Category Archives: Hillsborough

Datz Deli

We’ve got a visitor this weekend. An old Air Force buddy, Jason. The boys hate him and don’t want anything to do with him, as you can see here.


Even after we all got dressed, they still refuse to even acknowledge his presence.


Because we’re all guys, we had to talk cars. Jason hadn’t seen the Breakfassst FR-S before, so we popped the hood and made vrooming noises. Check out Marek’s Formula Racing jacket. I found that in an Abu Dhabi market a few years back, and he’s finally grown into it.


Ivo says, “because RACECAR!”


I says, “because RACECAR!”


This morning we’re visiting Datz Deli, one of the best restaurants in Tampa. Marek actually rode on Jason’s shoulders the whole way here, which was uncomfortable in the car. Datz is at 2616 South MacDill Avenue. We’ve been here a bunch of times, and it always delivers.


There’s a line. That’s OK, we have a reservation, thanks to AM 820 Food Talk co-host and Datz owner Suzanne. This must be how real celebrities feel. We’re just faux-celebs. Pancakes don’t usually make the red carpet.


We’re up on top, with a great view.


The Datz menu is always new, printed on custom newspapers. Pirate pancakes … a Tampa Special!


Me and Ivo, goofin’ at Datz.


We’re going with the love potion pink pancakes.


Jason’s liking the “You Had Me at Nutella.”


We had to keep a close eye on Ivo. He might want to “share” some toys with the people below us. Marek did that a couple years ago and we had to go retrieve cars from downstairs. One is still down there somewhere.


We warmed up and took off our jackets. Ivo’s sporting his Stuttgart shirt, a present from our German friends. Though I wonder, why does it say “Germany Stuttgart” and not “Stuttgart Germany?”


Jason taught the boys a new game, “muppet.”


Check out how cool is Datz, they even have coffee in kid-sizes.


We’re sitting by the bar. Mimosas were flowing here at Datz. Not for us, though. We have to concentrate. We’re on duty. Though I’m curious … never had a mimosa before.


Again, no one likes Jason. He’s so lonely.


We had a visit from a member of the Datz management team, General Manager Erica. Thanks for the attention … we loved it


Checking out the Datz mobile app.


A bit of a mishap. Hot chocolate spill caused by unbridled enthusiasm.


A great restaurant has to deal with complexity. There clearly was an emergency response protocol for “Hot chocolate spill on the upper deck.” It probably has a code, like “DR075-Alpha” if the rapid response is any indication.

By the way, we are not going to talk about Lauren’s tattoos.


The lighting in Datz is such that all the food appears with angelic halos.


Nutella decadence for Jason, corned beef hash for Andy. Yes, that’s a pair of binoculars on the table. We ARE on the upper deck, after all.


Pink pancakes for Ivo.


This is chow worthy of taking a picture for the folks back home.


Marek’s also got the pink pancakes, but we all know he’s just here for the bacon.


Jason is momming it up for Ivo.


And as a result, Ivo is able to shovel it in. He’s not actually making Cookie Monster sounds here, but he ought.


I asked our cheerful waitress for more coffee, and she pointed out that we already had a hot carafe on the table. That’s a nice touch, Datz!


Me and Marek traded plates, and he finished my home fries (a.k.a. “square french fries,” thanks to Jason!) and I finished his pancakes.


Insert “gobble chomp” sounds here.


We wrapped up with little mimosas. These are a new signature drink from Datz, and the first time I’ve ever had a mimosa. I can see where that could be a dangerous habit on Sunday mornings.


We had a visit from our old friend Tina. We know her from Rick’s on the River and from previous visits to Datz.


A Breakfast Lineup in the parking lot on a sunny Sunday morning.


In the overflow parking lot, a Jeep with mascara.


We stopped at another Tampa favorite of ours on the way home, Rollin’ Oats.


Where we showed Jason how we do it with the little carts. Marek hasn’t left Jason’s shoulders in 36 hours. I don’t even want to know how he’s been going to the bathroom.


