Restaurant News CL Update: Lee House Chinese Restaurant and Ocean Blue Sushi

Check out my Creative Loafing news article on Lee House Chinese Restaurant in Brandon relocating and Ocean Blue Sushi merging with Kaiko in Clearwater.


Tampa Bay Blogger Shoutouts

Here’s what I’ve been reading about lately on local Tampa Bay blogs:

Tampa Bay Breakfasts reviews Mama’s Kitchen on North Florida and gives it a 5-pancake rating. As usual, there are plenty of pics of the food and the happy faces there.

Dena Loves Food visits Mama Fu in Clearwater and tries their Pad Thai and Red Thai Curry.

Tampa Bay Food Monster reviews Ally’s New York Pizzeria continuing his pizza reviews he has been featuring as of late.

Inkwatu visits Dairy Inn on MLK, his favorite choice for soft-serve ice cream.

Epicurean Perils of Sweet Polly visits The Laughing Cat in Ybor City and is pleasantly surprised with their food.

Re/Creating Tampa blogs about the Tampa Go Club.

Happy reading 🙂

Recipe: Mom’s Stovetop Barbeque Chicken

My Mom and I randomly decided to make a video of her recipe to her signature stovetop barbeque chicken. I thought I’d share it on here with you guys. It’s delicious so I hope you get a chance to make it yourself. There aren’t exact measurements for the ingredients because my Mom tends to alter the chicken each time to her liking. If you watch the videos you’ll get a good explanation on how to make it. Good luck 🙂


  • Chicken
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Ketchup
  • Garlic


  • Complete Seasoning
  • Garlic Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • White Cooking Wine (Marinade)

Estimated Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

PhilFest 2011 & After-Party at Grille 54


PhilFest 2011 was a great adventure into Filipino food and culture. USF’s very own Association of Filipino Students (AFS) came out victorious winning 1st place in the annual Revolution dance competition. The theme this year was “tinikling” my favorite dance and the national dance of the Philippines. There was lots of food at PhilFest, but I only sampled a few thing, saving my appetite for the after-party at Grille 54.

We had some Taro boba. The flavor wasn’t amazing and it was a little expensive, but most things in PhilFest were pricey.

Here are some pictures of the food there:


Grille 54 hosted an after-party to PhilFest and charged only $5 for a sushi buffet with drink specials available. The service was pretty good for the size of our party and waiters were helpful and respectful if you had any concerns or needed to order something. The food was delicious. Both the sushi and pasta were great and the drinks were also great. My favorite was the Strawberry Mojito. It was great that they supported this local event and I look forward to visiting Grille 54 again in the future and trying their regular menu.

These boats were full of plenty of sushi that quickly disappeared.

Grille 54 on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Grille 54

Cuisine: Italian, Japanese

Address: 11935 Sheldon Rd. Tampa, FL 33626

Phone Number: (813) 920-0054


Tia Cori’s Tacos (Daytona Beach)

My friends I took a trip out to Daytona Beach some time ago to relax and get away from the day to day. When we arrived in town after a 2 1/2 hour trip we were all hungry and I was a little disappointed when I saw nothing but chains and fast food on International Speedway Boulevard (the main road leading to the beach). I took out my phone and used Yelp to find Tia Cori’s Tacos. Yelp reviewers described Tia’s as “affordable”, “authentic”, and ” the best tacos on the East coast”. Being the Mexican food connoisseur that I am, I had to investigate.

Once we parked we found ourselves on a strip of restaurants and shops. The palm trees, blue skies, and ocean breeze certainly created that beach town vibe. We were surprised to find that Tia Cori’s was actually aesthetically pleasing with outdoor seating to the street and plenty of tables and booths inside. The cashier greeted us upon our entry and happily answered any questions we had about the menu. I decided to order their burrito ($7.00) and also a taco made both Mexican and American style ($2.00). I accompanied my order with an horchata ($2.00) with unlimited free refills!

The chips tasted great. They were warm and toasty. The texture can be seen in the photography above. The chips were different from your typical tortilla chips and I actually felt a connection to the chips of Mema’s Alaskan Tacos here. The horchata I had tasted great and wasn’t too milky. The consistency of horchata is important. If the drink is too milky or watery, then it makes your throat close up, but this horchata was made just right.

The burrito was quite large as you can see. I probably would have been satisfied with just the burrito if I wasn’t trying to fully explore the menu during my visit. Well-made, the burrito maintained its structure during my meal.

The burrito was slightly more expensive than the burritos you can buy in Tampa, but to include all the ingredients inside this burrito you would normally pay far more for this kind of burrito. This carne asada burrito included beans and rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and avocado as default ingredients. I did not have to pay 50 cents or $3.00 more to try and add ingredients that should be the standard in a burrito, which is one of my biggest complaints about Mexican food in Tampa Bay. Indeed, if you are given the opportunity to eat burritos in California, many of these ingredients are the standard and I applaud Tia Cori’s Tacos on their inclusion of them.

