Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for the 'restaurants' Category

The Koi pond at Bok Tower

The Koi pond at the base of Bok Tower in Lake Wales

The Koi pond at the base of Bok Tower in Lake Wales

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Road trip! – Bok Tower

Road trip rules: There’s lots of interesting places to go and things to see within easy driving distance to North Pinellas County, so find some time in your busy schedule and take them in!  Here are the rules: Road trip locations have to be within a couple of hours of North Pinellas County, and no more than 100 miles (okay, we may stretch it a little if it’s REALLY great). If there’s good food in the vicinity, we’ll provide a recommendation or two.

 

bok tower 239Bok Tower is a great spot with beautiful gardens, a large Koi pond and a gorgeous singing tower, a 60-bell carillon (the bells were specially cast in England). The location is in Lake Wales in Polk County, about 90 miles east of North Pinellas. The tower is located on the highest point in Florida (don’t worry, it is less than 300 feet above sea level – you won’t be needing an oxygen tank).

Bok Tower was opened to the public in 1929. It is considered to be a contemplative garden, so please keep noise to a minimum.

Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for kids. There’s a good restaurant on the grounds that provides good light fare, such as salads and sandwiches.

Learn more at http://boktowergardens.org/

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Dunedin’s Jollimon’s Grill worth finding

restaurant review pics 013You could drive through Dunedin a hundred times and never see Jollimon’s Grill. It’s not on a main drag — in fact, it’s not even visible from any of Dunedin’s main streets. If you’re on Main Street, standing in front of Cafe Alfresco, you’ll have to hop onto the nearby Pinellas Trail and walk a couple of blocks north. Cross Monroe and then watch to the left  — Jollimon’s  nestles right up to the trail, and you’ll know it from the umbrellas in the courtyard dining area. It’s actually on Huntly Avenue, which is a street you could spend your entire life not knowing about.

But you’ll be glad you found the place.

Florida has no end of Key West-type eateries, places that try hard for casual dining and specialize in Florida-style seafood. There’s a whole range of formality to these places, and Jollimon’s is definitely on the tee-shirt-and-cutoffs end of the scale.

But don’t let the funk put you off. This is a great local place and a great value. The burgers are as good as you will find anywhere, and they will happilyadd on or take off ingredients to your heart’s content. Want tywo patties, or even three? Just ask.

I tried the crab chowder this weekend, and it was spicy, chock full of crabmeat, and VERY good.

Jollimon’s has a pretty cool website, www.jollimonsgrill.com, and you can review the menu for yourself.

Rodie’s — a great breakfast in Tarpon Springs

There was time not too many years back when one of our favorite breakfast stops was a place called Rodie’s, in Tapron Springs.

Rodie's Restaurant in Tarpon Springs

Rodie's Restaurant in Tarpon Springs

Rodie’s was a small hole-in-the-wall diner kind of place on Alt. 19 just south of the Tarpon Springs downtown area.  It was a place very much favored by the locals, and the Rodie’s folks put out a very good breakfast for a very fair price.

Rodie’s did so well that they acquired a piece of land across the street from the original restaurant and built a new place — much fancier, much bigger, and a lot more upscale, at least in appearance.  They still are only open for breakfast and lunch — they close at 3 p.m.

They may have lost a little bit of the charm they offered when they were in the older, smaller place across the street. But they still really pack the place on weekend mornings, a testament to their excellent food and fair prices.

Rodie’s offers some very good burgers and sandwiches, but breakfast is when I like to go there. Besides the good assortment of pancake dishes and omelettes, they also offer some southern favorites and some Greek-inspired dishes, everything from biscuits and sausage gravy to gyro rollups and Greek salads.

Rodie’s is right next door to the brand-new Sweetbay supermarket on South Pinellas Avenue (Alt. 19).  I’m going to post something about that Sweetbay a little later on.

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Kelly’s: fun dining in Dunedin

Kelly's Restaurant, Dunedin

Kelly's Restaurant, Dunedin

We had dinner on Sunday night at Kelly’s on Main Street in Dunedin.

We don’t go there that often, mostly because when we eat in downtown Dunedin we often end up across the street at Cafe Alfresco. But Kelly’s has good food as well as a certain avant garde attitude that’s fun.