Don’t be fooled by this Tampa Bay Breakfasts rating. Datz is no diner. It’s a high-end, foodie-friendly restaurant that takes risks in the kitchen and gets it right in the dining room. What Datz has more than any other breakfast in the Bay Area is attention to detail. They care about the food, how the food looks, how you feel, and the space around you.

Go to Datz. Take a bunch of money. Don’t be in a hurry. Try something adventurous. Love it.

We’re pleased to return to Datz with another Tampa Bay Breakfasts five pancake rating.


Datz Tampa on Urbanspoon

Country Pumpkin Cafe

Marek’s heading out for Breakfast. We tend to capitalize the “B” in Breakfast around here.

Note that he has:

  1. A jacket, because mom told him to.
  2. His favorite fireman boots, which are two sizes too small, but “it’s OK dad, really.”
  3. His t-ball baseball pants, with a big rip in the nethers that I didn’t discover until later in the morning.


Here in Tampa it’s a lovely, lovely morning. February, so it’s cold. In the 50s, maybe. On the left is a place I sometimes buy daddy-beverages in quantities of six, and on the right is where Ivo got his first real haircut. In the distance is the city skyline. Just our neighborhood.


This morning we visited the Country Pumpkin Cafe at 2620 E Hillsborough Ave in Tampa. Marek appears to be prying himself out of the car. It’s a family car, and I’ll stand by that statement until a medical professional advises me that the car is stunting my children’s growth.


Says I to Marek, let’s take a picture together and pretend that we are normal and sane and like each other and all that. He concurred in a most dutiful fashion.


And then we got newspapers. Because 1. they’re free and 2. There might be coupons for mom.


I’m teaching Marek to read the paper over breakfast, old-style. He’ll look back fondly on these moments and think, wow, dad was a real dinosaur in 2013, with his newspapers made out of paper and all that.


The Country Pumpkin has an interesting menu. You can get stuff you expect, and stuff you don’t so much expect.


What you may not expect is a “breakfast burger.” Now I can tell you, we’ve been doing this Breakfast Thing for a while. And we’ve never encountered a “breakfast burger” before. Worthy of note.


Hot chocolate for Marek. We had a serious discussion about the relative merits of marshmallows in hot chocolate afterwards. Also note the nice display of coffee creamers. Like a little blossom of creamers. I decided early on, 25 years ago, that I would drink coffee black so that I’d always like what I had and not be too worried about things like “we’re out of creamer.”


Enormous cutlery on the wall, in case an enormous person walks in and orders the whole thing.


“Ma’am, I’ll take a breakfast over here, please.”


And politeness works. Bacon first, as is Marek’s method for approaching bacon and eggs. Afterwards he said, “good bacon.” I didn’t get any. Somehow, the Scarfing of the Marek (much like “the running of the bulls”) prevented me from sampling.


Here are pancakes that made me stop and ponder. Consider. Mutter, “whoah, interesting.”


Not huge, but moderately sized. My hands aren’t exceptionally large, but those fingers can type about a million words a minute. Stand back.


It’s the cook-in banana appearance that has me. This is so neat-looking, and tasty too. I really liked these pancakes.


Five year old with a knife. What? His mom’s not here. So the boy can have a knife.


Syrup on eggs. What, you think I’M going to stop him? We already established that boy has a knife.


More newspaper reading. Something about a “Monster Truck Jam” in Tampa tonight. We discussed the cultural, literary, and metaphysical aspects of a “Monster Truck Jam.”


Around ten clams for a robust breakfast. Note our new business cards for 2013. This is our third set of business cards since we started. That’s kind of weird.


Marek paid the bill. After all, who else would? Ivo? Not here. Didn’t want to come. Pajamas and time with mom, that’s all Ivo wanted this morning.


Note the clean and somewhat spartan interior. And sparse of customers, though it did start filling in as we were leaving. I wasn’t a fan of the televisions, which seemed a bit loud and distracting in the empty dining room.


On our way home, we went by the stadium. Sure enough, there’s Grave Digger, the “most feared monster truck on earth.”


