At Samurai Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, the chefs set out to create a fully engaging dining experience for guests, relying on showmanship and knife skills in addition to interesting flavor combinations. Surrounded by rich earth tones and in front of patrons' very eyes, they man gas-heated hibachi grills and juggle platefuls of steak, seafood, and vegetables into flashes of fire. Across the room, the sushi chefs avoid open flames and high-wattage light bulbs entirely as they roll a number of traditional and contemporary maki, filling each one with delicate cuts of fish and piquant dabs of sauce. Amid the bustle of flashing knives, sputtering grill tops, and standing ovations, flat-screen TVs also keep guests entertained at the restaurant's fully stocked bar.
Although aesthetician Julie MacMillan graduated among the top five students in her aesthetics program, she keeps her homey beauty outfit, Skin Care By Jewls, free of pretensions. Jewls is MacMillan's nickname and preferred moniker, and the tag reflects her friendly, easygoing attitude. During spa services she plays dreamy, tranquil music to compliment the low, cozy lighting.
Jewls became a board-certified permanent-makeup artist in 2008, building on the training she received in Arizona, where she exceeded 800 hours of education?well beyond Florida's requirements of 260 hours and a papier-m?ch? mockup of a pore. She reaches for products from Rhonda Allison and lavender wax imported from Italy to create radiant, smooth skin.
Family pictures hang from exposed brick walls inside the dining room at Gio Fabulous, making it feel like you've been invited into someone's Italian kitchen. The pizzeria is one of four restaurants owned by the Gio brothers, who got their start more than two decades ago, selling home-baked bread to local restaurants. Today, it's the restaurants pizza crust recipe that takes center stage. The dough is made fresh each day, hand-tossed, and topped with fresh mozzarella, chunky tomatoes, Parma prosciutto, and more. Their authentic Italian dishes also include housemade gnocchi bolognese and spaghetti frutta di mare tossed in white wine sauce. Their culinary expertise helps them curate a wine and dessert list worthy of such entrees.
Framed John Deere memorabilia covers the walls, and miniature tractors and cars fill a glass display case. A mural on the back wall depicts an iconic green tractor rolling through a pasture. But this isn't a John Deere museum; it's Tammy's Place, a Bradenton eatery that embraces its concept right down to the tractor-green vinyl of its booths and 50-acre cornfield in the main dining area.
The brother-and-sister team behind Tammy's Place has a few specialties they're known for in the area; among them, housemade sausage gravy and pancakes as large as the plates they're served on. Other favorites the duo designed include patty melts and sweet potato tots that have a high success rate when used in marriage proposals.
Since the Maganias family opened the first Astro Skate Family Fun Center in Tarpon Springs more than 32 years ago, customers have flocked to the skate rinks for birthday parties, summer camps, and family-friendly fun. At each location, a live DJ cranks out danceable tunes as skaters wheel and glide across a huge lacquered wood floor. Off-rink, kids compete for redemption prizes at a host of arcade games, or take flight in the safe confines of a cushy inflatable bounce house. Astro Skate Family Fun Center keeps things fresh with a schedule of special events, including jump-rope contests, foam parties, and roller-derby matches.
There's a reason that everyone refers to Tara Sell as Sweets. A true southern belle, Tara is not only sweet and friendly in demeanor, she spends most of her time in the Sweets' Bakehouse kitchen, whipping up a delightful array of sugary treats. Within her colorful turquoise shop—firmly rooted in Bradenton's Village of the Arts—Tara and her kitchen crew fold local Florida and Georgia produce and premium ingredients into creative cakes and inventive baked goods. This also extends to lunchtime, where customers have choices such as gourmet sandwiches and wraps. Throughout the year, Tara spreads her culinary expertise amongst aspiring cooks during her fun and informative cooking classes.