Category Archives: Hillsborough

The Three Coins

We revisited the Three Coins at The Three Coins at 7410 N Nebraska Ave on 26 April 2014. Our last visit was July of last year.


Ivo’s excited. Mostly because he likes getting his picture taken, not because we’re having breakfast.


World-class-mom joined us this morning.


The menu. I can’t help but feel bad for old Ike Eisenhower and his dime: Not, as you can see here, one of the three coins.


We got here just in time. Last table, and then there was suddenly a line of hungry Tampa.




What choo lookin at?


Conversation leading up to this picture.

Ivo: Daddy, pull on my ears.

Andy: Uhh, OK.


Favorite Breakfast Guest Mom is already bored. Texting to her friends to save her. Marek is caught here saying the one thing he knows how to say this Spring, “I want an iPhone.”


Big old wad of breakfast. All the major food groups represented.


Momming it up on the other side of the table. She can’t help herself, she’s mom.


Truck-load of banana pancakes for dad. The banana pancakes are truly the top-shelf-good here.


Marek’s thing now is home fries. Remember when it was eggs? Remember when it was bacon? Remember when it was pancakes? Every year, he has a new thing.


Ivo’s trying out for the band. He plays slide-bacon-trombone.


Here’s why Three Coins is the perfect diner. Little-league kids on backs, diner owner (in the white shirt) standing by the door wishing good luck, good game, thank you for coming.


Almost $30 for a pile of good chow, we couldn’t even finish it. Reasonable rates.


Taking a risk, giving Ivo the plastic. It’s slightly safer than giving him the plastique.


It’s a perfect Tampa diner. Great prices, great service, great food, full of locals and interesting characters.

Also, unfortunately, it’s probably our last official breakfast this year. Our next post will explain.

We’re pleased to award The Three Coins with a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Five Pancake Rating, and also, even though it’s a little premature, the 2014 Tampa Bay Breakfast of the Year award. Three Coins: You’re an awesome, perfect breakfast!


Three Coins on Urbanspoon


We’re heading downtown this morning. Looks like New York City, with all these big buildings! For our readers not from Tampa: This is pretty much all there is. We’re not actually like New York City.


Notice anything new about Marek? First glasses, and he’s so proud to be like mom and dad.


We revisited L’Eden at 500 N. Tampa Street on 11 January 2014. It’s not our first time, but it surely has been a while. Our last visit was pre-Ivo, four years ago.


Now that Marek has glasses, everything he does looks so studious. Now that he can read pretty much anything and he has glasses, I get more and more photographs like this one. He also likes to tell me over and over how he knows everything now. Glasses will do that for you.


Ivo doesn’t have glasses, but does this kid love playing with a knife.


It’s only a problem when he starts swinging his knife around like a sword, chopping everything and everyone around him. Of course, that never happens.


Is this Marek reaching out to stop his brother’s rampage? Or is this Marek with his own knife, joining the fray? You be the judge. Of the nice coffee that just arrived at the table. No time to pay attention to the boys, there’s coffee to drink.


The avant guard of fashion, menu hats. Innovators, that’s Tampa Bay Breakfasts.


Something to keep in mind when you visit L’Eden, and I hope you visit L’Eden, is that it’s not fast. Gerard is probably working alone in the back. So come prepared to play a little “gimme five … too slow!” (Which is also how I keep their mother entertained when on a date.)


Something’s happening over there behind the bar.


Hurray, breakfast is coming! Le Petit Déjeuner! She’s from New York, by the way, not France, not that it matters.


Marek got the American breakfast, with eggs, taters, bacon, sausage. These are the fluffiest scrambled eggs we’ve ever seen (and you know we’ve seen a lot of scrambled eggs).


I had the savory croissant with fruit. Perfectly fresh fruit and a croissant that was so lovely and delicate, it was like the bread equivalent of Ivo when he’s sleeping peacefully. (He’s usually sleeping peacefully on a pile of wreckage from his destruction of the house, but then he’s still lovely and delicate when he’s sleeping.)


Marek took this picture of his old dad. Note the little grabby-hand I had to catch to protect my chow.


Ivo had the pain au raisin, which he chose from the trays of fresh-fresh-freshly baked everything up on the bar.


And he yoinked my fruit also, for which I taxed him half a pain au raisin.


A happy Marek, a happy dad. Boy needs a haircut. Maybe on our next breakfast we’ll do that. Like I’m one to talk, with my mop of random grey. Note Marek’s holding of the grape.


And Ivo’s holding of the grape. Strange children.


Marek tried something new. That’s new, that he tried something new. He usually demands to stick with what he knows. He loved the croissant, and then gave it back. He usually doesn’t give back things he likes. Wow. Let it be recorded: First moment of budding maturity.


Ivo steps up to pay the bill. Check out how I’m giving him a card and he’s gazing off into the distance, thoughtfully, considering just how big a car he could buy with this card (Ivo, here’s a hint: Not very big).


Ivo would make a good waiter. Gerard, you may want to hire him in a few years.