The Country Pumpkin Cafe was a fine experience. The chow was good, especially the banana pancakes. The price was reasonable. The service was good, and even a little sassy. We like sassy. At the end of the morning, we can say that the Country Pumpkin is worth a visit. We’re happy to give “The Pumpkin” a Tampa Bay Breakfast four pancake rating.


Country Pumpkin Cafe on Urbanspoon

Mamas Family Kitchen

It’s a beautiful day in Tampa, Florida. A great day for a bike ride. Ivo’s on his Kazam bike. This used to be Marek’s Kazam bike, and is the reason why he’s such a biking ace today.

Of course, you can’t ride a Kazam all the way to breakfast, so Ivo still gets strapped to the back of my bike.

I have no idea how Ivo’s face got filthy between leaving the house and stopping for a photo-op break. This morning I achieved a parenting coup and managed to convince Marek that a wrench is a toy just like Star Wars action figures or Hot Wheels cars. “Oh dad, this wrench is so much fun,” and so on.

Everyone gets a newspaper for some reason. I think the reason is, the newspapers are free.

We’re revisiting Mama’s at 9312 N Florida Ave. This is our favorite seat because we’re under the lions.

Here’s how you can tell that Ivo is really my kid. Already with the hot sauce. And still a dirty face, despite the parking-lot-spit-bath, dad-style.

The updated menu at Mamas. Also, they’re really fun on Facebook.

Ivo with crayons.

Marek showing off his Stuttgart VfB colors for our friends back in Germany. Why the look? Because I said, “show me your Stuttgart shirt, Marek,” and he made that face.

The 2011 Tampa Bay Breakfasts Waitress of the Year … Vicki!

Every two year old needs his morning coffee. Ivo is no exception.

We may have to switch Ivo to decaf. First cup he’s ever broken. In going on four years of Tampa Bay Breakfasts, we’ve only broken two coffee cups (the first was in 2009, and it wasn’t Marek who broke it).

We were joined this morning by a new breakfast friend, Carolina, who has a great camera. Another modern mystery, it ended up with a lot of syrupy fingerprints on it.

Marek’s journalism cred is well-established. The problem now is that his Christmas wish-list just got more expensive.

Just in time to save the camera from the same fate the coffee cup endured, here’s Vicki.

Here’s a plate of lovely banana-walnut pancakes.

Andy, Marek, and Ivo split the pancakes, bacon, and eggs.

A recurring theme for Tampa Bay Breakfasts is the independence of the child. We like to foster and encourage development of good judgement, level heads, and critical thinking. We think it’s more valuable to teach kids to have a good response to a new situation than to try to protect from all possible threats. We’re fans of free-range kids. And also, we give knives to our two-year-olds.

Marek doing a Brad Pitt imitation.

Ivo getting the Brad Pitt paparazzo treatment.

Here’s what Carolina was snapping. Ivo with a whole pancake in his mouth at one time. Twenty years from now, Ivo will look back at this moment … and immediately change his name and enter the Witness Protection Program.

Marek is reciting poetry to this pancake. I believe it’s Ode on a Grecian Urn.

As the level of overall chaos ascended, Ivo stepped up to pay the bill. As everyone knows, a two year old running around a restaurant waving Jacksons always has a calming effect.

He was gone for a while. I finally decided that since I hadn’t seen him for 15 minutes, I ought go exercise some parental responsibility and find him. He was negotiating for more lollipops.

Which he proudly delivered back to the table. He didn’t bring the change, though. I think his priorities need alignment.

This is a visionary look, worthy of a presidential campaign poster. “Pops for everyone! Vote for me!”

Vicki and Marek, Breakfast Buds.

We piled back on bikes. Ivo was out before we were even half-way home. Dreams of breakfasts past and future.

And we saw this neat oldtimer turning into the gas station. I didn’t know that the 7-11 had gas, diesel, AND charcoal at the pumps.

Great chow. Great prices. Friendliest service in Tampa. Lions on the wall. Exuberant Facebook page. And we get recognized every time, which makes us feel good. Tampa Bay Breakfasts Five Pancake Rating (and shhhh, also going to be the 2012 Breakfast of the Year when we do our annual wrap-up next month!).


