Tampa, Fla., may be America’s 13th largest media market but it’s no food city. Three recent experiences:
- Last night, I ate at Bungalow Bistro, so named because it’s inside a house (though I’m not sure the structure counts as a bungalow). Small joint with fewer than 20 tables that sells the quasi-upscale bistro food that is so common in Iowa City. I started with the soup — tomato-basil bisque — and found it thin and insipid and the flavor of canned tomatoes. Taste on Melrose is a cut above for about the same price.
- El Taconazo — better known as the Taco Bus because the kitchen is in a converted school bus slapped onto the back — was tasty, cheap and authentic (I had tacos de carne asada and lengua) but nothing better than, say, La Reyna or El Paso (and not as cheap, either).
- I don’t know if this one falls on Tampa or not, but Frankies, a hot dog place with a few locations in Connecticut and one in Tampa, served me the Worst. Cheesesteak. Ever. Instead of thinly sliced eye of round, it was some sort of shredded beef with Italian seasonings. Seriously, WTF.
A positive food note: I ate at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a regional chain, and had the best burger I’ve had in a while. Greasy, thick, cheesy. And the fries, served overflowing from a white foam cup, were phenomenal. I keep looking for a excuse to go back. Maybe for lunch tomorrow. (Drool.)