Restaurant News

Gaspar’s Grotto in Ybor City now serving weekday breakfast

Local Ybor City pirate-themed restaurant, Gaspar’s Grotto, is now selling breakfast daily with an expanded menu on Saturday and brunch buffet on Sundays.

The weekday breakfast menu is available from 7AM-10:30AM and has items ranging from $4.95 to $8.95 with most items at around $5.95. Items on the menu include 3 Egg Cheese Omelet, Two Eggs Your Way, Cuban French Toast, Breakfast Skillet, Biscuits and Gravy, and more.

I visited yesterday and had a late breakfast with Ybor City Geeky Gal and Chef Mark Hook.

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One of the first dishes I tried was the biscuits and gravy. Everything is prepared fresh in-house and it really shows. The biscuits were soft and delicious and the gravy was incredible – definitely one of the best gravy toppings I have ever had in Tampa Bay. Even the side of potatoes was delicious – normally something that isn’t even worth mentioning on breakfast dishes.

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The bacon was notable for having a peppery flavoring to it and was perfectly crunchy. Many of the breakfast items come with bacon, but if you want more you can get 2 strips for $2.

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You can also take a more traditional route with simple eggs made you way with sides and Cuban toast from La Segunda Bakery. The great thing about Ybor City being the heart of historical Tampa is great Cuban bread is always nearby.

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I also checked out their Gaspar’s Specialty Bloody Mary of the Day at Gaspar’s Grotto – it’s loaded with all kinds of toppings including cheese, meats, sausage, ribs, and more. It could very well be a meal on its own.

All of the breakfast items were delicious and fresh and the price was right – easily beating out many breakfast chains and competing with the pricing of diners. The best part is you can enjoy your breakfast outside on the outside decks of Gaspar’s Grotto and there is plenty of free 2-hour parking available in the morning hours in Ybor City.

Breakfast is also available for take-out – you can call ahead to 813-248-5900 and pick-up your breakfast to take to work or whatever engagement you may have.

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Finally, I couldn’t leave without trying the Cuban Sandwich at Gaspar’s Grotto with the 6th Annual National Cuban Sandwich Festival approaching. The Cuban here was excellent – the bread toasted perfectly and the pickle having just the right crunch. The Cuban sticks to traditional with the exception of a mayo-mustard mix. Plantain chips on the side were also excellent. I love plantain chips and these did not disappoint.

Gaspar's Grotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gaspar’s Grotto. 1805 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 248-5900. http://gasparsgrotto.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gasparsgrotto/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/gasparsgrotto/

Food Events · Food Holidays

Valentines Day Dining in Tampa Bay

It would seem that almost every restaurant in Tampa Bay is having some kind of Valentines Day special for the big day of love. Here is a listing of some of the specials I have noticed, for the late-minute diner like myself. Even if you don’t have a Valentine – you might want to have a bite on some of these deals.

Bernini: This delicious Italian restaurant in Ybor City is offering 1/2 price pastas and entrees all week long until 7PM. $2 Finlandia Martinis. (813) 248-0099

BurgerMonger: Famous for its delicious Akaushi Kobe Beef – BurgerMonger will be giving away chocolate-covered strawberries to couples (while supplies last) on Valentines Day. They say the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – and a BurgerMonger burger sure does please my stomach! (813) 968-6860

Cafe Kili: Dixie Blue will play an eclectic mix of country, early rock and roll, and cajun songs for visitors starting at 7PM. Special drinks will be on the menu including the Red Velvet Frappe and Raspberry White Mocha.  (813) 988-2879

Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant: The usual $4 tapas menu will be in effect Tuesday at Ceviche, in addition to two lovers specials: Mixed Grill and Mixed Fish specials for $39. First-come, first-serve basis. Numerous locations around Tampa Bay and Orlando.

Datz: Special cocktails, entrees, and desserts will be sold for V-Day. Some examples are pink polka dot pancakes and cherry martinis. (813) 831-7000

Fly Bar & Restaurant: Open 4PM-3AM. Patio dining and rooftop deck in Downtown Tampa. Live jazz music from 8-11PM and dinner. (813) 275-5000

Origami Sushi (Hillsborough): Free dessert on Valentines Day. Happy Hour 3-7PM with $1 sushi rolls. All beverages reduced price. (813) 878-2145

Pelagia Trattoria: This hidden Italian restaurant in the International Plaza will have a special Valentines Day menu available fro 5:30-10PM. Some things on the menu include lobster bisque, veal osso buco, and Godiva chocolate cake. (813) 313-3235

