Thursday, June 30, 2011

Havana Harry's is your one stop shop

Cuban food has made its way to Largo! Located at 13932 Walsingham Road (just east of the interesection at Indian Rocks Road) next door to CVS, Havana Harry's has everything you need for lunch or otherwise!

I accidentally found this place! I wasn't looking for food, just some tomatoes and I saw that the produce stand had re-opened. But, my senses were delighted when I opened the door of my car and could smell the hickory smoke wafting through the air. I walked to the front door and was greeted with huge watermelons!
Inside there is a variety of fresh produce, deli meats and cheeses, fountain sodas, Cuban Coffee, beer and wine, teas and Working Cow Ice Cream! (Cones, shakes, sundaes and more!) I was amazed at the assortment of food. Their menu boasts over 100 different items!

In addition, you can purchase herb plants and trees.

In the deli section, along with various meats, cheeses, and farm fresh eggs; you will find the smoked fish. There is not a place to eat here, so take your food to the park, the beach, your house or back to work. My only suggestion would be to have a table out front or along the side so that you could take your food and eat right there. Perhaps that is already in the plans.

The menu consists of 8 subs and 4 "kitchen" items. The subs are: Cuban [their specialty] ($5.99), roast mojo pork ($5.99), Italian supreme ($6.99), club Sub ($6.99), roast beef ($5.99), turkey breast ($5.99), smoked ham and cheese ($5.99) and Hot Pastrami ($6.99). The kitchen items include: black beans and yellow rice ($2.49reg/$3.49 large), Cuban tossed salad ($5.99), mojo pork with yellow rice ($5.99) and chicken breast with yellow rice ($5.99).

We placed our order (Cuban and Cuban tossed salad) and roamed around the store while they freshly prepared our food. Like I said, they've got it all; teas, hot sauces and private label wine.

I almost forgot to mention the Cuban bread!
The loaves seem to be a lot longer than the loaves I have seen at local grocery stores.

We also bought some smoked mullet. We figured if nothing else, we could try our hand at smoked fish spread.

When we walked back to our car with our bag of goodies, I decided to check out the smokehouse. I cannot even desribe how good the food smelled that was being cooked at that time. He said they were smoking some chicken. I didn't ask, but I hope that they will start doing a daily special with different food every day!

I couldn't wait to get home and tear open our food! Talk about anticipation. That 6 minute ride home felt like hours.

We ate part of the fish and decided to try our hand at smoked fish spread. It was not as good as Havana Harry's (oh, yes; you can buy fish spread too), but with a little more practice, we will be fish spread superstars!!

Havana Harry's is open Monday through Saturday 9am-9pm and Sunday 10amp-9pm. They accept debit and credit cards. If you have any questions, you can call them at 727-596-5141. Tell them you read about it here!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Numerous Options at the Seminole Family Restaurant

UPDATE ************* RESTAURANT NAME HAS CHANGED *******************

I have recently revisited a place that I used to frequent, but haven't been in quite a while. Seminole Family Restaurant is located at 6864 Seminole Boulevard. I was reminded about this place last week after visiting Melanie Neumann at Tampa Bay Massage Therapy. I left her office and just south about a block is the restaurant. I thought this might be a good place to take my family. This is definitely a basic family restaurant. There is not a lot of atmosphere, but that can be a good thing too!

Since there were four of us, we were able to try several different things. That is one good thing about dining with several people as opposed to dining alone - trying other people's stuff! (Some people do not like that, though, so always ask first!!)

The lunch specials were numerous - in addition to having quite an extensive menu. I would think that there is something on there for everyone. Ranging from burgers, to Pittsburgh Wings (have not had them, but heard they were wonderful) to roast leg of lamb. The daily lunch specials range from $4.95 to $8.95 or you can just get the soup and salad bar for $5.50. There are two soups on the salad bar as well as a range of salad toppings.
There is also a weekend breakfast buffet for $7.95 (or you can include the soup and sald bar for $8.95) and a Monday Mexican buffet for $8.95 which includes horchata (a cinnamon rice beverage.)

The server was slightly unattentive, but it seemed like the other diners were having the same trouble with their waitresses.

