The Bungalow rolls out the red carpet for its first annual Sundays in September tasting series, in which guests can drink to the fleeting vestiges of summer with dozens of liquor, wine, and beer tastings and sample delectable Floridian fare from the fall menu. Each event features a Bacchanalian smorgasbord of red and white wines from a visiting vineyard in conjunction with microbrewed samples from the likes of Sam Adams, Magic Hat, and Kona Brewing Co. Live music flavors the air with sweet c-sharps and smoky f-minor chords as guests mingle with like-minded gourmands, pausing midsentence to sip on margaritas or munch on hors d’oeuvres prepared by the restaurant’s chefs.
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).
The aroma of roasting pork and simmering mojo sauce wafts through La Teresita’s dining room, weaving past hanging tropical plants and a trellised ceiling. Back in the kitchen, chefs plate traditional Cuban dishes, ladling yellow rice and grilled onions onto succulent cuts of beef and layering pork or palomilla steak between slices of toasted bread. Dining companions can cap meals with classic Caribbean sweets such as flan, guava shells filled with cream cheese, or the edible chocolate cigars that Cuba is so famous for.
Every day from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., the culinary artisans at Zapata's Café build sandwiches, fire flatbreads, and blend fresh smoothies using vibrant, fresh ingredients. The bright space comes alive at lunch time, when friends gather around rustic wooden tables before digging into berry-spinach salads or double-palming hearty pork burritos. To help diners wake up right each day, chefs also put together custom sandwiches and breakfast burritos stocked with veggies and eggs with inspirational messages written in salsa on the side.
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.
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.