The Rack: Valentines Day blues troubling you? The Rack will have happy hour all night long on Valentines Day, in addition to their regular Tuesday specials. (813) 250-1595

The Refinery: Special Valentines Day menu available at this hot spot Tampa restaurant. The steak tartare sure caught my eye. Make sure to call ahead – they may already be filled to max capacity. (813) 237-2000

Senor Taco: Lots of buzz online for this Pinellas Park Mexican restaurant lately. Taco Tuesday brings tacos to the amazing price of $1. (727) 289-7080

Soobak: This excellent Davis Island Asian restaurant is offering a 5-course Valentines Day dinner which includes salad, appetizer, sushi, choice of meat, and dessert for $35 per person (+tax). Be sure to call ahead as space is limited. (813) 258-3377.

SoHo Sushi North: USF-area SoHo Sushi will feature a $55 (+tax) special for couples featuring 2 soups, 2 salads, 2 drinks, 2 sushi rolls, and dessert. (813) 977-8744

Spain Restaurant & Toma Bar: Offering a 4-course pre-fix menu for $45 per person (+tax) includes 1 alcoholic beverage, appetizer, salad , entree, and dessert. Live romantic music from 6-9PM. Regular menu also available. (813) 223-2831

Wimauma: The current talk of Tampa Bay. Special Valentines Day menu available for $40 per person (+tax).  (813) 793-1687

Reviews

Carlos Eats Seoul: 400 Won Wing Night Tuesdays @ Beer O’ Clock

During my freshman year of college, I spent every Monday at Wingstop with the Vietnamese Student Association eating 35 cent wings. It was an experimental event that become a weekly tradition. There is nothing better than cheap and delicious wings (my two favorite words). Sometime later, Wingstop changed some of their policies and we stopped our visits. Last week, I started craving wings in Seoul and a quick Google search directed me to Beer O’ Clock.

Beer O’ Clock is a Canadian bar in Sinchon. When you enter you find American football on televisions and plenty of foreigners around. We came for their 400 won wing night. There are plenty of tables and open seating to provide ventilation to the room. The wing promotion has five varieties and to get the deal you must order a beverage. The waiter was quick to bring us our drinks and take our order.

Soda and basic beers are both 3,000 won. I decided to order a coke. I drank it down it down fast and then learned after asking that there were no free refills. You’ll want to be careful about this since I find it very difficult to enjoy wings with water. Some American food, mainly burgers, wings, fries, and pizza just taste great with some soda or beer.

Our table ordered two types of fries. The bacon and cheese fries cost 9,000 won and are delicious. The cheese is melted perfectly between the fries and the bacon tastes great as well. The price is certainly high for french fries, but split among a few friends it wasn’t too bad. Each person at my table order 10 wings for a total of 4,000 won per person.

The regular plate of fries costs 7,000 won and is also great. They went much faster than the other fries, but were enjoyable down to the last bite. The wait for the wings was a little long, I would say we waited at least 30 minutes for our wings. When they arrived we were ready to get our wing fix on.

The BBQ wings were appetizing, but needed to be dipped in a sauce. I asked the waiter for some ranch dressing, but he disappeared after dropping off the wings and never came back to ask if we needed anything else. Nevertheless, it was nice to have some BBQ as finding food in BBQ sauce is a rare find in Seoul.

The plain wings were just that: plain. Make sure you have something to dip them in.

The hot wings were quickly being eaten by my friends. I personally don’t eat hot wings so I can’t comment on the taste. However, they looked pretty appetizing.

The Rancho-Relaxo wings had an interesting sauce to them. Different, but not particularly my favorite. I could take or leave them.

My personal favorite were the Greek wings. They had a lemon pepper taste to them that was invigorating. I could not stop myself from grabbing more and I actually felt a little sad when they were all gone. It was the most memorable part of my meal and in the future I would be sure to order these wings again.

Overall, Beer O’ Clock is a decent pub with some delicious and cheap wings. Perfect for a college student and someone who wants to spend some times in a sports bar without spending too much cash. I would return again for their wing night in the future. I invited some other friends who came later at night (past 9PM) but found the wings sold out so make sure you head early if you’re planning to eat dinner there.

Restaurant Name: Beer O’ Clock

Cuisine: Pub grub

Neighborhood: Sinchon, Itaewon

Address: Seodaemoon Gu, Changchun Dong 52-53 2nd floor

Phone Number: (02) 3339733

Website: http://www.beeroclock.ca/

Reviews

Mel’s Hot Dogs

Mel’s Hot Dogs is a part of my USF Dining Guide.

