TAMPA BAY RESTAURANTS 




THE TAMPA FOOD SCENE



Disclaimer —  The Restaurant And Food Industry In Tampa Bay, Florida  — 

What I do is especially important during bad times as we all have been subjected to.  It will make me some friends for the good places  I frequent and some enemies…  who will read my critiques and reviews, but when you serve garbage, have a dirty place or bad staff, I locate it,  “ Jokingly I drive the garbage truck and I pick up on it”. 

It’s quite a challenge and experience covering the spectrum of eateries, some  good, some not bad but missing something, some really bad and some should have been closed a long time ago. 

We do mark the specific locations as some in franchise like Culvers and Chick-Fil-A go by the book.  are managed quite well and they met the “C’s” of the culinary experience.   That is that they be Clean, they serve the Community, have a reasonable amount of Consistency, and Control their service and their individuality.  

Some violate their terms with their franchise contract and some are just ignorant of the laws governing eateries… If I had a nickel for all the SUBWAYS who buy wholesale outside their franchise agreement, I would be rich… And now Subway is claiming a resurrection of their desire to be the best  —  

Subway went through another corporate exercise in advertising after some closings and bad publicity which turned out to be false accusations  .  Nothing wrong with their tuna.   They were accused of fake tuna.  Fake tuna was fake news as TUNA DNA is impossible to prove except literally at one pace in the world.   It is tuna which has several variants but all are tuna.  
It  might not be Charlie the Tuna,  but it could be  Sam Tuna, or Harry tuna, or Sally but it’s Tuna.  
NY TIMES BLEW THA ONE AND BEING SUED

For the good, on a simple level, it means their food was fresh, cooked properly and delivered in a reasonable time, or their gourmet experience took them in unique and interesting safe directions.  Since the high end $$$$  places have been written about, it seems they get greater coverage and a free meal for the writer, I usually pick the places the Plebeians frequent some after waiting on line for a cold burger.

I do not disclose that I write about food and just pay the bill.  If they are bad I will report the next day about them and publish to TRIPADVISOR…and the papers, this website and five other sources, and the world if I can.

I pick the locations the common folk try to get a decent meal for sustenance. And if they fail simple standards of cleanliness, and customer service I will come down on them like Thor’s hammer.  

And I have also decided that in the course of my travels to comment on “unique eats”… those places that might be a bit off the grid but the foods they serve might be  “Out of this world”.  


Bad News — Go Elsewhere  —  The other end of the spectrum…Simply put their food, property, staff was sub-par… really bad enough nor safe enough to send someone there… A definitive lack of good food which encompasses taste, consistency, competitive, different, and not updated, not very good management, over worked by bad supervising hours, staff, offerings, service, speed , efficiency, a good location with entrances, and parking, poor training, poor treatment of the help,  and sometimes a lack of customers will close a place down.  

Anything involving Human Trafficking…  Confusion, this is the major problem with corporate food places called fast food.   In some cases half-fast food might be a better term.  Bean counters come with programs and never worked the line a day in their life…and it shows…In the past we have sent several folks to jail for trafficking people and today it is carefully screened.

Many of the locations on the worst places to eat we first discovered almost eight years ago, from time to time we went back to see if there was some kind of improvement in their modus operandi.  Unfortunately not only did the bean counters and corpo-guano experts not do better.  

In many cases like the Chinese Buffets which have gotten worse, some ranked almost dangerous.  The entire Golden Corral must have met the Vigilantes and hanged the corporate staff from the nearest tree…they are gone, all of them.  Some are trying to reopen finding no market for crap eateries.  Worst food and many of their places were like pig troughs, thats the crowd they attracted.


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But someone with a lot of cash is trying to get them about half , to reopen again but if they never cook another meal, I will not miss them.   Millennials don’t do buffets well…they are looking for better  healthier food.  On a budget.   But low cost places do exist,  and ask around, YELP and other resources are well documented as pay as you go and I believe nothing they quote.   We ate there and of the four, two  were horrid and inspections ranked them low on the list.  They obviously were not up to par as before the pandemic.  Here is YELPS own AD.  It’s all about the money not good food. Sooner or later you pay them  — 

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YELP CHEAPIES


Pork The White Meat Is Becoming A Problem  —  

(CNN Business)  Pork, much like everything else these days, has gotten more expensive due in part to the supply chain issues and inflationary pressures spurred by the pandemic and the frickin morons in Congress we elected to do nothing. Namely the GOP obstructionists.

