Latin and Caribbean
What started in 1997 as a romantic and cozy secret on the bottom floor of a SoHo apartment building has metastasized into a behemoth of Tampa Bay cuisine. Ceviche (1502 S. Howard Ave., 813/250-0203, www.ceviche.com, 5–10 p.m. Sun.–Mon., 5 p.m.–midnight Tues.–Thurs., 5 p.m.–1 a.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $5) has long since outgrown its humble beginnings, opening plus-size outposts in St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Orlando.
The Tampa location has also grown, having moved a couple of blocks away from the bay into a labyrinthine dining complex that includes several dining rooms that attempt to recreate the intimacy of the original, outdoor seating, and even a flamenco room. While most of the original charm is gone, the high quality of the tapas and Spanish fare remains.
Unlike many tapas restaurants, Ceviche’s menu of hot and cold plates is both authentic and creative, as well as quite extensive, encouraging multiple visits. Do not leave without trying the sangria.
People have grown to expect friendly personal service at Hugo’s Spanish Restaurant (931 S. Howard Ave., 813/251-2842, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sat., main courses $6–9) since it opened in 1973. Hugo’s serves primarily Cuban food—excellent rice and beans, a decent Cuban sandwich and a much-praised roast pork—as well as breakfast and a small selection of Italian dishes.
Out near Busch Gardens and the University of South Florida campus, Jerk Hut & Mojito Bar (2101 E. Fowler Ave., 813/977-5777, http://jerkhut.zionfx.com, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–closing Fri.–Sat., main courses $6–9) has a wide variety of Jamaican treats—from its titular preparation of meat to curried goat and meat patties—as well as other Caribbean favorites like conch fritters and roti wraps. Fresh fruit juices are available.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition