Category Archives: Greek

Mamas Kitchen Family Restaurant

We revisited Mamas Kitchen Family Restaurant on 10 April 2010. We were last here on 15 August 2009, and before that Mamas was our very first official Tampa Bay Breakfast, exactly 51 weeks ago. That’s right, pancake fans, we’ve been your diligent Breakfast Professionals for a whole year! There’s been some changes at Mamas, but the best parts are still there.


First thing you’ll notice is that there’s a new menu and the dining room is shuffled a little bit. If you’re thinking that there’s new management, you’re right. George from Mamas South told me last week that his cousin had sold the place, but that it still smells like Staten Island so it’s still a great place to visit.


We’re driving up to get some pancakes, and Marek says from the back, dad, you know, I’ve been thinking. Maybe I might like to consider playing with cars today. It has been approximately, according to my calculations, 8 seconds since I last played with any cars. So maybe I’ll play cars now.


And what do you know, the kid brought a friend, our favorite Tampa Bay Breakfasts guest reviewer, Mom! Mom appears to know her way around the Matchbox circuit. Look at that race-time passion!


Mom points out that this is a boy lion and this is a girl lion, and the girl lion needs lots and lots of shoes. Marek replied that they’re both TIGERS, MOM! I slowly edged my chair back to join another family.


Was there coffee? Yoooobetcha, and it’s just as good as ever, by which I mean that if you went and bought a brand new 1957 Chevy and you drove it every day until 10 April 2010 and you never once changed the motor oil, and in fact you took dirty motor oil from other cars and maybe your lawnmower and you used that to top off your engine when the oil was a little low, and then finally you changed your oil but used a coffee pot to drain it, then you have this good, dark, bitter, diner coffee that is probably stunting my growth and killing my brain cells. Good coffee, and I never once saw the bottom of the cup, which is standard service at Mamas.


So we’ve had these pancakes before. Actually quite a few times; we’ve probably had breakfast at Mamas more than at any other mom-n-pop pancake shop in the bay area. This is the only breakfast we’ve reviewed three times. There’s a reason for that. This is good chow.


Marek tends to agree. This maneuver is something he learned from watching WWF. The old Fork-in-the-Eyeball take-down. Dusty Rhodes used to do this one in the 70s.


We all need some coffee when we’re having pancakes as good as these! Is it just me, or does this look like a scene from a movie?


When we are all done, Marek went to pay. He had some help from our favorite Breakfast Bella, Vicky. If you go to Mamas, be sure to tip her well and tell her you’re there because of Tampa Bay Breakfasts.


Marek always gets the special treatment at Mamas. Well, he IS a celebrity. As a founding member of Tampa’s only Pancake Professional Posse, he is used to it. But here at Mamas he really is the Magistrate of the Morning Meal.


We’re so alliterative. But that’s largely because being palindromic would be so very time-consuming.

We walked out the door with full bellies, a cheerful disposition from talking to cheerful Vicky, and we even got a pop.


Great chow. Great people. Lions (or tigers if you believe Marek with his unique yelling-based approach to taxonomy). Pops. It’s all good. We’re pleased to re-re-confirm Mamas’ Tampa Bay Breakfast four and a half pancake rating.


After breakfast we had to change clothes because, well, we’re three and a boy and Things Happen. Then Marek and I went grocery shopping. He took care of the produce.


The Olympic Cafe

Have you ever noticed how breakfast is everywhere? North Tampa. South Tampa. St. Pete. Levy County. You can even get a decent breakfast in the Industrial Park.


We visited the Olympic Cafe at 5011 W. Hillsborough Avenue on 23 January 2010. This was our first visit to the Olympic Cafe. They have a nice little web site at And while you’re in the parking lot letting your craggy old man take your picture, you can look up and see airplanes taking off from Tampa International.


We walked into a warm, cozy little cafe in the middle of the industrial park. Not many people here, but those who were seemed to be locals and regulars. That’s always a good sign. One nice lady informed us that these would be the best pancakes we ever had. Of course, she had no idea that she was talking to Tampa Bay’s only working Pancake Professionals. We know pancakes! And we like eating them, too!


