St. Petersburg Times: Weekend

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West Shore brimming with choices


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 7, 2001

If you don't think there are enough meat-and-potato places in Tampa, then you obviously haven't been to the West Shore Boulevard area lately. West Shore takes steak to a higher level. From the leather and polished wood atmosphere of the upscale sports bars to the airy refinement of the chic hangouts, you're bound to find a steak prepared to your liking. But even if filets and sirloins aren't your favorites, there are plenty of other choices, whether upscale or down-to-earth.

1. Champions Bar and Westshore Grille Restaurant, 1001 N West Shore Blvd. (both in the Marriott Hotel); (813) 287-2555. Champions' hours: 11:30 a.m.- 2 a.m. Mon.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-midnight Sun. Westshore Grille's hours: breakfast 6:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

At Champions, patrons can watch sports, play billiards, knock back a few drinks and nibble on appetizers. Westshore Grille, adjacent to Champions, has a large dining room and a small food selection. The priciest menu item is $13.95 for the Caribbean Snapper. Salads, burgers and sandwiches are offered.

2. Charley's Steakhouse, 4444 W Cypress St.; (813) 353-9706; 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Thur., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

The brains and taste behind Charley's is Ron Woodsby, the son of one of the Red Lobster founders. This elaborate beef palace with seven dining rooms is an oasis of leather and wood on the hotel corridor lining the north side of I-275. High rollers can order Charley's Ultimate Surf and Turf, a 3-pound porterhouse and a half-pound lobster, for $95.95 for two. All food is served in monstrous portions.

3. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 4322 W Boy Scout Blvd.; (813) 874-9463; 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Wed., 5-11 p.m. Thur.-Sat. Web site:

Paul Fleming's latest concept features an open dining room built around an exhibition kitchen and expansive bar. The refined and casually elegant setting features rich cherry wood accents and high ceilings. Leather upholstery is complemented by custom-designed alabaster chandeliers that create a warm amber glow. The restaurant offers a wide selection of sizes and cuts of steak, ranging from the 8-ounce petite filet mignon to the 40-ounce porterhouse for two. A hundred wines are available by the glass. Valet parking is available at the 7,500-square-foot restaurant, which includes a private dining room.

4. Houlihan's, 1801 N West Shore Blvd.; (813) 287-8441; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., serves appetizers until 11 p.m. Mon.-Sun.

The Glazer family, owners of the Buccaneers, opened this chain's first Tampa location two years ago. Walls filled with sports memorabilia surround booths and tables, which blanket a full bar. The menu includes pasta, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chicken, salads, desserts, wine, beer and cappuccino, served in a friendly atmosphere.

5. Lee Roy Selmon's, 4302 W Boy Scout Blvd.; (813) 871-3287; 4-11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., bar open until 12; 4 p.m.-midnight Fri., bar open until 1 a.m.; noon- midnight Sat., bar open until 1 a.m.; noon -10 p.m., Sun., bar open until 11 p.m.

Selmon was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1995. Now, the former Buccaneer (and new USF athletic director) is a partner in a Southwestern restaurant. Opened in November, Lee Roy Selmon's is a partnership with Outback Steakhouses Inc. and features Southern specialties: Mama's Meatloaf, rib-grabbin' barbecue ribs, po' boy sandwiches and "two-handed" burgers. Lee Roy Selmon's has a free-flowing environment that blends the dining room with a sports bar featuring gabled ceilings and a large smoking chimney. The Trophy Room in the center of the restaurant showcases Selmon's collection of photographs and other memorabilia.

6. The Loading Dock Sandwich Pub, 1408 N West Shore Blvd. in Austin Center West; (813) 289-5666; 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Hidden on the north side of the Austin Center West complex, this family-owned gourmet deli is on the edge of the mall's core renovations. Most of the business comes from office workers in suits and skirts on their lunch breaks. Shelly Rowe-Pirkle's family owns another location in downtown Tampa that was built by her late father more than 25 years ago. Daily specials and gourmet sandwiches include Happy Hooligan, Hobo's Handout and the Wheel Barrow. Catering is available. Beer and wine are served.

