The Lime: Fun, Modern, Mexican

Located in the mix of Tampa's hottest district (SOHO), The Lime is one of the restaurants I've been meaning to try. More than its meals, The Lime offers something for all of your senses, lending uniqueness in the middle of the South Tampa restaurant scene.

With its lively atmosphere, The Lime captures you from the moment you walk in. This establishment is trendy and fun with a bustling crowd. A beautiful mural adorns a wall. Comfy, green booths and couches are available, offering an easy and relaxed at-home feel. The music playing (sometimes by a live DJ) is definitely noteworthy. The big flat screen TVs along the walls make this a great place to enjoy a game.

The Lime boasts that they have the best margaritas in Tampa and fortunatly for their patrons, they are right! I was drawn to the Marcorona, a huge house margarita with a nice Corona sticking out. This margarita will not disappoint!

Pair the Marcorona with their bottomless chips and salsa and you have the perfect start to a meal.

The Lime offers both sea salt and chili-rubbed chip options and between the two, I was impressed with the chili-rubbed. Even more impressive was the quality of their salsa. The salsa is made fresh daily and you can easily taste each individual ingredient. We finished the bowl in record time.

At about this time we were introduced to the manager, Jordan. Highly knowledgeable about his restaurant, Jordan was willing to answer all questions we had about the establishment, including bar selections and menu design (there is a revamp on the way- stay tuned!). He was seen continuously interacting with the crowd and assisting the staff with delivery of food to the tables and clean up.

Jordan, taking great pride in his beer selection, he personally teaches his staff members the ins and outs of the distinct brews offered.  Offering 22 beers on tap (switched out on a regular basis) and more than a dozen crafts, The Lime is a domestic beer house for every taste. When I shared that I wasn't quite on his level, he recommended a beer that he thought I'd enjoy. When I tried this beer, I knew that Jordan's advice was not to be taken lightly. From there, he recommended other dishes and let us know that if we loved spicy, be sure to request julienned peppers. 

The Lime's menu is composed of Tapas, Salads, Fiesta Bowls, Tacos, Sandwiches, Quesadillas and other traditional Mexican fare. Encouraged to try a little bit of everything, we did! On the Tapas menu, we opted for the Pollo Roll 'Yo and Fried Avocado Fries- both recommended by our bartender, Shelby. As an aside, we highly recommend Shelby!

Pollo Roll 'Yo (left), Avocado Fries (right)

The Pollo Roll 'Yoavocado glazed buffalo chicken, crispy onions, julienne jalapenos & celery with bleu cheese crumbles & lime caesar dressing rolled in a tortilla and cut sushi–style, was one of my favorites of the night. The avocado glaze made this buffalo chicken unique and the lime caesar dressing paired nicely with the other ingredients, giving the rolls a clean and crisp flavor.

The Avocado Fries, another favorite, is lightly breaded and fried and sits on a bed of lettuce and pico de gallo. Aioli is offered as a dipping sauce, a perfect complement.

For the main meals, we turned to both Jordan and Shelby for recommendations and ultimately decided to sample some tacos and fiesta bowls! We ordered The Street Trio, where you can choose a combination of any three street tacos with a side of rice and beans. The tacos we picked were Picadillo (seasoned ground beef, rice, refried beans, cilantro, jalapenos and salsa fresca), Carne Asada (grilled marinate skirt steak, salsa fresca, cabbage and grilled tomatillo sauce) and Ancho Chicken (grilled chicken breast, avocado, pickled red onions, cilantro, queso fresco and chile de arbol). All tacos are served on fresh-made soft corn tortillas.

Picadillo, Steak, Chicken

The tacos tasted completely different and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. I will say, though, that the Ancho Chicken was so good that it blew the other amazing tacos out of the water.

Next, we sampled two fiesta bowls: Ropa Vieja (Cuban shredded beef, pickled onions, peppers, tomatoes, plantains, black beans and mojo vinaigrette) and Habanero Beef (spicy shredded beef and carrots with citrus vinaigrette and topped with queso crumbles, pico de gallo and mariachi aioli). 

 Ropa Vieja (left), Habanero Beef (right)

All of the Fiesta Bowls come with citrus jasmine rice, napa cabbage and fresh vegetables, with the option to substitute for brown rice. There are also bowls that are served stir-fry style, without cabbage. Again, I loved both bowls, but the Habanero Beef took the cake. It had the perfect amount of spicy and the sauces were unbelievably good.

When it came time for dessert, we decided to go for the Churros, served with vanilla bean ice cream. 

Mmm churros.

One thing I didn't order was the guacamole, but I did notice that each table that ordered a side of this delicious dip was met with their personal guacamole maker. That's right- when you place this order, the 'guac man' will show up at your table with a cart full of all of the trimmings for a perfect guacamole and he'll make your guac fresh before your eyes. This is definitely something I will experience next time!

Something we really loved about The Lime was the bar options. In addition to the 22 beers on tap, they offer a Fiesta Hour daily from 2pm-7pm and large tabletop drink dispensers that can be filled with any drink of your choice.

On top of the daily fiesta hour, you can find a different special being offered each night of the week:

Mondays- $10 Marcoronas and $5 Margaritas
Tuesdays- $2 tacos and $2 Coronas
Wednesdays- BOGO Sangria from 6pm to 7pm and Ladies Happy Hour all night
Thursdays- 1/2 OFF Tapas
Fridays- Free tequila shots at 11pm!

On weekends, from 10am-3pm, brunch is offered.

Be sure to check out The Lime for excellent food and drinks, service, and atmosphere! A huge thank you to The Lime for hosting me, for your generosity and especially to Shelby, who took great care of us, and Jordan, who made our experience that much better (and let me wear a sombrero!)

