Moe Elkasri and his fellow citizens of Pita’s Republic deftly balance good taste and good health, like Jackie Onassis’s tracksuit collection. These stuffers of edible envelopes hew to such practices as making their tzatziki sauce from low-fat yogurt, never using frozen chicken, and sweetening their smoothies with honey-green tea. For more details about the tangy blend of fitness and deliciousness, check out the company’s nutritional information.
Sakura Asian Cuisine seamlessly blends the diverse culinary traditions of China, Thailand, and Japan with an extensive menu of hand-rolled maki, sashimi, hibachi steaks, sizzling chicken, and seafood sautéed in a wok. The elegant, yet casual restaurant treats visitors to sumptuous meals of grilled sea bass, lobster tempura, and soba noodles. Like a finely shredded Impressionist painting, each maki roll is a kaleidoscopic of tiny slivers of color, with deep reds of tuna, pink salmon, green avocado, and orange tobiko.
The chefs at Neighborhood Bistro like to keep diners on their toes. Every month, they switch up the menu—some months they pot-fry gator, and other months they poach flounder in champagne, or dish out tiny Frankensteins. Well, cupcakes shapes like Frankenstein, with bulbous, yellow frosting eyes and red, stitched mouths. Those confectionary flourishes give a sense of the balance between casual atmosphere and gourmet food that characterizes Neighborhood Bistro. That blend is reflected in their menus, as well. For example, breakfast sometimes sees entrees such as Brioche French Toast Brule—brioche coated in cinnamon custard before the chef caramelizes it with his laser vision.
Twenty miles. That's the longest distance any cut of fish, chicken, or beef travels before it arrives in front of Chef Rafy Rosario at The Shrimp Warehouse. With an emphasis on local ingredients, he crafts a surf 'n' turf menu that fuses Creole, Cajun, Southern, and Caribbean flavors. He fills baskets with pink shrimp straight from Tampa's docks and loads plates high with fried shrimp, fish, and scallops served with fries, hushpuppies, and shrimp coleslaw. His 36-inch shrimp po' boy challenges the hungriest of diners and is free to those who can finish it in one sitting. Unlike professors at the University of Atlantis, his expertise extends beyond the ocean; he also hand-trims chicken and grills slabs of sirloin steak.
The restaurant's decor echoes the menu's ocean flavors. Outside the restaurant's entrance, two giant shrimp welcome guests into a space marked by exposed-brick walls and rich wood furniture. Life vests line the walls, and tables sit beneath the actual shrimp boat used by our tiny ancestors.
The owners at The Oaks grew up in the area, and they treat their restaurant almost like a second home. This isn't just because their restaurant physically resembles a house, with its cavernous screened-in porch and french doors. It's primarily because community is important to them, and they make it their mission to define The Oaks by its welcoming, homey environment. It's also a point of pride to the owners that much of their staff has worked there since The Oaks opened in 2000, after the Y2K panic subsided and restaurants could once more sell noncanned food. To craft upscale comfort and pub food from scratch, the owners mined their families' recipe books. The result? Ribs, fried mac 'n' cheese, grilled-grouper reubens, and a slew of beefy burgers savored both indoors and under the patio's strung-up lights and parasols.
• For $15, you get two entrees (up to a $13.95 value each) and two nonalcoholic fountain drinks (up to a $2.30 value each) during lunch (up to a $32.50 total value). • For $25, you get one appetizer (up to an $11.95 value), two entrees (up to a $16.99 value each), and two margaritas (a $7.75 value each) during dinner (up to a $61.43 total value).
The sports-centric atmosphere at The Mulligan’s Pub lures big game-revelers with sports-beaming TVs and a menu of classic grill favorites. Kick off an ocular sports feast with appetizers such as homemade fried pickles battered, fried, and shot out of a T-shirt cannon onto plates ($6). The nurturing hoosier strom coddles ground beef, pepperoni, and saucy Italian marinara inside a doughy sleeping bag ($7), and juicy prime-rib sandwiches travel mouthward via hoagie-roll palanquin ($9). The Mr. October, a lemon-pepper-rubbed haddock hoagie, transforms stomach rumblings into nearly inaudible whimpers and takes its name from the famed inventor of Halloween ($9). Before going toe-to-toe with hearty entrees, and after thumb-wrestling with to-go boxes for possession of leftovers, patrons tipple draft brews from a collection of 16 domestic beers.