Monday, November 30, 2015

Cody’s Roadhouse – Crystal River Florida

Continuing our early September trip to Florida, we’d planned on sight-seeing to occupy our day and then we’d spend the night in Crystal River.  Our sight-seeing was rained out and we ended up going to a movie… 

Then when we drove over to the restaurant that I’d found on Trip Advisor for our evening meal, it was closed!   So, it was time to just pick a place along the road and cross our fingers…

There weren’t many choices in the immediate vicinity but Cody’s Original Roadhouse was very, very busy and it was close to our hotel too.

(“Busy” doesn’t always mean good or even OK!  One of the worst restaurants we’ve ever experienced was many years ago in Kingston Ontario.  It served Chinese, Canadian and American cuisine and it was packed!  To be honest, it was just out and out terrible!)

The interior of Cody’s fits its name as a “Roadhouse” as we view them today…expansive, bright, casual and frequently with peanut shells on the floor.  And yes, there were buckets of peanuts on the tables!

By definition, a ‘roadhouse’ is an inn or tavern usually outside city limits providing liquor and usually meals, dancing, and often gambling.  No dancing or gambling here!

A quick check revealed that Cody’s Original Roadhouse is a regional restaurant chain that began in Tarpon Springs Florida in 1994.  As per the web site, they now have 15 locations across west-central and north Florida.

Our waitress was very busy but quite efficient.  This is not a place for a relaxing dinner…lots of families, conversations and fun.  Laurie and I picked dinner entrees which came with the ‘famous endless salad bowl with Cody’s garlic ranch dressing, and fresh baked yeast sweet rolls with cinnamon butter.  We ate 2 of these bowls of salad but neglected to take a photo before we had destroyed the initial ‘look’ of the salad bowl.

The garlic ranch dressing was excellent but unfortunately they don’t bottle it and sell it!

The menu is extensive with a nice selection of appetizers, a lot of steaks, salads, BBQ ribs, pork chops, prime rib, chicken, tilapia, shrimp, salmon, burgers and other sandwiches. 

Dawn ordered the Chicken Fajita for her dinner. ($11.98) It didn’t come with a salad per se so she ordered an ‘add-on’ and shared the salad bowl. ($3.49) She described her Fajita entree as just OK…nothing special.  

I’d ordered the ‘heart healthy’ Chicken Fried Steak with French Fries on the side. ($13.98) My doctor wouldn't have been happy but my chicken fried steak was huge and it was very good.  The fries were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle…as good French Fries should be!  Cody’s also had the requisite Tabasco for use with my Chicken Fried Steak…

Laurie opted for the Garlic Fried Shrimp accompanied by a baked potato. ($14.49) The shrimp were big and juicy with lots of flavor and the baked potato was just right…not over cooked or under cooked.

Laurie and I also indulged in adult beverages with our meal.  My Miller Lite was priced at $3.77 and her Kettle 1 Vodka and Tonic Tall with 2 lime slices cost $7.97.  (Strange pricing, perhaps designed to make you think that you got a real deal?) 

Should we run across another Cody’s Original Roadhouse on our travels, we would stop for another meal.  The food is casual and basic, the restaurant was hectic but the quality is there…

The Cody’s Original Roadhouse in Crystal River Florida is at 305 South East U.S. Hwy 19 North.  Phone:  352-795-7223.  The website is at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Lucky Dill Deli Revisited!

It had been awhile since we visited the Tampa/St. Petersburg Metropolitan area… There was one dining establishment in particular that we wanted to make sure that we revisited during our trip this past September!

This is the Lucky Dill Deli and the Brooklyn Bakery in Palm Harbor Florida.  We had dined here with friends back in 2012 and it had been a very memorable ‘deli’ experience!  This was the best deli I’d eaten in outside of New York or Chicago…

To view my earlier blog posting and to view photos of what the four of us had ordered and greatly enjoyed, you can go to

It was great to be back!  The only problem was that because of our schedule we were there for breakfast…no hot pastrami or other deli sandwiches on this occasion.  Sad…

We had to wait a bit before we could get a table.  The problem with waiting is that the bakery and deli cases are right there in plain view!  Such sweet torture!  What a huge selection of goodies… (Click to enlarge!)

