What the Florida?

I just spent two weeks in Tampa for work. And…listen Florida…we need to talk about your wildlife and your food.

I’m not much of a nature person. Nature doesn’t have WiFi1Unless you’re in Minneapolis, apparently.. Why would you go outside where there’s not internet when you can be inside where there is internet? But sometimes, you go outside and you see neat things like this.

There was a motherfucking armadillo just chilling outside a building. Why? Apparently they’re native to the area. But…why is there just an armadillo that near people? It was a calm armadillo — it walked around this flower bed for a few minutes then went into hiding under one of the ferns. It’s pretty cool to see. That said, less than a mile away, there was a swamp, which meant lots of birds and possible alligator danger. And when I say swamp…

…I mean a swamp. Complete with birds pecking into the water to catch bugs. Fortunately, long necked birds and a handful of hyperactive squirrels were all I saw in the area. And, despite signs being posted in numerous places (including at work), there weren’t any alligators that I actually needed to beware of. In fact, the most alarming thing I encountered the entire time I was in Tampa was the food.

I love trying local food when I travel. I’ve found some fantastic places to eat when I’ve traveled, be it for work or otherwise. Want good barbecue? Go to Austin, Texas. Need a good Afghani restaurant in San Diego? I’ve got a place for you. Mouth-watering shaved ice on your mind for desert? The best place is in Sacramento. And of course the best pizza you’ll find is in Chicago.

If you want food in Tampa, I’m going to strongly recommend IHOP.

If you’re from the US2I know IHOP is in countries outside of the US, but the vast majority of its stores are here, so I am going to guess that is where most of you would have encountered it. , I know what you’re thinking right about now. IHOP is fine. It’s decent diner breakfast. They have great hash browns3Seriously though. IHOP is the only place I get hash browns from.. But to say IHOP is the best place to eat in an area either indicates that you’re really in the mood for pancakes or that the food in that area is terrible. In Tampa’s case, it’s the latter.

I try to order food for delivery most of the time when I’m travelling for work. Although I recognize it costs a bit more to have food delivered, it saves me having to rent a car or get a Lyft to somewhere just to have dinner. I’m glad I rented a car in Tampa, as every place I ordered delivery from took over 90 minutes to bring food to my hotel — even if the place was under two miles away. I get it on Friday and Saturday nights, but a random Wednesday night generally doesn’t have exceptionally long pizza delivery times4As a former pizza delivery driver, I can vouch for this..

As for going out to places, it was rare that I was able to find food that didn’t leave me feeling sick to my stomach afterward. I really wish I had an explanation for why Tampa’s food was so unpleasant to me, even when ignoring wait times. Yet everything I hate aside from IHOP tasted strange. Not strange as in uncommon to me, but strange as in just not good.

I realize this is very much a first world problem. I’m quite fortunate that I’ve been able to travel as much as I have, be it for work or otherwise. I guess my word of advice here is that if you have to go to Tampa for any reason, take a few minutes and pick up some groceries. Your dinner will be much better for it.

What are some of the worst food cities you’ve ever been to? What about the best ones?  Where’s the best place to eat in your hometown? Sound off in the comments.

What the Florida?

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8 thoughts on “What the Florida?

  1. I’ve lived in Florida now for going on four years. Only spent 6 months living in Tampa, for good reason. The gators aren’t as frightening as you would think! It’s the snakes you have to watch out for!

    1. See, snakes are FAR worse in my mind than gators. That’s probably a biased general statement on my part living in an area where there aren’t gators, but I’d still much rather know there are gators around than snakes.

      I’ve been a couple of places in Florida now, but none of the experiences have been very good. I’ve been told Orlando is nice, but it’s the only place I’e heard positive stories about that I haven’t been to yet.

  2. Weird that there’s not a lot of good food in Tampa. Orlando there’s plenty! (Especially at Disney).

    I can’t think of anywhere that doesn’t have any good places to eat. Cuba’s a la carte restaurants were surprisingly ‘meh’. Their buffets and daytime restaurants were much better. That’s about all I can think of though.

    Our town is actually quite fortunate. We’re quite the ‘food’ destination. Several of our restaurants have appeared on a Food Network show called “You Gotta Eat Here”.

    We have everything from a phenomenal Indian restaurant, to authentic Japanese cuisine, high-end steakhouses, quaint local cafes & bistros, specialty restaurants, local diners… you name it. It’s pretty easy to go broke just on eating awesome food.

    1. I’m quite jealous of the awesome food. Allegedly Cleveland proper has great food, however many of the restaurants people have told me I should go try due to their good food haven’t been that great. That said, I generally dislike breweries, and Cleveland has those in spades, so…

      I’ve always heard Cuba has good food, though I can’t say I’ve known anyone other than you who has been there. I’ve only had a Cubano sandwich, which I know isn’t a Cuban invention. Oh and mojitos. Mmmmm mojitos.

      1. I’ve never really been a mojito fan. But yeah, for the most part, Cuban food is great. The a la carte restaurants are great if you’re a big fish lover. Not so much if you don’t like fish. But the rest is pretty awesome. Their fruit is incredible (so is Guatemalan fruit).

        If I had to choose though, I’d definitely prefer Guatemalan food over Cuban.

          1. The fruit is amazing. It’s mostly papyas, mangos, and watermelons, but they taste way different than the imports here. More flavour, more sweetness.

            They make a lot of food (like their “breads”) and such out of the corn cob and make like a flatbread out of it, and they use the husks to make tamales (we got to help make some in a village). In the poorer areas, it’s a lot of rice and chicken and soups. I don’t know how they cook them, or what they put in them, but they’re phenomenal. The food at the restaurants was great, but the food the people in the poorer areas made for us blew me away.

            Except for the one time I found a chicken beak in my tamale… I can’t eat tamales anymore haha.

          2. Honestly, I think I would have rather found a chicken beak in something than the caution tape I found in a hamburger once. That was fun. Fruit and bread are the two most important non-ice cream food groups, so that sounds nice.

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