And now comes another wildcard: The pork industry's ability — and desire — to adapt to a new animal welfare law in California, its largest US market. 

The voter-approved measure taking effect on January 1 requires pork products sold within the state to adhere to standards that mother pigs are given at least 24 square feet of space each and kept out of gestation crates — 7-by-2-foot stalls where their movements are severely restricted.

Pork producers are already warning that the new law brings added costs throughout the supply chain that will ultimately leave Californians and other shoppers in the US with fewer and more expensive options.

By And Large, There Are Going To Be Long-Term Impacts From This, No Matter What.”  —  The bacon battle brewing in California has some believing the Golden State's pork supply chain is teetering on the edge of precarious to outright calamitous: "The Great California Bacon Crisis,"could "mean the end of bacon," bring about the "bacon apocalypse," or make the breakfast staple"disappear" from Californians' tables. 

Those extremes might likely be hogwash — some economists predict California consumers could end up paying about $8 more for their annual pork purchases — but the law isn't inconsequential.

It's the latest in a line of animal welfare-focused moves that could change how pork is raised and sold in the US.

"By and large, there are going to be long-term impacts from this, no matter what," said Trey Malone, an assistant professor at Michigan State University's Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. "This is something that the entire agricultural industry is paying close attention to.

They 'Won't Let Mother Pigs Turn Around’   —  The issue had gained some momentum before but it really heated up in 2018, when California voters approved Proposition 12, which prohibits confining egg-laying hens, veal calves and breeding pigs in a "cruel manner," establishes criteria for proper living conditions and bars the sale of eggs and meat products from animals that weren't raised by such standards. 

Some of the minimum housing space requirements for hens and calves went into effect January 1, 2020, with the second batch of regulations — notably calling for cage-free hens and crate-free hogs — slated for the first of next year. 

When it comes to hogs, California's Proposition 12 requires that at least 24 square feet of space be given for each breeding pig and calls for the elimination of gestation stalls for pregnant pigs. 

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The gestation stalls — metal enclosures where the pig stands atop slatted, concrete floors — are typically 7 by 2 feet in size. Depending on how many times they're bred, a female pig can spend the majority of her life in these small enclosures, animal welfare groups argue

In these stalls, a 400-pound pregnant pig can feed, stand, sit and lie down, but she does not have the space to walk, move about freely, socialize or turn around. 

"Some pork producers just won't let mother pigs turn around," said Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, which has been behind many of the ballot measures. "That's it. Everything comes back to that point; and frankly, ordinary Americans think that's a barbaric way to treat them."

Still, the practice has become an industry standard, with more than 75% of pregnant sows being housed in these individual stalls, according to the US Department of Agriculture

Pork farmers and producers say the stalls allow them to monitor the health, food intake and well-being of individual pigs during the pregnancy process. They argue that there are also increased risks — such as aggression, competition for food, and disease -- when pigs, especially pregnant sows, are in group environments with others.

Pork Producers Are Not Ready  — Neither Were Egg Layers  —  

What's unique in California (as well as Massachusetts, where a similar law was passed in 2016, but recent legislative efforts hope to delay its implementation to January 1, 2023) is that the Prop. 12 regulations apply to both local and out-of-state producers who want to sell within the state.

Egg producers are prepared to meet California's January 1 deadline for cage-free eggs; however, the same can't be said for the broader pork industry, according to analysts from Rabobank, an agribusiness-focused financial institution. Christine McCracken, a senior analyst focusing on the animal protein industry at Rabobank, pinned the pork industry's preparedness at no more than 5%. 

Part of the problem: Since voters approved Prop. 12, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has been slowly progressing through its standard operating procedures. It's been gathering stakeholder input, hosting workshops, studying the economic impact, publishing draft regulations, and holding more public hearings. 

"The initial regulations were supposed to be completed by September 1, 2019, but that timeframe was too short to meet all of the steps legally required," Steve Lyle, a CDFA spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Because the regulations have yet to be finalized, businesses throughout the pork supply chain have been reluctant to make infrastructure investments or lock in long-term deals, McCracken said. And once they decide to comply with Prop. 12, it could take some time for farms and plants — especially ones that struggled during the pandemic — to make the upgrades, she said.

