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.
Ramon Sr. and Sinarah Hernandez opened this colorful Cuban café more than 30 years ago after fleeing Cuba. Luckily, they didn’t have to leave everything behind. Their mouth-watering family recipes have garnered bouquets of praise from publications including Weekly Planet and Tampa Bay Magazine. Today, the shop continues to churn out favorites from the original 1979 menu including Pipo’s famous pork wrap piled high with roasted pork, Spanish rice, and fried plantains. Part of the secret to their sandwiches’ success lies in the breads that are baked fresh every day, and the cornucopia of vegetables that are plucked fresh from the farm or holodeck. Customers can order house specialties a la carte, or graze at a fully stocked buffet. Pipo’s doles out its heaping portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and hosts lives entertainment on the weekends.
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.
The Bungalow's cuisine craftspeople hone a hodgepodge of Floridian fare infused with Caribbean flavors on the menu at the eatery, which nabbed Metromix awards for Best Brunch and Best New Restaurant in 2010. Pepper noodle-prone incisors with the Bayou bow-tie pasta's parmesan-frosted chicken breasts dressed in Cajun cream ($14), or massage teeth with the coconut-tequila shrimp tacos, teeming with mango-jalapeño salsa and sriracha mayo ($11). During the day, plant bicuspids into one of the brunch menu’s dozen-plus prime bites, such as the spicy shrimp and grits ($10) or the strawberry-and-champagne salad ($11), which pairs well with a specialty flavored mimosa ($5). Evening grazers can prepare for a hearty entree by gobbling up a meat-and-cheese-mottled Cuban egg roll starter ($7) or by pulling an all-nighter to study the menu the night before.
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.