At Thai Sweet Basil, chefs shun frozen produce and MSG, instead championing fresh, all-natural ingredients for their menu of traditional Thai cuisine. They simmer five varieties of curries, serving them with fragrant mounds of jasmine rice, and fry up classic noodle dishes, such as pad thai and sweet-basil fried rice. They also plate delicacies such as soft-shell crab with green curry and snapper marinated in tamarind. All the recipes and cooking techniques that they use were developed over the centuries in the Thai royal palace. Servers weave between sunny walls and maroon booths bordering a dining room speckled with emerald fronds, exotic artwork, and linens as white and untarnished as a snowman's criminal record.
Chefs at La Casa Della Pasta embellish pastas, gnocchi, and desserts made in-house with handfuls of imported Italian ingredients, including eggplant and mozzarella. As owner Enrique Tangari told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011, "I import everything, flour, water, tomatoes, cheeses … to make any kind of pasta dish you want, on the menu or not." His commitment to imported flavor also extends to the restaurant's drink menu, which features wines made from such traditional Italian varietals as pinot grigio, sangiovese, and nebbiolo, as well as beers with suspiciously small amounts of fermented grape juice.
"In street food, one can find the true spirit and culture of the local people." With this one statement on its website, the Flight Restaurant & Lounge team sums up the impetus for its entire restaurant. At the modern eatery, visitors can celebrate a cross-section of global flavors and culinary traditions that have been passed down through generations by both written recipes and subliminal messaging in top-40 songs. The menu spotlights dishes from around the world, including Cuba, the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Pakistan—each crafted with authentic ingredients such as fried plantains and pickled okra.
The perfume of warming spices permeates the vibrant lounge, which often hosts live music and displays the works of local artists in a gallery section. The gallery, illuminated by overhead spotlights arranged in the shape of an airplane, donates 100% of its proceeds to the artists and charities including Instruments 4 Life, Global Community Outreach, and Advocates for World Health.
Though she was a successful restaurateur in her home country of Estonia, Sigrid Bratic could not shake her dream to share her beloved recipes with the United States. In 2004, she took the plunge, moving to Florida and opening the first Little Greek. Enter restaurant entrepreneur Nick Vojnovic. Nick was so dazzled by the eatery––its locally sourced produce coupled with a friendly ambiance—that he decided to help Sigrid take Florida's Greek-food scene by storm.
Today, Little Greek is a thriving franchise, with nearly a dozen locations in Florida and Texas. Each of these restaurants serves Sigrid's recipes that include housemade hummus, meat and rice dolmades, grilled-chicken pitas, and baklava. And because the eateries are BYOB, diners can complement meals with their own beer or wine.
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).
Shogun Sushi's Manhattan-trained chef rolls a bounty of eye-catching sushi rolls alongside the menu's eclectic selection of classic Japanese entrees. Appetizers include beef negimaki ($6.25), thin slices of teriyaki-broiled beef that wrap themselves around zesty scallions to disguise themselves as sushi rolls in an attempt to fool steak-knife search parties. Fried asparagus, bacon, and tuna entwine within the Longly Angel roll ($13.95), crowned with three kinds of fresh fish and a rainbow of colorful tobiko, and the Russian Roulette roll ($11.95) protects its tender interior of spicy tuna, masago, and cucumber with a vivid shield of tuna and spicy mayo. The kitchen also whips up a range of grilled and golden-fried delights, including teriyaki, tempura, and curry dishes ($10.95–$18.95), which complement uncooked edibles like a midnight french-fry soirée in the grocery store produce aisle.