Category Archives: Exotic

Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericana

We were going to Los Hermanos Dominican Restaurant this morning. It was closed again for the second time. Later on we saw it opened up again, but wow, we were there for breakfast at like 0830, so I guess desayunos comes late in the Dominican Republic! Instead we stumbled on a new place, the Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericana at 2504 W Dr Martin Luther King. We visited on 14 November 2009, and this was our first visit.


We had no idea what we were in for with this adventure. Heck, me and Marek had to come home and look up a definition of Pupusas! We walked in the door and discovered we were in a Salvadoran restaurant. We applied our crafty knowledge of cultural cues and geography, plus our ability to read the t-shirts on display that were emblazoned with “El Salvador!” We’ve never been to a Salvadoran place, nor ever even met folks from El Salvador so far as we know. So we were in for a treat!


We sat down to an interesting menu full of lovely new things for us to consider. Our lovely waitress did not speak English, so we had a chance to exercise our fledgling Español again. No pancakes on the menu, so we had to get out of our normal routine. I’m seriously considering making a Latin category for breakfasts, as it’s hard to do a pancakes review when there’s no pancakes!


What do you think about this car?


While they had cafe negro, I decided to stick with my policy that I just made up that I always have cafe con leche con desayunos, pero black coffee for breakfast. Marek, as our loyal and dear readers may have noticed, is off his coffee kick and sticking to the juice. This was a really delicious coffee. I had two!


While we were having coffee, we couldn’t help but notice this beautiful piece of work. In fact, the whole place was full of nice little touches like this. We’ve lived as ex-pats so we know what an ex-pat refuge looks like, and the Pupuseria Centroamericana looks like a real oasis for folks with Salvadoran roots.


Dad got un beso!


Then breakfast came. So we didn’t get pancakes because they weren’t on the menu (though afterwards, I think they did have pancakes on the niños menu but I missed it when we were ordering). What we did was take the recomendation of our cheerful waitress and got the heuvos rancheros. Take a gander at this sumptuous plate of chow:


That’s fried eggs with salsa, refried beans, sour cream, cheese, what appeared to be home-made corn tortillas, and plantains. Plus, we got some Cuban toast with cheese for Marek. Now to be perfectly honest, I’m really a pancake-man. A one-trick-pony, if you will. But us breakfast professionals have a burden to bear and sometimes we have to walk a challenging road, making great sacrifices along the way, in order to discover all the great breakfasts of Tampa Bay. So looking at this new breakfast, this desayunos nuevos, with a fresh eye, I can tell you that it was fabulous. Unfortunately, Marek didn’t agree. He barely touched it.


But that turned out to be Marek’s problem as I made it my goal to find the bottom of the plate. Delicious! While I was occupied, Marek did his best to entertain the four señoritas bonitas who sat in the booth behind us. When we were done (me with eating both our breakfasts and Marek with being cute), Marek paid the bill.


He made good friends along the way. We discovered that Salvadorans are some pretty gosh-darned friendly folks!


We didn’t find this to be a particularly cheap breakfast, but much like our visit to J. Christopher’s a couple months ago, we had such good chow that we didn’t notice. Marek DID get a pop after he paid the bill, so he went away pretty gosh darned happy, too.


This is one happy Marek.


After breakfast we made it into a great day by picking up mom and going downtown. We took the Tampa Trolley!


And we went to the Ybor City Saturday Market!


Overall we had a great morning, and we got our start at the Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericana. Friendly folks, definite locals vibe, really interesting interior with great Central American elements, and delicious, if non-TBB-standard, desayunos. Oh, and a pop. We liked this place a lot. We’re pleased to award Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericana a four Tampa Bay Breakfast pancake rating.


Pupuserie and Cafeteria Centro on Urbanspoon

Farmer John’s

Today we’re going way out of our territory to have breakfast with an old friend. Going to Brooksville is quite a journey from Tampa! We brought a book for the ride.


And we packed provisions.


