Restaurant News

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Opens January 26th in Temple Terrace

Fast-casual restaurant chain concept Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is expanding into Temple Terrace and opening doors to the public on Thursday, January 26th. The restaurant is 4,100 square ft. The first Tampa Bay restaurant, built in February 2016, is located in Brandon and is located off Causeway Boulevard and Providence Lakes Road.

The University of South Florida location, located off the corner of Fowler Avenue and 56th Street, will feature a large garden-style patio with “truck-bed seating”, large communal style tables, a live music stage for local singers and DJs, and a full-liquor bar with six barrels of signature frozen cocktails and 16 beers on tap.

guacamole

enchilada-platter

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop’s 100-plus locations serve breakfast all day long, offering a robust selection that includes breakfast tacos and jumbo burritos (guests can choose from eggs, bacon, cheese, potatoes, chorizo, and shrimp) as well as the brand’s “breakfast favorites”, including huevos rancheros, migas, chilaquiles, and the breakfast taco plate (all served with Latin-fried potatoes and refried beans), or the signature Big Fuzz Breakfast Sandwich.

Considering how successful all-day-breakfast has worked for fast food restaurants – it’s interesting to see a fast-casual concept also offering this option. Fowler Avenue is filled with a variety of breakfast options from IHOP to First Watch.

Parents note: kids menus will be available serving taco plate, nachos, cheeseburgers, quesadillas, and chicken sticks, with carrots and ranch dressing offered as a side.

The restaurant will be open late – a plus for students. Service at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop will be provided from 8AM to 12AM from Monday to Wednesday, 8AM to 2AM from Thursday to Saturday, and 8AM to 11PM on Sunday. Catering will also be available.

For more information visit: www.FuzzysTacoShop.com

Food Events · Food Trucks · Reviews

USF Homecoming XX Food Truck Rally

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. I have been compensated for my time and writing. Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally works with more than 100 food trucks and books them for events, corporate and private catering, among other services. Opinions posted are my own and do not represent the views of Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally or businesses listed.

On Friday I visited the University of South Florida Sun Dome for a food truck rally for USF Homecoming XX. Food trucks were spread around the event including Boom Boom BoxChurroland TampaJust Smokin BBQ, Kebablicious, SantoriniSawadee Thai Food, and WING BOX. Homecoming is one of USF’s longest traditions, dating back to 1964, the year after USF’s first graduating class.

Boom Boom Burger

First we stopped at Boom Boom Box food truck. It was hard to decide what to order – but their Boom Boom Burger looked appetizing so we decided to order it. Indeed, it was an extremely delicious burger down to the last bite and a large portion that would be filling for hungry food truck rally attendees. The sauce really makes this burger and definitely makes me want to try the other things on the menu that utilize it. The fries were also great.

Sawadee Thai Food Truck

Next we stopped at Sawadee Thai Food Truck, not to be confused with Sawatdee Thai Cuisine located on 56th Street by USF. I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of a Thai food truck – but we decided that a Pad Thai would be a quick way to judge whether the food was good at Sawadee.

Chicken Pad Thai

I was surprised with both the portion size and dedication to quality on Sawadee Thai Food Truck. It tasted just as good as a Pad Thai you can get in a Thai restaurant and the price was fair at around $7. The attention to detail was there and the owners at the food truck were really friendly and remembered a friend of mine who visited the truck over a year ago.

Noodles

One of the last things I tried was the noodles off the Sawadee Thai Food Truck. Also delicious and clear dedication to authentic cuisine. I’d definitely go back to this truck and try some other more exotic things in the future – they had quite a few choices and the prices were definitely inviting.

Overall, we had a blast wandering around the food truck rally trying different food at the rally and the weather was favorable thanks to Hurricane Matthew bringing in a cold front and lots of windy weather which is welcome after an extremely hot summer. This concluded our visit to the USF Homecoming XX Food Truck Rally.

Reviews

Gyro Zone serves up excellent, affordable Lebanese food

There is this is hole-in-the-wall restaurant I have been frequenting by USF and the University Mall called Gyro Zone. It fits every definition of the phrase “hidden gem”.