Marek, sweet kid looking out for dad, went up to the bar to get me a coffee to go. That’s a good son. I think I’ll keep him around. He hasn’t figured out how to monetize his sweetness yet. He could say, “dad, I’ll get you a coffee for a quarter.” But he doesn’t. Not because he’s being sweet for free, but because it hasn’t occurred to him yet to start charging me for everything. That’s coming.


When we were all paid up at L’Eden, we walked over to Curtis Hixon Park. We went by way of the Rivergate Plaza and Kiley Garden. When the boys got to the top of the stairs, they cried, “wow! It’s a maze!” And started running. It’s a shame we don’t have more kids and more going on downtown. Tampa could be a real city.


And what about L’Eden? The food is lovely and lives up to all the praise you read about in the papers. The location is very nice, cozy and warm. Prices a little higher than maybe you’d spend elsewhere, but you’re not getting ripped off by any stretch. Our friend Gerard from Marseille has brought a wonderful bit of his home to us here in Tampa. Go to L’Eden. Thank him for not opening his fine little restaurant in Orlando. We’re pleased to give L’Eden a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


L'Eden on Urbanspoon

The Ranch House

It’s a mid-week breakfast morning. We’re cruising down the road listening to Vanessa Lively, one of our favorite “girl with guitar” folk singers.


Family portrait, boys-style.


This morning, 27 November 2013, we’re re-visiting the Ranch House at 7706 W Hillsborough Ave. We first visited here back in May 2009.


Take note that the Ranch House is next to a Buddhist center and a tax refund center and, just off the picture, a strip-mall Christian church. Lots of diversity going on here.


Boys chose the same booth where we sat four years ago. We were looking at the original review, and Marek says, “awww, look, it’s little Marek!”


The menu hasn’t changed, but we sure have. On our first visit I wasn’t real impressed. But now we’re taking a closer look and wow, this is three big pages of breakfast. Including all the things named after people, which I think is a great touch.


Three big pages of breakfast, and even a kids menu to go along with it.


We asked. These arepas are Colombian, not Venezuelan. We have a bias due to our Tia Sofia being from Caracas. So we skipped these substandard Bogota Arepas.


I decided immediately that I wanted a Hot Mexican. Lucky for my marriage, there was an omelet named “The Hot Mexican.” If there wasn’t, who knows what would have happened when I asked for one.


Civil engineering projects. Probably part of a large public works project designed to stimulate the local economy.


These boys should have submitted plans for the World Trade Center project. I’ve never seen such sky-high stacking!


By now you’d think Marek would have a crowd of admiring people chanting, “one more! one more!” But no one other than Ivo and I were there to witness this incredible stack.


It’s Thanksgiving, the traditional time for family to pick at political issues. So I’ll get out in front of it all and admit that the failure of this ambitious publicly funded artwork is all Obama’s fault.


Lucky for Marek, there was a breakfast safety net for him to fall into. Bacon and eggs, Marek-style!


These boys are growing up to be such a team. First they’ll fight and kick and bite and fart on each other. Then, when you’re not paying any attention, Ivo will give one of his butters to Marek because he knows how much his brother likes it.


The following image is not safe for work. It’s R-rated. It’s only suitable to be looked at after the kids go to bed.

It’s my Hot Mexican!


Butter on the eggs and bacon. We’re all still wondering about this, but hey, so long as he doesn’t expect me to eat it he can do whatever he wants.


A little salsa for the Hot Mexican. A biscuit that I swear was dunked in butter. By the way, don’t get this meal without consulting your physician.


Ivo’s only three and he can do this. He’s farting the whole time and giggling, but he can butter his own pancakes.


For the first time all morning … silence. Gives me a moment to reflect on why the heck I ever had children, anyway.


Pancake-induced coma for Ivo.


A dose of coffee perks up any boy. I know it’s a requirement for old dad.


And off they go to pay the bill. I’m hoping it fits on a Jackson. Last time I did this, they came back to say they needed more money.


All the gumball machines were fascinating. One of them was Fox News sponsored — it had an equal number of Evil Exploding Obama Heads and Saintly Rush Limbaugh Halos. If it wasn’t an equal number, then it wouldn’t be fair and balanced.


Our nice waitress is from Uruguay. The first time we’ve ever met anyone from Uruguay. These ten facts about Uruguay will not leave you feeling very informed. This description is better, as it at least talks about food and drink.


A peso for the Ivo. Aggressive.


A peso for the Marek. Photogenic.


Prizes from the machines! This is a special day! Un dia especial! Despite the fact that I had a Hot Mexican, the restaurant is staffed by Uruguayans and owned by Colombians. Ay Caramba!


After our excellent breakfast, we hopped up on U.S. 19 and rolled north to Homosassa Springs to visit the manatees. Marek, as you can see here, is showcasing the latest fashion in “County Orange.”


From the boardwalk, some of the local residents. They are much larger than they appear from this photograph.