When we got settled, we found ourselves right in the middle of a championship race between a Tonka pickup truck and a Ferrari. Grand prize was to be king of the world. Or pancakes.


The Ferrari won. No surprises there. Though after the race I inspected the undercarriage and found a significant design flaw in the drive train. Apparently they thought a rear differential should hang out like redneck’s beer belly. How are you supposed to win races like that? Also, the Ferrari seemed to have four little donut spare tires on it. What are the boys in Maranello thinking?


And then a Breakfast Spider got the Tonka pickup truck. While Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” did not conveniently start playing on the house radio, it was playing in my head.


Oh No! The Breakfast Spider is after Marek! Go, Dog, go! Err, I mean, Run, Marek, Run! Run away! Run away!


Whew. That was a close one. After shooing away the spiders we had a look at the menu. We found something special: Greek coffee. We got us some. And pancakes. We got pancakes for sure.


The coffee was great. We usually have diner coffee. Sometimes we get Cuban coffee or Cafe Con Leche. But this was our first ever Greek coffee for breakfast.


The nice lady said that they even have Turkish folks come in to have gyros. But the Turks never seem to ask for Greek coffee. I’m not surprised. Greeks and Turks are not known for cheery relations. Marek, who is actually Turkish if you believe the stories he tells (he claims to be from Adana, walks around saying “merhaba,” and likes to quote Ataturk speeches), said that he would break the mold and try some Greek coffee too. But he refused to discuss the issue of Cypress. It’s always politics with this kid. Don’t get him started.


Between the fiery Mediterranean politics and the Breakfast Spiders, I thought we were doomed. But then, thankfully, breakfast came. Check out this nice spread.


The pancakes are thicker than a Ferrari!


Marek wasted no time! He asked for pepper, but I have to lay down SOME law with the boy, lest he think I’m just some pushover.


While we were having a nice breakfast experience, the proprietress came out to check on us. It’s always a fine thing to have this kind of visit; it’s a mark of pride you don’t see every day. We had a nice discussion about how Greeks are great cooks. Then we got a complimentary Greek treat, some Greek rice pudding!


Marek went to pay the bill, but he fell down. He cried out how he was Dante descending into Inferno. I pointed out to him that Dante was Italian, not Greek. And Dante started his journey on Good Friday, which is months from now. Sheesh. Kids these days.


Finally he sorted it out and found the register. The tab was about 8 clams. Not too bad!


When we were done we sat in the back of the car and talked about it. Kind of odd location. Food was pretty good. Price was right. Greek coffee was excellent. Complimentary rice pudding was sweet, both literally and figuratively. People were exceptionally nice. What do you think? Four pancakes? Yeah, dad, let’s say four pancakes. Done. Also, check out my super Save Yankeetown t-shirt. You can’t buy these at Wal-Mart!


We’re pleased to award the Olympic Cafe with a Tampa Bay Breakfasts rating of four pancakes.


When we were driving home, Marek wanted to take pictures with my phone. I handed it to him. When I got home, he had emailed me this picture. I didn’t even know my phone could email a picture. Kids these days. Impressive!


Olympic Cafe on Urbanspoon

Grecian Island on Davis Island

Hey Old Man! This belly is needing some pancakes! Note that Marek has been so upset with the performance of the Bucs that he’s started rooting for the Verein für Bewegungsspiele Stuttgart team. He thinks he’s so cool with his Euro-football shirt.


We had to drive through downtown. For our northern readers, please note the ridiculously beautiful day we’re having this fine Christmas eve.


We visited the Grecian Island at 223 E Davis Blvd on 24 December 2009. This is on Davis Island, which is also home to the Pink Flamingo and Jeter’s new house.


On our way in, we had a crazy little dose of Christmas kisses. In case you were wondering, Marek is my hairdresser.


Inside we found a cozy little cafe about half-full of local folks. I got the impression that most of the clientele were people who live on the island.


Marek got right into the menu. I’m hungry, long-chops!