Our waitress started us out with a complementary basket containing a selection of baked goods…and we ate about half of them before remembering to take a picture!  Now for breakfast…

I ordered the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with a side of home fried potatoes. ($11.99) This offering is layered with wilted spinach and red onion and topped with capers. (I left off the onions) While it wasn’t a Lucky Dill Deli hot pastrami, it was a great Eggs Benedict variation!  Very satisfying indeed…

Dawn Marie ordered the Cinnamon Bun French Toast served with citrus butter and maple syrup. ($8.99) She also ordered a side of Bacon. ($1.99) She thought that her breakfast was pretty good but she was hoping for more of a cinnamon bun impact.  This cinnamon bread version was a bit tame for her sweet tooth.

Laurie ordered the standard Eggs Benedict version. ($8.99) The Hollandaise Sauce was just right and she really enjoyed her breakfast… As you can see, her side of home fried potatoes included a couple pieces of grilled asparagus, which was a nice touch. 

Well…to summarize…we had very nice breakfast at the Lucky Dill Deli.  Prices are reasonable considering what we ordered although coffee at $2.75 per person seemed a little high.  We still wish that it had been lunch time when we passed by on our way north!

The Lucky Dill Deli is located at 33180 US Hwy. 19 North in Palm Harbor Florida.  Phone: 727-789-5574.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Old Railroad Depots – Western Florida

Continuing with my long term mission of finding and photographing railroad depots, this time I picked up a few in western Florida north of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area…

This is the former Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Depot in Crystal River Florida.  The depot was built in 1900 – 1901 by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad to replace the original 1887 depot that had burned down.  The building is owned by the city and leased to the local Lions Club.  The Lions Club was instrumental in its restoration. 

That’s a Southern Railway caboose alongside the depot.  In addition to Lions Club meetings, the building is also used for community events, weddings, etc. 

In its heyday during the 1920s and 1930s, Crystal River was served by 8 trains per day and there was daily passenger service to Ocala Florida.  All rail service ceased in the late 1960s. 

I couldn’t find anything about the background of these passenger rail cars.  The rail car on the right has a sign on it stating “Hahn-Van Orden Memorial Train Cars.  The ramp up to the second car provides access for those seeking assistance from the Citrus Hearing Impaired Program Services.  I found a photo of the interior for the rail car on the left but I couldn’t save it to a jpg file.  It’s set up as a classroom…

This little building sits right next to the railcars…with a sign by the door that reads “To Trains”.  The mail drop box is now being used for Lions Club donations of used eye glasses. 

The first rail line came to Crystal River back in 1887.  It was built by the Silver Springs, Ocala and Gulf Railroad… Later it became the Savannah, Florida and Western and then the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. 

Crystal River has a population of around 3,100.  It didn’t become a town until 1903. Much of the economy is centered on the warm natural springs in the area and manatee based tourism…


·       Art Fleming, game show host and the original host of Jeopardy was from Crystal River.

·       Ted Williams, the famous Boston Red Sox baseball player, retired to Crystal River and lived out his final days here…

When I asked her about the former railroad depot in Cedar Key, the manager of the condo buildings where we stayed didn’t hesitate.  She sent us just down the street and around the corner.  She told us that to most resident’s dismay, a local condo operation bought it to use as their office.  While they’d ‘promised’ to maintain its integrity, instead they covered it up to the point where it looks more like a double-wide. 

If she hadn’t told us where to look and what to look for, we would have never spotted this historical travesty!  One Internet source states that the depot was moved to Otter Key and is being used as a residence…but since our host has lived on or near Cedar Key for many, many years, I’m guessing that her information is correct.

  • The Florida Railway Company completed the first coast to coast railway line in the state in 1861.  It ran from Fernandia to Cedar Key.

This is the former Chiefland Florida Atlantic Coast Line Railway Depot.  It was built in 1913.  Sorry for the single photo but it was raining hard and I took this from the car.  The building is currently occupied by the local Chamber of Commerce. 