The prices are fair and trend under $10 with student deals and combos that can appeal to the college students. The hours are also college-friendly with Gyro Zone open until midnight from Monday-Saturday (good luck finding a decent meal after 10PM at other places by campus). The food will leave your heart and stomach in a good place.

When you walk into Gyro Zone – you’re not sure what to expect. The place is simple enough – a long hallway with tables and a counter for ordering your food and pickup. The kitchen is open you so you can see the schwarma in all its fine excellence and their dedication to quality as they prepare the food.

gyro1

Picking a menu item can be tough – I have trended towards chicken schwarma on most visits – simply because it is the best chicken schwarma I have had in the Tampa Bay area. It’s incredible. I usually grab it in a pita, but on my last visit yesterday I decided to go for the Schwarma Bowl which comes with rice, chicken schwarma, some veggies, and a drink. All for around $7. It. is. amazing.

Gyro Zone has 41 reviews on Yelp and seems to have organically reached a 5-star average, yet every time I visit the place isn’t busy which has me concerned, so here I am…writing my love to this excellent food. I have visited over 6 times in the last 3 weeks and I left happy and satisfied every single time.

The fries that they serve with their pita are better than Five Guys and cooked to perfection. The owner (I assume) and employees who work there are always super chill and friendly. They offer delivery (I hear they may be on UberEats soon? – let’s hope).

gyro2

I finally tried the hummus on my last visit. I LOVE hummus – but my experiences with it are all over the place depending on what restaurant you eat it at. The hummus at Gyro Zone was excellent and came with some of their pita chips which I’ll add are also crazy good. Everything here is just on-point and exceeds expectations.

My friend was feeling adventurous yesterday and decided to order the cheeseburger at Gyro Zone. Sure – not an ode to Lebanese cuisine. However, I took a bite or two or three out of his burger and it was insanely delicious. I’m not sure if it was the sauce in the burger or the seasoning in the beef that made it taste so good – but this burger was not your average burger and it seems like that applies across the entire menu at Gyro Zone.

It’s hard to open a great, local business and restaurant in Tampa Bay and all the right elements are at Gyro Zone. All that is left is for people to go and experience it for themselves. Don’t just take my word for it. Go try it yourself. The prices are fair and the food is excellent.

gyro3

Restaurant Name: Gyro Zone

Address: 2709 University Square Dr. Tampa, FL 33612

Phone Number: (813) 284-0777

Website: http://www.gyrozonetampa.com/

Menu: http://www.gyrozonetampa.com/menu.html

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Gyro-Zone-166848396852439/

Restaurant News

In Memory of Lisa Tian, Joy of Tokyo in New Tampa restaurant owner

I stumbled upon Joy of Tokyo in New Tampa one day in January of this year when a friend and I were heading to SoHo Sushi North and found it closed at 2PM. We decided to try a new restaurant we had seen on Bruce B. Downs by Acropolis, Joy of Tokyo. Once inside we had a great meal and the owner, Lisa (Lixin) Tian, came and sat with us. We talked for quite some time about her new business and how much I liked the food. She told me she moved all the way from Ohio down to Tampa to support her son attending USF and had successful businesses in Indiana and Ohio. I gave her some suggestions about using social media and setting up a website and she took my suggestions.

The next time I visited for lunch the owner and I talked about her new website and Facebook fan page. She told me her son who attends USF made the accounts for her since she wasn’t too familiar with how to use the internet. We laughed and after another great lunch I decided I wanted to schedule a sushi social with the organization I started at USF, The Japanese Club at USF. She was happy to set it up and I talked with her for about thirty minutes over the phone, she said she was happy to work with the USF community and would plan special discounts for my members and work with us however best she could.

The sushi social had a decent turnout for being scheduled during the day and the owner prepared everything and was completely hospitable to us. The next time I would interact with Joy of Tokyo would be at a Sushi Workshop organized by USF organizations Sigma Lambda Beta and Asian Students in America (A.S.i.A.). The employees from Joy of Tokyo came to our school and explained to students how to make certain sushi rolls. It was clear that Lisa was a smart businesswoman who was open-minded and happy to be a part of the USF community.