So you, dear reader, are wondering by now. Is this really a Greek place, or is it just a fun name on a boring old breakfast place? I’m here to tell you, with fonts like these on the menu, it’s gotta be Greek! I believe this is the same font Nikos Kazantzakis used.


And every table comes with a jug of olive oil. A vial of oil would be a few ounces. A decanter would be maybe a half-pint. This looks like a liter jug of oil, just in case.


We jumped right into some coffee. I don’t think this is Greek coffee. I think it was Folgers. But despite the cultural coffee discord, it was delicious. And I never saw the bottom of the cup, which is the way we like it! They’ve got the same kind of advertisement-cups that we find at the Three Coins and Mamas on Florida.


While we waited we discussed the relative merits of the book Zorba the Greek, and how the movie role defined Anthony Quinn’s career such that he kept playing the same role over and over for years, regardless of the movie. And we talked about the pantheon of Greek gods and how I used to work for a company named after the Greek god Ares. And we played cars.


Then we had breakfast. Pancakes. Check. Eggs. Check. Bacon. Check. The pancakes were OK. I think they were buttermilk pancakes, which aren’t my favorite. Marek liked them, though. The bacon was very crisp, in a Steve-Standard way. The eggs were just fine. Not a breakfast I’d make any complaints about. A fine, filling, frugal fare, furnished from friendly fraulein.


When we were done, Marek paid the bill.


He really got off easy today, as we were sitting in front of the register. I really enjoy when he has to work for it.


When we finished up we gave kisses all around and said our goodbyes. We picked up a couple papers and sat at the picnic table outside, just enjoying the lovely island air.


We had a very nice time at the Grecian Island. The food was fine, the price was good, the people were nice, and the location was great. All in all, a very nice little Tampa Bay Breakfast. We’re pleased to give The Grecian Island a Tampa Bay Breakfast rating of three and a half stars.


Grecian Island on Urbanspoon

Revisit to Nicko’s on North Florida

We first officially visited Nicko’s back in April 2009. It was good. Shake, rattle, and roll good. Elvis, as we know, ate there in 1956. I wonder. Do you wonder? I wonder, was it as good back then as it is today? Let’s find out. Marek, take my hand. We’ll go back in time and have breakfast the way Elvis woulda done.


The women are surely beautiful back in 1956! Maybe when this pretty girl is done at the sock hop, she’ll join us for breakfast!


These new-fangled diner cars sure make a nice place to have a meal. I wonder what this will look like 50 years from now?


No fish in the percolator here. This coffee makes me wanna doo-wop! It’s nice to see that even in 1956, another father and son are having breakfast together. They’re in the Elvis booth, which is our favorite place to sit. Obviously we’re visiting Nicko’s later in the year, just AFTER Elvis visited and they put up the pictures of him.


Everyone knows that Marek’s not going to let the coffee get cold! He drinks coffee like a Mickey Spillane character.


Here comes breakfast! They added whipped cream because Marek was so very cute. And because he’s from the future.


Our guest reviewer had the French Toast. She said hey big daddy, this is some groovy breakfast! It’s just like what grandma used to make!


Marek and I had the old standard, pancakes, eggs, bacon. I’d like to tell you about the flaws, but it’s all just good cookin’. Classic slingin’ hash, you need some more coffee hun, greasy spoon, good chow.


The best part about having breakfast in the Elvis Years is the price. The three of us got hit with a $12 tab. That’s small change for a big experience like this! Marek said, don’t worry daddio, I’ll take it from here.


He knew right where to go and made some friends along the way. Can you believe that all these nice girls came up to him to say how cute he was? He gets that all the time.

Never happens to me.


So we traveled back in time. We had good diner coffee. We had a great breakfast. We paid the bill. We talked about Elvis and how this diner car came from New Jersey in the 40s. Just a great ole time here at Nicko’s.

Let’s go home.


We’re 50 years in the PAST! There’s no cell phone service!

What do we DO?

HOW will we get home?

Oh, panic! Panic!

Professor Marek, can you perform the necessary calculations to bring us back to our own time?