Chiefland is in Levy County and the town has a population of about 2,200.  The county has a population of a little over 40,000.  Three correctional institutions provide over 800 jobs in the county.

·       The county was named after Joseph Levy, the first Jewish-American to be elected to the US Senate. (1845 – 1851 and from 1855 – 1861)

·       The Rosewood Massacre occurred in Levy County in the first week of January 1923.  It was a race riot in which whites from the town of Sumner, reacting to the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man, burned the predominantly black town of Rosewood to the ground and killed several black people.

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, November 23, 2015

Breakfast in Clearwater Florida (#2)

Another morning in Clearwater and it was time to find another breakfast spot…

This is the Tin Can Café… It’s cute, small, quirky and a very popular place.  It was mid-morning but there was a sizable line.  We even debated looking for another place rather than wait but I figured that by the time we found another restaurant, we’d have already been seated here!

The Tin Can Café is a ‘diner’, Florida style.  The homey décor is basic diner style with an extensive collection of old lunch boxes along with a number of mugs, tins, cookie jars and some inventive tin can creations hanging from the ceiling…

Dawn Marie ordered Biscuits and Sausage Gravy with 2 Scrambled Eggs and 3 Strips of Bacon. ($7.29) The sausage gravy looks pretty good!
Everyone also ordered coffee which was $1.79 vs. $2.25 each the previous day.  Breakfast for the 3 of us this morning, cost $33.97 with tax and tip vs. a total of $44.89 in the fancy place the day earlier…

Laurie opted for 2 Eggs-Over Easy with 3 Bacon Strips, Home Fried Potatoes and a Buttered English Muffin. ($6.49) It was a very nice and satisfying breakfast!

Since I really am a breakfast kind of guy and yesterday’s breakfast had been heavy on the sweet stuff, I ordered the Hungry Man’s Breakfast! ($8.39) It came with 2 Over-Easy Eggs, a Sausage Patty, Home Fries (crispy) and a couple of slices of Rye Toast.  Everything was just right!  I prefer hash brown potatoes but when home fries are cooked like these were they are just as good as crispy hash browns.

We would definitely stop here for breakfast again if we were in the area!  The Tin Can Café is located at 307 South Myrtle Avenue in Clearwater Florida.  Phone: 727-446-3354.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for another breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, November 20, 2015

Breakfast in Clearwater Florida (#1)

During our September trip to Florida, we went out for breakfast in Clearwater a couple of times.  Breakfast is our favorite meal!

This is the Wildflower Café… It has some fine curb appeal!

As per my research on Trip Advisor prior to our trip, the Excellent/Very Good vs. Poor/Terrible reviews were 195:4.  The ratio of positive to negative feedback doesn’t get much better than that!  

The interior of Wildflower Café was light and airy despite the cloudy weather outside… Tables were well spaced and despite the fact that we were eating a late breakfast, business was brisk.

This bakery display case sort of set the tone for the Wildflower Café.  It’s not your standard breakfast place.  I’m kind of a ‘cookie guy’ so it was a good thing that I was there for breakfast!  I would have had to have a Key Lime Cooler or a Dried Cranberry Oatmeal Pecan.  Laurie would have probably opted for the Black Dog Ginger or the Chocolate Crinkle…

As an appetizer, I did decide to go for a strawberry laden scone ($3.25) with my coffee. ($2.25) While it wasn’t like the scones we’re used to…with the fruit on the inside and a crisper crust, it was very nice.

Dawn had the Wildflower Triple…scrambled eggs with bacon, cheesy grits and these little Belgian Waffles. ($9.00)  I think that she was expecting a larger waffle but they were tasty.  The grits were OK if not great…

Laurie ordered a side of bacon to accompany her French Toast… Bacon is definitely her favorite type of meat! ($3.95) She said that it was very good…

This was Laurie’s Wildflower Baked French Toast. ($8.50) She was stunned as it was huge!  It was served with their brown sugar syrup, toasted pecans, strawberry slices and fresh whipped cream.  It was very good…decadent even!  It really was more like bread pudding than French Toast...  

