A Food Adventure in Tampa Bay

Originally posted on Blogger on April 25, 2011

I spent the last couple of days in the Tampa Bay area, managing to travel through seven (I think it was seven) counties in the process. I ate a TON, and most of it was amazing. I had bought a Groupon for The Brunchery in Tampa, so I headed there first. I’ve got to be honest, after reading all of the good reviews The Brunchery had online, I was a little disappointed. In fact, had I not had the Groupon, I would’ve been very disappointed. I ordered the lox omelet, which came with home fries and toast, and an iced tea. I’m wondering if maybe their sweet breakfast items are better than their savory ones, as those were the ones most touted online. Nothing I ate was bad, and the home fries were actually pretty good, but the omelet, which was advertised as being full of “lox, onions, tomatoes, and cream cheese,” had what appeared to be just salmon inside, not actual thinly sliced smoked salmon (lox!!). Other than that, though, it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed my food, and I left full, I just did not get as high a quality experience as I’d expected.

Oh! While this isn’t exactly a food-eating adventure, it is still worth sharing. While stopping for Starbucks on my travels, my supreme nose for a bargain (have I mentioned I’m Jewish? Ohhhh stereotypes!) sniffed out an excellent find. There was a gourmet supermarket and deli that was open for its very last day. That made me sad, as once I stepped inside it looked like an amazing place for out of the ordinary cooking finds. However, because it was their last day, they were running a special “we need to get rid of everything” sale. A plastic shopping bag could be filled with products for $10, and a shopping basket for $30. If it hadn’t been the last hour of the last day, I could have easily filled a shopping basket or two. However, the pickings were a bit slim, so I stuck with one bag. Boy, though, did we manage to cram a lot in one shopping bag! I can’t wait to start looking for recipes to use the random things I purchased (from pure pink Himalayan garlic salt to Java Rub to rose water to mirin); I’d say there was at least $70 worth of stuff in there.

I had done some searching for places to eat before heading out west and so had several to choose from for lunch that day. I had hoped to try out several food trucks in Tampa but frankly, it doesn’t appear that there are many! I found three, one of which had two locations. Their website menu sounded amazing, and it was right in the area, so I headed over to The Taco Bus. I ordered a fish taco and a taco with barbacoa, as well as an horchata. The tacos were amazing, especially the barbacoa one. Simply made, the taco was deliciously stewed and spiced beef, white cheese, cabbage, onions, and pickled onions wrapped in two corn tortillas. The fish taco was small chunks of white fish fried in a beer batter, crema, cabbage, white and pickled onions, cilantro, and diced tomatoes. I am normally not a fan of cilantro or raw tomatoes, so I pulled some of those off, but left a small amount of each inside the corn tortillas. I had seen horchata on the Food Network before, and so I was dying to try the odd-sounding drink comprised of rice, condensed milk, and cinnamon. Unfortunately, especially since they gave me a HUGE styrofoam cupful, the drink just didn’t do it for me. The texture and flavors were fine, but it was just too cloyingly sweet for me. After about three or four sips I had to give up and just buy a bottle of water.

My last food stop of my Tampa excursion was at Keegan’s Seafood Grille, a restaurant in Indian Rocks Beach featured on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives a few years ago. I had spent the afternoon at the awesome public beach right across the street, so I walked into the restaurant still in my bathing suit, flip flops, and cover-up dress and no one batted an eye. That, people, is why I love tiny beach towns! Well, that and the ocean and the overall laid-back atmosphere. Keegan’s is in an area that is clearly a total hidden gem, and the people that visit and live there seem to want to keep it that way. Frankly, I don’t blame them. I plan to return as soon as I can.

My camera on my phone died in a major way yesterday, so I was unable to take any photos of my meal at Keegan’s. As a result, any photos posted from here on out were snagged off of google images. I take no credit for them, I promise!

For dinner, I ordered way too much food. There were just so many things to try!! I of course had to try their she-crab soup, as it is mentioned on EVERY review I read prior to my visit. I can see why; it was amazing. Creamy, with shredded crab meat throughout and chunks of claw meat as well, I couldn’t help but order a second bowl to go so that I could enjoy it back at my hotel later that night (I was actually so full that evening that I ended up eating it for breakfast this morning. Shhhhh….don’t tell anyone!!).

Next I tried the Oysters Rockefeller. I had never had oysters before, so I was really looking forward to this. I LOVE shellfish of any kind, so I hoped to love these too, and I was not disappointed. The oyster meat itself was succulent and delicious, and the spinach and cheese on top was also tasty without overpowering the oyster. Next time, though, I want to try steamed oysters on their own. I’ve found that shellfish in general is almost always best when done simply.

For my actual entree I got the soft shell crab sandwich. Softshell crab was also new to me, and so I couldn’t wait to try that, either. The entire crab was fried and served on an onion roll with lettuce, lemon, and a mustard spread. SO GOOD. I was absolutely not disappointed.
So that’s it for my little weekend escape. Driving down Gulf Blvd, I couldn’t help but comment on how many more places I passed that I’d love to try out, so I will definitely be back!
In the meantime, though, I had lunch today at the Korean BBQ Taco Box again, this time trying the spicy pork taco box. I can’t decide whether I preferred that or the beef one from the other night, but gosh are they both good!
Also, while I probably won’t make it out to the Food Pod in Maitland or at Firestone Live this week, I can’t wait for Food Truck Bazaar #2 on Sunday night!

Brunchery on Urbanspoon

Keegan's Seafood Grille on Urbanspoon

That’s all I’ve got, for now. Follow me on Twitter @orlndofoodie 🙂


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