Boys exploring the under water observatory. Nothing like energetic young Florida boys yelling at fish to make all the real tourists wonder which animals they’re here to see.


The best manatees of them all, Marek and Ivo.


Our first visit to the Ranch House was good, but we were new at our reviews and didn’t take the time to really appreciate it. Looking back, we gave them an average three pancake rating; good place, average pancakes, OK price. But this time we really paid attention, and this is what we saw: Locals at every table being greeted by name. A very personal, family place where people’s names are part of the food. Very friendly staff. And I’m STILL talking about my Hot Mexican several days later. Price is reasonable, chow is good, and it’s one of those labor-of-love restaurants that I always enjoy. We’re pleased to promote the Ranch House’s rating from a dismal three to an exceptional Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancakes rating.


Ranch House on Urbanspoon

La Pequeña Colombia

Watch out Tampa, the Breakfast Boys are doing their thing this morning.


We visited La Pequeña Colombia at 6312 North Armenia Avenue on 9 November 2013. They have a flashy web site at This is a recommendation from Tampa Bay Breakfasts fan J.C., who is from Colombia and knows what he’s talking about.


You get a sense of pride in La Pequeña Colombia, the folks running this restaurant really love what they do. Everything is vibrant and exciting. You don’t even have to open the menu to see what you’re in for here.


Lots of desayunos to choose from. No pancakes. Arepas everywhere (though we do have a preference for Venezuelan Arepas, because of our Tia Sofia).


For the gringos, number 13: the “Desayuno Americano” with French fries.

Reminds me of the time I was in a pizza place in Hungary. They brought me a pizza and some ketchup. Why, I asked. Because I’m American, and Americans eat everything with ketchup.


You can see the bakery cases behind Marek. Lots of lovely Colombian breads and snacks there.


Marek picked up a newspaper outside on our way in. I think he’s reading that article at the bottom, “Oracle, Google, y Red Hat.”


Just like his old man, Marek needs his glasses to read.


Like I said, just like his old man.


Out in the parking lot, the fastest pancake mobile in Tampa. It’s going to be a really sad day when Marek grows another two inches and doesn’t fit in the back seat anymore. He’ll have to start riding in the trunk.


Hot chocolate and cafe con leche.


Ivo decided to “fix” our googlyglasses. In Ivo-speak, anything he offers to “fix” will be completely disassembled down to the molecular level in the time it takes for you to get another beer from the kitchen.


Just in time, here comes breakfast. Desayunos, that is. And there’s butter so, of course, Marek is pleased.


I had whatever our fine waitress recommended. Scrambled eggs with peppers, beans and rice, arepas, tostada. This is “Calentado,” and I’d recommend it to you.


The boys both had “scrambled eggs and bacon.” Which turned out to be “eggs scrambled with bacon.” And they were thrilled. Like, wow, they can DO that, dad?


Marek, in this fugue state, mumbled that this was the best breakfast he’d ever had. I think he stopped breathing for a moment.


If you go to La Pequeña Colombia and you like sunshine, sit in the booth at the north end of the dining room. I sort of wished we’d chosen one booth over and not been in the tanning salon, but I wanted to get these little monsters as far away from decent people as possible.


Ivo was done. I said, hey Ivo, give dad a kiss. And the little bugger licked my cheek. Ick. But oh, did he laugh at how he had one over on me.


While that little drama was going on, over on Marek’s side of the table there’s a full-blown theatrical production on how he loves those scrambled eggs with bacon in them.


Total bill, 48,000 Colombian Pesos, or about $25 USD. A little more expensive than our usual, but we had a lot of food (and, to be honest, our usual is usually me getting something and splitting it with at least one boy).


I don’t know why Ivo is folding his bills long-ways like that. And also, if his face looks sort of dirty, it’s because Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom was out of town last night and boys skipped bathing and probably slept in their clothes under boxes of cereal for all I know.


Off they go to pay the bill. While I catch a break from trying to keep them quiet and keep them from destroying the restaurant.


Our fine waitress was very kind to put up with us. Though she didn’t seem interested in wearing googly eyes with us when we first sat down.


She gave the boys Bon Bon Booms! Our friend for life.


Did I mention that Mom is not home? So after breakfast we went and had fun the way only dads can do. We went to a furniture store and played on the beds. Boys won’t take naps at home, but take them out in public into a room full of bare mattresses, and OFF come the shoes and up they go to get cozy. Dad is then free to wander around, looking at prices on doilies and foot stools, for at least an hour.


In the bed-choosing competition, Ivo wins. Up and down and up and down and up and down.

And just think, Mom actually Spends Money to take the boys to fun places.


But back to La Pequeña Colombia. A fine experience. Food was great (“best breakfast I ever had,” swoons Marek). People friendly (and tolerant of our chaos). Price a little higher than usual for us. The restaurant is exceptionally lovely inside, despite being in what is really a wretched little strip mall. We’ll be back. We’re happy to give La Pequeña Colombia a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake award.