Unfortunately, in late May 2011 – I heard that Lisa Tian had been hospitalized after being severely beaten by her husband, Chunping Lin, and Lisa  suffered severe bleeding from the brain and a broken wrist in a case of domestic violence. Chunping a six-foot tall, 160 pound man, also attacked his 10-year old son who was defending his mother and caused a laceration of the son’s finger with broken glass. Lisa became comatose at St. Joseph’s  Hospital and after two months of the restaurant being closed down, I heard that she died a few days ago. Her husband was being charged with attempted murder, domestic violence, and child abuse according to article released in June. I am unaware of his current criminal charges.

During the week that Lisa became hospitalized a positive article was written about her business by a local newsletter. I am deeply saddened that her business never had the chance to reach success in the Tampa Bay area and that a local community leader has been lost in such tragic circumstances. The restaurant was hardly at it’s half-year point. My condolences go out to her children who must be struggling through such a difficult time. We have lost a pioneer in New Tampa and a local friend. Rest in Peace.

Reviews

SoHo Sushi North

I have been by SoHo Sushi North numerous times, but never stopped in until this past week. It is the same plaza as the fantastic Wood Fired Pizza, and these two restaurants really do make this plaza boom with foodie activity. I first heard of SoHo Sushi when they became a sponsor for the Japanese Club at USF‘s “A Night in Tokyo” cultural event (a Japanese cultural-themed dinner).

We came during their “Happy Hour” which is from 5:00PM-7:00PM everyday and offers $5-7 special rolls and appetizers as well as 2-4-1 house wine, draft beer, and hot sake. USF students can get 10% off with their student ID making SoHo Sushi North affordable for the college students nearby and for diners who don’t mind having dinner early.

We decided to order two appetizers: their $5 Sunomono (cucumber salad topped with crab, steamed shrimp, octopus, and fined with rice wine vinaigrette) and $6 Geso (Japanese style calamari, flash fried and dressed in ponzu sauce).

The sunomono was excellent and had a very refreshing taste to it. It was a nice start to our meal and whenever we wanted to refresh our taste buds throughout our meal the rice vinaigrette really hit the spot. The shredded crab and shrimp were delicious and although I don’t like cucumbers on my sushi (I feel it detracts from the taste of the fish), I love cucumber on the side with some sauce. There was enough for two people to share so I say $5 is not a bad price for some sunomono.

The geso was quite a change in taste buds from the sunomono we had before it. The calamari was a little rough, but still quite tasty and the ponzu sauce was the best part of this appetizer. We could have dipped almost anything into the sauce and been happy. Although the geso wasn’t my favorite food of the night it was pretty good and I think I would try it again and see if maybe the chef just timed the cooking a little off on the appetizer. $6 is a great price for calamari. It is a nice switch from the usual calamari found in most restaurants and the batter was noticeably less greasy as well.

We decided to order four rolls and went with the K-Town Roll ($6), Lobster Tempura Roll ($6), SoHo Roll ($5), and Tuna Fresh Roll ($7). They came rather quickly and it wasn’t long before we had a pile of food in front of us. The Lobster Tempura Roll (top right) was tasty on the inside, but the outside tasted a little odd…like the tempura didn’t reach the amount of crunch one desires when having a tempura roll. Still definitely worth the price, but a little off what we wanted.

The fish was good in the other rolls, but the mayo was a little off-putting. My friend mentioned that the mayo tasted American and I couldn’t help but agree. The mayo was detracting from the roll and indeed the two rolls that had mayo on them would have been better without it. On the other hand, the rice paper was a refreshing change from your average sushi roll and kept the sushi from becoming too heavy. I also thought the tuna and salmon were both appetizing and my friend commented that the tempura chips were great.

Overall, I would say the sushi at SoHo Sushi North was good, but not the best I have had. They face fierce competition in the area with Tomo Sushi and Joy of Tokyo within a few minutes of driving distance and Tokyo Sushi Japanese Restaurant down on Fowler Avenue. SoHo is really a seller because of the good deals they offer with their Happy Hour and USF 10% student discount that few sushi restaurants will match nearby. With the rough economic times everyone faces today you can’t deny a good deal.

As we were about to close our check we decided we would have some dessert and order their fried ice cream for $6 (pictured below). The ice cream tasted satisfactory (not too sweet and the fried piece on top was a pleasant finish) and was a nice close to our meal.

