Entering into my sixth month residing in the sunshine state, I realized that I haven't talked much about the eating explorations I've done since I've been in town. I know, for shame! I am slowly but surely getting out, and below are a few spots that have caught my eye.
- Datz Deli. I admit: this one is the highest on my list. And the fact that it's virtually around the corner from where I live makes it even better. From the outside, Datz doesn't look like it can hold much inside its venue on S. MacDill. But rest assured: those who stop and venture inside will enter a two-story foodie heaven. With a market, bar, prosciutto bar and two-story restaurant that greets patrons, a market with unique specialty items and a remarkable dessert case to the left that will make any food lover swoon, the spot has something for everyone. For me, at first bite it was the homemade chips with a drizzle of blue cheese aioli, as well as the blue cheese wedge salad--one of the best I've ever had. For some, it may be the prosciutto tasting bar and the venue's bevy of beer and wine selections (including a bottle from Solena cellars in Cartlon, OR, which I know I saw at the restaurant, but am not seeing it on the menu online. Hm.). The bottle of Solena coupled with my spotting a block of Tillamook cheddar cheese and I knew this place wasn't messing around. Go for a visit and tell me what you think. Datz Deli, 2616 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33629, http://www.datzdeli.com/.
- Cru Cellars. A girl has got to have a wine bar of choice on her radar when a glass at home, or in a big noisy restaurant, just won't do. For this wine girl, that wine bar/wine shop is Cru Cellars. Located actually just a block next to Datz Deli (how lucky am I?!) The wine shop which was formerly Gianpiero's Pick of Vine, was purchased by Sommelier Jennifer Bingham and her husband, Torrey, in August of 2010. Transplants from Chicago, the Binghams proudly took over the shop and added on a sweet little wine bar in the back with a modern but cozy flair. The wine bar serves a plethora of cheeses and charcuterie dishes, as well as chocolate sweet treats that are all meant to be paired with the wine, of course. And if you're simply looking to get in and out with a perfectly selected bottle of vino, the shop has rows and rows of wines that will have you covered. Cru Cellars, 2506 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33629, http://www.crucellarstampa.com/.
- Bamboozle Café. At times (many for me) the craving for some good eats from a far away land come to life and it's time to scope out good ethnic cuisine in the area. I'm beginning to branch out and know I haven't even come close to what's out there. On a recent outing in Tampa's downtown district, I had lunch with a new friend at Vietnamese hot spot, Bamboozle. I love me a good vermicelli noodle bowl now and again, and Bamboozle delivered on my hopes and cravings that day. A heaping serving of white noodles, fashioned with what looked like a garden that lay atop it (green leaf lettuce, pickle, daikon & carrots, mint, bean sprouts, roasted chilis and crushed peanuts), chicken and a side of Bamboozle's zesty chili dressing sent me into heaven. And the best part about it was not feeling overly stuffed or guilty about what part I had eaten (and what part I had to take home). The venue prides itself on bringing its customers a healthy culinary adventure, and I do believe it's food that you can feel good about devouring. Bamboozle Café, 516 N. Tampa Street, Tampa, FL 33602, http://www.bamboozlecafe.com/.