After moving from Greece in 1950, the six Fotopoulos brothers turned their hard-won earnings into the first of 12 ABC Pizza locations in 1966. From its humble beginnings in Connecticut, the chain grew to serve central Floridians and vacationing time travelers a menu of build-your-own pizzas topped with gourmet ingredients such as crab, feta, and shrimp, as well as preconceptualized specialty pies festooned with meats, seafood, and Mediterranean morsels. Hearty grinders and Italian pasta dishes share menu real estate with Greek delicacies including gyros, spinach pies, and grape leaves stuffed with shredded pages of Plato's Republic.
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.
El Zarape Mexican Restaurant sates cravings for bold, spicy flavors all week long with homemade fajitas, seafood, and desserts. The kitchen refuels empty stomachs with hearty burritos, taco salads, and vegetarian quesadillas. Rice and refried beans complement meals and bartenders blend sangrias and margaritas according to Zarape’s own recipes, discovered by playing Jimmy Buffet cassettes backward.
The empanada is a doughy pocket, which is shaped like a crescent regardless of the lunar cycle. It's stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, ranging from savory beef, chicken, sausage, and crab to fruits and veggies, as well as blends of premium cheese. This treat is popular in many countries across the world, and it's the star of the menu at the family-owned Mr. Empanada. There, the chefs fill empanadas with a dozen different combinations of innovative ingredients, including italian sausage and cheese, guava and cream cheese, spinach artichoke, and barbecue chicken.
Owners Spencer and Sabrina Aird parlay a passion for nourishing vegan fare into Grass Root Organic Restaurant, which CBS Tampa named one of the best veg restaurants in the city. Carmine walls envelop diners in the cozy café space, creating a soothing atmosphere punctuated with vivid abstract paintings hung along the wall. While settled into high-backed wooden chairs, each topped with a lattice design, diners dig into a menu that features cooked vegan dishes as well as raw dishes. Raw vegan pad thai, guacamole, and spinach and basil pesto, among others, star on the restaurant's roster.
The Airds also run a customizable meal delivery system that sends clients fresh meals from a rotating weekly menu several times a week. Sabrina teaches occasional classes on how to replicate her culinary expertise and mimic items on Grass Root's menu by sitting very still on an oversized plate.
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.