"High construction costs, labor constraints and a lack of visibility around the final rules have all played a role in the delayed industry response," McCracken wrote in an email. "Many in the industry speculate that, like Massachusetts, there will be a last-minute effort to delay the rollout of the regulation.

Low-Income Shoppers Will Be Hit Hardest  —  California's regulations apply to whole pork meat — bacon, ribs, shoulder, chop, shank, etc. — sold at retail. There are carve-outs, though: certain products, such as lunch meats, sausages, hot dogs, cured ham and salami, and pizza toppings are excluded from the provisions. 

Within California, the law could lead to a decline in the number of options, result in fewer niche offerings, and could make certain pork products too expensive for lower-income people, further limiting their access to proper nutrition, said Michigan State University agricultural economist Trey Malone.

"What's really happening is we're basically trying to restrict the lower-cost choices," Malone said. "It's the poor people who are most likely going to be affected by these policies."

The pork companies have taken their plight to the courts, alleging the law violates the Dormant Commerce Clause, which prevents a state from passing legislation that restricts interstate commerce. The legal challenges haven't been successful thus far. Still, industry players are persisting: Earlier this month, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation petitioned for the US Supreme Court to hear their case against Prop. 12.

In that petition, they argued that the proposition in California, a state that consumes 13% of the nation's pork but produces only a small fraction of it, will drive up costs for the entire industry by about $13 per pig. The burden, they argue, will land on out-of-state producers. 

As a result, they say the supply-demand disruptions will raise prices for consumers both inside and outside of California. 

In Iowa, the nation's largest supplier of pork, producers and senators have been in vocal opposition of the new law. 

Economic impact reports backed by some of the pork industry's leading trade groups have projected renovations could run about $3,500 per sow, cut supplies in half and cause price hikes in the range of 50% to 60% in California.


The future of pork

California and Massachusetts' regulations aren't happening in a vacuum. The European Union, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and nearly a dozen states have passed laws to ban gestation crates for mother pigs, and some big-name food businesses — McDonald's, Whole Foods and Chipotle, to name three — have made similar pledges, according to UC Davis.

In addition, some pork companies, like the Perdue-owned Niman Ranch and Coleman Natural Meats already comply with the regulations and others expect to — including some producers for Tyson.

Pasture-raised pork is displayed at Avedano's Holly Park Market, a San Francisco-based butcher shop.



My Short Shopping List — I knew you would ask  These are places I shop frequently for food or to dine, some for decades, and I recommend because of their consistency, cleanliness and fresh choice food selection or talent behind the sous pan or griller…  This is doubly important especially during the confinement periods of the COVID-19 shelter in place…  Just good common sense…  

Addresses for these places in or near Largo Florida are under the Tampa Food Scene.   And they are all reasonable and clean.   None of these places are high priced, and the quality of the food and service is excellent.  In addition, few or no notations with Kitchen police or fined violations I have seen.  These are the few I will eat out at because I know things are right.    

😃   Fast Food Hamburgers  — Culvers ) My Culver was the cleanest, quietest, best foods with very high standards. Good service, nice people…all cooked to order, no microwave day old burgers, no loud screaming rock music like at overpriced Five guys, no cold burgers like at Burger King, No Mickey mouse food at McDonalds and decent pricing.

😃   Chinese Food —  Zom Hee - Seminole Park Blvd… ( 35 years)  I have been eating at Kens Zom Hee for decades and it is the most consistent place I know of for good food, giant portions, fresh quality, cooked to order and great servers and when busy three generations are working there.  During Covid, and before  I do not eat at fake Chinese buffets. If they don’t do volume, you are going to get “ Old food”

😃   Best Italian Food & Pizza  —  Country Village Inn Largo, Best Pizza and full Italian Menu …  (17 years)The owners are from Greece to Italy to New York and now Pinellas County over two generations.  Best moderately priced Italian store in town, It all real here and cooked to order.  On the south frontage road.

I have frequent flyer miles here and we eat there about three, four times a month. Their reputation keeps it busy. And possibly some of the best Pizza in town and my Pizza judge (she’s a Pizza addict) won’t go elsewhere,  my favorite are the Ham and Pineapple, and the Vegetarian.

😃   Steak And Meat Dinner Sit-Down   Longhorns At US 19 and East Bay   (  23 Years)  I am on a low meat regimen but when time comes for a steak, I just go to this particular Longhorns, it’s franchised and corporate but with an incredible staff it doesn’t seem that way. Great management, low turnover and a senior cook who have been there 24 years.  Medium priced and I never had a bad bad meal.   great team and management, great service and food.

