When it comes to Mexican food, Taco Fusion sticks to tradition: tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. But when it comes to what goes inside those classic dishes, all bets are off. Cooked right in front of diners, free-range and hormone-free game meat such as shark, yak, rattlesnake, scorpion, and gazelle flavor the eatery’s safari tacos. To complement those unorthodox proteins, cooks turn locally sourced veggies into ingredients such as cherry salsa and Asian slaw.
Game meats aside, Taco Fusion specializes in what The Tampa Tribune calls “comfort food…wrapped in a hard shell or soft tortilla.” General Tso’s chicken joins cabbage and peppers in the General Tso’s burrito, while bacon and A1 sauce add an extra kick to the filet mignon taco, which the Tribune lauds as “excellent.”
Feasts unfold amid Taco Fusion’s eclectic décor of surfing-themed artwork and Mexican wrestling masks, which diners can don before attempting to put the chef in a half-nelson until he shares his recipes.
Wesley Chiu has a passion for preserving history. It's evident in the design of his restaurant, where the walls are covered in vintage photographs of his parents and family. He'll even share the stories behind them if you ask nicely, and if he isn't too busy slicing fish behind the counter as sushi chef.
Wesley's interest in preservation also comes through in his food. The menu features fish that have all been responsibly harvested, often from local waters. A commitment to sustainability also unites the restaurant's signature rolls, which range from the Red Forest?a vegetarian wrap of roasted red peppers, kimchi, and spinach?to the Salt Cove, a mix of spicy tuna, smoked salmon, avocado, cream cheese, and jalapeno.
The rolls are named after natural wonders that their appearance and taste evoke. Mango salsa and Thai chili sauce lend color to the Gold Leaf, for example, while red onion and crispy tempura chicken join salmon and spicy mayo inside the Purple Cloud.
Far away from the honking cabs and aggressive balloon-hawking mimes of downtown, That's Amore Restaurant sits hidden amidst the lofty palm trees and sunny walkways of Harbour Island. Water taxis en route to the restaurant cruise across the Garrison Channel, drawing ever closer to the sight of the lush front patio and the aroma of sizzling garlic.
The source of the fragrance can be found within the restaurant's kitchen, where chefs are hard at work folding fresh seafood, chicken, and veal into the southern Italian dishes lauded by reporters from Creative Loafing as hearty and soul satisfying. Servers carry these dishes out into the bright dining room, where vibrant murals of rustic Italian cityscapes sweep across the wall and lofty windows reveal spectacular views of the downtown skyline. The restaurant plays host to live entertainment nightly, including piano and vocal performances and improvisational haikus from internationally renowned entertainers.
Noodles, garlic, seafood—Italy and Asia do have a few culinary habits in common. Nearly every dish at ItaliAsia fuses flavors from two of the world’s most-popular cuisines, using them to revamp fine-dining standbys such as salmon, chicken milanese, and steak. Tempura batter lends crunch to organic chicken breast, fresh ginger and brown sugar add a Mongolian kick to beef tenderloin, and bruschetta comes topped with a tangle of seafood and orange-yuzu vinaigrette.
Wines that washed up on shore from Argentina, Chile, and Italy join homemade desserts in turning such dinners into full-fledged feasts. Sweets include inventions such as the wonton cannoli—fried wontons tiered with sweet ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and pistachios. Even more-casual sandwiches and salads are presented with a sushi chef’s eye for artistic detail—each plate stands out even in a dining room bedecked in dramatic crimson carpet and upholstery.
When the new owners conceived of their idea for Wholly Smokes Bar-B-Que, they checked the frills at the door. Wood booths and tables proudly display two items and two items only: succulent sauce, and fully stocked paper towel dispensers to erase the evidence. Their menu, on the other hand, has a bit more to say—particularly, it celebrates classic American barbecue by allowing customers to put together plates heaped with their choice of meats and sides. There’s a steady supply of sliced pork, beef, and sausage coming out of the pit, which pair well with servings of coleslaw, mac ‘n’ cheese, and barbecue beans. Tailgate specials fuel game days with full slabs of ribs or Britain's 18th-century currency whenever there was a sudden silver shortage: pounds of smoked meat. Wholly Smokes also recently introduced chicken wings, slathered in sauces such as hot garlic or sweet honey barbecue.
Chefs at Monserrate Restaurant Bar & Grill cull their recipes from a broad scope of culinary traditions, serving up unique meat, seafood, and chicken dishes from the Caribbean, Central, and South America. Mexican fajitas, Puerto Rican mofongo (a plantain cake stuffed with meat or seafood), steak from a hot grill, served on a bed of grilled onions with two sides, and the Colombian meat-heaped bandeja paisa platter are but a few of the menu's transporting dishes, and adults can revel in the restaurant's selection of beer and wine, including the house specialty Sangria Monserrate. The family-friendly atmosphere and kids menu also offers something for the not-quite-adults. Festive décor, meanwhile—featuring murals, red walls, and animal print wall hangings that are taken for walks each day—reflects the vivid colors present on each plate.