Soho Sushi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: SoHo Sushi North

Cuisine: Japanese

Neighborhood: USF

Address: 2826 E. Bearss Avenue Tampa, Florida 33613

Phone Number: 813.977.8744

Website: http://www.sohosushinorth.com

Food Charity

Hope For Japan: Charity Dinner and Candlelight Vigil @ USF Tampa

“We all know of the devastation that happened in Japan on March 11, 2011.

-A deadly 8.9 earthquake and a massive 23 foot tsunami stormed the country
-The effects of this natural disaster has killed over 10,000 innocent people and left over 500,000 homeless and thousands have been without power
-The effects of these disasters are devastating, still lingering within Japan and they need our help!

We need to come together as the University of South Florida and show that we care and we want to help this country in need.

Together as one we will make the difference…

Hope for Japan Charity Dinner and Vigil
Date: 4/7/11 5pm-7:30pm
Location: MLK Plaza

All donations will go to Charity
$5 per ticket
Enjoy speakers and performances
Tickets will be sold at the event
Raffles will be sold off. Come out and win gift certificates and other things for donating to Japan relief!

Food provided by:
Sushi Tsu
The Rack
Hiro’s
China First Buffet
Tum Nak Thai

Hosted by:
Japanese Club at USF
Chinese Culture Language Club
Vietnamese Student Association
Korean American Student Association
Asia Students in America
Red Cross Club
WWAKE
Association of Filipino Students
Khmer Student Organization
INTO at USF
Sigma Beta Rho
alpha Kappa Delta phi
Pi Delta Psi

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=189918907719216

Reviews

Bangkok Jazz

Bangkok Jazz is a restaurant that I passed on my way to school maybe 600 times or more in the time that I’ve been a university student in Tampa. The Victorian-style building always caught my eye, but before I could read the sign I would already be passing 56th street and speeding away. Bangkok Jazz’s choice of location may not be the best spot, they are more or less not visible to drivers who are passing by, but the venue itself is a beautiful and unique setup for Thai restaurant.

The outside has a picnic table and is surrounded by Victorian-style architecture, perfect for an outdoor lunch date during a beautiful sunny day. Inside, the restaurant has your typical Thai setup on the left side of the restaurant with lavish gold decorations. The right side of the restaurant is where the restaurant is unique. The stage for local jazz performers is surrounded by red walls and a bar. The tables are made of fine wood and the overall feeling of the room is romantic. Although, I wasn’t able to see a live performer during my visit I did see the stage and watched them practicing. It looked like restaurant diners were in a for a treat.

For an appetizer I decided to order their Cococnut Chicken Soup ($2.95). It was savory, but also not the best I have had in terms of flavor of the broth. I enjoyed the ingredients inside which really brought it some zest with the exception of the mushrooms they used…which I really didn’t care for. It was pretty big bowl for the price so quite a good deal.

The Chicken Pad Thai ($9.95) came out quickly. Probably not even 10 minutes after ordering. The Pad Thai looked much darker than the Pad Thai I have had at any other Thai place in Tampa. There was plenty of sauce and flavor to it and it was large. The chicken was great, probably some of the best I had in a Pad Thai. They used lots of vegetables, plenty of peppers, bean sprouts, and scallions. The waiter was satisfactory, but he had a slight language barrier.

Overall, Bangkok Jazz was a good experience. I want to return for lunch and try sitting outside, lunch prices here are pretty cheap ($5.95).

Bangkok Jazz on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Bangkok Jazz

Cuisine: Thai

Adddress: 6840 E Fowler Ave.Temple Terrace, FL 33617

Phone Number: (813) 374-8879

Neighborhood: USF

Website: http://www.bangkokjazztampa.com/

Reviews

Wood Fired Pizza Wine Bar

Part of my USF Dining Guide

Wood Fired Pizza Wine Bar is a unique experience into pizza. When most people think of a pizza joint, they think of fountain soda machines, kids screaming and running around the place, and large families taking a trip out to eat. Wood Fired Pizza is none of those things. Wood Fired Pizza is elegant and a great place to take a date or a close friend, I have seen plenty of people on dates during visits. The restaurant is dimly lit and the tables and chairs aren’t what you find in a normal pizza restaurant, they are sleek and stylish. My friend and I decided to order their Michaelangelo pizza during our last visit (House Made Fresh Mozzarella, Pepperoni, San Marzano Tomatoes, Caramelized Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Organic Herbs) Grandi size ($20). The waitress during our visit was very friendly and helpful throughout our meal and the pizza expert himself, Peter Taylor, came to our table to let us sample a slice of a new pizza he was concocting made out of pork. My friend and I agreed it was the best free sample we have ever had.