My taco was great and although some people might mention that I mixed American and Mexican ingredients together, it still created a delicious carne asada taco. The lime added some moisture to the meat and the flavor of the carne asada really came through with the hard shell taco. The flavor of the meat was a little masked in the burrito with all the other ingredients and the taco allowed me to enjoy the meat thoroughly. Everything tasted fresh.

My friend ordered their tamale, which looked very appetizing. I would like to try it on a future visit. My friend was very satisfied with it.

The Mexican style taco includes onions, cilantro & lime and is 50 cents cheaper than the American style which includes lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream.

Their tostada ($3.50) includes a choice of meat  and beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and avocado. Again the inclusion of avocado is something I was quite pleased to see during my visit to Tia Cori’s.

Overall, I was really impressed with Tia Cori’s Tacos and began to wish this place was closer to home. They are open until 10PM on weekdays and 3AM on Friday and Saturday nights and I don’t think any future visit to Daytona Beach would be complete with stopping by here and trying something on the menu. Tia Cori’s Tacos was oddly enough one of the most memorable parts of my trip to Daytona Beach.

Tia Cori's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Tia Cori’s Tacos

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 214 North Beach Street Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Phone Number: (386) 947-4333


La Guaguita – Puerto Rican Cuisine Food Truck

A friend and I went on a ethnic market hunt and just as I started complaining that there are basically no Puerto Rican food spots in Tampa, I turned around and saw a food truck called La Guaguita waving a Puerto Rican flag. My friend and I decided to investigate.

Click the photo for a larger version of the menu.

A quick look at the menu and I saw many favorites such as mofongo (flavored mashed plantains), alcapurrias (a fritter dish), pastelillos (empanadas), tostones rellenos con pulpo (stuffed fried plantains), arroz con gandules y pernil (rice with pigeon peas and roast pork), tostones (fried plantains), and also various sandwiches. All choices were at reasonable prices (~$8 for a full meal, $1 or $2 a la carte), this truck doesn’t over-charge for ethnic food. They also had various refreshments, including my personal favorite: Malta India. Malta has a sweet, refreshing taste to it and is essentially a beer that has not been fermented. Malta India is made in Puerto Rico.

I decided to order their arroz con gandules y pernil or rice with pigeon peas and roast pork ($6.00), which was fantastic! It only took a few minutes to come out and I would say it was as good as a home-cooked meal (sadly my family doesn’t cook much Puerto Rican food these days because they became lazy in recent years). The rice was moist and the peas also had an authentic taste. The pernil (roast park) was also excellent and really hit the desired taste perfectly, the fat was rich with succulence. Normally I only have this dish during the holiday season, so it was nice to enjoy it for an afternoon lunch for a change. It also came with small salad that had plenty of flavoring from some salt and pepper.

A great deal for $6!

The employees were friendly with us and the crowd was welcoming, both helpful in explaining any menu concern we might have. Many people came and went which was a good sign about the food. They accept major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard, so you don’t have to worry about keeping cash on you as well.

I am really happy to have found a Puerto Rican food truck and hope to come back to their empanadas and mofongo in the future :). They also cater if you’re interested in having some Puerto Rican food at your event.

La Guaguita Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: La Guaguita

Neighborhood: Town N Country

Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Spanish

Address: Hillsborough Ave & Sheldon Rd. Tampa, FL 33615

Phone Number: (813) 965-0086


Jarritos Tour Part 1

Jarritos sodas all have a fresh taste to them, probably because of the bottle packaging of them. Each flavor has a slightly similar taste, but differs to actually taste like the fruit on the package. The soda has been around since 1950. Jarrito means jug and refers to the Mexican tradition of drinking from clay pottery jugs. What really makes the sweet taste better is the use of sugar cane instead of high fructose corn syrup (the main ingredient in most American soft drinks). It has been said that sugar is better for you than high fructose corn syrup.

The tamarind flavor was a little disappointing. It actually had a slightly bitter taste and I preferred many of the other sodas that I was sent. The mango flavor was superior in flavor, but the best flavor by far of any of the Jarritos sodas that I tried was their Pineapple (piña) flavor. The pineapple flavor was simply refreshing and truly was enjoyable down to the last sip.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! This food blogger is finally on summer vacation so look for lots of updates to be coming soon. I thought that Cinco de Mayo would be the perfect day to blog about Jarritos sodas. I received a package from one of their social media consultants some time ago and had the privelege of trying every Jarritos flavor. I’ll be blogging about my impression of each soda. I also received a CD filled with music and a Jarritos t-shirt that I am wearing today in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

It was hard to decide which ones to drink with so many flavors to choose from. I have barely seen Jarritos sodas in Tampa, but in California you will find them just about everywhere, so naturally I was very excited to try these samples.

The design of the bottles themselves are pretty neat. They stay nice and cold and when you open the bottle cap the soda tastes fresh and crisp.

Here is the awesome t-shirt they sent me.

I’ll be blogging about my impressions of the flavors soon. I hope everyone has a fun and festive Cinco de Mayo! 🙂