Don’t worry, pops. I’ll get us home. Genius IS in my job description, after all. MMMMmmmmmmm…… POOF!


We’re back. All in a day’s work.

Great food. Great people. Great history. Great coffee. And it’s been great for 50 years — we checked! Go there in 2009 or 1956 and tell ’em Marek and Andy sent ya!

We’re pleased to re-affirm Nicko’s Tampa Bay Breakfast rating of four and a half pancakes.


Samaria Cafe

We’re going downtown!


We visited the Samaria Cafe at 502 N Tampa St on 17 October 2009. I drive through this way all the time and only just noticed Samaria Cafe last week. This was our first visit to Samaria, and for a good reason: This is only their third week in business!


They have specials on a board out on the sidewalk. I always like a hand-made list of specials like this. It’s a very personal touch. And at Samaria I see something I like right away!


Once inside we found ourselves in a lovely, clean, fresh, and new space. And being downtown Tampa, we got a chance to watch people going by. Tampa’s not known for being a “downtown city,” but in 2009 that’s starting to change. Samaria Cafe, for example, is part of that metamorphosis. And while we’re just plain ole kountry kids, we really enjoy a big city too.


This was a special Tampa Bay Breakfast! We had our favorite Guest Reviewer, Mom! As you can see, she was so excited about the coffee that it got away from her.


And to make it even better, we had Marek’s cousin Megan with us, all the way from Marion County!


And of course, the Pancake Sheriff himself, Marek! Who, as you can obviously see here, actually drove us to the Samaria Cafe this morning in his Pancake Police squad car.


Coffee? What says the Coffee Jury? Jackpot! Jubilantly jammin’. Job? Java Jockey, Jack! Jointly, java juxtaposes juice jar. Jazzy, Joe! (It was good swill, no joke!)


Marek and I had a disagreement. He says, “Life of Brian, dada.” I say “Holy Grail, Marek.” He says, “We are the Judean People’s Front!” I say “We are the knights who say Ni!” He says, “All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” I say, “Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” We got out out of hand.


Marek was a sore loser, but you can’t fight the truth that “Grail” beats “Brian” every time.


Lucky for us all, breakfast showed up before we got into a scientific discussion of “Princess Bride” vs. “Stardust.” Mom thought the French toast was pretty good stuff.


Megan seemed to enjoy the toast!


Marek alternated between big ole chomps of delicious pancake and mumbling something about my terrible taste in Python movies.


And I’m here to tell you, these are the best scrambled eggs in town. Exactly the way I like them. The bacon was Steve-Standard. And the pancakes were very good. I’ll get the pancakes again, but I’ll come back here for the eggs.


When we were done, Mom paid the bill. (Marek was STILL sore. I told him, don’t even try to get in a Grail-quoting competition with ME!)


And then we all waved goodbye and went on down the road to enjoy the city.


When we made it to the car Marek got a pop. This is not a Samaria Cafe pop. This is a Cappy’s Pizza pop from last night. I picked up a pizza for movie night and our Tampa Bay Breakfasts fan Vanessa stopped me to say that she’d been saving a bag of pops for Marek for our next visit, so would I please take one to him. So Vanessa, Marek says “Thank you, dear lady, for the delicious pop! And your pizza rocks!” When you go to Cappy’s, tell Vanessa you heard about them from Tampa Bay Breakfasts! (Although Cappy’s, while an outstanding family pizza joint, doesn’t do breakfast … their one flaw!)


So what about the Samaria Cafe? The four of us had breakfast this morning for 23 bucks. We had a LOT of food and it was truly delicious, including eggs that were clearly delivered from hens who spend weeks at the chicken-spa getting massages. Folks were very friendly, the price was spot-on, especially considering the trendy location, and the chow was great. We had a nice chat with the proprietress, and even the chef (well, he was a guy in a chef suit — maybe he actually worked next door and had slipped in to swipe napkins) came out to check on our happiness. If I had to have a complaint it might be that the order did seem to take a bit long to come out, but maybe the time seemed longer because we had a bit of table chaos to contend with. Also, I’d love some blueberry pancakes! But when we left, the kids had home-made chocolate chip cookies to take with them, and we all were quite breakfast-happy. This was simply a great breakfast in a neat location. Best of luck to the Samaria Cafe for many years of bustling downtown business!

