In honor of tourist season, I am going to type out for all you dear readers, some of The Nate Way approved locations/sites for all your Tampa needs. This will be my new Monday gimmick for a spell (I think we all know that The Nate Way needed a Monday gimmick). If you ever visit Tampa, you may want to look up some of these fine establishments. This Monday, we start with my three favorite Tampa restaurants. Topics will later include strip clubs (come on, like you didn't see that coming), entertainment venues, nature parks, sports venues, sports bars and local pubs (as well as others that are not listed here because I haven't thought of them yet). Now, I've never written reviews before, so go easy on me, here.

Please.

Anyway, without anymore of the nasty further ado that sticks to your shoe, we now kick off the review (I'm kind of funky sometimes, eh?).

Skipper's Smoke House
Put simply, this is one of the greatest restaurant/bars in the grand history of restaurant/bars. Whenever anyone comes to visit me in Tampa, I take them to Skipper's. Before my little brother shipped off to Afghanistan, he came and visited me. When I asked where he wanted to eat dinner the night he arrived, he said, “Take me to some place uniquely Florida.”

I (almost immediately) responded with, “Cool, we'll go to Skipper's.”

Skipper's offers awesome eats for cheap prices (seafood and barbecue are the specialties), all the infrastructural stability of a pile of burning logs (I mean, this place looks like it was built by five acid heads with too much day-glo paint and plywood at their disposal), jamming bands (Blues artists from all over the world play Skipper's) and so much character that you literally will not know what you're walking into once you get there (unless you've been to the Florabama Lounge, in which case you may have a frame of reference). Anyway, you've just got to see the place. I recommend the Mahi Mahi (if fresh) and the St. Louis Style Ribs (if the Mahi Mahi ain't fresh).

The Crab Shack
Sadly, you won't find much written about The Tampa Crab Shack, which is only because hole-in-the-wall, cash-only businesses have a way of avoiding the main stream media. Please understand that, while some people find the place to be in a neighborhood best described as “dude, you actually get out of your car, here”, and still others find that the service could best be described as “did that fat, Jamaican chick just call me a cracker?”, the food is really, really, really fucking good (the secret ingredient is garlic butter).

I highly recommend the garlic-butter-covered shrimp and pasta with marinara sauce. And, for some of you, a bullet proof vest. Also, don't go to this place after dark unless you, like me, think and act like a poor person.

The Front Porch Grille
Back before smoking became semi-outlawed in all Florida restaurants, The Front Porch had an awesome philosophy regarding indoor smoking. It worked like this: if you wanted to smoke, you couldn't light up if anyone in the bar area was eating. So basically, a waitress would bring out food to the bar while saying, “put em out, please.” The smoking patrons would then put out their cigarettes, let the person eat and then, when said person finished eating, he/she would then let the patrons know it was cool to smoke again. Thus, the clientele in this (relatively ghetto) old school neighborhood developed a sense of civility not found in most bars anywhere in America. Of course, such a philosophy makes total sense, so there's no way it could ever catch on. Common sense and civility are stupid concepts, anyway. It's much better to have rules.

Anyway, this place is basically a one hundred year old house with a huge front porch. The owner has it set up so that many, many old pictures of Tampa cover the walls in the dining areas. The only problem with this fine restaurant has to do with gentrification. This is one of the first gentrification projects in an area that was once described to me by a date as “smelling funny.”

My recommended dish is not on the menu, but they still make it: Pork Chop Marsala with mashed potatoes and wine gravy (and no, I don't know what the fuck wine gravy is either, but it is delicious).

So now you know where to eat if you ever visit the fine City of Tampa.

And now I know what it's like to review something other than a strip club.

So really, we both got something out of this. That's nice, huh?

Huh?


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