Meaty Memories from Tampa, Florida

by Sophie Gayot

I recently enjoyed my longest dinner ever: after arriving at the restaurant at 8:30 p.m., I didn’t leave until 2 a.m. Where was that? At Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, Florida. Why? Because I wanted to get a real feel of the oh-so-famous steakhouse, one of the Top 10 Steakhouses in the U.S.

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Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Florida

by Sophie Gayot

There are many, many reasons to visit Columbia Restaurant, located in the historical area of Ybor City in Tampa, Florida. The best way to discover them — outside of dining there yourself — is to watch my exclusive video interview with partner/owner Casey Gonzmart and read the just updated review of the restaurant.

Over the storied 107-year history of the restaurant, its food and ambience have attracted a long list of celebrities from Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and Liberace to Bruce Springsteen and George Clooney — why wasn’t I there the day he came in?
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The 2012 RNC in Tampa, Florida

Sophie Gayot Tampa RNC 2012
Sophie Gayot in front of the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the RNC 2012 will be held

by Sophie Gayot

I did not get invited to speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention that will be held in Tampa August 27-30 — luckily for the delegates, because my forte is in the culinary world and not politics. But I wanted to recommend to the 50,000 people who will attend where they should dine.

So last week, I headed to what was once the cigar capital of the world on a restaurant fact-finding mission. Here are my suggestions, in alphabetical order:

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Sauerkraut in Tampa

by Sophie Gayot

I did not think that when I was heading to Tampa last week that I was going to find one of the best sauerkrauts I have ever had, especially at that hot and humid time of the year. But find it I did at Datz restaurant, where it is made in-house by chef Jason Dame. I was hoping I would get some to take home with me. Maybe I should call them so they can ship it over!

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Haunted Hotels

The lounge at Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, NM © Ramona Willis d'Viola/ilumus photography, 2009
The lounge at Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, NM © Ramona Willis d

by Patricia Mack

Yesterday I wrote about haunted restaurants, but hotels also have spirits lurking. Unrequited love is the basis for a ghost tale at the St. Francis Inn, built as a private home in 1791 in St. Augustine, FL. The story concerns a pair of lovers, long dead, who are often seen or heard by staff and guests. Supposedly a young man who lived with his uncle, Major William Hardee, who owned the house during the middle of the 19th century, fell in love with Lily, one of the young black servant girls. When their affair was discovered, Lily was dismissed and the nephew ordered to never see her again. Deeply depressed, the young man took his own life in the attic, now Lily’s Room.

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