And brother let me tell you, the trip was worth it. We visited Farmer John’s in Brooksville on 3 October 2009. We have never been to Farmer John’s, nor anyplace in Hernando County ever, for breakfast. Farmer John’s is a “Key West Cafe”, complete with the bright colors and Jimmy Buffet soundtrack. Some folks might find this to be sort of “touristy” or kitschy, but I love it. And this place is in Brooksville, for cryin’ out loud. In Miami it would be a tourist trap, but in Brooksville it’s novel and fun.


While we were on a road trip to raise awareness of breakfasts in central Florida, Mom was up early to support the Race for the Cure in St. Pete (notice our cool “I’m a Breast Man” t-shirts! They work on so many levels.). Mom, you kick butt!


This was a special Tampa Bay Breakfast as we were joined by our old friend Dave. Dave lives in Brooksville and had recommended Farmer John’s to us several times since the start of Tampa Bay Breakfasts. Today we finally took him up on it.


Let’s start with a serious discussion about coffee. This coffee was serious. End of discussion. Gosh-darn it to heck, Beaver, we could have drank a 55 gallon drum of this brew. And it kept coming. We never saw the bottom of that cup (and obviously, Marek was helping me drink it).


We discovered that Dave has the razor-sharp reflexes of a Tampa Bay Lightning goalie. Well, a Lightning goalie from 2004, anyway. Marek kept winging this little dump truck at Dave, but that puck never hit the net. Based on the last few games we’ve been to, I’m thinking the Bolts could really use Dave’s skills. Oren and Len, hook us up with an official Lightning breakfast and we’ll introduce you.


Then there was breakfast. And this breakfast came down from on high. You can only say “wow” and “holy moley” and “mmmmm, mouf full, cann falk now” so much. But before I get too far down that road, we’ll check in with Dave, our official TBB Guest Reviewer. Dave comes here all the time, so he already knew he’d be happy.


The menu has fresh rainbow trout with eggs, potatoes, and pancakes as a whopper of a breakfast special. Our kind waitress strongly suggested I get this, and pretty much called me a pansy for not trying it. But I stuck to my guns, because on the other side of the menu I saw something very important … blueberry pancakes. While I don’t have any particular prejudice against fish for breakfast, given the chance for a phat stack of blueberry cakes I don’t even have to say which way I’m going to roll. Blueberry pancakes all the way. Oh, and scrambled eggs and bacon.


Marek wants to tell Steve from Yankeetown that he thinks the bacon could be considered Steve-Standard for crisp.


After all this breakfast, it just needs another dose of the JP-4. (I have a confession to make at this point. While Marek was distracted drinking his coffee, I ate that whole pancake of his on his plate. Serves him right for taking his eyes off the prize!)


All through breakfast I was mulling on the final score. Four? Four and a half? Let’s reconsider the things we look at when we give a rating. Quality, uniqueness, friendliness, overall good feeling, price. I’m thinking top marks on everything except maybe price and definitely distance. And then Dave snapped up the check and, in blatant violation of Tampa Bay Breakfast policy, says he’s paying. Let’s just say this pushed our rating right over the top (hey, it’s a subjective rating system, and Dave’s not going to buy breakfast for everyone, so this counts for a lot to us!). Marek asked Dave if he could take the check up to the counter.


Dave was happy for the help!


Marek caught our waitress with her hands full. They sorted it out, but for a moment there we were all pretty sure that those pancakes and trout were going to go a-flying to the island sounds of Mr. Buffet. The bill got paid and the change was returned safely.


When we were all done we thanked Dave for the great recommendation and for picking up the tab. Marek saw how full I was from such a big breakfast, so he offered to drive while I took a little nap. Now that’s a good son I have. Thoughtful. Considerate. Likes listening to AC/DC when we ride.


