A week ago, I had a quick business trip to Tampa, FL. Eating out in a new city, as you know, can be challenging. But, with a good recommendation, and a little bit of luck, we had 3 meals that were worth the trip.
We flew in at lunch time, and on the way to work (the food show), we stopped at a Cuban deli that I was told was the best in Tampa. We were not disappointed. When we got their at noon, there was a line out the door and the place was jammed. A good sign as far as I am concerned. I ordered a Cuban sandwich and a deviled crab. I had no idea what a deviled crab was, but the friend that recommended the place said to get one.
It was a great sandwich. The meat was piled high and the flavor was incredible. The pork products made the sandwich. The ham may have been the best I have ever tasted and the shredded pork offered great taste as well. My only recommendation, get the small, the large may have weighed in at 3 pounds. On to the Deviled Crab. I would best describe it as a breaded and fried crab cake. Brocato’s added a few diced peppers and some other spices, it was delicious. After living in Maryland for 6 years and falling in love with the crab cake, I can say that the Deviled Crab could definitely give the Maryland Crab Cake a run for it’s money.
That evening, though I felt I could have gone 3 days without eating, we stopped at Cody’s Roadhouse in St. Petersburg on the way back from an unfortunately quick poker tournament at Derby Run. I later noticed that Cody’s is a small chain in Florida, which explains a lot.
Cody’s was a friendly place, with that “Roadhouse” look. Our waiter was clearly sick, which was a bit concerning, but a week later, I’m good to go. As usual I asked the waiter for a recommendation, letting him know that this may be the only time I ever visit and asking them what they do best. The waiter responded with, “get the Ribeye”. I said, “really, I can get a steak anywhere”, he said, “that is my favorite”. At that point, playing it safe was probably the best idea, so I took his recommendation. After getting the food, I realized I was right in the middle of a gigantic cliche.
- In-shell peanuts on the table, shells on the floor
- Cinnamon butter with the rolls
- Paper on the tables and crayons
- A large bowl of salad, tossed at the table, all you care to eat
- The big mug of beer
- Nothing unique on the menu, but a little bit of everything
- “hotter than hot, hot” wings (which were a huge disappointment)
Overall, fine, and a bit humorous for a marketing guy.
The next day was a long day at a food show. For dinner, we decided to go to Ybor City and find a place. Ybor City was a very cool little place, it reminded me a lot of a smaller version of the French Quarter. We went to Carmine’s. HOME RUN. Once again, I got a Deviled Crab, excellent. The Gorgonzola salad was also very good. I again asked for an entree recommendation and was given two unique dishes, I ended up with a platter of Cuban style Pork, just pork, a big platter of pork. Excellent. Great atmosphere, great food.
If I find myself in Tampa again (or decide to take a tasty detour), Brocato’s and Carmine’s will be visited.