Mamas Kitchen III on Urbanspoon


We re-visited Nicko’s on 27 October 2012. As you may recall, Nicko’s was our 2011 Breakfast of the Year.

Marek is doing a Bieber pose. Or maybe a Bowie pose.

We brought a puzzle to keep little hands occupied. Let this be a lesson to dads everywhere. Don’t bring a puzzle to breakfast. This did not work out as planned.

Ivo having morning coffee. The funny part is the goofy look on dad in the mirror. That’s apparently the look I get when I’m taking a picture of my kids.

The menu is basic, and makes a point of telling you about Elvis. Which is one of the top three cool things about this place.

A family photograph. Ivo. Andy. Monkey. Marek.

Monkey is the brains of the operation. I’m the financier. Marek is special teams. Ivo is the enforcer. It’s like Ocean’s 11.

Hot chocolate for Marek. Dig his OEF t-shirt. Given the proximity of MacDill, he’s probably not the only kid with one of those. But he’s MY only kid with one of those.

After a long and harsh political debate over the menu, we decided on pancakes, bacon, and eggs.

Inside Nicko’s is like rolling back in time. And this morning, back-in-time was packed.

I got desert first. Ivo kisses are the best!

Not only did we discover that this puzzle was actually made up of several different puzzle pieces, but I think we donated some to the floor under our table.

This is a quick trick brick stack.

Marek is almost ready for this.

And Marek is definitely ready for this.

Ivo gets a Mickey Pancake. The eyes and mouth cut into it are a bit macabre-looking.

Ivo puts a fork to good use.

Stuffing an entire pancake into his mouth at one time.

And then there’s the knife. Which he started swinging around like a mad pirate after a while.

Dad got breakfast also.

The whole lot rolled in at fifteen even. Not bad at all.

Marek took care of the bill. When he brought change back he announced that the coins were his. The folks at the next table pointed out that he did work for it. So there you go.

Great food. Lots of locals. Old-time railcar diner. Elvis. Breakfast of the Year winner. Go to Nicko’s to have a great breakfast. We’re pleased to re-award Nicko’s as a Tampa Bay Breakfast Five Pancake experience.


Nicko's Fine Foods on Urbanspoon

La Montaña Colombian Bakery

We’re not really going to breakfast today. We already had breakfast at home. Today, 8 September 2012, we’re just taking a fun bike ride down Armenia Avenue.

But all of us world-class five-year-old bike riders sometimes need a break. So we popped into La Montaña at 8206 N Armenia Ave, a nice little Colombian bakery in our neighborhood. This section of Armenia between Waters and Hillsborough is very seriously Colombian. Like getting your passport stamped serious. While we do wish it were Venezuelan instead of Colombian, it’s still exciting.

This is Ivo, shaking his head that he doesn’t think my Spanish is up to the challenge. (It’s not, by the way, but that doesn’t stop me.)

Marek’s a fan of the free car trader magazines. He picked up this one out front where we parked the bikes. He doesn’t read English yet, so it being in Spanish is not a big deal.

We had some jugos de naranja, freshly cut and squeezed in front of us. Really nice!

And I had a guava pastry. The boys didn’t even want to try it. No sense of adventure, these ones.

We sat outside and had our naranja and coffee break. While we were sitting here, the Señoras y Señoritas Colombianas kept stopping to pat Marek on the head and say “que lindo.”

This is how Marek looked as he says to me, and I am not making this up, “Daaaaad. Why can’t we just talk English?” This is in response to me saying to him, when we walked in the door, “ahora, solo Español.”

Cafe con leche and guava pastry on a bike ride. 30 years from now, Marek and Ivo are going to look back at times like this and think how neat their childhood was. Of course, 10 years from now, they’ll think this is all so dumb and dad why can’t we just do something that’s not with you?

Choosing his new pickup truck.

Enjoying his jugos.

When we were all done, the boys collected all the free magazines. Marek announced he was starting a paper route.

Ivo on the ride home. Tell me, does he look sweet … or apprehensive? Could it be because I’m taking this picture while also pedaling the bike? Ponder….