So here we are. The end of a Tampa Bay Breakfast. Doing the tally in the car (Marek’s driving while I write this. We run a wicked little Celica GTS with the 6-speed transmission. He’s spinning Back In Black and hitting the high points at about 125mph as we dodge the tractors on U.S. 41.) We just had blueberry pancakes that were on point with the Gold Standard (should I say, the “blue standard?”) blueberry pancakes of Skyway Jacks in St. Pete. We had Steve-Standard bacon. The menu had something very unique with the fish, like Martha’s in central Tampa. The decor was as fun and unique as what you see at the Pink Flamingo on Davis Island. The people were as friendly as can be and the crowd was full of regulars (Dave was known by name) like at Niko’s or Mamas’. That’s a 4.5 rating, easy. Spending the hour with Dave, and him picking up the tab didn’t hurt, pushes us over the line. We’re very stingy with awarding the 5-pancake rating, but I think we’re going to have to roll it out for this exceptional breakfast experience.

We’re pleased to give this Tampa Bay Breakfast a five pancake rating.


Backerei Keim im Schwaben Galerie

We visited Backerei Keim in the Schwaben Galerie in Vaihingen, just outside of Stuttgart, Germany on 9 September 2009. The Schwaben Galerie is a relatively new place in Vaihingen. We chose it as it was close to the train station and it had a place to sit down.


As our loyal readers may have noticed, Stuttgart is no where near Tampa! This Tampa Bay Breakfast was “on the road” as we were in Stuttgart for a week to visit friends and drink beer. Germany is not known for its pancakes, so we made the best of it with a bakery visit.


Marek was truly enjoying his visit to Germany, but he was not finding a lot of things he liked to eat. The typical bakery in Germany has a good assortment of sweets along with excellent coffee. We took a good look at the offerings.


Marek decided upon Quark Bällchen. They were on sale if you bought five. So that’s what we did. I had the cherry turnover. They were good!


We also had a coffee. Well, honestly, Marek had Tiger Juice. This was the juice that sustained him throughout the whole trip. Without Tiger Juice, we would have all perished!


But I had coffee, and it was very nice, indeed! Strong and black. Though not bottomless. This is a major flaw in Europe – you get a coffee, and you get only one. And it costs you a bunch of money, too. But it’s good enough that we just shut up and enjoy!


Our favorite guest reviewer, Mom, was with us on the trip, of course. And she joined us for breakfast (that’s “Frühstück” in the local lingo!).


She had a special treat, a really nice hot chocolate! I’m still not sure how it is that I can love a girl so much when she doesn’t like coffee. But being that this is her only flaw I think I’ll keep her.


When we were done, we got on the train and headed to the park!


We had a very nice little breakfast at the Keim bakery. The food was good but expensive (the dollar being what it is overseas these days) and the coffee was just right. While it wasn’t a “real” breakfast in the classic Tampa Bay Breakfasts way, it was a great time. We’re not going to give it a TBB rating because it was so far outside of our territory, but we still wanted to share the experience with our devoted readers.

Ric’s Kountry Kitchen

Andy visited Ric’s Kountry Kitchen in April 2009. Marek wasn’t along for the ride, as Ric’s is on Ras Abu Aboud Street in Doha, Qatar. This is not a formal Tampa Bay Breakfast so we’re not giving it an actual rating. (Marek’s the one who actually assigns the ratings, I just do the web page.)


My colleague Zaya was also on this trip and agreed to be a guest reviewer for Tampa Bay Breakfasts. If you run into her on the sidewalk, ask her why her forearms are uncovered in these pictures.


You can get killed by this breakfast, if this omelet is to be believed.


I had the pancakes.


Zaha had the eggs.


Let’s be honest here. If we were in Tampa Bay, this would have been a 2-pancake rating, maximum. The pancakes were iffy and Zaya’s eggs had a melted-plastic appearance. But this was a real American diner in the middle of Doha, Qatar. And the coffee was pretty danged good.


So after having had your fill of things like baby camel, one does find a certain sense of welcome relief going to breakfast at Ric’s. It’s an oasis in a breakfast desert.


At the end of the day, if Ric’s is good enough for the United States Army Central Command, then it’s good enough for Tampa Bay Breakfasts!