During World War I, Greek immigrant Louis Pappas served in the Army as a personal chef to General John Pershing. To give the hungry general some extra nutrition, Louis began adding scoops of potato salad to his traditional greek salads. When Louis returned to the United States, he opened up his own restaurant, Louis Pappas Riverside Café, where he would re-create this signature dish using fresh produce from his own ranch in Tarpon Springs.
Today, Louis Pappas's grandson continues his grandfather's old Florida family tradition at Pappas Ranch. There, he and his kitchen serve up a new menu of fresh seafood, poultry, sandwiches, street tacos, hand-cut steaks, and barbecue dishes whose "family flair" has been lauded by Metromix Tampa Bay. They continue to scoop savory housemade potato salad into their internationally renowned Louis Pappas Famous greek salad, tossing it in massive bowls that serve as many as four diners. Bartenders dole out glasses of locally brewed craft beers and wine or mix cocktails and martinis at the full center bar with flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant's decor channels that of the original Pappas family ranch. In the dining room, spacious booths are surrounded by rustic wooden walls, and outside is a covered outdoor patio.
Lonzalos Pizzeria & Ristorante borrowed the name of the one-time foreman of the Starkey Ranch, Lonzalo “Lonnie” Cannon, whose work ethic and Italian origins inspired the eatery’s culture. The man himself still resides in north Florida at the ripe old age of 95, not too far away to visit owner Scott Cochrane’s homage to his life.
The pizzeria serves regular, deep-dish, and stuffed pies, but also delves extensively into traditional Italian cookery, combining choice pieces of meat and seafood with rich sauces and pasta. The rich scent of cheese and wine wafts through the dining room, though visitors can opt instead to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and potential UFO sightings of alfresco dining on the outdoor patio. The indoor space transforms into a late-night comedy venue on the second Saturday of each month at 10 p.m., hosting a rotating cast of funny-bone ticklers.
Wining and dining yourself is easy at Clearwater, whose eclectic menu will mollify even the grumpiest of your taste buds. Begin a romantic dinner for yourself and your cute hitchhiker with a starter of brandied shrimp ($9), hummus and grilled pita bread ($7), or a salsa trio with tortilla chips ($6). Ask your server to whip out the award-winning wine list and double-team your main course with a glass of Borsao ($7) and a chipotle chicken quesadilla ($9); a pairing of pizza margherita ($9) and Vicolo pinot grigio ($7); or, in celebration of the day you saw your first squid, a glass of Marcel Martin Tetê de Cuvée Brut Cremant ($10) and a specialty cinnamon-apple and brie quesadilla ($10). Stop in during the daily happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and say goodbye to the sad and perplexed hours with two-for-one house wine, or drop by on the second and fourth Friday of every month for a free wine tasting.
For more than two decades, Pit Boss Bar-B-Q has been quelling ravenous appetites with sweet barbecue bites and taste bud-tickling barbecue sauce in a casual dining atmosphere. Treat noses to the sweet aroma of oak-wood seared meats, which swirl around feasters as they enjoy meals from the poker themed menu. Please palates with comforting dishes such as the platter of pork or beef topped with Pit Boss Bar-B-Q sauce and served amongst grilled texas toast and a choice of two side dishes such as fried okra and collard greens ($9.99). Knock out unruly stomach grumbles with the black jack, a spicy sausage blanketed by red onions and green peppers and delicately balanced within a house of hot-wing-shaped cards ($6.49). Raise the stakes of any grub time game by adding a side bet of the baked beans, creamy coleslaw, or red-skin potatoes ($1.49).