When we first lived here Kelly’s had a pretty ordinary outside dining area in back. Now, that area has been re-designed and enlarged, and there’s plenty of room for entertainment and for a very active bar area off to one side. When we were there, a few people were eating inside and many more were out back, eating and drinking and listening to live music.

Also, the owners of Kelly’s have acquired and developed the next-door Chic-A-Boom Room, a cocktail bar, as well as Blur one door down, a night club.

Kelly’s puts on a very good breakfast, and many people head there on the weekends for eggs benedict and other breakfast goodies. If you go, get there early, or you will have to wait for a seat.

kelleys-neon-sign1Kelly’s puts a premium on fun. There’s a manniquin near the front door (named Peggy Sue) who greets diners as they enter, and the tables feature unique salt-and-pepper shakers as well as wildly different coffee mugs.

Kelly’s fits nicely into the old Our Town style of Dunedin’s downtown, but at the same time it sports a kitschy bit of new wave color. It’s hip and fun, and the food is great.  Don’t miss it.

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The great North Pinellas County roadside barbecue tour

I am from northern New England, home of pine trees, good seafood and plenty of snow.

Eli's, a Dunedin barbecue institution

Eli's, a Dunedin barbecue institution

What northern New England DOESN’T have is barbecue. And that’s enough to keep me here for the rest of my life. That, and the lack of snow.

When we lived up Maine and got a hankering for barbecue, we had to pile into the car and head south to South Portland, home to the only barbecue restaurant in the entire state of Maine.

(Now, before my old Maine friends get on here and attack me for my incredible lack of modern Maine barbecue awareness, I do have to acknowledge that, in my absence over the past 16 years, there is now something called the “Mainely Grillin’ and Chillin’ Country BBQ State Competition” that takes place in Eliot, Maine in August. Also, a Google search does reveal a few new barbecue restaurants scattered around the state. Wish they were there when we lived there…)

Anyway, there is no lack of barbecue in Florida, or throughout the entire South. Around here, there’s a barbecue joint on every other corner, and we go to most of them.

One thing that I really enjoy, though, are the little roadside pit barbecue places. Usually, these operate out in the open with not much more than a big black smoker and perhaps a couple of picnic tables. The more grandly financed outfits may operate out of a trailer of some kind.

Anyway, there’s enough of them around here that I thought I’d do a little blog tour of North Pinellas County’s outdoor roadside barbecue places. Here are three of them:

Eli’s

Now that I’ve just gotten through describing roadside BBQ joints as not having any permanent real estate, I start off with Eli’s, s which actually does. But here is why I’m including it: It’s a Dunedin institution; it’s only open on Friday and Saturday; and while it does have a small permanent building, only the help can go inside — customers must order through a window, and then have to take the food home or eat it outside on a strange collection of picnic tables and old restaurant booths.

One order of ribs -- to go!

One order of ribs -- to go!

There’s a big ol’ smoker out back that has a name of its own — “Bigfoot.” And it turns out very good barbecue that Eli sells at very good prices — a chopped pork sandwich with beans and cole slaw was just $6 on a recent visit.

The parking lot at Eli’s is often full or nearly so on Friday’s and Saturday’s, the only days that Eli’s is open. And on the day I was there, one customer actually rode in on a riding lawn mower, got his order of ribs and rode out, balancing his white bag of food on his lap.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Palm Harbor’s Ahern’s Ice Cream

aherns-ice-cream-small

Ahern's Ice Cream

When we first moved to Palm Harbor from Maine in 1993, one thing we looked forward to was a whole new world of ice cream shops. We figured that Florida, being a hot and outdoorsy kind of place, would be a great place for ice cream.

As it turned out, we were a little disappointed. The ice cream we found was pretty good most of the time, but there just wasn’t all that much to choose from, and we found that to be a little surprising.

Later, I read somewhere that New England, a place with long, cold winters,  was one of the most popular places in the country for ice cream. Who would have guessed that?

Anyway, we did manage to find some good ice cream places, and the longer we live here the more we see new ice cream places opening up. When that happens, we fall all over ourselves going to the new place and trying out the ice cream.