La Pequena Colombia on Urbanspoon

Savvy Jack’s

We visited Savvy Jack’s at 11401 N 56th St Temple Terrace, FL 33617 on 7 September 2013. Savvy Jack’s was recommended to us by TBB Fan Earl.


These lead-in pictures are staged like posters for a Tarantino movie.


Marek and Ivo fight like wet cats in a sack most times, but every now and then there’s a sweet brotherly moment. Like here, Marek holding his brother’s hand as they cross the street. Probably to better push him in front of a bus.


We’re not the only customers at Savvy’ Jack’s this morning, but there’s only one other customer when we walk in.


The menu has lots of French hints. Quiche. Crepes. French toast. Small clues we pick up on right away.


Ivo tested the quality of the bucket of jelly packets. Warning to future customers, Ivo was here.


Our very nice hostess brought coloring books and crayons. And, it turns out, she’s from Paris. France, not the other one in Texas. We took the opportunity to practice our counting to ten and our “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you.”


While we were waiting for chow to roll out, we entertained ourselves by arm wrestling.


This is how it’s going to play out for the rest of my days. Marek wins. I pay up.


I tried to win my money back with a double-or-nothing thumb-wrestle. And lost double the money.


Then Ivo moved in. I figured I could take him out and recoup my losses.


When I beat him fair and square, he pulled a knife.


Thank goodness breakfast arrived and saved me. Un petit déjeuner complet!

Pancakes for the Ivo.


Bacon and eggs for the Marek.


And the recommended breakfast crepe for dad. C’est bon!


Ivo says, dad, these pancakes would be improved with some HFCS. Surprisingly enough, this picture does not have a syrup-coated Marek to the right. Ivo did a very good job keeping it on the plate.


A strong dose of the good stuff for Ivo. Because a three year old without a coffee is like a firecracker without a match.


The soundtrack for this picture is Ivo making gorilla noises. Oooh oooh, aaah aaaah, raowr!


With a performance like that, all you need to do is wait for a call from your agent.


Marek took a bunch of pictures of Me, Ivo, and Mickey. This one came out OK. Our very nice hostess came over to ask if Ivo was OK, was he sleepy? No, ma’am, he’s just goofin.


Ivo jumped up to pay the bill.


There was a bowl of candy for kids who pay the bill. The candy was peppermints and butterscotches, which is a good hint at the age of the average kid paying the bill here.


The damage came up to $25, which seems a bit high for two breakfasts (Marek and Ivo split the pancakes/bacon/eggs breakfast). While it was very good, that’s a lotta Francs for this chow.


After our great experience in Petit Paris this morning, we decided to take an international tour of Tampa. We went to MD Oriental on Fletcher.


We had a great time looking at the seafood on display. Some people spend money at The Florida Aquarium for the same experience.


We learned some Cantonese during our visit, to go with our French we learned earlier.


Not willing to let our journey end there, we drove from France to China all the way to Palestine to the Amana Halal market on Bush.


The boys found the meat locker. We came very close to taking home a side of lamb.


Me and Marek were getting some fresh cardamon coffee ground and learning to count in Arabic while Ivo was shopping for random stuff.


The only thing we actually let Ivo buy was some Halal marshmallows.


We left the Arab market to go to the Cuban jeweler on Armenia Ave. to get my watch battery changed. Marek wanted to listen to dub step, Ivo wanted to listen to trip hop. The only music both boys could agree on was Norwegian Aggrotech.


Then we went to Inkwood Books again. We discovered that our friend Amanda speaks a little Italian, prego. I left Ivo alone for five minutes and this is what I found in the kids’ room at Inkwood. I’ll be surprised if we’re allowed back. (We did clean up our mess, in case you’re wondering!)


So that’s our incredible adventure morning. Breakfast, France, China, Palestine, Cuba, Italy, all to a Norwegian soundtrack. All in Tampa on a Saturday morning.

Oh, and the breakfast? The food was very good, though a bit high-priced. I strongly recommend the breakfast crepe. We’re happy to give Savvy Jack’s a Tampa Bay Breakfast Four Pancake Rating.


Savvy Jack's Southern Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Odessa Family Restaurant

We visited the Odessa Family Restaurant on 3 August 2013. This was a recommendation made by TBB fan Chris last year. We’re not really familiar with Odessa, so Ivo decided to wear a helmet.


Marek, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in our blog, is already 16 years old and can’t be torn away from his little tablet. But at least he’s quiet.


Lovely Florida day today. Fine time to get some pancakes!


The address of the Odessa Family Restaurant is 8741 Gunn Hwy. However, if you goof up and go to 8741 OLD Gunn Hwy, you fine this old Thunderbird instead. Appears to be a third generation model from ’61 through ’63.


Finally at our destination. We stopped for a dad-n-sons portrait. Ivo can appear so sweet, so calm and caring. The key word is “appear.”


Marek wouldn’t sit still for a picture with his old man. Too busy with his new squirrel, “Rocky J.” I’ve been force-feeding the boys cartoons from the ’60s and ’70s because, well, if I have to sit and watch something with them it might as well be something I like.