We didn’t really have breakfast at La Montaña, so we can’t honestly give it a rating. We did see other folks having some seriously delicious-looking beans and rice and arepas. This is a great little place with friendly people and good bread (I pick up a loaf every now and then) and fresh juice. Take your best high school Spanish if you go!

La Montana Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Daily Eats

We started out with a different plan. We were going to have some of the excellent blueberry pancakes at Taste of Boston and then ride bikes on Bayshore for a little while. Taste of Boston has always been a favorite, because I secretly suspect the restaurant and the bait shop share the kitchen.

It turns out that in the three years since we last visited Taste of Boston, they no longer serve breakfast. So we ate our snacks first, lest we have to resort to cannibalism. Me and the boys, we’d already decided that the eat-or-be-eaten lines would be drawn based on gender, not age.

Here are the previously mentioned bikes and excited about-to-be-bike-riding family people.

Off we go on Bayshore, a lovely bit of hometown Tampa. For 45 minutes, Marek said “good morning!” to every single person we passed. I lost count at 50.

We stopped and took a break, and saw a stingray in the water. It’s not obvious, but in this picture it is just north of dead center, with the tail pointed down. Some people were, at that very moment, paying $20 a head to get into the Florida Aquarium to see the same thing.

And on we rode, all the way up South Howard.

I bet you were worried that we’d never get to breakfast in this report. Let me assure you, by this point, Marek and Ivo were pretty worried we’d never get to breakfast either, but here we are. Daily Eats. 901 South Howard Ave.

We were last at Daily Eats three years ago. We didn’t ride bikes back then. Marek was Ivo’s age. Ivo was barely a thought. It was a simpler time.

We had to wait 10 minutes for a table. That’s how fabulous Daily Eats is, there’s a line out the door. Give it another couple years, and Marek’s eyes in this picture would be diverted about 90 degrees clockwise and 5 degrees south.

They promptly hooked us up with crayons. That’s a good place that understands kids.

Me and Marek, two sweaty boys. That bike ride made us hungry. Of course, if we hadn’t had to go with Plan B we’d have eaten two hours ago.

Marek took this picture of the prettiest girl in the room.

A good menu, full of classics and exciting twists. For appearing to be somewhat terse, we had to take some time to decide.

Inside, Daily Eats is set up like an old rail car diner. It’s close, cozy, and very busy. There’s a lot of mimosa being poured this morning.

Coffee, juice, good.

Ivo took this picture of our cheerful waitress Betsy. It almost looks like he planned the exposure to highlight the “guest check” notepad.

When breakfast landed we all jumped. Lovely presentation of the French toast, pancakes, bacon, eggs, home fries, fruit.

I broke out of the mold and tried the Spanish omelet. The potatoes and omelet were fabulous.

Marek did a disappearing act with the bacon. Now you see it, now you don’t.

And Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom raved about the French toast. Oh la la, a fine breakfast.

And here’s the third picture of this omelet. It was super! Excepting for the hugeness of it, I could have had two.

Four breakfasts, two from the kids’ menu. $33. That’s not too bad, especially considering the SoHo location and the quality and quantity of chow. I’d say that’s actually a pretty good value. Plus, we got to meet our waitress, who is a “Puerto Rican Catholic with a Hebrew name for some reason.”

This was a great experience all around. Friendly people. Awesome food. Reasonable price. Kid-friendly, yet with mimosas. We’re pleased to give Daily Eats a four and a half pancake rating (up a half-pancake from our last visit, thanks to Betsy!).


Daily Eats on Urbanspoon


We’re going on the bikes to find breakfast this morning. Ivo invited Veronica. I think he has a crush.

Veronica is our neighbor. We live about seven miles from downtown. This was her first time ever riding downtown and on the roads, and it was her longest bike ride ever. I don’t think she really knew what she was in for.

We parked bikes in front of Fresh at 507 North Franklin Street on 25 August 2012. We last visited Fresh back in January 2011.

Veronical’s father Matt also joined us, because he knows better than to miss out on a Tampa Bay Breakfast!

They moved the cereal bar to the other side of the room since last we were here.

