I don’t know if there has ever been a study of how people eat at different times of their lives. But DINKS (Dual-Income-No-Kids) and college students, young professionals, proud parents and empty-nesters definitely have different dietary requirements. It’s been a good month for all of them here in South Tampa, because it seems like the perfect restaurant has opened up for each.
Foodie Finds for Empty-Nesters, DINKS & Young Professionals
Boca – Kitchen – Bar – Market (901 W. Platt Street; 813.254.7070)
Having opened February 3rd, Boca-Kitchen-Bar-Market is almost as fresh as its produce, which gets picked up not from frozen storage facilities, but off of boats (like red snapper from “The Fish Coffin”) and straight from local farms (like quail eggs from Lake Meadows Ranch). Seasonal herbs and vegetables are picked and delivered daily to show up in salads, flatbreads, and possibly even the Staff Meal – which is whatever the chef feels like cooking that night. Wines are from sustainable vineyards, and little touches like cardboard rounds for coasters, in keeping with the restaurant’s environmentally conscious convictions. The tight table arrangement encourages conversation among the communal and chatty crowd and the bar. The young, hip, vibe has packed the house since it opened, so be sure to make a reservation.
The Manhattan Dolce Bar & Bistro (4328 West El Prado Blvd; 813.832.3388)
There hasn’t been anything like this in the neighborhood: an upscale, adult bar with a full tapas style menu. It’s a great place for stopping after dinner, since it’s open from 5pm to 1am, or you can choose from an eclectic menu, featuring short rib tacos or Sambuca lemongrass mussels, and have plenty to share. I love stopping by for the after-dinner specialty drinks, like the Italian coffee. Yummy! The bar is stocked to provide fresh fruit and muddled cocktails, along with beer and wine, and even the desserts are liquored up, like the bread pudding soufflé with Irish whiskey sauce. I think it’s the perfect girls-night out, or hot date night spot. Hit up their happy hour Monday through Friday from 5pm to 8pm, and enjoy nightly live entertainment. Their goal is to be the ultimate getaway in South Tampa – let’s help them do it!
College Students & Families
PDQ (2207 South Dale Mabry Highway; 813.254.737)
When the nearby high school lets out, it’s like an exodus to make it straight over to PDQ. The food is fresh and served up fast and hot in a friendly and fun environment. The retro soda fountain looks like an old-time coke vending machine, a detail few teens recognize but love anyways. Don’t expect to find burgers at this joint – this place is strictly for the birds: chicken and turkey. Chicken tender dipping sauces, salad dressings and fries are made on-site and nothing is prepackaged. Personally, I think the chicken tenders taste every bit as good as their sit-down restaurant competition. And if you’re wondering, PDQ stands for “Pretty Darn Quick.”
Irish 31 (1611 West Swann Ave; 813.250.0031)
Everything on their lunch menu is $8 and they have a kids menu. Ready to go yet? With a mission to set the standard for Irish Pubs by blending a love of the traditional (Mulligan stew, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash) with the homey atmosphere of a living room on a Sunday during an NFL game (if that living room had 16 televisions), Irish 31 is unique to say the least. Keep an eye out for the almost nightly drink specials.
Linda Baldwin, is a Credentialed Diet & Nutrition Expert and a Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) whose skills have been honed by 25 years in the catering, restaurant, and event production industry. She is know as local foodie, ultra healthy prepared foods specialist, educator – columnist and creator of Amore and Amore To-Go a lifestyle company, based in South Tampa since 2006. She leads a team of professionals that include chefs, and educators in the field of health and wellness.