Our pizza was a work of art. Each part of it from the crust, to the sauce and cheese, and the toppings was enjoyable. The onions and mushrooms were sweet and crunchy, melting away in our mouths. The cheese and sauces were unique and flavorful. The crust had a crunch to it. Any piece of our pizza that might fall off was instantly picked up with a fork and consumed. The flavor of the pizza hasn’t been matched by any place in Tampa that I have visited. Everything tastes so fresh, it is hard to relate the pizza to other pizzas because most pizza places try and fail to deliver this level of quality in a pizza. Normally after eating a bunch of pizza you feel a little sick because of all the grease that you just put into your body, but Wood Fired Pizza left us feeling great. One thing we haven’t been able to try yet that we want to try is their vintage sodas.

At the end of our meal the waitress brought us the dessert menu, but we were too full to try anything. The cannoli caught our eye and we debated for about twenty to thirty minutes before deciding we just too full. Wood Fired Pizza is located near the University of South Florida on Bearss Ave. near Soho Sushi and Collegiate Hall. The price range may be a little bit too high for a college students budget, but splitting the bill with a few friends may remedy that. The pizza creations at Wood Fired are worth the prices, in my opinion. Wood Fired also offers beer and wine specials on various nights and a happy hour (check their website for details on that). If you’re ever craving pizza and want to take a date out or go to dinner with a few friends, drive over to Wood Fired and experience pizza in a way you never have before.

Wood Fired Pizza Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Wood Fired Pizza Wine Bar

Cuisine: Pizza

Address: 2822 E Bearss Ave. Tampa, FL 33613

Phone Number: (813) 341-2900

Neighborhood: USF

Website: http://wood-firedpizza.com/

Reviews

Joy of Tokyo

Joy of Tokyo is a new restaurant in New Tampa by the University of South Florida. I dined there by a twist of fate when a friend and I found Soho Sushi closed at 2PM. We found Joy of Tokyo to be open for lunch still (they are open from 11am-10pm daily…you won’t find many sushi restaurants with hours like that). There were a few tables being waited on, but we were quickly acknowledged and allowed to pick our seat. The restaurant has a modern feel with plenty of decorations and it’s spacious so you don’t feel crammed next to other people dining there.

What a cool little crab.

My friend and I were hungry and found ourselves in luck. Joy of Tokyo has a $6.99 lunch special where you an order Chicken, Shrimp, or Steak in Teriyaki, Hibachi, or Tempura Style (they also have tempura vegetables). Normally this can cost well over $15, talk about a deal. Even their Dinner prices are under $12. My friend and I decided to share hibachi steak and noodles. We also ordered another special, Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables.

Gazing at the sushi menu at Joy of Tokyo we saw two sushi specials, 2 basic rolls for $8 or 3 for $10. Why not we said? So we ordered a Yellowtail Scallion Roll, California Roll, and Salmon Avocado Roll. My friend also had an Unagi nigiri. The orders were put in promptly and we quickly received our food.

The noodles tasted great, perhaps the most flavorful hibachi noodles I have had (normally at a Japanese steakhouse you have to add some kind of sauce to make it have some flavor) in Tampa Bay. My friend said they reminded her of drunk noodles. There was plenty of steak and it was cooked all the way, but still juicy. We could have probably been filled with just this plate, but there was more to come…

The sushi rolls were a little smaller then some restaurants, but still a good size for the price. The rolls were very fresh, I have to say that I enjoyed every bite of them without needing to dip them in any soy sauce. Some people argue that California Rolls taste the same everywhere, but there really is a difference in the quality of the rice, seaweed, and crab inside. The same rule applies to salmon, I am a bit of a salmon nazi…if my salmon is not fresh I instantly can tell and this salmon was fantastic. They weren’t cheap with the avocado either, there was balance in the roll. I was impressed because I originally thought that this restaurant was more of a Japanese steakhouse, but they did a great job with their sushi as well.