‘Unfortunately’ she couldn’t finish this platter of sweetness and I ‘had to’ help her out.  I even got a piece of bacon with it!

I’d ordered the Cheesy Grits and Scrambled Eggs. ($6.95) My breakfast came with bacon (or sausage) and a buttermilk biscuit with Wildflower honey-butter.  I prefer my eggs over easy and most grits are just OK for me.

This is a good place for an attractive breakfast that isn’t ‘the usual’ in a nice setting.  If you’re looking for fried eggs over-easy with sausage, hash browns and toast…or pancakes and sausage, you won’t find those choices here.  However, we did enjoy the change of pace!

Wildflower Café is located at 1465 South Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater Florida.  Phone: 727-447-4497.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heritage Village – Largo Florida

We had a little time on our hands before we were due at our friend’s house in Clearwater… I’m always looking for railroad depots and I’d noted that there was one in Largo Florida.  Since we were staying in a Hampton Inn in Largo, it was close by…

This combined (passenger and freight) railroad depot was the focus of this short exploratory drive… The former Seaboard Air Line (SAL) Railroad depot was moved to Largo from Sulphur Springs Florida.  It was built in 1916. 

This is the station master’s office in the depot.  As it turns out, the depot is now one of the structures that comprise of The Pinellas County Heritage Park in Largo.  The Park consists of a significant assemblage of old time homes, businesses and other structures as well as related exhibits.

This former Seaboard Coast Line/Louisville and Nashville caboose sits at one side of the depot. 

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad, which styled itself "The Route of Courteous Service," was an American railroad whose corporate existence lasted from 1900 until 1967, when it merged with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.  That merger created to form the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.

The large visitor center is a modern structure filled with a plethora of exhibits showing life in the past… The items on display range from whimsical to practical… Everything is nicely presented although anyone under the age of 40 or so might need a guide to know what many of the objects are!

This 1916 International Truck was nicknamed the “Goat” because of its narrow frame as well as its maneuverability in the citrus groves.

Because of its central location and rich farmlands, Largo quickly became the center of the Tampa area's citrus industry, earning the title "Citrus City."  Largo citrus was hit hard by a freeze in the latter part of the 1920s…and then by the Great Depression.  

When World War II veterans returned home, they soon discovered the joys of living on Florida's ‘suncoast’, as the area was previously only known to the local farmers and a few rich vacationers.  The population of Largo boomed, growing from just 1,500 residents in 1950 to over 5,300 ten years later. An unexpected freeze in 1962 dealt a serious blow to Largo's citrus, and as groves were sold off, developers were quick to move in to build homes for a growing population.

Dawn Marie is ringing the school bell for the Harris School at Heritage Village...  The original school was built in 1912.  It was used until 1923 when it was replaced by a new school.  This replica of the original schoolhouse was built in 1987 at Heritage Village as part of the celebrations commemorating the 75th anniversary of the creation of Pinellas County.

These carriages and a wide selection of farm related equipment is displayed in the Lowe barn.  The structure was built by area pioneer Wesley Lowe in 1911.  Lowe used cypress lumber, a rot resistant wood, as the foundation for this functional structure.  The barn was moved to Heritage Village in 1977.

This photo gives you an idea of how Heritage Village is laid out.  The many structures cover about 21 acres in this peaceful pine and palmetto wooded setting in the middle of an urban area. 

There are about 10 homes (including a log cabin) and cottages, a church, the barn, 2 schools, the depot, a fire station (at the left in this photo), a sponge warehouse, a sugar cane mill, boiling shed, smoke house, boat shop, pavilion, bandstand, a water tower and a windmill.  Plus…there are at least 2 outhouses for your viewing pleasure in Heritage Village.

The Village Garage is set up as a 1920’s era service station and it comes complete with a 1925 Ford Model TT Truck.  This truck originally cost $495.00 and it had a ‘powerful’ 20 horsepower engine!

