So, that Sunday after the great lunch kinda went sour for a while. We had to move hotels because we had booked the Ybor City hotel kinda last minute, and we had booked a random hotel room in Tampa earlier in the week. So we had to leave our comfy Ybor City hotel. We took the trolley to the convention center. We were going to take a bus up the street the rest of the way to the hotel on the riverwalk. We waited a while. I looked at the map, and then I saw where it said - Monday -thru Friday.
So we went to the cabstand. The first cab was a big old van. The driver wasn't very talkative. He had the first seat in the back down, and the FP struggled to get our luggage in and he had to put the seat up. So we got in, and we told him the hotel, and he didn't know where it was. There was like no air conditioning in the van, and I felt like I was going to pass out. There was some kind of language barrier, or he was pretending to not speak much english. I really wanted to get out and take another cab, but we didn't. So we figured out where it was - down the street. He somehow ended up charging us $14 for maybe a mile?! We were too tired to put up a fight. We just wanted to get up to our hotel room.
So we checked in. We definitely liked the last hotel better. I think we sat in the room for a while and overreacted about the way the day had gone downhill. But we needed beer. So we went for a walk. There really was not much in the neighborhood. Lots of tall office buildings that were empty on a Sunday, and several vacant buildings - cool older theater buildings or apartment buildings. We went to the CVS and got a gallon of water and some beer. The ladies at the checkout were kinda rude - everything was just bad at that point. We lugged our stuff back to the hotel. There was kinda a stir in the hotel because there was a big show across the river - James Taylor and Carole King. So, there were a lot of older guests ready to take the shuttle somewhere, or hang out by the pool and get drunk - the two things we also wanted to do!
So, instead, we sat in the hotel room, drank beer, and figured where we wanted to go for dinner. We decided on "Soho" - South Howard Ave. There were enough places on the street that I figured we could start around the bottom and work our way up (please - no proctology jokes).
We had to wait a long time get a shuttle. Everyone else was going to Channelside - where the shopping and restaurants were. That was exactly the place we did not want to go. I guess I place too much value on people being able to read me by my looks. Because when I look in the mirror, I don't look to myself like some touristy chick that wants to go to lame chain clothing stores and chain restaurants. Eww! Even when I was young and dumb, the smaller family run restaurants always left a bigger impression on me than the potato skins at Bennigan's. Okay, I admit, I really liked those potato skins.... But, in Lakeland, people generally looked at us like we were aliens. And there in Tampa, people just assumed we were going to the James Taylor show.
One of the shuttle drivers suggested that we go to Channelside too - Soho was more spread out, and shops were closed. We knew he just didn't want to take us on a special trip - but that was what the shuttle was for, and that's part of why we picked the hotel - so we wouldn't have to necessarily take cabs! So we waited until the dinner rush was mostly over - at around 6:30.
So, finally, we got to Soho. It was all of a sudden quieter, calmer, nicer. We ended up going to the first restaurant we saw - Ceviche - which was one of my choices.
They had a nice open outdoor patio area where you first walk in - so of course we had to sit out there.
It was still warm and the sun was high, but there were fans that blew light mist into the air, that was nice. I don't know what the problem was - if someone didn't show up for a shift or if the computer was down or the kitchen backed up or what, but the service was very slow and the server was very flustered. Very flustered. There was a side apartment or house with the entrance by the patio. The front door read "private". We watched the hostess go knock on the door and go in, then out a few minutes later. A while later this guy who looked like he could be the owner came out - and he had to start running food and bussing. He didn't seem to be very smooth at it, so I'm guessing owner. But he was pitching in.
We got sangria. We ordered a half carafe, but this seemed like a full. I don't know if it was a mistake or not - but we were just fine with it.
They gave us bread and chimichurri. I love chimichurri!
We got boquerones. With tomato and onion on crostini. These were really good. These were strong, but in a good way.
We got the tabla mixta - meat and cheese plate. Chorizo, morcilla, serrano, mahon, manchego, tetilla, fruit, pate. It was all very good. Except for the morcilla, which is blood sausage. It was raw in the middle. At first we thought it was just the spices making it look red, but it was raw. So we didn't eat it. Which sucked, because we both really like morcilla.
Pulpo a la gallega. We pretty much always have to get octopus at a tapas place. This was very good. Nicely cooked, nicely flavored. It just made my heart swell with contentment. We survived Lakeland, and we were being rewarded!
So, here's the funny thing. Guess what we didn't get?
So, do you know? C'mon. What's the name of the restaurant. Nope. We did not get any ceviche. There were 6 choices. We could have gotten one. But the Food Pimp was turned off by the trendy ones that he didn't want any. There was the ceviche a la rusa - oysters with lemon lime cilantro onion caviar served with a chilled shot of Zyr russian vodka. Anyway, we didn't get ceviche at Ceviche. By the way, this is a chain restaurant. So is Columbia. But they are a little different than TGI Friday's, though aren't they. I think the concepts were good and popular, so they were able to expand. We figured if there was a chance of moving to Tampa, at least we both had lots of experience with tapas......
So, at the end of the meal, we got our bill and it was like $40 or less. I know we only got 3 tapas, but still, restaurants in Florida just seem so much cheaper. Probably because they are. So, I give Ceviche a \/\/\/ grade of 6 chopsticks. Great space. The service had an issue, but that happens sometimes. The menu had a few weird things on it, the raw morcilla was disappointing. Not the best, but pretty damn good.
So, we walked up the street, looking for a place to have some drinks, maybe another appetizer. We walked, and walked. There were a few cool places, but I guess nothing struck our fancy. So then we went back to the hotel. That was the last night of our Florida odyssey. I was ready to get out of Florida. I wasn't sure though, if I wanted to go home and back to my old life, because everything had changed.
Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant
1502 South Howard Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606
Phone: (813) 250-0203
Fax: (813) 251-1827