And here we are, the Odessa Family Restaurant.


We like hand-drawn menus outside a restaurant. Let’s you know they’re taking each day seriously. Also serves as a bit of a spelling pop-quiz (this one passed, but they don’t always do (I said that on purpose)).


Marek and I got into an argument over the menu. He wanted to read it, I wanted to take a clear picture of it. So, like many disputes throughout human history, neither of us got what we wanted.


We have Tampa Bay Breakfasts Guest Reviewers today. Lizzy and Chris. This is a nice picture. They have no idea what’s about to happen to them.


We did originally get lost, so we were in the car for an extra half-hour. Ivo was so hungry, he decided to eat his dolphin, affectionately named “Dolphie.”


Marek took this picture of Lizzy. Note where she’s sitting here, and where she ends up sitting in a moment.


Marek took this picture of Chris. Actually not a bad picture; Marek’s getting better at this.


And then Ivo just nonchalantly stretches, yawns, and says, wow, it sure is hot in here. I’ll just take THIS off.


And Lizzy immediately traded seats with Chris. Too strong, Ivo, you’re coming on too strong. Girls don’t like when you just take off your clothes before they’ve even gotten food.


Marek, on the other hand, was a total gentleman. Played stack-the-creamers and never once did any clothing fall off him.


A little coffee cheers with Ivo and Andy.

You’re wondering if he’s still got pants on now, aren’t you?


Luckily for everyone, chow arrived. Grits, eggs, hash, toast for old man Andy.


Pancakes for ladie’s-man-Ivo.


Bacon and eggs and home fries for International Mystery Man Marek.


French toast and texting for Lizzy.

Eggs and bacon for Chris. This breakfast is not thin provisioned at all.


Marek loves him some home fries. Would not eat an actual baked potato if you gave him a motorcycle, but loves home fries.


We’ll see more of Ivo in a little bit.


While everyone’s looking at Ivo, waiting for the next Very Odd Thing to happen, Marek tucked in to a nice packet of jelly. These are the sorts of pictures he’ll be sore about when he gets a couple years older.


Here comes the bill. $45ish all together, which isn’t bad for all the chow we had.


Ivo’s going to pay. Dad’s got no cash, so here’s a card. Ivo isn’t wearing a shirt. Also, he’s apparently lost a shoe somewhere. And he’s filthy. But I’m dad, right, so I pretty much get an “A” on the parent test for just showing up. If mom were here like this, people would be all about what a bad mother she was, but me, it’s all, “awww, he’s such a good dad, the kid is half-naked and disgusting but he’s making an effort.”

That never ceases to irritate my lovely wife. That, and we go to the same place to get our hairs cut and mine always costs $100 less than hers. That burns her up, too.


Bad news. No credit cards. And I’ve got like 10 bucks cash.


Good news. Chris is flush with a C-note. He’s got our backs.


So you, dear reader, would you hand a $100 bill over to a kid that looks like this?


Ivo took that hundred dollars and danced. No kidding danced.


And danced. I’m surprised he didn’t make more money from the rest of the customers, he was just dancing. But finally, he got the bill paid.


Afterwards, we lined up for a family photo. Chris came very close to taking three kids home this morning. Lizzy spent some time telling Marek a story about aliens, and he was all about going to her house to live so he could see the aliens himself.


On our way home, we stopped off at the Tampa BMX track and rode around on the little kid’s track next to the real race track. We’ve been toying around with the idea of Marek trying out BMX, since he’s so good on his bike.


This was a fine breakfast. Price was fine. Location cozy and full of friendly folks. No one complained about my half-naked child terrorizing the place, which is worth half a point. Food was good and the company was very fine indeed. And Chris, I owe you $45! We’re pleased to give the Odessa Family Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


Odessa Family on Urbanspoon

The Three Coins

It’s been slow going at the Tampa Bay Breakfasts command post. Too much work. Marek being 6 going on a lazy 16. But this morning we’re getting out and doing it. On bikes.


Little Ivo is tucked in back. This is the last summer I’ll be able to do this with him. Then we’ll enter a year where he’s learning to ride his own bike but not strong enough to actually ride anywhere. And then soon after, it will be three boys, three bikes, all over Tampa.


We’re on a long trek this morning. Multiple stops for water and local conditions briefings.

This is a picture about which Marek will be having a talk with me in a few years.


Ivo’s not on his own bike, but he still gets a water break. It’s hard work putting things in dad’s shorts while he’s pedaling.


We made it, the three or so miles from Pancake Central to The Three Coins at 7410 N Nebraska Ave. Today is 7 July 2013, and this is one of many visits we’ve made here. But it’s been a while. Last visit was back in 2011.


When I was chaining up the bikes outside, I told the boys, go inside and get us a table. Now it’s no lie that I tell them all the time to got get us a table, but this was the first time where I was outside and they were inside and there was a gap of time before I showed up on the scene.