Matt and Veronica have been here more than we have, usually for non-breakfast meals. Matt and I share an opinion that the food is fine, the decor is really nice, but it just doesn’t seem to make sense. Where you order, where you pick up, where you sit, where you get napkins, everything seems to be sort of haphazard. We were the only customers, and yet we seemed to mill about and stand around a lot.

Me and Ivo did a recon on the cereal bar.

And supervised Veronica’s building of a perfect breakfast.

Perfect, in this case, means Fruit Loops with M&Ms and Jelly Bellies. Oh, to be ten again, where that would sound the least bit edible.

Hat’s off to TBT for “Republicane” … double entendre nicely played, given both the whirlwind that Tampa is becoming and the impending storm due to hit this week.

I had the “Belgian,” which is a “French toasted” Panini with raspberries and blueberries, along with home fries. Odd that it’s named for Belgium with Italian bread cooked in an American fashion named after France. You almost need a passport for this one!

While I was waiting, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Fresh sells candy cigarettes. Not that I’m particularly interested in providing this experience for my own kids, but I remember them from when I was young. Matt and I had a good conversation about the value. “How else would little kids learn to smoke?”

Fresh has a TV showing you pictures of the food you could be ordering, and how good it is. It’s almost like the modern habit of having a great time, taking pictures of the great time while you’re having it, and then stopping having the good time to enjoy the pictures of the time you just stopped having.

We enjoyed our breakfast outside. It’s a pleasant day in Tampa. Downtown cafe. Kids like us on bikes, stimulating the local economy and acting like Tampa’s a real city.

This is just Andy getting in the picture.

Ivo didn’t eat very well. Fresh wasn’t to his taste. And he missed his brother Marek, I think.

Here’s a close-up of breakfast. Let’s revisit the melange. It’s very attractive, with service on a classy white rectangular plate. But then it gets the plastic syrup container. The salty-savory potatoes were delish. But they completely clashed with the sweet and tart of the panini. And the panini sort of clashed with itself, the tart was overpowering on the sweet. Good, but just over-tart.

Fresh gets high marks for the ambiance and location. The food is ambitious but still seems to be looking for cohesion. The prices are OK, but you don’t walk out feeling like you just got a bargain. Fresh is certainly worth a trip and is surely going to keep getting better and better. We give Fresh a Tampa Bay Breakfasts three and a half pancake rating.


Fresh on Urbanspoon

Squads of cops on patrol in Tampa. The start of a creepy martial-law feel in the city today. The paramilitary appearance lends to my unease.

But the blocked streets and heavy police presence kept the roads clear for Ivo and Veronica to chase pigeons.

Fresh is beside the new downtown Taco Bus. We love the Taco Bus.

We’re uncomfortable with the national guard patrolling our breakfast, though.

By the time we left Fresh, these barriers to our transit were flying up all over the city. It’s a shame that the state of our nation includes a political climate where one side has to wall itself off from the other.

We rode the Riverwalk by the convention center.

We stopped to check out the fabulous Nemo on Wheaties.

Then we found the Riverwalk inexplicably barricaded under the Brorein bridge. There were guys on bikes coming the other way blocked, too. All we were missing was someone to ask for our papers.

We made our way over to Curtis Hixon Park. We had to go all the way around by the performing arts center to almost sneak in to the playground. Mickey’s been along for the whole ride.

Ivo and Veronica had a great time playing on one of our favorite playgrounds in Tampa.

We rode from Curtis Hixon to Ybor City. A flight of three helicopters overhead.

At Ybor City we enjoyed the Saturday Market.

We had fresh, hand-made smoothies.

And then we rode home. The whole ride from start to finish, about 20 miles through downtown, West Tampa, Tampa Heights, Ybor, Seminole Heights. That’s a heck of a ride!

Just a normal day.

Mom’s Restaurant

We revisited Mom’s at 4816 N Dale Mabry Hwy on 4 August 2012. Last time we were here was over two years ago. That’s like a million years in breakfast time. Mom’s is the kind of place where you can drive your classic v12 Jaguar and still get treated like a regular Joe.

