Best healthy food:
Confession: I may be addicted to Fresh Kitchen. Everything there is gluten and dairy free but oh so good. My favorites: the chicken tenders and sweet potato noodles.
Favorite exercise spot:
I’m lucky. I get to put on my running shoes, head out the door and be on beautiful Bayshore Boulevard within minutes. Every time I’m running out there I think, “Wow, I live here!”
Best place to get a craft beer:
Tampa’s come a long way, baby. There are so many great places to get a craft beer that it’s hard to name one. A few favorites: The Independent, Mr. Dunderbak’s and New World Brewery. I must say, however, that I enjoy Datz. Not only can you get a great beer, but the homemade chips with blue cheese drizzle make the craft beer taste that much better.
Best place to catch a live band:
It’s hard to believe I first went to Skipper’s Smokehouse some 20 years ago as a USF student. I still love the vibe here. Young, old, hippies, business types, it doesn’t matter – it’s a sea of happiness on the sandy dance floor.
Green Lemon. It’s a great place to people watch on SoHo.
Best Bloody Mary:
The Bloody Ella, a rib-garnished Bloody Mary, at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café in Seminole Heights may be one of the most photographed drinks in Tampa on Instagram.
Best place to have dinner on the water:
I recall the excellent meal – and fantastic view – I recently had at Ulele overlooking the Hillsborough River. It’s a beautiful spot in downtown Tampa.
Best Mexican food:
I could live off the salsa, guacamole, white cheese dip and tortilla chips at Chihuahua Mexican Grill, but the butternut squash taco at Taco Bus often calls my name.
Best Chinese food:
When I’m in the mood for Chinese, I want it delivered, stat. China Wok on South MacDill never disappoints in bringing me my beloved garlic broccoli on time.
Best Sunday brunch:
I love the variety at Pane Rustica. You can go simple and choose their flatbread pizza (yes, please) or a sandwich while your companion dines from the specials menu (like oak-grilled pork tenderloin). For something fun, surprise yourself with their “shut up and eat, don’t ask” special. You won’t be disappointed.
Best dive bar:
The Hub in downtown Tampa – also the winner of best jukebox.
There is no happier place for me than the beach and the powdery white sand on Siesta Key. I got married in Sarasota just to have my reception there.
Best place to watch a Buccaneers game:
We have a pirate ship and cannons at Raymond James Stadium. Need I say more? Boom!
Place you take friends from out of town:
The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Their 1905 salad and sangria (made right at your table) are a must, and you can brag to friends that they’re eating at the oldest restaurant in Florida. Richard Gonzmart’s newest restaurant, Ulele, is a close second.
Place that’s worth the drive over the bridge:
Remember the things you did pre-kids? Driving almost an hour just to eat a Cajun grouper sandwich at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on Clearwater Beach was one of them.
Best Italian food:
It’s takeout, but when I’m craving carbs, I love The Ravioli Company. Their homemade ravioli (my favorite: chicken, roasted red peppers and jack) and pasta sauces (Diablo sauce) are the best anywhere, and you have dinner ready in less than 10 minutes.
I don’t eat beef, but my youngest loves cheeseburgers. We both agree on Square 1 Burgers. Their Very Vegan Veggie Burger is very, very yummy.
My hubby gives a thumbs-up to the medium wings at Beef O’Brady’s – sometimes he likes them hot.
Favorite place for date night:
I’m fortunate to live close to Hyde Park Village. After more than a decade, we still love going to the Wine Exchange for a great wine selection and the salmon Dijon. After that, we can walk over to CineBistro for a movie.