I walk in and there’s a line of waitresses behind the counter looking over the wall at the booth. And there’s a waitress at the booth with pad in hand, taking an order. And in the booth are two boys, my boys, each reading a menu. And Marek saying, ever so politely, “two orange juices please, ma’am, and we’ll be having one more person join us.”

So I quietly took a seat at the counter with my back to them and took this picture. A picture of a mature, polite, six year old independent actor, getting it right.


Here’s the lineup. All good chow. Nothing exotic, just good breakfast chow.


Marek and Ivo are getting superballs out of the machine. I bet you’re wondering where they got the cash to do that?


This sweet gal bonused them each a quarter for cuteness. Thanks again, ma’am!


Marek and Ivo, lounging at the counter. Ivo putting his superball in his pocket. On the left is the proprietor, a very friendly fellow who runs a good shop.


Breakfast descended upon us like a hurricane. In a good way, not in a floods-and-destruction way. Notice how dexterous Ivo is with a knife.


For a change, I tried the French toast, oh la lah, and the Canadian bacon. I presume this makes it the French-Canadian special.


I’d like to call your attention to the line here. This place runs like a precision instrument. Four waitresses, sometimes five, moving together rapidly but smoothly, getting the job done. Want to open a restaurant and need to see how this part is done? Just come to The Three Coins on a Sunday morning and sit at the counter.


Andy and Ivo, father-son-moment.


During the father-son-moment with Ivo, Marek buttered up some bacon.

Yes, you read that right.


I title this portrait, “Ivo, the Introspective Pancake Eater.”


The bill didn’t ring up cheap, but we did have a lot of chow: Three separate breakfasts, which is different than the way we used to do it years ago and get one $3.99 special with two plates.


Ivo’s job is to carry the payment.


Marek’s job is escort and security.


I didn’t get a picture of it, but both boys got pops from the nice folks at the register. On our way home we stopped at the park to play on the slides and swings. I took this picture of Ivo.


Then enlarged it when I got home and saw what he was doing. Tucking that pop in his pocket so he wouldn’t lose it.

Great food. Reasonable prices. Incredibly friendly and highly professional staff. Every second customer is a regular known by name. This is a classic Tampa greasy spoon diner. We’re pleased to give The Three Coins a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Five Pancake Rating.

Go get some. Tell ’em Marek and Ivo sent you. (They’ll be like, “Huh? Who?”)


Three Coins on Urbanspoon

301 Family Restaurant

Fabulous, ridiculously lovely morning here in The Bay Area. Driving through Port of Tampa, looking at all the cool ships and shore facilities.


Today we were going to go to Sandy’s Homestyle in Riverview, but we drove in circles for 45 minutes and could never find it. Not even Google Maps could help. I suppose it’s closed. Brandon area is NOT flush with great mom-n-pop breakfasts. We actually were starting to think about eating the weakest of us, until I realized that the boys were teaming up to eat me. Then I made a beeline to the closest known breakfast in the area, the 301 Family Restaurant at 3407 N HWY 301. We visited the 301 about a year ago at the suggestion of TBB fan Chris S.


This is a great family photo. But if you look closely, you’ll see that Marek is considering taking a chomp out of Ivo’s shoulder. He’s hongree.


The boys chose the patriotic table. USF and USA!

Marek dressed himself. He allegedly left the house with both shoes.


Marek took this, and many other pictures this morning. Ivo took some too.

This last weekend, Marek for the first time “got it” on the whole breakfast project. He talked all day Friday about his “dot com” and spent an hour cruising the Tampa Bay Breakfasts web site. Seriously, he never really realized that this was his web site and I just work for him. Expect him to be exerting greater influence this summer.


Since Marek was taking pictures, you get a rare look at me placing an order. Notice the precision, the command, the poise of Tampa Bay’s most experienced Pancake Professional. If this were a paying gig, I’d be able to afford to buy Marek both shoes.


The menu. Had all the right parts in all the right places, no surprises. The 301 is exactly what you expect out of a classic greasy spoon.


Ivo would like to give all our Breakfast Fans a big hug!


Coffee and chocolate, just the way we like it.


Portraits by Ivo. He took this shot. Composition is OK, but he needs to work on focus. The jaunty horizon is very avaunt-guard.


Breakfast came on lots of plates, and Ivo attacked with the speed of a Breakfast Spider.


I’m trying something new. The daily special was country fried steak. I haven’t had one of those in years.


Ivo likes his food to look like it spent some time fighting with a Florida panther.


Marek likes him some home fries these days. Here he’s musing on the delights of home fries in all their forms.


It’s A-OK!

Actually, I have no idea what he was doing, but it’s not an old-school A-OK sign. Kids don’t do that anymore.


Ivo shoved in as much pancake as his hatch could hold.


And then the hatch lost containment. He kept it together and chewed in a most disgusting fashion.


About $16 for a robust, filling breakfast. Not bad at all.


Ivo, who is going to pay the bill today?


Why, I am, dad!