7. Roy's, 4342 W Boy Scout Blvd.; (813) 873-7697; 5:30-10 p.m. Sun.-Thur., 5:30-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Web site: Roy Yamaguchi opened his first successful restaurant in Hawaii 12 years ago before expanding to the mainland in 1995 with a location in California. Yamaguchi's new Tampa showplace features Euro-Asian cuisine. Macadamia Dusted Local Mahi Mahi, Kabayaki Glazed Hawaiian Nairagi and Pan Roasted Duck Breast are among the specialties. Roy's offers a large wine selection.

8. Ruth's Chris Steak House, 1700 N West Shore Blvd.; (813) 282-1118; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sun.-Thur., 5 p.m.- 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Web site:

Big-buck, thick steaks broiled at 1,800 degrees and served unadorned on a sizzling platter account for the motto "Home of Serious Steak." Ruth's gimmick is no secret: It's butter, lavished on every steak. Posh seating, deep green colors and polished wood create a nostalgic comfort. Covered valet parking.

9. Sacks Seafood Grill & House of Jazz, 5401 W Kennedy Blvd.; (813) 287-2257; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Tues.; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Wed.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Fri; 5 p.m.- 3 a.m. Sat.; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sun.

As a youngster, Chidi Ahanotu may have never dreamed of being a professional football player, much less owning a restaurant with a reserved parking space five steps away from the entrance. Just turning 30, the Buccaneer defensive end/entrepreneur has all three. Ahanotu is the owner of a high-priced sports bar/jazz club. Premium drinks range from $5 up through champagnes and fine wines to $120. There is a cigar room, sports memorabilia, a large wine selection and live jazz Thursday through Saturday. The menu includes Alaskan king crab legs and filet mignon. The 4,500-square-foot hideaway is at the western tip of Kennedy Boulevard in the Lincoln Center office park (miss the driveway and you'll be on the Howard Frankland Bridge!). Attention men, there are two televisions in your restroom. Sorry ladies, no TV for you.

10. Shula's Steakhouse, 4860 W Kennedy Blvd.; (813) 286-4366; Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; Dinner 5:30-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Thur., 5:30-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 5:30 p.m.-9:30 Sun.

If you like the idea of four waiters monitoring your every need, you'll realize your dream here. They bring out live lobsters for your personal viewing. They do not prance cows around your table but do offer steak in many forms: Shula's Steak Soup, Certified Angus Steak Tartare and Cowboy Steak, to name a few. Pay $65.95, and your name is engraved on a plaque just for eating a 48-ounce porterhouse.

11. Starbucks, 1508 N West Shore Blvd.; (813) 639-9677; 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sun. Web site:

Unlike most other locations in this growing coffee chain, there is a drive-through, so you don't have to get out of your roadster for that must-have latte.

12. Steak and Ale, 204 N West Shore Blvd.; (813) 281-2300; lunch 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; dinner 4-10 p.m. Mon.-Thur., 4-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun. Web site:

Steak and Ale is the veteran compared with the recent proliferation of steakhouses in the West Shore district. Hawaiian Chicken, Maple Mustard Pork Chops, lobster tails and salmon are some options on the affordable menu.

13. Waffle House, 509 N West Shore Blvd.; (813) 287-8875; always open. Web site

When breakfast at Burger King stops at 10:30 a.m., cooks are still scrambling eggs and frying bacon at this venerable 24/7 breakfast joint.

14. Hibiscus Cafe, 1200 N West Shore Blvd. (in the Quality Hotel); (813) 282-3636, ext. 140; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Mon.

Fingers are crossed that construction workers will change the sign from Pancake House to its new name, Hibiscus Cafe, to avoid confusion. This is the second name change in a few months; the place had a brief stint as the Westshore Cafe. The interior is filled with booths and a layout similar to Denny's.

15. WestShore Plaza

A guide to West Shore dining wouldn't be complete without mentioning West Shore Plaza's food court. Open regular mall hours, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon to 6 p.m. Sun.

Choices include Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Barnie's Espress Cafe, Bourbon Street Cajun Cafe & Grill, Cafe Sbarro, Chick-Fil-A, Ciccio & Tony's Wrapperia, Great American Cookie Co., Le Petit Bistro, Little Toyko, Max Orient, McDonald's, Tanya & Matt's Ice Creamiest and Twin Cactus Mexican Grill.

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