Rand Packer grew up in Southern California, but his love of food and surfing frequently drew him to Oaxaca, Mexico, where he explored the region’s culinary landscape by stopping at street vendors and tucked-away restaurants. The uniqueness of Oaxacan ingredients, combined with a decade of experience cooking in Hawaii under famed chef Roy Yamaguchi, eventually inspired him to open Mekenita Mexican Grille. There, Rand surprises diners with unexpected creations that fuse Mexican and Hawaiian influences, such as pineapple-plantain nachos with passion-fruit sour cream or wood-smoked pork burritos with pineapple-papaya salsa. Patrons can also customize their meals by taking a lap around the fresh-salsa bar or monogramming their plates.
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.