I had for well over a year heard from many people of a fantastic Mexican place just north of Big Bend on 301. I finally found it just a little bit further north in the Marathon gas station lot next to Hot Rod Barbeque where it had recently moved to mere months ago. I ordered a chicken quesadilla with grapefruit soda and sat outside (there is only outdoor seating). It was great. It was well-toasted, very cheesy, and came with fresh onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro on the side. Unable to decide between the green and red hot sauces, I used both. For those with more well-rounded tastes, they offer several types of meat in their products, including cow tongue and intestines. I stuck with the chicken that time, but if I pass that way again I might expand my experience.
12859 Hwy 301, Riverview, Florida
When I visited, I learned that the animals all have different quirks and temperaments. Some will hide their food bowls. Some are picky. The bear Stanley really seems to love his pool and pool toys. I learned there are many ways to support the sanctuary. Tour tickets can be bought in advance on their website and the revenue goes to care for the animals. In their online store they sell shirts printed with photographs of their favorite residents. You can also donate or volunteer.
13910 Seminole Trail, Wimauma, Florida
Not only does the Cider Press Café not use meat, eggs, or dairy, but they don’t even cook! Everything they make themselves is raw and vegan, which might sound like they would only have salads, but they have much more. I ordered the BLT made with eggplant “bacon” strips. They were good – just a bit sweet with a touch of what might have been olive oil. It’s hard to believe they aren’t cooked. One downside is that without cooking, there is no real bread. The shell you see above is made from mashed seeds and is very fragile. I had to eat it with a fork in order to not look like a toddler. Still, it is no messier than anything at Taco Bell. The guacamole was excellent.
The flavor combinations and the methods they use to make this stuff are fantastic. Besides sandwiches, soups, and salads, they have juices and smoothies they make themselves, and hard cider they ship in. The Winterruption is delicious! It contains vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. They also sell kale chips, pickle chips, and broccoli bites made by Rhythm Superfoods, as well as chocolate and other snacks.
601 Central Avenue, Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sometimes in the middle of the afternoon on a hot day, what one really needs is just a popsicle. That’s all Hyppo has on their menu. The day I went, there were 50 flavors listed on the board (yes, I counted; I’m weird), including flavors such as datil pepper cheesecake, maple pecan, honey grapefruit, cucumber jalapeno, avocado cream, and granny’s apple pie. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans has nothing on these guys! Everything there is made from fresh fruit. My popsicle even had bits of apple skin in it. It was very good – much better than any pie my grandmother made (don't tell her that). I thought of taking a picture of it to show you, but alas, I found it had already been eaten!
The walls complete the feeling of magic, the artwork depicting popsicle-houses, raining fruit, and whimsical animals. I was told it was the work of Melodious Monster, a local artist with work featured in Strands Of Sunshine just two doors down on Central Avenue.
As the lore tells it, the owner once pitched his idea for a coffee shop to the woman next to him while on a flight to St. Augustine, Florida. However, she convinced him what he needed was Mexican-style popsicles. After some experimentation, he had his own twist on the treat and the Hyppo was born. Now the company has eight locations, including on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
627 Central Avenue, Saint Petersburg, Florida
LOCAL TAMPA BAY