Here’s the cash. Let’s see what happens next.


It’s Flamenco Ivo!


Running at a dead sprint through the dining room to find someone to take the cash. Ivo is all about results.


When he came back, I asked him if he could make a funny face. This is all he had.


Marek jumped in to demonstrate his prowess, and lead his little brother in the finer arts of goofyface.


How else would Ivo learn if he didn’t get this kind of loving moment from his big brother?


When we got home, we had a good, old-fashioned Florida Saturday morning. Bikes and popsicles and trampolines and playing in the street. These will be the good old days.


Great chow, just like you’d expect from a 30 year old diner. Good prices, friendly folks. On our way out we stopped to chat with a Korean War vet, and that made our day. The bacon and home fries met Marek’s demanding standards. The kid’s pancake got mauled and chawed in approving Ivo fashion. And I found the eggs and country fried steak to be a fine change to the usual, if a bit heavy on the sausage gravy. The coffee did run a little dry along the way, but otherwise this is a breakfast worth the drive. We’re pleased to give the 301 Family Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four pancake rating.


301 Family on Urbanspoon

Cuban Sandwich Cafe

Tampa Bay Times is using us for a little advertising campaign. We’re proud to be seen as a face of The Bay Area.


This cloudy morning we’re going to check out the Cuban Sandwich Cafe at 10434 N Florida Ave.


We’re three really sweet boys.


We’re three really goofy boys.


Marek read this sign for us. Which made Ivo want to do the opposite of what it told us. He’s contrary this weekend.


Since we’re reading these days, we need our morning newspapers. If you’re wondering about Ivo’s pants … “camo” is a color where I come from.


A nice corner spot.


Dangerous guys like us, we like to show off our tattoos. I guess I’m to blame for both boys talking about tattoos a lot.


Inside the Cuban Sandwich Cafe, well-worn and very crowded. It’s not a big dining room, so it’s easy to be crowded.


Ivo’s favorite thing today, thbbbpptting the tongue.


Kiss for dady? Thbbbpptt.


An immense stack of jelly.


But all endeavors ultimately fade. The Puerto Rico shirt is actually Marek’s, a present from his teacher Carmen a couple schools back.


It took a while, but we ended up getting a menu. Perfunctory in scale, but meets our breakfast minimum standards.


Ivo laughed like he was at a comedy club, every time he’s shove this bottle at me and I’d make this face. I guess, when we think about it, we sort of are a traveling comedy show.


Coffee for everyone. I’m glad I took a picture of this, since I didn’t get a refill until I was actually standing up and getting ready to walk out the door.


I’m thinking about switching Ivo to decaf. That little Puerto Rican Camo Kid spent all day pinging off the walls.


Notice the Kendo posture Ivo takes when attacking his pancakes. Good two-handed Katana grip.


Bacon and eggs, standard fare, for Marek.


Piles of pancake for Ivo.


A big mouth can take a big bite.


Ivo is demonstrating his exceptional fine motor control. I know adults who can’t cut their own food as well.


I had the Breakfast Cuban sandwich, with bacon, eggs, and cheese. It was quite nice.


Total bill was about $14.


Ivo stepped up to courier the cash.


Marek and Ivo in line. I wasn’t able to get a snap of Ivo trying to climb the counter and Marek pushing him up by the butt, but that had this half of the dining room cracking up.


When we left, we were dwarfed by this big Excursion. People who drive big vehicles don’t realize how absurdly large they appear to people who drive small and awesome vehicles.


The Cuban Sandwich Cafe is beloved by a lot of folks, and you’ll find Urban Spoon littered with praise for the Cuban chow here. Breakfast was adequate. While food was pretty good, the overall experience wasn’t really all that super. They were very busy, it’s true, but I watched the waitresses take a coffee tour of the dining room at least four times and never even look at us. And the bug-zapper light installed by the bathroom door made even me concerned about overall food-health issues, and I frequently cut an apple with my pocket knife without cleaning it off first. While the other folks eating all seemed very friendly, the staff really maxed out at “cordial,” if not just “perfunctory” when dealing with us. The real difference between our experience at the Cuban Sandwich Cafe and at Nick’s Family Restaurant last month was that at least the people at the tables around us were friendly at the Cuban Sandwich Cafe, while at Nick’s Family Restaurant clientele and staff alike were borderline hostile. Cuban Sandwich Cafe is good for a stop if you’re in the neighborhood, but don’t drive across the bay for breakfast here. We give it a Tampa Bay Breakfasts three pancake rating.


Cuban Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

Ivo made sure we all knew that there was bird poop on the window. He was proud to say he could touch it. Luckily it was outside the glass. This started a conversation about how would you poop on the ceiling. What? We are three guys in a car on a long drive. And yes, we did have a long discussion about jumping and pooping, and timing it correctly to have the desired effect.


We stopped to visit our Pasco County friends Greg and Lynette. Greg’s t-shirt says, “Chuck Norris’s Forecast: Cloudy with 90% chance of pain!” At the edge of the picture is Lynette, saying, don’t take my picture!


