Bartaco – Hyde Park, Tampa

Bartaco Logo

I was invited to a special blogger night at Hyde Park Village, and was glad to be able to stop into Bartaco which opened recently.

Bartaco Menu + Happy Hour

Bartaco serves everything tapas style, so each taco is 3-4 bites. With my “dietary needs” our server was very helpful to give me a few suggestions to try.

Bartaco - Drinks!

Drinks – I had the pink drink named Cecilia, a take on the margarita with guava.


Everything comes out as its done. First up was the black bean salad, spicy cucumber salad and mushroom mole tamale. This was my first ever tamale (!) and I loved it. I’ll be ordering it again. (Isn’t it funny how less photogentic foods often taste the best?)


I ordered two of the cauliflower tacos. The tacos are unexpensive and two with a tamale was plenty. I like places I can go and try a few different things and not be over ordering. Also three hot sauces – get on that habanero!

I’m looking forward to coming back and sitting outside with friends. I’ve already read some reviews and want to try the plantains and veganize the falafel. Lets meet up.

Veganized! – Kerry’s Pumpkin Sage and Spicy Sausage Pizza

I’m not much of a photographer OR a food blogger, I leave that to Nicole – but when I saw Kerry’s Pumpkin Sage and Spicy Sausage Pizza – I just *had* to veganize the recipe. I even had cooked a pumpkin just last week! Ahoy freezer!

This pizza was very different from my normal meals. Since the beginning I’ve been very weary of “transitional” vegan foods – IE: fake cheeses & meats. One of the main reasons I chose this lifestyle to eat whole, unprocessed foods. In fact, in making this pizza, I bought fake cheese for the first time! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll bring fake burgers to a cookout, vegan cream cheese for office bagel birthdays or other processed vegan foods when grabbing lunch at Whole Foods – but I try to keep it clean 80-90% of the time. (It helps that Gregg doesn’t like them at all.)

I will say I was REALLY impressed with Tofurky’s Italian Sausage – It was spicy & had a great texture. I’ll for sure be bringing it to the next cookout I attend!

This was an amazing dish to welcome Autumn. It tasted savory and thanksgiving-ish. I loved it & Gregg did as well — We looked over to the leftovers :)

Vegan Pumpkin Sage and Spicy Sausage Pizza

Recipe adapted from Yum and Yummer

Pizza dough:

  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • ½ tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup warm water between 100-110 degrees F


  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp of vegan cream cheese (used this)
  • ¼ cup almond milk (used this)
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh sage, chopped finely
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp salt


  • 1 ½ cup shredded vegan rice cheese (used this)
  • 2 links of cooked vegan Italian sausage (used this)
  • 4-5 sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp melted vegan butter, to brush the pizza crust (used this)
  • Thinly sliced red onions, to taste
  • Garlic salt, to taste


  1. Combine yeast, agave, flour and oil and slowly drizzle in water until the dough comes together. Add more water or flour until the dough is neither dry nor sticky.
  2. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour to rise – dough should be twice its original size. (Mine didn’t rise — could it be bad yeast?)


  1. Combine ingredients except for the vegan cream cheese and almond milk into a skillet and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in. (It will thicken up once you add the milk/cheese)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Once dough has risen, stretch or roll out into desired shape and place on a oiled pizza pan.
  3. Add sauce, half of the cheese, browned sausage, onions, sage and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Brush crust with melted butter and sprinkle garlic salt over entire pizza.
  4. Place pizza in oven and bake for 18 minutes, or until crust is browned.

this is my money shot


Restaurant: Soobak (Davis Island, Tampa)

After seeing Carlo’s Eats post about this sushi place close to my place, I knew I had to take my sushi loving boyfriend… STAT!

Above photo was my dinner the “Tempura Tofu Bento Box”. ($8.25) We added a miso soup for BF for an extra dollar, — it was miso soup, nothing to rave about.  The salad was basic- romaine, carrots and cucumbers with a great ginger dressing. The tofu came with sauteed broccoli, onions and mushrooms. I enjoyed the tofu, although wished the tofu was cubed a bit smaller. They were about two bites each, a bit unwieldy with chopsticks! I don’t typically enjoy/eat plain white rice, I tried a bite and it seemed good.

Here is why you come to Soobak…

…the sushi!

This was Gregg’s dinner. He got a sunomono salad, which is seafood medley, romaine, cucumber, scallions, masagao & a rice vinegar dressing. ($4.95) Gregg was happy with the amount of seafood on the salad, most places are pretty skimpy. He ordered the veggie roll ($4.95) and the Mexican roll.($5.95) I got to try a bite of his veggie roll, it was very good, I enjoyed the texture of the wakame (edible seaweed) in the roll, I had never experienced that in a veggie rolls. Gregg is the  sushi aficionado & rated Soobak an 8 out of 10. (Which means we’ll be back!)