My friend’s unagi nigiri looked quite appetizing as well.

The tempura was also impressive. It has to be one of the best tempuras I have had in Tampa Bay. The batter wasn’t too thick and it wasn’t too oily inside. The shrimp tempura was crunchy and somewhat similar to the excellent tempura I have enjoyed in the past at I Ai Sushi (who I consider to be the Tampa King of Japanese authentic cuisine). The Tempura sauce was good, but a little bit messy to dip in (I’d put a napkin under it next time).

Brown rice came with my friend’s tempura. I will admit I am not much of a rice consumer so my friend ate it. She enjoyed it.

Overall, I found myself to be very pleased with Joy of Tokyo. The food and serve was on point and after my meal, I conversed with the owner who was very friendly and personable. She told me that they came all the way from Ohio down her to Tampa to setup business. With Joy of Tokyo being a short drive from USF (pro tip: take the shortcut on 42nd street), it is an easy draw in for college students and employees/residents in New Tampa and Temple Terrace. The hours are friendly to people who can’t make the typical 12 to 2 lunch openings at other sushi restaurants and the deals are attractive to the wallet in this economic climate. They also have free Wi-Fi (great for iPod Touch users like me and businessmen). I’ll be back soon!


Joy of Tokyo Sushi & Grille on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Joy of Tokyo

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 14913 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Tampa, FL 33613

Phone Number: 813-978-8222

Neighborhood: USF

Website: http://joyoftokyo-newtampa.com/

Reviews

Tomo Sushi

My friend and I have been planning to eat at Tomo Sushi for months, but something always comes up. We finally had a chance to have lunch yesterday, and I really enjoyed my first visit to this sushi restaurant. It’s located near USF on Bearss a short drive from Campus Lodge or Collegiate Hall. We were seated right when we entered.

They have some visual representations of things on the menu on the table and the menu has a few pictures as well. After spending some time deciding I decided to have the Tomo Lunch Box, a bento (おべんと) box ($10.95) which comes with one piece of salmon, one piece of tuna,  teriyaki chicken, rice, 4 pieces of California Roll, tempura shrimp and vegetables, miso soup, and salad. It didn’t sound like much at first thought, but I was stuffed in just a short while. My friends ordered some sushi rolls from their sushi menu.

The Ginger Salad was excellent! Not the best I have had, but up there with plenty of ginger sauce that didn’t make the salad bland, but kept it tasteful down to the bottom.

The Miso Soup was also pretty good, plenty of seaweed and tofu inside, however it did taste a little too much like onion powder.

The Tomo Lunch Box was excellent. There was plenty of food. The salmon and tuna nigiri tasted great and fresh. The California Rolls were good, but I probably take out the cucumber from them on a future visit. The tempura was great and the shrimp tempura is some of the best I have had in quite some time. They included plenty of teriyaki chicken and rice with several vegetables in the mix as well. It was more than enough to feed one person and well worth ($10.95).

My friends with their sushi.

I really like the decor inside of Tomo. You can see the booths are very personal and have dividers in between booths separating your party from other ones in the restaurant. There are paintings on the walls of fish and a number of traditional Japanese paintings around the restaurant. The sushi bar also looks nice and I would like to sit there in the future. They play some traditional music in the background as well, which is low enough to allow your party to have a nice conversation, but still enjoy some music while dining.

Mmm looks appetizing.

Overall, the food was great and service was on point. They have a number of Korean BBQ dining options as well, being Korean owned so I will have to return in the future to try their Bulgogi or Galbi. Tomo has traditional Japanese food as well such as Yakisoba, Don Katsu, and various types of Udon. I’ll be back in the future.

Tomo Japanese Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Tomo Japanese Sushi Bar

Cuisine: Japanese, Korean

Address: 15021 N Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33613

Neighborhood: North Tampa

Phone Number: (813) 962-1560