Tag Archives: Tampa

Road Report: The Rob at The Independent in Tampa, Florida

TheRob_Weck

This entry represents the convergence, in a way, of several separate narratives. Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: The Hawaiian Grouper at Hula Bay

The Hawaiian grouper sandwich at Hula Bay, Tampa.

The Hawaiian grouper sandwich at Hula Bay, Tampa.

Is it a good thing when a side order and dipping sauces overshadow the sandwich you’ve ordered at a restaurant you’re eating at for the first time? The glass-half-full answer is of course, that experiencing any sort of gustatory joy is a worthy achievement, even if it’s the consumption of a pile of petal-cut fries and some spicy sweet and sour sauce. Another point of view (roughly) parallels the old saw that one will often return to an eatery with poor service if the food is outstanding, but superb service will not attract return visits if the food is unremarkable. I can’t imagine saying to myself: “Gee, the fries at that place are really good — let’s go there!”

Because the fries at Hula Bay, located deep in South Tampa off Westshore Boulevard near MacDill Air Force Base, are really superb. As you can tell, the analogy with “service” is imperfect, but I hope you get my point. The place has much besides the fries to recommend it for a return visit (not the least of which is a great rum-runner, that staple of waterfront Florida dining and drinking). And the fried grouper nuggets are dipped in beer and crushed cornflakes before their swim in the oil. Outstanding, and accompanied by more of that delicious deep-red sweet and sour sauce. In hindsight, I probably should’ve used that sauce on my sandwich instead of the lime tartar sauce (house-made, according to our server, for what that’s worth; the cole slaw is also “made to order”). Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: The Veal Schnitzel Reuben at Mr. Dunderbak’s

Breaded veal cutlet, Thousand Island, sauerkraut and swiss on grilled rye.

Breaded veal cutlet, Thousand Island, sauerkraut and swiss on grilled rye.

I know I’m not the only one who watched the Berlin episode of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and was totally sold on schnitzel. Right? Not the only one who thought to myself, “Pounded, tenderized, breaded, deep-fried veal, and somehow I’ve never given this dish much thought,” right?

On another note, it’s a great feeling when you discover that “signature” item on a menu, and you know it’s what you will go to that restaurant for, you almost come to identify that place with the meal and nothing else. It might be the crispy szechuan pork at Rice Bowl in Tallahassee, or the lamb tibs at Dukem in Washington, D.C. In this case, it is my sandwich discovery of the year in the Tampa area: the Veal Schnitzel Reuben at Mr. Dunderbak’s. Continue reading

Cubans in D.C.: A Random Sampling

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There are two prominent claimants to the title of Home of the Cuban Sandwich in the U.S., and neither is the District of Columbia. Naturally, one is Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The other is Ybor City, a historic district located just north of downtown Tampa, Florida, notable for its roots as a cigar-producing company town and as a first stop for immigrants arriving from Cuba and elsewhere. Ignoring the obvious disagreement over the true birthplace of the sandwich itself, the rival locales agree on these base ingredients: roasted pork, ham, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread. Otherwise, Ybor’s inclusion of salami, a result of the presence of Italian immigrants in the area, would seem to be the lone sandwich-related point of contention.

Although we’ve done an unhealthy amount of reportage on the Cubano on this blog, it has all been courtesy of my brother Chris, a Tampa resident and author of our Gulf Coasting column. We have yet to spotlight any of the fantastic versions available here in Our Nation’s Capital, meaning that until this week I had no excuse to eat numerous heavy, pork-laden sandwiches in a single weekend. This situation has now been happily resolved, and so, with some help from our resident Cuban sandwich expert and without further ado, here is a somewhat random sampling of a few of our favorite Cuban sandwiches in D.C. Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: Datz’s Chicken and Waffle BLT

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The Chicken and Waffle BLT… kind of.

BY CHRISTOPHER NANK, GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT

“We don’t have that anymore.”

Heartbreak. The the last thing a questing diner wants to hear is exactly what I was told upon taking a seat at Datz and ordering the South Tampa gastro-deli’s Chicken and Waffle BLT. I know Datz, a popular destination among locals and visiting luminaries for brunch, sandwiches and inventive cocktails, regularly rotates items in and out of their menu. But considering the recent local fascination with chicken and waffles, not to mention the fact that mere moments before placing my order I had spotted one of the sandwiches being bussed through the dining area, I admit to being a little nonplussed. Why remove an item so obviously in demand?

Perhaps sensing my desperation, our server mercifully agreed to cobble one together by making several alterations to the Smokey and the Bird, substituting fried for smoked chicken and two waffle sections (not the ideally sized for this purpose) for a sourdough bun. Sigh. So it is. Continue reading