Soobak also has frozen yogurt. ($.49/oz.) I considered myself lucky because they had a non dairy watermelon flavor. I added pineapple & these juice “bursts”. (I really hope this is molecular gastronomy, fingers crossed.) It was tart & I enjoyed it very much.

I had two problems with Soobak.

The first problem, which is a very common problem now that I’m vegan — is the lack of options. There was 5 options for a vegan. Honey Garlic Tofu, Tempura Tofu, Veggie Roll, Miso Soup and Edamame. I really was hoping they’d have a few different variations of veggie rolls. I do accept that I’m not the norm, so this is really only an issue with me.

The second problem is the size of Soobak. It is TINY. Like, uncomfortable tiny. Like, 4 tables tiny. Like, getting froyo & bumping into people dining tiny. I don’t know if we’ll go back to sit down & dine, but I can see myself picking this up on the way home for dinner, running over on the weekend for a quick lunch, or biking over  to get my frozen yogurt fix.

Overall, I am excited about Soobak. The entire time we were there it was bustling & people were picking up to-go orders non-stop. I hope they flourish, move to a bigger location and add more options. Soobak knows how to make sushi!

Soobak on Urbanspoon

Tampa Bay Organics

Sarah kept mentioning & posting to my facebook about this company that delivers organic fruits and vegetables to your door. Once I had made the decision to become vegan… It seemed no better time to try it out.

Their website is AWESOME & from start to finish took ten minutes to sign up. They allow you to make substitutions (don’t like onions? oranges? Get something else!)  or choose vegetables or fruit only.  (: We chose veggies only :)

Yesterday was the day! I was worried about delivery because our place is a bit of a hassle to get into. On their website they suggest to leave a cooler by your front door.

I got home & my cooler was full!

I think because of how our place is, they had to drop the brown box at the front desk & then someone from here walked it up & put it into our cooler.

1 Acorn Squash
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
4 Local Roma Tomatoes
1 Broccoli
1 Local Romaine Lettuce
1 Local Red Kale
1 bunch Sweet Onion
1 Hass Avocado (CA)
1 Baby Carrots (1 LB)

=$30 w/ delivery

The image everyone wants to see! It’s a TON of food, I am excited.  The head of romaine is by far the biggest I’ve ever seen.  I like that the box is a nice mixture of stuff. Gregg loves avocados & tomatoes. I am a big salad & acorn squash fan. :) The only thing I wish was a bit different is that it included some weird new/unusual to us veggies, but I’m sure that happens sometimes.

They included a few produce bags, and instructions on how to wash & properly store your veggies.

I liked their signature :)

I’ve only ordered once, but I would recommend this to anyone. People complain about the prices of organic food.  Yes, it’s more than you’d spend in a conventional grocery store, but when you look into it, you see it’s worth the extra price.

Things I am planning on making:

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta

Southwestern Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Pistachio Arugula Pesto with Penne and Sauteed Broccolini

Perhaps try Kale chips again, may they be edible this time…

Restaurant: GrillSmith (Multiple Locations, Tampa)

Last Thursday Gregg & I had the opportunity to attend a VIP Tasting Event ­ at GrillSmith in South Tampa.  I thought I’d share my favorites from the things we tasted. (I developed a very precise smiley-face rating system, each of the ones I’m sharing received 4+ smiles)

Stoil Ravioli – Stuffed with grilled chicken, spinach and creamy ricotta cheese tossed in a Stolichnaya Vodka tomato cream sauce.

This was my favorite dish of the entire night. I really wished it photographed better. I hardly ever eat pasta, but this was so delicious, & I definitely went back for seconds. 

Chicken Milanese – Sauteed, herb-crusted chicken finished withe a lemon-butter white wine reductions, sun-dried tomatoes, golden raisins and capers, dressed with arugula and pine nuts in our lemon-feta vinaigrette, served over seasoned rice.

I love anything with citrus, so this was a HUGE winner for me. I’ve never had Chicken Milanese before, the sauce was outstanding. I even asked if they could make this with grilled chicken – they said yes!

Spicy Thai Chicken – Lightly battered, flash-fried chicken cutlets tossed in sriacha aioli, served with hot and sweet honey glaze.

Gregg & I talked about this one a lot.  This chicken reminded me of Bonefish’s “Bang Bang Shrimp”.  I was glad this wasn’t slathered in sauce, it was still crunchy. :) On Gregg’s notes there is “win” written by “sriacha aioli”, this dish still could have been spicier for me, but none-the-less yummy!

Voodoo Cheese Fries – Creole seasoned fries finished with a New Orleans style white barbecue sauce, smoked Gouda, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, Andouille sausage and green onions, served with cilantro sour cream for dipping.

This is pretty much what I wish I could eat everyday all day. It’s dangerously delicious. I want to buy creole seasoning asap.

Smoked Salmon Bruschetta
–  Smoked Norwegian salmon with capers, fresh basil, red onions, Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and GrillSmith’s own lemon-feta vinaigrette on toasted crostini.