We did not all dress alike on purpose this morning. This is a classic example of the thousand monkeys chained to a thousand typewriters for a thousand years.

Marek and Ivo are like a Breakfast Recon Team, infiltrating the pancakes.

Inside Mom’s is unchanged since we were last there. And maybe since forever. This is the way we like it.

We spent a lot of time talking about this car and what kind it may be. We never did come to a conclusion, though it probably spent a lot of time at Ronnie Setser’s.

Ivo wasted no time making a mess. He’s decreased his TTM (that’s time to mess, for technical folks) by 51% since last time he popped one of these creamers when I wasn’t looking.

The menu is exactly what you’d expect for a classic greasy spoon mom-n-pop diner.

Me and Marek, we’re having our coffee. Have you noticed, dedicated TBB fans, how Marek has grown out of looking like a little kid and into looking like a little person?

Ivo demands coffee, too. I think I’m going to start him on decaf, though.

Can’t you just imagine sitting with Marek over a slow Sunday breakfast and coffee, just talking about the news and the weather and how Grandma’s doing these days?

Every toddler ought start out this way, mainlining black coffee.

Marek of the future, read back to 2012 and this picture. When you and I are arguing over if you can take the hovercraft out for a date with your robot hybrid girlfriend and you’re mad at me because I just don’t understand, I’m going to pull up this picture and remind you how we used to be such good friends.

New tattoo. The original hand is Marek’s when he was two. Last week we got Ivo’s. Which is a bit larger than Marek, at the same age. We’re predicting Ivo will grow to be the size of a horse.

Breakfast came like Operation Vittles, a plane-load of chow. Marek is now, as of two weeks ago, on a sausage patty kick.

Pancakes this morning: Not Mom’s finest work. I mean, they were fine, but very small. We’ve encountered a lot of pancakes in our career, so I know a small pancake when I see one.

Ivo has perfected the use of the fork to deliver chow to his lap, where he then uplifts it to his maw by hand. Perfect aristocratic table manners have to start somewhere. Not here, of course.

This bacon, what tiny bit I got of it, was good. I like it just over the edge of being done plus one. This was happy bacon for all of us. The look on Marek’s face needs a caption, though.

Enough chow to feed us all, coffee, Marek coffee, and Ivo coffee all added up to a bit over 12 clams. That’s about right for a good, filling breakfast in Tampa Bay. Bacon was great. Eggs just right. Hash browns were nice. Pancakes, a bit small but otherwise OK. Sausage was a winner. And the coffee was tops, by the way. Mom’s has a great rhythm, where all the wait staff circulate the whole room and refill everyone every five minutes. That’s the way it ought to be done.

Marek and Ivo negotiated. Ivo would pay the bill, Marek would bring the change back.

This appears to be some sort of bartering about the bill.

A crowd gathered to watch the young financial wizards.

And … another Breakfast Job, well done.

The boys came away with pops when they paid the bill. That’s always awesome! Also, the 370z behind them was almost the new Pancake Mobile, but there’s no back seat at all. At least the FR-S has this thing that looks like a scale model of a back seat so I can fake it and fit them in. But not the 370, no sir.

After Mom’s, we went to the beach. What a great Florida day.

We’re pleased to award Mom’s with a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


Mom's Place on Urbanspoon

Forest Hills Diner

It’s me and Ivo again this morning, a rare two-breakfast weekend! We’re on the bike today.

We visited the Forest Hills Diner at 9399 N Florida Ave on 8 July 2012. This used to be the Pine Grove Family Restaurant but changed ownership last year.

Excepting for the sign, it’s pretty much the same place. We’re calling this a new restaurant from our serious pancake statistical analysis approach, though.

This is our 99th unique mom-n-pop location in the Tampa Bay area. We’re so dedicated that we even wore one kid out on pancakes. I had to bring in the emergency backup kid to keep going.

There’s a kid’s menu, and drinks for kids are free with purchase of a kid’s meal.

Ivo suggests that maybe he’ll just take what he wants, seeing as how he’s got a knife and all.

This is the look you get if you say, “Ivo, are you playing with a knife, you silly little boy?”

