This week we are talking about food, but with a bit of a rant as well. So what does the article’s title mean? Let me explain. On MSN, AOL and other ‘front or main” pages on the internet they always feature headline and highlight stories of all kinds, politics, sports, finances, government, etc. But they also love to feature a lot of pieces regarding food, which is great.
There is “The Best Steakhouse in your State, the Best Hamburger Joint in your State, the Best Doughnut Shop in your State, the Best Fried Chicken in your State, The Best Pizza in your State, the Best Sandwich in your State and on and on the lists go. I have been to a number of places listed in other states over the years I have been on this planet and they are pretty spot on with their selections. However, when it comes to Florida that is another story.
Whoever these food critics or writers are, they apparently don’t get around very much. I say that because when it comes to Florida in these various listings the restaurants and various eating places they pick are always in Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm and that entire east coast stretch of Florida. It’s like places such as Tampa (Tampa Bay), Orlando, Sarasota, Jacksonville, etc. do not exist and there is no place worthy of a mention for great food of any kind. How very wrong they are.
I have no doubt there are great places in Miami and the surrounding areas and I have had that pleasure, but it is not the only place in the state for good food or dining. Even the Food Network’s Guy Fieri has featured places in Tampa, Sarasota, New Port Richey and other spots on his Diners, Drive Ins and Dives shows. They don’t have to be fancy schmancy, expensive restaurants to have great food. Fact is, sometimes these little out of the way, hole in the wall places have a much better food and offerings to enjoy.
For an example when it comes to steak places everybody, in or out of state knows of Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa for example and is considered among the very best, but most write ups don’t even mention Bern’s, but Prime 112 in, where else, Miami. Then there is the Best Sandwich category and when it comes to Florida they list the Cuban, which I totally agree with, but here is the rub. They feel a place in Miami of course, Versaille, is the best hands down. They do not even mention Tampa where the sandwich was invented over 100 years ago by the cigar workers in Ybor City. I have had them from both places and sorry, but Tampa has the best.
Finally, I have to give a big shout out to a place where I have found the very best bagels anywhere. Coming from New Jersey, I have had bagels from New York, Brooklyn, New Jersey and other places over the years. But a year or so back we discovered Village Bread & Bagels out of Jacksonville. We get them at Bearrs Groves in Tampa where we get all our cheeses, fruits and veggies. They have the usual kind, but also Swiss bagels, with just a hint of Swiss cheese flavor and Cheddar Cheese bagels that have become my go to for burgers instead of burger buns. The bagels are fluffy, filling, huge and to me, the best anywhere.
If you are like me and enjoy checking out these lists and seeing some places maybe from where you grew up or came from before moving to Florida, it can be an interesting food journey. Just keep in mind that whoever these people are that make up these lists really need to get out to other parts of Florida for their food fix. They will be in for some big, tasty surprises because there are a ton of great places elsewhere in Florida besides the Brevard, Broward, Dade County area.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a big, giant Dagwood sandwich to make since writing this piece has made me very hungry. Have fun checking out all these different places, enjoy your day and eat hearty and healthy.
Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor, NightMoves Magazine and AAN