Yep, that's me, windowing-shopping the ice cream

Yep, that's me, windowing-shopping the ice cream

One of the newest around here is Ahern’s Ice Cream, located in Palm Harbor on Alternate 19 just south of Alderman. We’ve been there a couple of times recently, and we like the ice cream as well as the people who work there. We spent one visit talking to the owner (and eating ice cream, of course), and we spent the next visit eating ice cream and talking to the very nice young woman behind the counter. She goes to St. Petersburg College and drives a very funky red 1970 Volkswagen bug, which was parked outside.

One thing that’s interesting about Ahern’s is that it sells ice cream made over in Tampa by Old Meeting House Ice Cream, a small, independently owned and operated ice cream business that has been making and selling ice cream since 1947. Old Meeting House still makes ice cream in small batches by hand, just as it did when it started out in the ice cream biz 61 years ago.

Ahern’s (and Old Meeting House) definitely passes our critical Ice Cream Test.

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Old Town Cafe in Old Palm Harbor

Old Town Cafe in Old Palm Harbor

Old Town Cafe in Old Palm Harbor

We’ve written a fair amount about Old Palm Harbor, the historical section of Palm Harbor in the Florida Avenue area of town, near Alternate 19. It was the site of the recent Palm Harbor Citrus Festival, and it hosts a number of street fairs and art shows throughout the year.

One place we like there is the Old Town Cafe, which is at 1019 Florida Ave. This is a very casual and laid-back place that invites lingering over a cup of coffee or a beer, maybe some gelato or a light lunch.

Owner Dan Kauffman has put together a very nice ambiance at Old Town Cafe, with an outside deck and an inviting interior. They serve Baby’s Coffee from Key West, and while the are open until 9 p.m. ( 4 p.m. on weekends), the food is more breakfast and lunch — paninis, bagels and croissants for breakfast, sandwiches, salads, paninis and Cuban sandwiches for lunch and dinner.

Dan at Old Town Cafe

Dan at Old Town Cafe

If you care about the environment, Old Town Cafe lets you know theycare, too — cups, straws and bags are made of corn, to-go boxes are made of sugar cane.

This is the kind of place where you take your morning newspaper and then linger over a good cup of coffee and a light meal. Take your time and enjoy — no one will rush you here.

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Mystic Fish in Palm Harbor wins award

Mystic Fish

Mystic Fish

One of our favorite local restaurants, Mystic Fish on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor, has won Best Overall and Best Use of Ingredient at the All Childrens Iron Chef Challenge at the Renaissance Hotel Tampa. It’s the second year in a row that Mystic Fish has won that honor. The winning dish was Steamed Maine Lobster with Spicy Slaw and orange -Apricot Curry Sauce and Togorashi Shrimp with Orange Marmalade brushed Bacon and Blood Orange Sabayon.

To learn more, go to their website — www.3bestchefs.com/mystic. To see our review of Mystic Fish, look over to the right of this page and click on “restaurant reviews” under “Local Resources.”

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Is this the best pizza in Pinellas County?

Monty's Pizza

Monty's Pizza

There’s all kinds of different pizza. There’s thin crust, thick crust, Chicago style, New York style and Sicilian pizza, just to name a few. People are particular about their pizza, and not everyone thinks the same way when it comes to deciding what’s good, and what’s not so good.

All that being said, we like Monty’s Pizza in Clearwater. A lot.

We go there just about every Sunday night, and we always order the same thing: a medium deluxe. At Monty’s, a deluxe pizza has five toppings of your choice. For us, that means pepperoni, sausage, extra cheese, olive oil and mushrooms. (There’s one waitress there who doesn’t think olive oil should be a topping. When she waits on us, we order onions, too.)

Monty’s is owned by a family from Connecticut, according to the story on the back of the menu. They have been turning out pizzas in Pinellas County since the early 80s. The restaurant itself is a bit funky, and that adds to the charm. Also, there’s an old Ford outside in the parking lot painted up to look like a NASCAR racer sponsored by Monty’s. If you drive by, you see the Ford before you see the actual “Monty’s” sign on the building.

Monty’s is in mid-county on Nursery, just west of Belcher. If you come on a Sunday night, we’ll probably see you there.

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