We saw a bunch of cool things on the road after breakfast on our drive to Marion County. Like this truck hauling stacked up trucks.


Just north of Inverness, a big pink elephant on the side of the road.


On the road to Hernando, some classic body parts on a flatbed.


Helicopter at the Hernando VFW on Highway 200. Presumably it’s on display, and not parked there by a vet getting a Bud Light at the bar.


Yet the boys managed to sleep through it all. No stamina in this group.


We stopped off at the grocery to get marshmallows for supper. Marek had trouble seeing for some reason we couldn’t figure out. It cleared up when we left the market.


Can you tell the boys are on dad-time this weekend?

Sunshine Cafe

Hello race fans and welcome to another morning of “Racing for Breakfast!”

As you can see by Ivo’s 30 degree off-axis and Marek’s goofy “DoItAgainDad” grin, we were doing donuts in an empty parking lot at 0800 this fine Saturday morning.


To get ready for breakfast, and race day, we spun one of my favorites, “Dr. Funkenstein.” Which is Deadmau5 tracks and a vocal that just repeats, “Dr. Funkenstein” over and over.

It’s a lot less awesome when described that way, by the way.


We visited The Sunshine Cafe this lovely 10th of February. Sunshine Cafe has a sort of generic-looking web site at and they’re located at 3624 W Gandy Blvd“>3624 W Gandy Blvd.


Deadmau5 plus reckless driving makes Ivo hungry. I mean honngreeee.


Marek opened the door and Ivo immediately went to this gumball machine.

And had his first of many disappointments in life when he turned the knob and nothing happened.


Comprehensive, if somewhat oddly ordered menu. Appetizers. Breakfasts. Sandwiches. Why not put appetizers over with the other dinner stuff? Ordered alphabetically, I’m thinking.


Dad (my dad, their grandpa) will be interested to know that Sunshine Cafe has scrapple. That’s four or five places in The Bay Area that serve it.


A round of coffee for everyone. Ivo doesn’t get appropriately pingy and start hurling eggs at people until his second cup.


Here’s my prized Dali/Simpsons t-shirt, purchased from a street vendor in Figueres 15 years ago. Ivo spent 15 minutes pointing at things, saying, “what’s this, daddy?” Andy Warhol got his start just like this.


Ivo, doing a bit of faux Kandinsky. Quoth Marek, “I hate abstract expressionism.”


Marek, admiring an example of early 21st century parental neorealist portraiture. Quoth Marek, “That’s not me, daddy!” Oh, yes it is, son.


Another work of art, from the Edward Hopper School of Grits.


Moments after this quiet picture was taken, Ivo managed to take one of the pre-packaged syrup containers and pry the corner loose, dumping syrup right in his crotch where it was not obvious that he had done so at first glance. More on that later.


I had the “spinach and feta skillet.” While obviously this is not served in an actual skillet, it was still a quality meal artfully served.


Ivo gnawing his way into a packet of butter. A kinder father would open it for him.


Not large pancakes. Perfect for The Ivo, though. And attractive to look at, too.


Here we are in mid-cleanup. A positive puddle of oil under the boy, not unlike what you’d find under a ’72 Dodge with a bad oil pan gasket. Just sticky and nasty. But only syrup, nothing more. (Though at this point, there was truly no way to know, so I made him sit on a napkin and pretend that everything was normal (which, oddly enough, it sort of was for us.).)


Now that we’re all done talking about sticky, syrup-soaked two-year-olds, I wanted to mention that this was a good breakfast I was having.


Last week, Marek put syrup on his eggs. This week, butter. I read that Einstein did the same thing.


We got grits, just for you, Kim on AM 820!


The bill was around 17 clams for all of us. Not terrible, but not super-cheap. A good amount of chow, so we didn’t feel swindled.


Marek was still ladling butter onto his scrambled, so Ivo took the cash.


And promptly tried to pay this cab driver picking up a take-out order. Shows how good Tampa’s cabbies are. The man said, “look kid, for $20 I can take you to the airport, but no farther.”


Finally, Ivo found the right spot. Who says a two year old can’t apply problem-solving skills?


Smokin’ and Jokin’ on the way home. Notice how Ivo is carrying a jelly packet. That’s not going to be good news for me later on, I can tell.


We stopped on the way home to enjoy the City we call Tampa.


And do what we do best. Which is, right after breakfast, the time-honored hobby of Yelling At Birds.


We had a fine time at the Sunshine Cafe. The chow was nice, the people friendly, the price on the slightly high side of OK. The coffee cups were tiny and the dining area was that flat, open plan that belies a former retail space. And also, we walked in on an old guy sitting on the can when we went to wash up the syrup explosion, and we haven’t been able to un-see that yet (sir, there IS a lock on the door). At the end of the morning, Sunshine Cafe is worth a visit (just knock first). We’re happy to give Sunshine Cafe a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four pancake rating.


Sunshine Cafe on Urbanspoon