Out of the 4 people ordering, two had the open faced sandwich. One was hot roast beef ($6.95) and the other was hot turkey ($6.95). Both were served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The vegetables were seasoned and grilled. Yes, it is a LOT of food!

The other people in the party chose the daily specials. One being the meatloaf dinner (also served with soup or salad, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables) [$8.95] and the fried fish dinner ($7.95) Instead of mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, there were other options available.

There are several things on the menu that piqued my curiosity. I intend to go back for the Pittsburgh Steak Salad ($9.95), Pierogies ($7.95) and Nick's Famous Greek Salad Yasou! ($6.25) YOU can call and place your order 727-392-5950 or fax an order to 727-392-4890. They also offer free deliver ($5.00 minimum order within a 5 mile radius.)

The kids menu looked very good and reasonable. For breakfast, there are 5 different options: pancake; chocolate chip pancake; french toast; or 1 egg, pancake, and bacon or sausage - for $2.95 or 1 egg, homefries or grits and toast for $2.65. The lunch menu has 11 different choices ranging from $3.25 for grilled cheese with cup of soup to $4.95 for steak tips over noodles and vegetables with everything from fish, hotdogs, chicken fingers, spaghetti and baked chicken in between!

Seminole Family Restaurant is open 7 days a week.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Smitty's Restaurant

****UPDATE --- CLOSED ************************
I had just left New Hope Auto and Truck Services and was feeling a little hungry. I figured I may as well have a bite to eat before my chiropractors appointment at Hartley Chiropractic Center. I decided to stop at Smitty's Restaurant; located at 4890 122nd Ave N #1 in Clearwater.

The signs outside were offering some great breakfast specials and the sign on the wall states "Souvlaki Saturdays - buy one get one at half price."

The inside is quaint with the daily specials written on a board on the wall. The place was very quiet when I arrived, but filled up rather quickly.

Breakfast is served until 11am . Items include breakfast sandwiches ($1.75-$3.85), biscuits and gravy, pancakes ($2.95-$4.95), french toast ($2.95-5.75), omelettes ($3.30-5.95), breakfast pita, grilled pork chop, grilled chicken breast, grilled Polish sausage, country fried steak and ham steak. I could've ordered breakfast, but there were so many interesting things on the lunch menu, that I decided to have lunch. The lunch menu was just as large. Burgers, melts, sandwiches, salads, lite platters, steak hoagies, triple decker clubs and home made chili.

There are 12 different kinds of burgers on the menu. [Deluxe sandwiches and burgers are served with french fries, onion rings, potato salad or potato chips, lettuce tomato and pickles. Add a cup of soup for $1.00.] Burgers range from a plain hamburger ($3.59 or deluxe $4.59) to a Greek style burger with feta, onion and tomato ($4.25 or $5.25 d) to an Italian style burger with Italian Sauce and Mozzarella cheese ($3.75 or $4.75 d) and everything in between.

Sandwiches include a BLT ($3.75 or $4.75 d), corned beef on rye ($4.75 or $5.75 d), liverwurst on rye ($3.95 or $4.95 d) and many more! They also serve 13 different salads. Horiatiki ($4.95) is made with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, Greek peppers, onions, olives, feta cheese and special dressing. They also have a steak souvlaki sald ($6.85), a Greek Salad ($5.75), egg salad ($4.35) and a chef salad ($4.35).

13 must be the lucky number, as there are 13 different types of clubs as well; including but not limited to: corned beef ($4.95), Italian ($4.95), Turkey and Bacon ($5.45), tuna salad ($4.95) and gyro ($4.95).

I finally chose the "Famous Steak Hoagies!" The steak hoagie can be ordered plain ($4.50), or with cheese, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and Greek peppers ($5.25) and every combination in between. In addition to the steak hoagies, there are 19 other hoagies. Hoagie selections include: Italian ($4.95), Meatball ($4.75), Italian Sausage ($4.75), veggie ($4.50) and Polish sausage ($5.25)

I ordered my steak hoagie with everything! Needless to say, it was very messy!

I am sure that I will return just to try more of the hoagies. Some of the combinations of food on the menu sound so yummy!

