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.
Nearly thirty years ago, Jim Mellody set out to create the pub of his dreams. A family-friendly vibe. An abundance of TVs, with sports on every one. Burgers, wings, beers. With this idyllic setting in mind, he and wife Jeanette created Beef 'O' Brady's, a sports bar that more than lives up to Jim's vision. Beef's, as the pub's regulars quickly took to calling it, serves up plenty of what its name suggests. Angus burgers, reubens, steak burritos, and the roast beef garlic melt take starring roles on a lengthy menu, complementing chicken wings tossed in dry-rub or coated in one of 12 sauces. As guests dig into hearty feasts of pub food, they can watch sporting events that zip in through the restaurant's satellite dishes or break out spontaneously in the kitchen. A tribute to Jim's love of sports, pro memorabilia lines the walls, and in keeping with the Irish theme, an Irish blessing is featured on every menu, offering good fortune to all who visit.
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.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
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.
Della's After Dark is the Teen Wolf of eateries, morphing from a demure deli into a swanky spot for savories come sundown. Slurp a “seafood margarita” ($7), a combo of lime, mango, cilantro, shrimp, crab, and squid, or skate toasted french bread across an oozy caldron of baked goat-cheese marinara ($7). Fresh, colorful salads, including the grape tomato and boccocini ($8) drizzled with balsamic vinegar, pleasantly stretch stomach muscles in preparation for the main course. Della's menu also offers a variety of protein-based plates, from pan-Asian seared tofu ($14) to grilled swordfish bedded with sundried-tomato pesto and parmesan polenta ($18). Desserts change nightly; recent sweets include bananas foster and sticky date pudding.