😃   Steak - Meats - Delicacies For Home — Costco Has Real Quality Meat, Slightly Higher In Price…But Quality, top ranked and fresh and the butcher shop is totally visible and spotless. the store is busy, quality items and item from other countries you do not see in the standard groceries.   My favorites are The Basil Pesto from Italy, the best I have ever had,  and I usually make my own, and the Genuine Korean KIM CHI, a new item there.

😃   Rotisserie Chicken  — Costco  Best Chicken Period!  Caused Sam’s to rethink theirs…they won the rotisserie shootout and blew everyone out of the water.  Their Chicken is excellent, and Hotdogs are customer give aways and delicious.  Full COVID regulations enforced and promoted.  
It’s just a rumor that Sam’s Rotisserie was terrible and they kidnapped a Costco Chicken executive to improve the product after years of complaints.  Bigger chicken standards, Sam’s were undercooked and anemic, bloody at times, better seasoning, better cooking times, better help.  But it took very long, too long, no one was listening. I get mine at Costco and Sams looking for well done  Sam’s Chicken I use it for Chicken Salad and add pieces to Heathy Choice Chicken with Rice and make a bigger dish.

😃   Warehouse  Grocery  —  Costco  **  Higher level of Quality in stock and prepared items then Sam’s, who is Wal-Mart.  Also a very different clientele, prices are higher in Costco but the quality of the food, diversity and staffing is on a higher level.  It’s almost a different market when I shop.   Great pizza and Hotdogs.  Eat first, you waste less money when shopping if you are full.

😃   Oriental Market —  M&D Foods - 49th Street and Park Boulevard  —  a True Asian Market - Some of the produce will wink at you,  Live Shrimp, and Live Fish, Mussels, giant selection of Sushi Rice, this is the go-to store  for those things you see in recipes for pan-asian cooking, with ample stock of real genuine items.  COMMON SENSE  —  The store is well run,  lots of in-house,  but I still carefully look over everything especially produce and I wear a glove I dis-infected.  Oriental women shoppers touch everything, move produce between bags, regardless of what store it is… old country customs but during a pandemic this is not a good idea.  Especially fresh produce.  With COVID and harsh times, you have to be more diligent.  Many groceries might not be as up to date on regulations. 

😃   Commercial Grocery  —  Gordon Food Services (Clearwater)  ** With them for years, great vendor…we use them for all our charitable events and when we need bulk items.  Great staff and the best sliced meats cut to order. Buy a half a cooked ham and have them slice it, the best ham I ever ate.  Sandwich width and have a party. Also they have the best selection of prepared foods in tray you just heat up and serves six to ten, their Lasagnas are great ( three kinds) and stuffed peppers, Macaroni, Pulled pork, all the work is done, have a party.

😃   Best Waffles And Pancakes  —  Still I-hop After 40 Years, and now they are having specials, always cooked to order and fresh.  Stores are clean and many retained their help during our crisis.

😃   Sushi And Sashimi  — My Kitchen - I Make my Own — Too much hands on and it’s not that hard once you get into it. I have a few places I trust for these delicacies,  but too many are add-on to buffets and not the same thing.  Many complaints to the food police because it is not a refrigerated item after preparation and may have been sitting around quite a long time. Not that hard to make your own.

😃   Best Grocery Chain  — Publix  — Love Their Multi-Grain Breads,  and BOGOS, the store is immaculate, clean and fresh My store is located at ** LARGO MALL**  Super Publix is 93,000 square feet and well managed, best produce, good management and an incredible friendly staff and complete with a Starbucks, and a Pharmacy of super nice and knowledgeable people,  Ashley, Penny, Diane, and Norman.   I shop for groceries that are not bulk items, for bulk  it’s Costco and Sam’s, from their warehouse, Publix is offering Moderna COVID-19 Shots, a well run organization.  

😃   Best Food Supplies Not Specifically A Grocery —  The New Target Super Store  —  Gulf to Bay and US19 and very nice produce and small portion meats.  


DIRECTORY   

  • ★★★★★  Five Stars Only With Full Bar 
  • ⬆️⬇️ Indicates Trending  Better or Worse
  • ↔️       Indicates Consistency





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