Inside is pretty much unchanged since we were last here at the Pine Grove in 2010. Very large place.

We’re having coffee this morning! Which is a great improvement over yesterday morning’s no-coffee problem.

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Ivo who?
Ivo you!

That’s how you make Ivo laugh.

Here’s breakfast! Kid’s one scrambled egg and bacon also came with hash browns and toast. It was quite a lot of food for three bucks.

Decent pancakes, size-wise. And these were really tasty, too. Fresh blueberries did the trick for me.

This breakfast is so good that we’re even wearing it.

And this look is the result of me saying, “Hey Ivo, guess how much a college education for you is going to cost me? Nothin! Join the Army! Hah!”

Two big breakfasts, coffee, kid’s coffee weighed in at 12 clams. Not too bad. Notice how I need new business cards, that say “Andy and Ivo” instead of “Andy and Marek” … we’re going to just call this what it is, a player change in mid-game.

Ivo took care of business, as he does. This time he even signed the charge slip for me since I spent our breakfast cash yesterday.

New readers may think I make this up. But off my 2yo goes to find someone to run his credit card, while I sit back and drink coffee.

Why, you ask? Because when I pay the bill no one ever offers me a lollipop. But here is Ivo, with a big one.

That pop, by the way, didn’t make it home (well, it did, but in Ivo’s tummy).

Parked outside the diner is this sweet, stock Dodge. I saw it had a club lock on the steering wheel. It’s a nice, straight old car, but why would anyone try to steal something that looks so, well, old? Kids these days probably wouldn’t even know how. Then I noticed the dual pipes underneath.

And the hood pins up front. There’s something lurking under that unassuming old-timer.

The Forest Hills Diner was a very nice experience. Folks were friendly, chow was good, and the price was about right. We’re pleased to give Forest Hills a Tampa Bay Breakfast four pancake rating.


Forest Hills Diner on Urbanspoon

301 Family Restaurant

We visited the 301 Diner at 3407 N HWY 301 on 12 May 2012. They have a Facebook page at Notice that it’s right across the street from the Dallas Bull.

And just up the road a bit is the Veteran’s park, complete with helicopter on display.

Me and the boys, we’re so excited! From the look on Ivo’s face, you just know he’s thinking about line dancing.

We parked next to this Can Am. These things seem to me to be the worst parts of a car combined with the worst parts of a motorcycle.

Poor Marek, it turns out, isn’t really feeling swell this morning. If I’d realized earlier, we’d have just stayed home and had cartoons for breakfast.

Me and Ivo, we’re just waiting for the line dancing to start.

The 301 is a really good place. Classic greasy-spoon country diner. The menu is full of all kinds of our favorite things.

Ivo, as you may see here, is clearly his father’s son.

Good place here, full of locals wearing baseball hats. It’s a good breakfast when people know each other when they walk in the door.

Ivo starting young with the coffee. Just like Marek did when he was that age.

And today is the day before Mother’s Day! We got Favorite Breakfast Reviewer Mom some books and made her favorite supper.

Ivo is also being very agreeable for being photographed, while Marek is less so today. So I’m taking advantage of the situation.

It’s a good thing he looks like his mother.

After all that kissy-faced goofin, we surely worked up an appetite for breakfast! (Note the Ivo Yoink move)

Good size on these pancakes.

Marek works the bacon conveyor belt. It beats sucking the juices out of the bacon and leaving the gristle, which is what he was doing for a while.

Ivo and I dug in pretty well on our side, too. Pancakes! Just what the doctor ordered after a long morning of driving 20 miles to get some pancakes.

All told, the bill was pretty reasonable. Fit nicely on a Jackson.

Ivo is up-and-coming in the paying-the-bills department. He still needs big brother assistance to close the deal, but he starts out strong.

At the end of the morning, we can tell you this about the 301 Family Restaurant. It’s a gem of a diner. It meets all our marks: Cozy, full of locals and regulars, good prices, basic and tasty chow, nice people, and a bit of history. We’d go back anytime. Even if they do play country music. We’re pleased to give the 301 Family Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfasts a four and a half pancake rating.


301 Family on Urbanspoon