Mel’s Hot Dogs is well-known as one of Tampa’s best places to have a Chicago-style hot dog since 1973. The menu has a number of quality hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken choices, and burgers to choose from. Once you decide what main entree you want you, you choose whether to upgrade to a basket and have coleslaw or baked beans with french fries. They have both soda and draft beers to choose from.

My personal favorite is their corn dogs ($2.50). They are crispy just like you would have at a fair, such as the Florida State Fair, and the beef hot dogs inside taste fantastic. The french fries are also crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The baked beans are usually sweet and the coleslaw tastes like real home-made slaw.

The hot dogs ($2.75) vary depending on which one, but you can usually count on the bun to be toasty and soft and the beef to taste just right. I normally will not eat hot dogs, but Mel’s is probably the only place where hot dogs actually taste good to me and it’s because of their attention to making quality food. I have tasted their Angus Beef Burgers ($4.75) as well and was impressed with how good it tasted, Mel’s can do more than just your average hot dog. Checkout their menu for more.

The employees are friendly and strike up a conversation every once in awhile. Normally you only wait a few minutes for your food and Mel’s is located right next to Busch Gardens and just two miles from USF so it is a convenient local business for students and tourists to stop at. There is plenty of seating for both small and large parties as well, though parking is a little limited they have extra in the back.

Justin happy with his hot dog.

Mel's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Mel’s Hot Dogs

Cuisine: American

Address: 4136 E Busch Blvd. Tampa, FL 33617

Neighborhood: USF

Phone Number: (813) 985-8000

Website: http://www.melshotdogs.com/

*Prices do not include basket prices

Reviews

Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken

This past weekend my friend and I were hungry and trying to think of a place to have dinner at. We wanted a place that had some good-quality food, affordable prices, and something almost home-cooked. We are some picky eaters, but after some thinking I finally thought of a spot we could eat at: Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken.

A small restaurant located next to Green Iguana in Riverview in the Winthrop Plaza, Cuenelli’s has been around for some time now but is still unknown to many Tampa Bay residents. Offering many Peruvian specialties at affordable prices (usually under $10) on their menu, such as Papa la Huancaina (a Peruvian salad of boiled yellow potatoes in a spicy cream sauce), Lomo Saltado (grilled sirloin with onions and tomatoes, served with rice and french fries), and Bisteck a lo Pobre (Palomilla steak served with rice, beans, fried egg, french fries, and plaintains). They also have several desserts, such as Flan, Tres Leches, Churros, and various specialties during the weekend.

When my friend and I arrived we were able to choose where we wanted to sit. The server was patient as I explained the menu to my friend and we ordered Inca Cola (a lemon verbana-flavored soda) to drink. Another popular drink at Cuenelli’s and many Peruvian restaurants is Chicha (a purple corn soft drink which people rave about it though I have never personally tried it). My friend finally decided to order their Bisteck a lo Pobre ($10.95) and I ordered their Chicken Sandwich ($6.99). The wait time was pretty short for our meals.

My friend’s Bisteck a lo Pobre looked so good that I had to make sure I showed my readers. The palomilla steak is pretty big as you can see. He had a hard time eating it by himself and there have been plenty of times when I have ordered this and not been able to finish my food. My friend ate his food one thing at a time, but I believe that the best way to eat this entree is to break the yolk and mix everything together. There have been days when I was feeling sick and this meal made me feel way better and energized.

My Chicken Sandwich was fantastic. The chicken was tender and easy to chew, it just melted in my mouth. The lettuce, tomatoes, and onions inside added even more flavor to a well seasoned chicken. I added a little extra mayonnaise to make it a little more moist. Although this photograph may make it seem like the sandwich was small, it was loaded with chicken and I actually was only able to finish half of this sandwich despite how hungry I was. The french fries taste homemade (without too much salt and a nice soft interior) and are an excellent complement to many of the choices at Cuenelli’s.

Service was great and the waiter made sure to constantly check on our drinks and to ask us how our meal was. My friend was really impressed with the food and will be coming back soon. I know I will.

Cuenelli's Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken

Address: 6260 Winthrop Town Center Ave. Riverview, FL 33578

Phone #: (813)681-7773

Hours: Monday closed, Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 9pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/cuenellis-peruvian-style-rotisserie-chicken-riverview