Gaspar's Grotto in Ybor City

My sister Ann and her husband Jim spent a couple days with me while vacationing from Pittsburgh, PA. They were excited to try local places and enjoy some great food. When we left Tampa Airport, we headed straight to Ybor City. Several places caught our eye, but we liked the sound of the lunch special at Gaspar's Grotto located at 1805 East 7th Avenue.

The drink special of the day was a 12 oz Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of bourbon for TWO dollars! Two of us started our lunch with a "boilermaker" in honor of my father!

The daily special was Picadillo.

Ground beef sauteed with olives, onions, capers, pinenuts and raisins in a cumin-coriander tomato sauce. Served with white rice, platanos maduros and cuban toast. ($5.95)

I was hungry and wanted to get an appetizer, but I couldn't decide because there were so many good things on the appetizer menu. I finally decided to try the cracked conch fritters with sugar cane mustard. ($5.95)

We also ordered Abeula's Spanish Bean Soup just to try something different. It was made with

garbanzos, chorizo and yukon. ($4.95). Ann held up some of the soup for you!

Ann ordered the daily special (which does change daily). I wanted to order pork, but for some reason I was drawn to the wood fired pizza and went with the Grotto Calzone (served with three fillings for $8.95) I chose onion, sundried tomato and queso. Not sure if you can tell by the plate, but this thing was big!!

Jim and Rob both ordered the half chicken served with black beans and rice. The new menu says that it is served with grilled corn, sweet potato fries and coleslaw ($12.95) Jim wanted to know why I didn't make it look nicer before I took the picture and I explained that since that was the way it was served, that is how it looks on here. I show it like it is! The chicken actually was quite juicy and tender.

When we arrived at Gaspar's Grotto, I checked in on FourSquare. With this check-in, I received a free "daily dessert." I forget what the actual name of this ice cream was; but it was homemade and full of apples and cinnamon. I will be sure to check in every where now that businesses are using the "specials" app on foursquare.

We will definitely be going back here, not only to try some other appetizers, but also to try the Creme Brulee'!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mexican Margarita Happiness with Friends!

A hidden gem is in Pinellas Park and it is right before your eyes! Nuevo Vallarta Restaurant is located at 9359 US. Highway 19 N. in the Budget Inn. (This was a Howard Johnson's for years.) You would not expect a motel restaurant to have an authentic family restaurant, but this one does!

My lunch companions were numerous and the margarita's were flowing. Nothing better than good friends and a yummy pitcher of margaritas to wash down the chips and salsa! My lunch friends included: Rob Bell of Bell Contracting and Design, Ruth Hughes of Florida Reflexology, Maggie Colwell, Heather Sakelariou of Heather's Day Spa and Suzanne Andrew of SMA Solutions as well as Try Thai Yoga Massage.

Rob ordered the "Chicken Yolandas;" 3 chicken enchiladas topped with ranchero sauce, Mexican rice and guacamole salad. ($7.95)

There is an extensive menu with many lunch specials as well. It was almost exhausting deciding what I was going to order.

Fortunately, the waiter quickly served the cheese dip and another pitcher of margaritas so we could all chat and decide what to order.

Although there were many other patrons in the restaurant, we were not rushed or hurried in any way. The servers were extremely nice and helpful.

Heather and I both decided to have the "Burrito Loco." It is "the biggest burrito we have!" Stuffed with either beef, chicken or pork (I had pork), refried beans, rice, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, lettuce and topped with cheese and burrito sauce. ($5.99) Fortunately, Rob was with me, so he finished mine! Heather got to take some home with her. It is a huge burrito. And, they have an even bigger one for dinner. Of course it is as messy to eat as you can imagine! I had sauce dripping everywhere. What fun!

Suzanne had the vegetable fajitas and they looked delicious.

I always want what everyone else ordered when the food arrives! Speaking of food arriving, the food was delivered to the table very quick. If you are in a hurry, this would be a great place to go for lunch. I was very surprised and impressed by the speed of our orders.

Back to the fajitas...they looked and smelled amazing! They were served with Mexican rice, refried beans, lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo and flour tortillas. ($10)

Ruth and Maggie both ordered the Shrimp Fajitas from the lunch special menu. They were served with Mexican rice, refried beans and flour tortillas. ($6.95)

I haven't been writing about my lunches in a while, but this is the re-start of a fabulous thing!

You will be seeing a lot more of me!

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