the crispy blackened coating gave it just the right amount of crunch. I ordered the fried seafood combo with shrimp, scallops and grouper. It also came with salad and cole slaw.
It was too much food for me. Just the shrimp and scallops would have been enough. The breading was light and tasty. The seafood was definitely fresh. Service was a bit lacking at times though. Our waitress would disappear for quite a while and we’d begun to think she had forgotten about us when it was time to get the check. Total bill was $43. If you’re in the area, definitely stop by for some chowder.
Tony’s Seafood Restaurant
597 2nd Street
Cedar Key, FL
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a fan of dining in restaurants where there are a lot of young children around, but having a little kid at the hibachi table at Arigato makes the dining experience a little more entertaining. The chefs play up to the kids and really seem to get into the show more when there’s a wide eyed child watching their every move.
We like Arigato more than Kobe when we’re in the mood for hibachi dining. They started us off with soup and salad.
Pretty standard for one of these restaurants. Loren ordered the chicken, steak, and shrimp and I got the steak, shrimp and scallops. Rice and veggies come with it and I spend so much time eating the rice and veggies that by the time the rest of the meal comes I’m usually quite full.
Our chef was entertaining, the food was cooked well, and overall the meal was enjoyable. I think I’d like it better if they limited the tables to 8 people rather than 10 because it did feel a little crowded. Loren had to send back his iced tea and ended up not drinking the soda he got either because the fountain mix wasn’t quite right. Overall service was pretty good though. Total bill was $65.
26508 US 19 N
We’ve driven by Mike’s Sushi in Palm Harbor quite a few times, but never went in because of the name. We just couldn’t picture a guy named Mike making awesome sushi. What we didn’t realize, until we looked up the website, is that Mike is a Japanese gentleman whose name is just difficult to pronounce so he goes by Mike instead. I’m so glad we decided to give it a try because the sushi and atmosphere were both great.
From the moment we walked in, we were greeted with friendly hellos and smiles from the entire staff. It’s not a very big restaurant, but they had quite a few people working there which meant drinks were kept filled and empty plates were removed quickly.
Loren started off with a salad and they also brought over some sprouts.
For sushi, we ordered a Rainbow roll, a Mexican roll, a Special Scallops roll, a Spicy Salmon roll, a Lobster roll, and a “make your own roll”, plus two pieces of salmon. Surprisingly, we ate every last bit of it.
I liked being able to create my own roll. I chose salmon, tuna, avocado, cucumber and mayo. It was tasty.
The fish on all of the rolls was very fresh. One of the things I really liked about this place is that they didn’t drown everything in goopy sauces, so you could actually taste the freshness of the fish. Another nice touch is that they had a bottle of eel sauce on the table, which I like way more than soy sauce. Loren said the spicy salmon was spicy enough to be enjoyable but not overpowering. Both the lobster & shrimp were cooked perfectly.
We’ve been to a few places where they slice the rolls very thick, making them difficult to eat in one bite. Here, you got 10 thinner pieces which were much easier to just pop in your mouth. There really wasn’t anything about this experience that I didn’t like. It’s definitely on our list of sushi places to try again. Total bill with a drink was $58.
33855 Us-19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
Had lunch at Daddy’s Grill today. One of the specials was their fish on a bun sandwich plus soup for $8.
The soup today was a shrimp chowder. It’s a meal in itself. Really thick and creamy. I would have liked it to come out ahead of the sandwich, but instead it came out slightly after. The fish on a bun is cod and it’s ok. Crispy on the outside and white flaky tender fish inside. For the price, it’s a pretty good deal for lunch.
3682 Tampa Road
When we just want a quick, inexpensive meal, we have a few restaurants on our short list. Poblano’s is one of them and that’s where we went tonight. They weren’t too busy, in fact they had half of the restaurant closed off for the evening.
Loren said the salsa was better this time. A bit fresher with more chunks of tomato. He ordered the burritos tipico with the cheese sauce on the side, so I ended up dipping some chips in it.
That’s a whole lot of refried beans on that plate. He said the burritos were ok, nothing special, but for $9, they satisfied his hunger. As for me, someday, I will learn to not order shrimp at a non-seafood restaurant.
