The culinary squad at Cuban Breezes presents a menu that lists bountiful arrays of authentic Cuban cuisine. An appetizer of pan con queso acclimates taste buds to south-of-Florida flavor via grilled cheese and a garlic spread ($3.49), and empanadas pack seasoned beef or chicken into a flavor grenade ($1.69 each). Eight pressed sandwiches, such as The Big Havana, which melds together a half pound of ham, turkey, havana sauce, lettuce, tomato, and bacon with a cheese adhesive ($6.99), easily slide under closed doors. The pan con lechon, a slow-roasted, marinated pork masterpiece under an awning of onions ($5.59), is one of eight specialty sandwiches that come both grilled and fried. Hungry humans can obviate drastic cuisine-acquiring measures by selecting a signature platter, such as the lechon asado, a shredded, slow-roasted pork marinated in mojo ($8.99); or a veggie wrap, which binds bands of onions, peppers, cucumbers, cheese, pickles, lettuce, and tomato in a garlic-herb wrap ($5.29).
Penn Station's interior, rife with dark hardwood paneling, could have been carved from the trunk of an enormous redwood. Within that space and beneath the glow of old-fashioned street lamps, taste buds globetrot by way of American-style burgers, Italian shrimp scampi, and a full Cuban menu outlining such delights as seafood paella and lime-infused chicken. While two-handing a specialty sandwich named for North Carolina's regal mountains, guests can peruse Penn Station's many antique décor pieces such as a wall-mounted carriage wheel, ceramic boots, and the original wooden flippers from Columbus's voyage across the Atlantic.
Originally built in 1919, the building that houses The Bungalow Restaurant and Bar has seen its fair share of history in the making. But today it's a haven for spirited revelry that even earned a spot on CBS Tampa Bay's 2014 Best Sports Bars In Tampa Bay. To start with, The Bungalow's private skybox?a 1,200-square-foot luxury suite with its own bar, poker room, and vault of vintage Sports Illustrated issues?provides an uber-premium game-day experience. But the rest of the restaurant is more than prepared to accommodate fans. Twelve flat-screen TVs adorn the walls, providing plenty of viewing opportunities throughout the dining areas and around the fully stocked bar. On some days, celebrations are known to spill out onto the outdoor patio section, which features shaded seating and its own views of the surrounding foliage.
The Bungalow's menu also shares the vibrant, eclectic spirit of its environment. Beginning with traditional comfort foods, the chefs incorporate Latin, Cajun, and international flavors into their dishes, creating distinctive items with familiar roots. Orders of shrimp and jalapeno-spiced grits arrive with roasted salsa, and beer-battered fish and chips are accompanied by remoulade and a key lime tartar sauce. The chefs even inject a bit of Cuban flair into the egg rolls by stuffing them with mojo pork, salami, ham, and swiss cheese. Perhaps most importantly, pints of beer, shaken martinis, and specialty cocktails all help keep spirits high between bites.
Veering away from the mainstream molds of personality-devoid coffee shacks, Tre Amici aims to establish itself as a local, independent hub for cappuccinos and creativity. Camp out on the squishy, orange sofas and admire local artwork while sipping on fair-trade and organic products. The full menu of hot and cold beverages includes the slushy latte frappamici with frozen espresso, milk, and a flavor shot ($4.75), chai latte ($4.20), and Italian soda ($3). Counter caffeine with a selection of good-for-you grub, such as Kashi oatmeal with either raisin spice and sliced apples, or brown maple and apple cinnamon ($2.95); organic low-fat yogurt parfaits layered with berries and maple-nut granola ($3.95); and hummus plates served with toasted pita ($5.75). Heartier fare includes crisp salads and gourmet sandwiches.
For Las Vegas Cafe owner Francies Vega, cooking is about putting smiles on people's faces. So when she designed her menu, she didn't stick to just one cuisine, but instead incorporated all the dishes that make her happy. The result is a fusion of Cuban and Italian recipes such as chorizo spaghetti, vegetable breakfast crepes, and Cuban-style fried rice sprinkled with ham, peppers, and eggs. Vega's signature dish is the chancellor fish fillet stuffed with ham and cheese and fried until it's as crisp as the first day of autumn.
With five HDTVs and karaoke nightly, Gaspar's Patio has more than its share of modern touches. But the bar's history reaches back much further: in 1960, Gaspar and Fano Ciacco established the joint as the Temple Terrace Lounge. When Gaspar passed away more than 40 years later, his son Jimmy took over the business and renamed it to honor his father's legacy. Today, Gaspar's Patio stands as a monument to savory food and bustling nightlife. From lunchtime until the wee hours of the next day, servers sling classic sandwiches ranging from the Cuban to a triple-decker club, along with oysters, filet mignon, and baskets of fried seafood and jumbo chicken wings. As the sun sets, the stage comes alive with sets by local musicians, open-mic nights, and trivia contests fueled by domestic and craft beers and traditional cocktails. For dog lovers, there's a special treat on the patio—a dog park replete with lawn space and a pooch-themed mural lets four-legged friends play, socialize, and bark their trivia answers to buddies inside.