Wednesday, January 23, 2013

uncharted territory :: tampa area (part I)

this past weekend we headed to the (near) tampa area for family celebrations and decided to spend one of the days driving around and checking out the places we've seen on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and "Man vs Food."

we've been watching those shows forever and each time the episode ends, we say, "we gotta go visit these places. wouldn't it be cool to check a bunch out one day? next time we're in (such and such area) we have to go!" every time we say that. and no time have we ever done it. until now. we found a bunch of places in the tampa area, read reviews and found the good ones. in addition to some other things to see and do.

we mapped it all out, ate a light breakfast and started here (i of course write a list for everything) >>>
this was California Tacos To Go. apparently, they make a killer flash fried fish taco. the place was charming and super chill. a little hut off the side of the road.
we decided these were divine. fluffy and crispy fish, super fresh and juicy salsa and a great creamy spicy orangey sauce. we liked them a lot.
next stop was Skippers Smokehouse. crazy looking place. absolutely love how they mention that they are a talent agency. and, well, it's no lie. inside there was a stage with benches and school chairs and the eating part looked like a total side-thing. this talent thing looked to be their forte. not to mention that during our visit they were having hula hoop lesson classes going on! this place had some crazy character for sure. 
hilarious! what better way to spend a saturday afternoon?! 
and so we tried what Adam Richman tried (and apparently he named it the "best sandwich in America") on Man vs. Food - the blackened grouper rueben. it was - flaky, fresh and the spices were very distinct and noticeable. i loved that the sauerkraut was grilled. it was tasty. we would get it again if we were in the area. but mostly, i would try to make it there at night and see what really happens when the music starts!
last place on the list was the Tampa Bay Brewing Company" in ybor city. on the show, Guy Fieri tried the chicken wings, a bacon wrapped sirloin and the mussels - and so did we!

these were the "award winning cider wings" made with red eye ale cider wing sauce. to me, wings are wings and i probably would not have gotten them if it wasn't for the show. and so, all i can say is: wings are wings and they tasted like all buffalo chicken wings taste to me. husband liked them. 
now this - this is something i would have picked off the menu with or without the show. the "moosekiller meatloaf with mild mushroom demi" made with chopped sirloin, and then wrapped in bacon and topped with onion strings. pretty much a meatloaf wrapped in bacon, with mushrooms (our favorite!) and topped with something fried. yeah! delicious.
we also tried the "wild warthog thai style spicy curry mussels" made with a pound of fresh mussels, grilled red onions, tomatoes, and spicy wild warthog welzen coconut curry served over udon noodles (or bread if you like). these were great. i loved them a lot and wish i had more room in my stomach to have finished them off. but in a to-go box they went.
to be fair - we were full and tired by this time. this was a lot of eating for us and even though we paced ourselves, this meal would have much better served us with a hungry belly. 

and that was out little excursion. it was fun to try the places once you've seen what goes into the recipes, the history and just to know that these great places exist. our favorite from this trip were definitely the fish tacos at California Tacos To Go. we're looking forward to check out some more mentioned spots in the future - probably to the south of us.

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