Getting Good Cuban Food in Tampa

Masitas de cerdo!  (Photo credit: http://necessaryindulgences.com/2010/12/el-ambia-cubano/)

Tampa, Florida may not be at the top of your destination list but being close to great beaches and other attractions such as Busch Gardens – and close enough to Orlando – it may be a place you will visit some day.  And if you do, do NOT miss out on the great hole-in-the-wall Cuban food places in the city!  I have been going to Tampa regularly for over 20 yrs. and I enjoy eating the real stuff.

Cuban food in Tampa with pictures

Masitas de cerdo! (Photo credit: http://necessaryindulgences.com/2010/12/el-ambia-cubano/)

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La Teresita (http://www.lateresitarestaurant.com/) (in Columbus Ave.) used to be the grand dame of Cuban restaurants in Tampa about 20 yrs ago. Grand dame does NOT mean elegant or fancy. That would be all wrong for a Cuban restaurant. But it was the place with the best food and where everyone went. However, somewhere down the road, it became different. Other places came up. And some of us stopped going.

Florida Bakery (http://local.yahoo.com/info-14447698-florida-bakery-tampa) (also in Columbus Ave.) has been a long standing place to go to for typical Cuban pastries, cakes, and sandwiches such as the famous Cuban sandwiches. Of course, Cuban coffee too; nothing like a cortadito (expreso with leche).

But other alternatives have come up so the typical places are not the ONLY ones around town anymore.  And the other places are, in my opinion, better.

Arco Iris (http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/30/340198/restaurant/Tampa-Bay/West-Tampa/Arco-Iris-Tampa), also in Columbus Ave. and almost next door to Florida Bakery, offers really good food in a very homestyle environment.  It is spacious and I typically haven’t had a problem getting a table.

Las Margaritas (http://www.allmenus.com/fl/tampa/60687-las-margaritas/menu/) in Hillsborough Ave. is a much smaller place and no frills.  But the food is delicious – and cheap!

Pipo’s (http://pipos.com/) which, at last count, has 2 locations offers simple choices that are delicious.  It has been around for a while and always consistent.  Walk to the counter so you see what’s available and they serve you cafeteria style.

Angelito’s Bakery (http://www.cakes.com/bakeries/angelitos-at-la-caridad-bkry-5386/, where the former La Caridad was; the street sign still exists for La Caridad) has phenomenal pastries and seems a lot cleaner than Florida Bakery.  And this one is in Hillsborough as well.

Mr. Empanada (several locations http://www.mrempanada.com/), while not strictly Cuban, deserves a mention.  The fried empanadas are very similar to the ones I would eat for lunch in high school (ground beef, cheese, or pizza fillings).  Except here, besides the ground beef ones, they have fillings I didn’t have as an option in high school such as guava, and cream cheese.

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So if you go to Tampa, be ready to eat GOOD Cuban food and eat well – I do!

Any other favorite Cuban places in Tampa that you like?  I am sure there are plenty I haven’t even discovered yet!

Up Close with Dali in St. Petersburg

The cars at the entrance of the museum (not sure the purpose)

Salvador Dali, one of the most interesting painters of the 20th century was, let’s say, a tad eccentric – but a genius nevertheless.  The new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL does a great job of presenting of how Salvador Dali evolved his style in a way that a layperson like me can grasp and enjoy.  Guided tour and/or audio guide are included in the price of the ticket which makes it an easy decision – and makes the experience and appreciation VASTLY more meaningful.  I left with a better understanding of Dali, his motivators, and his evolution.

Here are some pix of the museum and its grounds (but none of the art!).

Car at the Dali Museum

The cars at the entrance of the museum (not sure the purpose)

A beautiful day in St. Petersburg, Florida

The entrance to the museum on a beautiful day

Internal architecture elements at the Dali Museum - the spiral staircase

The top of the spiral staircase which reminded me of the tip of Dali’s mustache

Glass ceiling at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg - neat architecture

Looking towards the staircase and the ceiling on the 3rd floor

Glass ceiling at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg - neat architect

The glass ceiling

Outdoor Dali mustache at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg

Trying out Dali’s mustache

Grounds of the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

The back of the museum

Serranita sandwich

This serranita sandwich at the museum cafe was good but those olives were really outstanding!!

Wish tree at the Dali Museum - great way to discard of wrist tags

Entry wrist tags at the wish tree – clever idea to avoid trash around the parking lot!

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