Posted by: Chad | March 11, 2012

Eating in Tampa

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.



  1. Chad – You must, must – if ever in Tampa again = have dinner at the original Cuban restaurant of all time = The Columbia Restaurant. Ybor – Tampa. My grandmother ate there in the 1930’s. I had a experience there last – last year. It is still an experience. OMG – An experience in explosion of flavor – the Original Ensalada 1905 – prepared with fresh everything, including the historical family recipe dressing – wonderful – the paella .the Cuban dishes, bread, desserts, Sangria!, …… the experience. It is a must…… So nice……

  2. sounds incredible, will have to go there next visit!

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