We had a time constraint so we really just brushed the surface of this nifty ‘heritage community’ museum… It would take a couple of hours to do it justice and if any of the live demonstrations were underway, it would take even longer. 

We noted that almost everyone working here was a volunteer!  That says something about the character of the Pinellas County community…

The H.C. Smith General Store was built in 1915.  It originally stood on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and 5th Street South in St. Petersburg where it served as a grocery and meat market and later as a dwelling and recreational facility.  In 1988, it was sold to the City of St. Petersburg, which donated it to the Village.

The Pinellas County Heritage Village is a hidden gem and it is well worth a visit if you’re anywhere in the greater Tampa/St. Petersburg area.  Admission to the Village is free, (donations accepted), its open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM – 4 PM and on Sunday from 1 PM – 4 PM.  Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th Street North in Largo Florida.  Phone: 727-582-2123.  The website is found at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, November 16, 2015

Datz – A Food Experience!

When we went on our September Florida trip, I’d researched restaurant possibilities and I picked up recommendations from our friends, Irv and Martha.  We ended up with a big list of restaurants…with very little time to try them out!

This is the outside dining area and customer waiting area at Datz Tampa.  I didn’t get a photo of the front of this restaurant but in fairness, it’s ‘look’ wasn’t an attention grabber…being sort of plain and unremarkable. 

As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover!

The interior of Datz was pretty impressive…a little industrial, lots of color, two levels, brick and wood with lots to look at. 

What drew me to Datz in the first place was their on-line menu combined with a rating of 408 excellent/very good vs. 36 poor/terrible reviews on Trip Advisor.  I’m always looking for a 10:1 good to bad ratio…

Datz Menu is in a newspaper format.  It is very extensive!  It includes segments for breakfast (until 11 AM), weekend, lunch, dinner, an extensive beer listing…focused on craft beers, plus a huge liquor menu.  The latter includes the biggest listing of bourbons that I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.

We started out with a small order ($5.00) of Monkey Bread.  This consisted of pull-apart clusters of “warm gooey cinnamon sugar bread drizzled with vanilla icing”.  It was pretty good and it could have been warmer.  I have had better…

Some other appetizers were more interesting and/or unusual.  For vegetarians there was the Buffalo Cauliflower. ($12.00) The cauliflower is roasted and tossed with buffalo sauce, then served with a chive dip.  There was also Pig Candy, “a bucket of caramelized goodness”. ($15.00) The Mac Bites ($10.00) were more up my alley… The Mac Bites consist of Benton’s Bacon, jalapeno, mac n’ cheese with sriracha aioli. (Benton’s bacon is produced just a few miles from our home)

Laurie ordered the Hansel and Gretel. ($12.00) This sandwich on a pretzel bun is constructed of ham, Swiss cheese and Cigar City jai alai beer cheese fondue.  All of the sandwiches came with a pile of very nice house made potato chips drizzled with creamy blue cheese and topped with green onions.  It was a top notch sandwich!

Dawn Marie ordered this flatbread creation for lunch.  I can’t find it on the website’s menu but I don’t think that she had any complaints.  She accompanied it with a side of Garlic Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes. ($5.00)

Of course I ordered a huge meaty cheesy sandwich!  This was Ty’s Two Fister. ($13.00) This luscious pile of goodness was loaded with Sy Ginsberg’s corned beef, house smoked pastrami, both Swiss and Muenster cheese with honey cup mustard on some tasty toasted rye bread.  This was an excellent creation and I was very happy!

We were stuffed after our lunch but the display cases full of spectacularly beautiful baked goods and amazing hand-made (and pricey) William Dean chocolates did catch our attention!  On our way out, we stopped and purchased a single piece of the candy for each of us.  The price per piece got my attention but it was excellent candy.  When I checked on-line, I found a 5 piece assortment for $12.00 plus shipping.   William Dean's Website:

Datz is a fun and quirky place with good food.  We would return if we were in the area again.  Datz Tampa is located at 2616 South MacDill Avenue.  Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There also is an adjoining bakery.  Phone: 813-831-7000.  Datz Website is at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave