Mortar & Pestle: Coffee, Food, Alcohol? Sounds Like a Good Time!

There are a lot of opinions about this restaurant. Lets see what the Exploring Tampa crew thinks!
Mortar & Pestle, 2019
Coming from the ashes of a popular food truck, Mortar & Pestle is a concept that thrives to bring back the old timey pharmacies. You know the ones... You go to get a soda from the fountain, you wander the aisles, make your way to the lunch counter, then leave with your prescriptions. Located on the same block as local favorites Angry Chair Brewing and Trip's Diner, there's no lack of business to be had. This is also one of the few places in Seminole Heights with a real parking lot. Had you never read a review of this place and had you not heard about their filing for bankruptcy, you'd be impressed. The inside of the building is a hipster's paradise, with the industrial looking tables and chairs, the high ceiling, the steampunk-esque inspired decor. The inside of this building is cool. Next door is also a fully functional pharmacy that I wasn…

Hao Wah: A South Tampa Buffet

A buffet? In South Tampa? Yes, but hear me out...

Hao Wah, 2017

It's no secret that I delivered for Uber Eats for a very short while. In that short while, my run was mainly down Gandy, up S. Dale Mabry, and around Manhattan. There was one restaurant that I was guaranteed to get a hit at every time I passed. That restaurant was Hao Wah. Stormy was with me one day and we realized there had to be something special about this place. You could order from anywhere, and I was getting deliveries to Downtown and Seminole Heights. What is going on with this place? So, we decided to try it out. Then went again. Then went again. But you didn't come here for that.

Inside Decor, 2017

There is almost no information about them online. Their website is good for little more than telling you that they also double as an event space and listing the prices of their menu. They have two locations (South Tampa and Pinellas Park), I can't tell you which came first. What I can tell you is that the decoration inside the South Tampa location is spot on and fits the theming perfectly. The dining room itself is huge, and they have tables that can accommodate some pretty large parties. "Hao Wah" apparently means "gorgeous" in Chinese, and the inside shows it. The greenery, the dueling dragons, the wooden walls and tables, the paintings... It all works well within this building. I'll even give them credit for their industrial looking ceiling. Overall, the interior provides a nice mood for dining.

Buffet, 2017

I've been to many, many Chinese buffets, and I know that the overwhelming majority of them are... Lets just say sub par. Hao Wah is in that rare category of having the New York style Chinese food that we've all grown to love, fresh, and it tastes good. I tend to stick to rice at most buffets because I don't particularly care for the noodles. That said, Hao Wah's lo mein is some of the best I've had at any Chinese restaurant, not just a buffet. The common issue of food coming off the buffet dry also doesn't seem to be an issue here, unlike most other places. They do so many things right that it's hard to find a negative. The one and only real issue I have with Hao Wah would be their egg rolls. I don't know what it is about Chinese buffets and egg rolls, but I have yet to find one that does a decent egg roll. I'm still on the hunt. With that said, it is a small negative in a sea of positive. 

Buffet, 2017

Things to know before you go:
- The pricing changes not only on the time of day, but also day of week. If you want to save some money, go on a Monday-Thursday. 
- They do have sushi, though I've never tried it (and thus, it not being in the review).
- The parking lot is INCREDIBLY small and fills up quickly. I don't have a solution for that.
- Try to go during peak hours to ensure the food is at its freshest.


What is your favorite buffet in Tampa? Have you found the perfect buffet egg roll? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt (we have new designs!). Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. Thank you all and I will see you next time!

Comments