In my defense though, the last time I ordered the shrimp chimichanga here, it was pretty good. This time, the shrimp had a definite frozen taste. There’s a right way and a wrong way to defrost shrimp. They failed miserably this time.
Our server wasn’t great either. He’d disappear for long periods of time and there was something about him that I just didn’t like. I can’t put my finger on it, but he just didn’t impress. Total bill was $24 with a drink.
Poblanos Mexican Grill
245 McMullen Booth Road
Looking for some great food and service, we went to Bonefish for dinner tonight. This is another one of those restaurants where our expectations are high, so it’s even more disappointing when they don’t live up to them.
It started out well. Our waitress promptly came to our table, took our drink order, brought our drinks and some bread and took our appetizer order, then she disappeared.
The bread was warm and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, just the way I like it.
I was really looking forward to the calamari. The last time we were here it was excellent. This time, not so much. It was tough and I hate chewy calamari. When our waitress came back to take our entree orders, she asked how the calamari was. I told her and thankfully, they took it off the bill.
Loren started off with a salad and I got the corn chowder.
He really enjoyed the salad. The chowder was spicier than I remember it, but it was still pretty good. For our entrees, Loren ordered the mahi mahi with mashed potatoes.
Mahi mahi is one of his favorites and this one did not disappoint. He really enjoyed it. I ordered one of the specials, the huge wild shrimp pad thai.
Here’s the thing about huge shrimp, they’re not easy to cook correctly and these were not good at all. Four shrimp, overcooked, tough, and had an odd flavor. My first thought was that they had the lingering taste of having been frozen. I prefer my pad thai to have some sweetness as well as spice and this just had the spice. I didn’t eat much of it and didn’t even bother taking it home.
Total bill was $45 after they removed the calamari. Our waitress seemed to disappear for long periods of time, but when she was around, she was very attentive. The dining room was very loud tonight and at one point, they turned down the lights so low that you could barely see your food. Overall, this was not our best experience here.
2519 McMullen Booth Rd
We ate lunch at Siam Thai in Westchase today. The restaurant was completely empty at noon on a Sunday. We weren’t sure if that was an omen or not.
We both started off with some soup. Loren ordered the chicken and rice and I got the Tom Kha.
They were both fairly big bowls of tasty soup. The Tom Kha had a wonderful lime flavor, but there were way too many chopped onions in it. We also ordered some egg rolls.
Crisp and crunchy with a slightly spicy dipping sauce. Between these and the soup, I didn’t even need an entree. Loren ordered the ginger chicken and I got the masaman curry with shrimp.
Both were tasty. My only concern with my dish, though, was that I tried to order it without certain items and was told that couldn’t be done. I was able to pick around the things I didn’t like, but if you’ve got peanut allergies, stay away from this dish because they weren’t willing to make it without them.
We both ended up with some leftovers. Total bill was $36. There wasn’t anything that really distiguished this place from any of the other Thai restaurants that we’ve eaten at.
Siam Thai Restaurant
9546 W Linebaugh Ave
We started out tonight with plans to eat at Carmel Cafe in Safety Harbor. We walked in the door and the noise level was deafening. Even if there hadn’t been a 20 minute wait, I don’t think we’d have stayed. Have to try them on a less busy night.
Next stop was Cheddars in Clearwater, but they also had a very long wait. Guess everyone decided to go out to eat tonight around 6:30pm. We ended up at Deeya Indian Cuisine. It was serenely quiet in there which is a wonderful thing after a long day at work.
We started out with the Keema Samosa.
Deep fried pastry with lamb and peas inside. It had a little bit of spice, but nothing overwhelming. It was pretty tasty.
Loren got the chicken Tikka Masala.
He got it medium spiced and after a few bites, thought perhaps he should have gotten it mild. He ended up stealing some of the mild sauce from my Butter Shrimp and mixing it in with his.
The last time we ate here, I got the same dish, but I thought it had more flavor. Tonight, I found it to be fairly bland and the shrimp were a little overcooked. We also had to get some garlic Naan bread to sop up any remaining sauce.
Fresh, hot, buttery, and garlicly. Good stuff. Service during our meal was pretty good, they filled my water glass regularly. However, once we were finished, we waited for a while before anyone came back to clear the plates and get our check. Total bill was $42.
Deeya Indian Cuisine
5166 East Bay Drive
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