We’re pleased to give the Samaria Cafe a Tampa Bay Breakfast rating of four and a half pancakes.


Samaria Cafe on Urbanspoon

Revisit to Mamas on North Florida

We revisited Mamas on North Florida on 15 August 2009. Our first official visit was on 18 April 2009, but we’ve been here many times.


We really came back because we haven’t seen Vicky since April. We love Vicky.


Marek was happy as a clam to be in a familiar place after all the months of vigorous Tampa Bay Breakfast reviews.


We weren’t 100% sure, but if you look in the far right corner, I think that’s Santa having breakfast.


Marek got to color before we had pancakes.


When we were done coloring we had some of the best pancakes in Tampa.


I asked Marek if he liked the pancakes. “Well, DUH, dad.”


The whole breakfast was just perfect. And the coffee was bulletproof black, belligerent bitter, bountifully bottomless, best basic beverage. Just the way I like it.


When we were done, Marek paid the bill as he is fond of doing. Note the “pop” in his hand!


Vicky took a stack of our cards and put them on the counter. That is soooo coool! The first time anyone’s done this, that we know of, anyway.


When we were done, Marek hollered out “adios!” and we went home.


We’re delighted to verify the 4.5 pancake rating Mamas was given in April. (Slip some blueberries in the pancakes like Skyway Jack’s, Taste of Boston, or Grandma in Inglis and we’ll bump to five!) Thanks, Vicky, for a great breakfast!


Mamas on South Dale Mabry

We visited Mamas Kitchen at 5524 S Dale Mabry Hwy on 26 July 2009. Mamas also has a location on North Florida, which was the first breakfast we ever officially reviewed. Both locations make a good breakfast at a reasonable price and the people are always very friendly. Marek and I visit the Florida Avenue location regularly. I visit the South Dale Mabry location frequently for breakfast with my colleagues from work. It seems like everyone in Mamas is a regular. You just can’t help but feel at home here.


You notice right away that Mamas is special. Two things stand out before you even get in the door. The benches outside:


And the “facilities” are located outside for some reason:


We had breakfast. The bacon was the way Steve from Yankeetown likes it. The pancakes were perfect, or at least as perfect as can be given that they weren’t blueberry pancakes. And the eggs were just right.


While you’re having breakfast at Mamas you get a chance to enjoy the interior decorating, which includes the Terrorist Body Bag.


Sorry, could you repeat the question? What, coffee? Oh yes, and we had coffee.


The coffee was strong, black, and bitter, just the way diner coffee should be.


Mamas also has a great lion mural. Note the neat touch of how they painted over the air conditioner.


Mamas is really close to Macdill AFB and the military influence pervades.


When we were done, Marek offered to pay.


He had no problem finding the right place.


And then the Best News Ever, he found what was in the bottom drawer under the register.


With a pop in hand, Marek went away the happiest boy ever.


Great food, great atmosphere, friendly and regular people, interesting decor, and a pop at the end. This is a great breakfast and we’re always happy to visit Mamas at either location. We’re pleased to give this Tampa Bay Breakfast a rating of 4.5 pancakes.


Mama's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Mom’s Place

We visited Mom’s Place at 4816 N Dale Mabry Hwy on 13 June. Mom’s is right next door to Pop ‘n’ Son’s Diner, a Tampa Bay Breakfast from last month. We’ve been to Mom’s a few times and have always enjoyed our visits.


Mom’s is one of those great greasy-spoons where everyone feels comfortable. Lots of local sports pictures on the walls and it seemed like it was full of regulars, especially car folks from the dealerships on Dale Mabry. We even recognized the guy from Jiffy Lube who changed the oil in mom’s car last month. As anyone in Tampa knows, we’ve got NFL, NHL, and MLB, so the sports pictures are important.