With Shelby- we got photo bombed by another manager  :)

With Jordan

The Lime, after just one visit, is already a favorite experience of mine! Beautiful people, great food, good times and catchy music make The Lime one of Tampa's best spots for dinner and then some!

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Ocean Prime: A True Dining Experience

For Christmas, I received a very generous gift card from my boss. Knowing that I'm a complete foodie and love nothing more than trying new restaurants, she surprised me with enough in gift cards to treat myself, my boyfriend, and my mom (almost- we went a little over) at dinner! She selected Ocean Prime since it's one of her favorites and guess what?- it became one of mine as well!

From the moment we walked on the red carpet, literally, before entering the restaurant, I knew this would be a great experience. Behind the hostess stand, Ocean Prime proudly displays their impressive wine selection.

The lobby's walls are also full of articles, proclaiming the greatness that is the Ocean Prime experience, which only served to make me more excited. On our way to our table, we all remarked at the terrific decor and ambiance. It was sophisticated, modern and relaxing. Ocean Prime has a bar/lounge area with live piano playing, drink specials (during happy hour), and a roaring fire to set the perfect mood. In the main dining area, intimate booths line the inner wall and the outer wall is composed mostly of windows where one can see to the outside dining and small lake bordering the restaurant.

Now, prior to coming to Ocean Prime, I browsed the menu and asked around for meal and drink suggestions. When I heard that Ocean Prime has a cocktail with dry ice, I knew I had to have it. With the perfect name of Berries & Bubbles, this drink did not disappoint. Shaken and poured right at the table, this cocktail immediately started to bubble and "smoke". I'm nothing if not a fan of a little show. Berries & Bubbles is made with Belvedere Citrus Vodka, marinated berries (poured right on top), Ocean Prime's house made Sour and Domaine Chandon Brut Champagne. My mom, preferring very sweet drinks, selected the Strawberry Smash cocktail, made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum, muddles fresh strawberries and hand squeezed lime. Although I preferred my choice, the Strawberry Smash can best be described as an adult strawberry Starburst in liquid form. Divine.

Berries & Bubbles (left), Strawberry Smash (right)

Next, it was time for our main entrees. Ocean Prime's menu can be overwhelming. It's not because it's a large menu with seemingly unlimited options (think: Cheesecake Factory), but because everything sounds delicious. I seriously wanted a sampler platter. To start, I opted for French Onion Soup. French Onion Soup is one of those things that I have to order whenever, wherever it appears on a menu and Ocean Prime's, as I suspected, was near perfection. Made with a great brandy and aged swiss, I hereby declare Ocean Prime's French Onion Soup in my top 2, right up there with the soup at Malio's Prime Steakhouse, one I rant and rave about often. Good job, Ocean Prime!

Eager to taste more of what Ocean Prime had to offer, we snacked on complimentary sourdough bread while waiting for our main courses. Note: when a restaurant offers bread to tide you over, they immediately rank pretty high in my books. 

For our main course, I selected the Short Rib "Osso Buco" with horseradish whipped potatoes and caramelized carrots. Yes, I said caramelized carrots. They were out of this world and honestly, I don't even usually like carrots. My boyfriend opted for the Gerber Farms Chicken with asparagus and Lemon pan jus. Both of our dishes were featured in the Chef's Compositions section of the menu. All items in this section come with the sides listed. My mom went off of the a la carte menu and chose an 8oz Petite Filet Mignon with a twice-baked baked potato and those caramelized carrots. All of their steaks are prepared with homemade seasoning and while I didn't sample a bite, my mom commented enough for me to know that it was great. 

Short Rib Osso Buco

The meat from the short rib easily fell off the bone and was incredibly tender. The sauce was so complementary to everything in the dish so I'm glad all of the food was in one bowl. The horseradish whipped potatoes were so different from any other whipped potatoes I've had before and I couldn't get enough of them.

Chicken, asparagus, lemon pan jus

Admittedly, I was so obviously satisfied after tasting this chicken that my boyfriend asked me several times if I wanted to switch meals. I stayed with my own, though. The combination of crispy outside, tender inside and the lemon sauce was simply amazing. Everything came together so nicely. Frankly, this is the best chicken I've ever tasted.

Even though I didn't get a picture of my mom's steak, I just had to capture one of the twice-baked baked potato. All of the articles we were reading in the lobby mentioned this potato so we knew it would be delicious.

This potato is made with scallions, applewood smoked bacon and Vermont cheddar cheese and the tastes are much more elegant than the picture would let on. Also, for being a side on an a la carte menu, it was much larger than I thought it'd be. It was easily large enough to split between two people, even three. 

Of course, a true experience includes dessert so even though we were pretty stuffed, we requested a menu to look over. My mom, the eternal chocolate lover, selected the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. I selected the Creme Brulee, one of my favorite dessert choices. 

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, made with peanut butter mousse and bittersweet chocolate ganache, was similar to a Reese's Cup but with a crust at the bottom, a nice and pleasant touch. The Creme Brulee was vanilla custard with a caramelized sugar top and fresh berries and was unbelievable. I don't think you could get me to stray from this dessert in my future trips to Ocean Prime.

I have definitely added Ocean Prime to my list of favorite restaurants and since there is so much on the menu that I want to try, it's a perfect excuse to plan another trip there. Our waitress was attentive and fun and pretty much the sweetest girl ever. We were blown away by the atmosphere from start to finish and will definitely sit in the lounge area next time. 

Ocean Prime also serves lunch Monday-Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and this menu has my mouth watering as well. Enjoy the Blu Lounge during happy hour (4pm-6pm) for small plates and specials on select handcrafted cocktails and wines by the glass. 

Among others, Ocean Prime has won awards for Best Artisanal Cocktails, Best Dessert, Top 20 Steakhouse, Best Supper Club and Best Outdoor Space! 

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