John Pappas didn’t know much English when he first arrived on American soil, but he did know the secrets of cooking excellent Greek cuisine. The native Greek passed on his recipes and expert techniques to his son Nicholas, who would go on to open his own Mediterranean restaurant—Greek City Cafe.
Deep in his restaurant’s kitchen, Nicholas and his chefs fold juicy meats and fresh vegetables into a variety of Greek-inspired paninis, wraps, and salads. They layer pitas with juicy slices of shaved lamb and beef before adding dollops of flavorful tzatziki and creamy greek dressing. To craft specialty pizzas, the chefs shower soft pita shells in mixed cheeses, diced tomatoes, and grilled chicken. When discussing these dishes with a reporter from Westchase Patch, Nicholas explained, “We take a mainstream item and put a Greek twist to it. I make them feel comfortable, but when they taste it they realize they've never experienced that flavor.”
In the casual dining room, where sunlight streams onto soft blue and green walls, guests can linger over their last bites of these inventive eats before ordering desserts such as baklava. Countertop seating surrounds a lush olive tree in the center of the room, which was imported from Greece and lives off of sunlight and Greek wine.
At Splash! An Ocean Grill, sounds of satisfaction emanate from guests nibbling on seared lobster, fish, or steak just like the sounds of the sea lapping the shore. A bar, located in the middle of the dining room, glows blue as soft lights evoke an under-the-waves mood and guests sip on a sweet cocktail or full-bodied wine while checking out the wall-mounted photographs. It's these details that inspired the Tampa Tribune to exclaim, "…Seafood done so well," Tampa Bay Illustrated to say, "Splash! shines like a spinning lure," and a mermaid off the bay to lament, "Why can't I grow legs?"
Serving 100% fresh ground beef and hand-spun milkshakes, Jake's Wayback Burgers keeps the light of classic American diner fare fully electrified. The menu reads like Moby Dick had Moby Dick been written about the transformation of never-frozen, all-beef patties into 3.3-, 6.6-, and 9.9-ounce burgers ($2.99–$7.09). Sides including the french fries ($2.09) and house-made chips ($1.99), while hand-dipped ice cream and milkshakes ($2.49 kids, $4.09 regular) in flavors including chocolate banana, coffee, and mint provide tasty post-meal temptation. Meat eschewers can also get in the game with the original gardenburger ($4.59) and grilled cheese sandwich ($2.69). Jake's Wayback Burgers stirs the menu pot with the Burger of the Month and Shake of the Month, giving completist burger collectors another prize to display on their shelves.
While House of Brews prides itself on its beer selection, it also features a hearty, upscale food menu. Find yourself appetized after polishing off a plate of drunken cheesy bread topped with tomatoes, onions, garlic, black olives, and blue-cheese crumbles ($8.99). Move on to a fresh salad ($3.99–$7.99, add chicken for $2) or one of the friendly sandwiches ($4.99–$9.99), such as mom’s homemade chicken salad on multi-grain bread with melty provolone ($8.99). On tap, the House of Brews collection includes familiar domestics such as Miller Lite ($3) and Blue Moon ($5), as well as some more adventurous varieties, such as Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Ale ($5) and heavier brews including Bell’s Two Hearted Ale ($7). The bottled beer assortment features 50 different domestics, microbrews, and imports, including the mighty 9.5% ABV Victory Golden Monkey ($6.50).
Ever since Chicago farmers first discovered that their cornfields only seemed to yield corn that tasted like yellow cheddar and caramel, adventurous agriculturists have cross-bred corn to create a rainbow of fanciful flavors. Taste the corny fruits of their labors with today's deal: for $15, you get $30 worth of gourmet popcorn and treats at Poplicious Gourmet Popcorn. Your Groupon is good at its physical location in Lutz or at its online store.