Mom’s is a Greek restaurant when it’s not a breakfast joint. We’ve never tried it after breakfast, but folks say it’s great. The most unique thing about Mom’s is the front door, with a homage to the troops. Being a prior-service guy myself, this makes Mom’s a good place in my book.


Marek promptly set about his primary task of being cute.


We had breakfast.


The eggs were good. The bacon was good. But we didn’t love the pancakes. For one thing, they were kind of small. Marek says to me, “Oh father, next door at Pop ‘n’ Sons, the pancakes were also diminutive in stature, might it be that we’re in some sort of rift in the space-time-continuum as predicted by Stephen Hawkins in his famous book Pancakes and Astrophysics?” Also, the pancakes weren’t really done well, with sort of a mushy texture to them. These weren’t the worst pancakes we’ve had on our adventures, but they weren’t the best either.


So we’re sitting there having a nice breakfast. It’s all good. Except that the salt shaker really dishes out a lot of salt. The coffee was beautiful, endless, and bitter-black the way we like it. The music was from Q105. While today Q105 is a contemporary adult, friendly to all station, when I was younger it was the coolest station ever. So it was a nostalgic moment for me, and Marek enjoyed some Mcdonald’s apple juice that he seems to have snuck in with him.


When we were done, Marek paid the bill. It was way-cheap: We walked out of there for hardly a nudge over a fin. That’s a good bargain!


I think they were surprised to find such a young lad walking around with a fist full of dollars, but everything worked out.


The pancakes being sketchy as they were, we were sort of leaning towards a lesser rating for Mom’s. But then came the deal-maker. That’s right, a pop.


That makes it all better.

We had a great time at Mom’s Place, despite the iffy pancakes, and truly enjoyed the people and the atmosphere. We’re pleased to give Mom’s Place a rating of 3.5 pancakes.


We’re trying something new. Let’s see if the Urban Spoon picks up our review!

Mom's Place on Urbanspoon

Nicko’s on North Florida

We visited Nicko’s restaurant at 4603 N Florida Ave on April 25th. Breakfast is very reasonably priced, especially the weekend special of pancakes, eggs, and bacon for under six bucks. That’s what we get when we visit. We’ve been to Nicko’s at least half a dozen times.


We had breakfast. The pancakes were very good. The eggs were just right. The bacon was good. The coffee was perfect diner-style, hot, bitter, and black.


Nicko’s place was visited by Elvis in 1956. No kidding. This is so cool. You don’t even have to like Elvis to dig this.


Every time we’ve ever visited Nicko’s, The Elvis Booth has been taken. Not today! We got to sit at the booth and check out the little sign on the wall.


The people at Nicko’s are always friendly. The place is full of regulars and folks know each others’ names. There’s also a lunch counter, which is simply a great way to have a meal. We’ll be sitting at the counter when Marek gets older.


When we were done, Marek paid the bill.


He made some friends and enjoyed himself. He was a little sad that no one knows our names yet. I think once we’re established as regulars (and if they add blueberry pancakes to the menu) then we’ll have to give Nicko’s our highest rating of all. This is simply a great place.


We give this Tampa Bay Breakfast a rating of 4.5 pancakes.


Nicko's Fine Foods on Urbanspoon

Mamas on North Florida

We visited Mamas Kitchen Family Restaurant at 9312 N Florida Ave on April 18th.   Mamas also has a location on Dale Mabry in south Tampa.  Both locations make a good breakfast at a reasonable price and the people are always very friendly.  Marek and I visit the Florida Avenue location regularly.


We had breakfast.  Marek was distracted and didn’t eat much. The pancakes were very good. The eggs were nicely done. The bacon was a bit greasy and oddly stuck together in a sheet. The coffee was just right, even though we had a major coffee spill event while rolling a Matchbox car back and forth.


One of the neat things about Mamas is mural of the lions.   The lion is a tie in to the Greek origins of the family who run the restaurants.


The best part about the Florida Avenue location is Vicky.  Marek loves Vicky.


We give this Tampa Bay Breakfast a rating of 4.5 pancakes.


Mamas Kitchen III on Urbanspoon