Named for the indigenous peppers dwelling in the Mexican state of Puebla, Poblanos uses the freshest ingredients for its selection of south-of-the-border sustenance. Vaqueros exhausted from a day of roping piñatas can unwind with a libation from Poblanos' extensive bar, such as the Margarita Poblano ($9) or a pitcher of the house margarita ($16.99), as they nosh on the restaurant's complimentary chips and salsa. Come entrée time, diners have no lack of flour-tortilla'd options, as Poblanos boasts an array of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. The grilled-steak Burrito Grande ($9.99) rolls meat, onions, beans, rice, queso dip, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream into a zesty zarape, while the Tacos Suprema ($8.99 for two tacos, $9.99 for three), available in both hard shell and the easier-to-talk-to soft shell, can be stuffed with ground beef, shredded chicken, or refried beans. Diners with eyes and stomachs in comparably large sizes can opt for the chimichangas ($8.99 and up), which account for the third-largest land mass in the state of Florida at any given time.
The sound of the sizzling skillet is as regular as a rooster's crow each morning at Rodie’s Restaurant & Pancake House. Before long, the wait staff is delivering skillets, omelets and crepe creations to diners eagerly clutching their forks, knifes, and maple-tree taps. As the afternoon sun perches high in the sky, the lunch crowd lingers to enjoy greek salads and triple-decker sandwiches paired with a collection of homemade soups.
The chefs at Taverna Skara never stray far from garlic, tahini, olive oil, and other quintessential Greek seasonings. Chilled dips, such as hummus, and warm appetizers, such as grilled haloumi cheese, kick off meals before waiters bring out rich entrees, such as pastitsio, which layers thick pasta, ground beef, and béchamel sauce inside a traditional clay pot. As diners sip Greek and Napa wines, they settle into blue pillow-topped banquettes beneath a mural of Greek figures draped in togas sewn from some of Zeus’s old curtains.
Licensed aesthetician Raye Toscano and her husband, Dr. Francis Toscano, operate Red Bamboo Medi Spa, a facility that marries aesthetic treatments with nonsurgical, medical-grade therapies. Their services, which recently garnered the spa a Best Aesthetics Practice award at The Aesthetics Show in Las Vegas as well as recognition in Tampa Bay Business Journal's 2012 Best in the Biz spa category, cosmetically enhance both the face and body. SmartLipo mimics liposuction treatments with fiber-optic lasers, and a four-layer face lift topically banishes dead skin with enzymes, glycolic acid, and mini exorcisms.
When Nick Pappas noticed the popularity of the guacamole at his first restaurant, Flamestone Grill, he was struck by an idea: to open an eatery that fused the classic meats of an American grill with Latin American influences. His idea comes to life at Besa Grill, where Nick and his team infuse Latin flavors into each aspect of the meal, including the salsa-dancing salt shakers, starting with five varieties of guacamole that servers make tableside using creative ingredients such as mangos and applewood-smoked bacon. Besa Grill experiments with different pairings, such as ceviche scoops served in half-avocados or street tacos loaded with baja shrimp. At the core, however, Nick anchors the restaurant in fresh grilled meats and seafood. He ages Chicago Angus beef for a minimum of 28 days and partners with a local vendor to import daily batches of fresh fish directly from Poseidon's underwater farms.Nick's efforts have caught the attention of Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley, who lauded the restaurant for its seafood, inventive guacamole, and "stylish margaritas," writing "sweetness is reined in and excellent tequilas employed." She also took notice of Besa Grill's atmosphere and wrote, "cool black glass pendants hang over the bar; black and white carpeting hints at animal print; a grove of gnarled, bejeweled trees separates two halves of the dining room."
Every time a guest orders from Tuscano Grille's savory menu, an angel-hair noodle cries, knowing that its fate has been decided. Start with buttermilk-battered fried artichokes and mushrooms with horseradish-cream sauce ($7.95), or mix up a bowl of greens tossed among pears, gorgonzola, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries in a honey-poppy-seed vinaigrette ($7.95). Off the grill, main-plate options include the 6-ounce filet mignon ($18.95), regarded as the swordfish of the land, and the 8-ounce swordfish steak ($18.95), regarded as a tenant in most seaman's stomachs.