Like New Orleans, there are so many amazing bars and restaurants in Tampa that one could devote one's entire life, like a monk or an entomologist, to their observation and classification. (And some do, of course.) Even the Ybor City area alone presents the predrunk with a bewildering array of choices, and most of them I confess I haven't tried yet since I don't get to Ybor nearly as often as I'd like. All in time, though, all in time.
And so it was, then, that my selection of Carmine's (1802 E 7th Avenue) was born more of randomity than research. But my lucky numbers came up on this one - Carmine's is one of my all time favorite joints in Florida now.
"Is it because of their Mojitos?" you may ask. While it's true that I'm a Mojito snob (so much so that I demand it be capitalized) and that Carmine's Ten Cane Mojito more than fit the bill for my pretentious palate, it actually *wasn't* quite as good as others I've had, such as my beloved Columbia's.
The grouper sandwich, then? Well, it certainly was delumptious, and definitely up in the running for best grouper sandwich ever, but I wouldn't drive all the way back to Ybor just to get one. And truth be told, my favorite grouper sandwich at any given time is the one I'm eating at that moment or the one I ate last.
No, what really impressed me about Carmine's was their world famous "Devil Crab" - a giant amorphous blop of a crabcake that resembles a potato, or a hush puppy on steroids. I didn't take its picture at the time because I thought it wouldn't be that big a deal. I was so wrong. Mark me, I will at some point soon be driving back to Ybor specifically to have another one - or two - of these amazing Devil Crab devices. Tell 'em I sent you by!