Last but not least… I did not try this. (I know, I know, not a big seafood/fish fan) But! This was Gregg’s favorite dish. Actually everyone’s favorite dish – the whole table kept going on & on about it how wonderful it was.

This made me laugh, Gregg was my +1, so they gave him my last name! ;)

GrillSmith did an amazing job with the entire night. I was glad to be able to try their new menu items.  When I have thought of  GrillSmith in the past, I think I really shrugged it off because I figured it was just a chain restaurant,  but GrillSmith is definitely anything BUT mediocre.

There are six Tampa locations and you can view their menus as well as location addresses on their Website. You can also find them on Facebook & follow them on Twitter.

Disclosure: All food was provided by GrillSmith Restaurant free of charge.

Duckweed Urban Market – Downtown Tampa

Friday evening I stumbled upon an amazing store that is just opening!

Duckweed Urban Market is located downtown on the corner of Franklin Street & E. Polk Street, next to The Hub and below the Sweatshop Urban Gym.

Duckweed carries a ton of local products, just from browsing I found many local brands! Buddy Brew Coffee, TeBella Tea, tons!!! of different types of Sami’s Bakery breads and Intensity Academy’s delicious hot sauces & sauces.

We met Derek who was manning this shop, he is incredibly knowledgeable! (Please make sure to say hi!) Every time I “Ooohed!” or “Awwed” at something usually he’d mention that it was either also made locally or it was special ordered. He made sure to point out a soda named “Hotlips” which has fruit pulp in it!

What was nice was, that among the truffle oil, quinoa “burger” mixes, gluten free awesomeness, numerous of delicious cheeses, freshest produce I’ve seen in Tampa… they also have staples! Out of eggs? Drop in on your way home. Need milk? Just walk over. Yes, they also had cheapie macaroni & cheese too :P

I loved that Duckweed has everything I have been dying to try! I will obviously be a regular here! Derek also mentioned they soon plan to carry beer & wines!

Here is some pictures to share:

Omg how cute is the front of this place?!

They even have animal food! :)

Duckweed Urban Market:

305 E Polk Street, Tampa, FL 33602




***Big thank you goes to Renee! for taking all these pictures while I was chatting it up w/ Derek!<3 <3

Freshley’s Cafe – Seminole Heights

There has been a lot of tweets/mentions of Freshley’s Cafe that has just opened in Seminole Heights last week. Freshley’s offers breakfast & lunch Monday through Saturday, I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to stop by on the way to Gregg’s office to check out all the hype.

Freshley’s is located at the northwest corner of Florida and Hillsborough in Seminole Heights.

Have I mentioned I love airstreams?!

It is surrounded by a ton of newly planted plants, as well as a cute dining area with shade. (I wonder if they have wi-fi? ;)

I sneaked a picture of the inside. :) It’s a Mother, Daughter and Grand Daughter team!

Showing all the cute plants in bright planters. So cheery!  Gregg has coffee :)

This is the specials board, condiments table, and tea! (Sweet & Unsweet)

Gregg got “Good Morning New York”
– Smoked salmon, light cream cheese, red onion, sliced tomato, and capers on fresh Pumpernickel bread. $5.95
It got raving reviews from Gregg.

I got the “Egg White Frittata”
– Baked Arugula, garlic, green onions and turkey sausage (salmon was a choice too), served on wheat toast, with fresh fruit. $4.50

Can I say how EXTREMELY OVERJOYED I am? Freshley’s food was amazing. They have healthy portions. Food is perfectly seasoned. Fresh. Good pricing. -There was BLUEBERRIES in their fruit salad. When have you ever seen that?

I will for sure be a regular at Freshley’s Cafe. :)

Find them online: Website | Twitter | Facebook

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled program…

New breakfast item that Gregg & I are obsessed w/ after Oz ordered it (all separately) @ Village Inn after a #EpicThankstampa meeting.

One egg -sunny side up, two pieces of bacon, all on top of a pancake drizzled lightly w/ syrup.

This is the best pizza I’ve EVER had. @ #pizzaoventweet

Still trying to keep up w/ E-mealz, here’s a stir-fry from this week.
I “kicked it up a notch”, I make everything super spicy.
Sriracha or chili paste in EVERYTHING I make.

I went to my good friend Kim’s birthday on Saturday.
It was awesome & these cupcakes rocked my world -Lemon!

Me at work, drinking coffee.
I drink so much coffee, like 8 cups a day.
I’m kinda glad the weather here has been rainy, I can enjoy hot coffee!

My boss got a Carin Terrier last week…!
Harry! I love him & I’m sure he’ll be hanging out at the office all the time.

Spicy Southwest Chicken Soup

Gregg made a Spicy Southwest Chicken Soup for dinner last night that included, green bell peppers, corn, black beans, cilantro, sour cream, & of course chicken. Paired w/ chips & amazing homemade salsa! :) I’m having leftovers for lunch. Super spicy & cilantro overload. (How I like it!) -The white stuff in the soup is sour cream. Gregg’s a fancy man & piped it into the soup, rather than dollops.