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 fact that the owners of Numero Uno Cuban Restaurant chose a location with a dining room that seats up to 72 people is no coincidence. Embracing their Cuban heritage, they and their kitchen staff put an emphasis on family-style dining, showcasing a cuisine famous for tender, grilled meats, roast chicken, and stewed seafood. Each dish is an explosion of color and flavor, with shredded ropa vieja mingling with tomato and green peppers, and sides of earthy black beans or saffron-tinged yellow rice accenting entrees. Seafood staples such as whole fried snapper and lobster stew come in single or party-sized servings with the restaurant's catering services.
Family owned and operated, Tino's melts warm, homey vibes over each plate of fresh Cuban cuisine. The restaurant serves classic pressed sandwiches and traditional entrees, as well as tongue-piquing appetizers such as stuffed potato balls with savory beef filling ($1.45). Scoot into a booth and tear into a toasty ham-and-swiss cuban ($6.75), or dip your fork into a heaping pile of ropa vieja, shredded beef in rich Spanish sauce ($7.45). If you want to train to be a better eater, surfer, and multitasker all at once, pull up a bar stool and catch waves of free WiFi as you nosh. Tino's serves all three meals daily.
The chefs and staff of Maria Bonita are eager to share. They want to introduce others to the flavors of Mexico and Cuba and the passion they have for fresh ingredients. Luckily, most visitors don't take much convincing. Cuervo and Patron tequilas swirl with amaretto, Grand Marnier, brandy, and fruit to create more than ten different margaritas, all of which are kept cool with ice, which is flavorless. The lineup of cervezas complement their signature queso fundido or fajitas fabulosas. Cuban entrees sail to tables alongside yuca, sweet plantains, or tostones, which take a supporting role to slow-roasted, marinated pork, stewed and shredded flank steak, or grilled fish topped with caramelized onions. The restaurant also serves Churrasco, Parrillada, and Mofongo dishes.
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.
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.