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…

Gino's: A Hidden Italian Gem

Are you looking for a new restaurant to bring the family to? This is probably right up your alley.

Gino's, 2018

We're going to jump back to around 2007 or so, when my high school best friends moved over off of Busch and Armenia (what up Ryan and Brenton?). Their apartment was just on the other side of Busch, and I liked to explore. I've taken many walks and driven many times past Gino's, noting mainly that you have to know it's there. Despite that, they stay pretty busy. It would be years later when Stormy and I would finally make a stop in with my brother (what up Dan?). We ate and had an incredibly good meal. I'd been back a handful of times since. Stormy and I went recently so that she could try their Banana Foster. But you didn't come here for that.

Inside Gino's, 2018

The first thing that will strike you about this restaurant is that it gives off that creepy 80's vibe. The wood paneled walls, the old pizza restaurant set up. What you would never expect coming here is that they have an excellent beer selection. I'm not a wine drinker, and I don't believe anyone I've gone out with has ordered wine here, but it looks like they also have a solid wine list. I can state, however, that this place is miserable to move around in when it does get busy. Good luck getting to the restroom.

Spaghetti & Meatballs, 2018

Let me start this by saying that, every time I have been here, I have had excellent food. This is my favorite hidden gem and I enjoy coming here. With that said, the spaghetti and meatball dish was one of my least favorite meals I've had since starting Exploring Tampa. The meatballs were dry and the sauce wasn't really saving them. There were plenty of noodles, but not enough sauce to cover them. The noodles were just flavorless. As I've stated, I love the food here... But I'd suggest just about anything other than the spaghetti. Just trust me here.

Cheese Raviolis, 2018

I may not have liked the spaghetti, but I really enjoyed Stormy's cheese raviolis. They weren't the typical cheese ravioli with a lot of shell and a hint of cheese. These shells were filled to the brim with cheese! There was also a ton of cheese thrown on top of the shells in case you didn't have enough inside of them. But, to top them off, they came with some amazing sauce. With enough sauce on each shell to actually enjoy eating them. I can safely say that I don't typically enjoy Stormy's plate more than my own, but on this occasion, Stormy knocked it out of the park. 

Banana Foster, 2018

The meal wasn't over just yet, though. We came for some banana foster and damn it, we're getting some banana foster! Lets just start with the caramelized sugar that's gently poured over the top of perfect slices of banana. Some vanilla ice cream on the side so that you can cleanse your palate between bites. The explosion of flavor with every bite you take. No, seriously... When you go here, get the banana foster! This is the reason desserts were made. It is the closest to utopia a human can get.

Bar, 2018

Things to know before you go:

- This place is hidden. You need to know it exists in order to find it. Even if you're familiar with the area, it'd still be hard to explain how to get there.
- This place is also very small. Expect a wait on busy nights. It's worth it!
- Don't go with the spaghetti. It's the meal they put on the menu to appease people who don't eat that type of food. There's no passion in that dish.
- Splurge and get the banana foster. You're welcome!

What is the best dessert in Tampa? Is there another hidden gem I should know about? 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. 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!

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