Hi Fla Hounds! I just spent 3 lovely days in Tampa for a conference (from Boston) and wanted to share my experiences. First of all, thanks to all of you for your wonderful posts, they really led us to some nice meals.
Our first night we went to Columbia in Ybor City and had a great meal. We had the 1905 salad to start and liked it so much, we bought the salad dressing to take home- let's hope it survives the plane trip!. We split an order of empanadas, which were excellent. I had the special fish wrapped in ham and cooked in parchment- very nice but a bit underseasoned. My husband had boliche, which he raved about. I got churros for dessert, and LOVED them, he had guava tart, and loved it. While this restaurant certainly does not strike me as a "drop in for a quick bite" place, it was certainly an experience, and we got the impression that they had the whole thing down to a science. Very enjoyable and tasty.
We played hooky one afternoon and went to Clearwater for lunch and the beach. We ate at Frenchy's original cafe. Stone crab claws for starters were good, but MAN are they hard to get out of the shell! I had boiled shrimp to follow which was very good and fresh, my husband had the grouper sandwich- very tasty.
The second night we went with a group of 8 to Sideberns. Various plates were shared. Notable among them were the beef tartare, seared tuna, endive salad with duck confit and the foie gras. Very nice dry rose champagne as an accompanyment (sorry, I never did see the label on it). Excellent meal, great service, nice room if a bit loud.
For our last night the husband and I decided to keep it low key and went to Cinebistro in Hyde Park so that we could actually see a movie that does not involve animated animals (sometimes it IS nice to leave the kids with the grandparents!). What a pleasant night that turned out to be! I had a salad with dried cherries, various nuts and goat cheese on greens to start and a very tasty fish taco. My husband had the special seared flounder. Both were quite good, AND there was a great movie to watch too! ("The Artist", I recommend it).
It's been a great visit , thanks again for all the recommendations! We hope to come again some time.