Mo' Ziki

I don't get out to Largo too much but whenever I do, Mo' Ziki is now on my list of places to eat. In fact, I would make a special trip to Largo for Mo' Ziki. Relatively new to the restaurant scene, Mo' Ziki combines Greek inspired flavors with a unique twist.

As far as the scene goes, Mo' Ziki, with it's deep blues and vibrant greens, is a relaxing and easy atmosphere. We were definitely impressed with how everything flowed.

Atmosphere and concept is obviously very important to business partners, Josh and Geoff. In fact, they boast a concept that is fresh, fast, flavorful and affordable and it's true! The combo meals won't even come close to breaking the bank, yet you get a great deal of food that you will not be disappointed with. 

To get started, we browsed the wall menu:

To start, patrons pick a style. Choices include Pita (white or wheat), Wrap (white, spinach, wheat, tomato basil), Bowl (meat, rice & choice of toppings), Salad (with meat option) and Greekadilla (grilled tortilla and choice of stuffing). We selected the Gyro pita and Greekadilla with chicken.

Next, choose your meats, vegetables and cheese (ranging from peppers to olives to feta), as well as your sauce. Dressings are also available, including Greek Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Low Fat Vinaigrette and Honey Mustard. On the Gyro pita, we chose light lettuce, green peppers and the Spicy Ziki sauce. On the Greekadilla, I chose chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, pepperoncinis with cheddar cheese and the Roasted Red Pepper Ziki sauce, recommended to me by a staff member.

The Gyro Pita was a quality blend of beef and lamb fresh from the spit and especially paired with a sauce, it took on a great flavor.

I chose the Chicken Greekadilla with the spinach tortilla. My first reaction when the chicken was placed in the tortilla was, "Wow, look at the chicken!". It was obviously juicy and grilled and you could tell immediately from the other side of the ordering glass. When we tasted it, there was immense flavoring thanks to the seasoning Mo' Ziki uses. The chicken was grilled to perfection.

On top of our main meal, Geoff brought us samples of all of the sauces, as well as the steak and the Greek Lemon Soup. The steak is so amazing. It's greek-style grilled and sliced into tender strips and the freshness shows. The Greek Lemon Soup is a newer item on the menu and it'll be something I order with all future Mo' Ziki meals of mine.

The sauces and dips vary and I really enjoyed all of them. Ziki sauces include Traditional, Roasted Red Pepper, Roasted Garlic, Kalamata Olive, Lemon Avocado and Mo' Spicy. Hummus options include Classic and Roasted Red Pepper. The Ziki sauces are all Mo' Ziki signature, taking a traditional tzatziki sauce and not only making it their own, but then expanding to also offer this variety. My favorites were the Traditional, Roasted Red Pepper and Lemon Avocado. To try to describe the Lemon Avocado will probably do it an injustice - you just have to try for yourself!

Another unique dip is the K-Zo which is an original blend of cheeses and sauces, served with warm, grilled pita wedges. It's not pictured because we ate it that fast. Described by my table as a 'super mac and cheese dip', the K-Zo was quite possibly my favorite part of the whole meal. Along with any of the above, Mo' Ziki offers a number of other sides and extras: Hot vegetables, potato salad, pita wedges, bagged chips, side of meat, chocolate chip cookie and Baklava. A kids menu is also available (choose from Grilled Cheese Pita, Chicken & Cheese Pita or Gyro Pita Pizza). On Thursdays, get a FREE kids meal for each adult combo meal purchased.

Even though everything is made to order and you sort of, to a certain extent, determine your own fate here by your combo of ingredients, there is no denying the quality and flavor of the meat (and really, everything that is offered). The vegetables are crisp and juicy and their meats are cooked in a Greek-style marinade unique to Mo' Ziki

I'll definitely be coming back here again, especially for their $5 Pita Sundays (or $5 Pita happy hour from 3pm-5pm Monday-Saturday. You can also become a member of Club Ziki where you can build points to earn free menu items!

Thank you to Geoff for inviting us and we will be seeing you all soon!

Mo' Ziki is located at 10801 Starkey Road, Unit 11, Largo, FL 33777 and they are open Monday-Sunday from 11am-9pm. Be sure to 'like' them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Mo' Ziki on Urbanspoon


The Lodge: Brunch

When I first visited The Lodge a couple of weeks ago (view my review on their dinner menu here), I had the opportunity to view the brunch menu and I vowed to come back to try it. I was so impressed with the dinner we had, that I figured the brunch would be just as great. Guess what? I was right (of course).

We arrived Sunday morning for brunch and with a recommendation to try the Maxmosa, a large mimosa with champagne filtering into it, it was my first order of the day.


Have I mentioned my love for champagne? While I would definitely appreciate a "normal" mimosa, I chose to get it in strawberry. Passionfruit, Peach and Mango are also available. This drink was so refreshing and I enjoyed it through my entire meal. The Maxmosa being a signature drink, I highly recommend you order it!

Next, with recommendations from 2 managers, my table ordered The Monterey Hash, Lodge Queso Benedict and NYC Pretzel French Toast.

Monterey Hash
The Monterey Hash

The Monterey Hash was, in a word, delicious. It is a tater tot hash with onions, bell peppers and monterey jack cheese, topped with two eggs any style (we chose scrambled). The eggs were fluffy, the hash was crispy and everything was flavored great!

Lodge Queso Benedict
Lodge Queso Benedict

I already knew that the queso was great from a previous visit so I figured I would love this dish. The Lodge Queso Benedict is composed of a crisp English muffin, fresh avocado and 2 poached eggs, drizzled with queso. This dish seems simple enough, but the flavors and combination of all the components make it a refreshing delight.

NYC Pretzel
NYC Pretzel French Toast

The NYC Pretzel French Toast is something I had been thinking about since first viewing the brunch menu. It was every bit of the perfection that I thought it would be. A street-style NYC soft pretzel, stuffed with sweet cream cheese and then prepared like the traditional bread french toast, this was my favorite dish of the morning. The pretzel was large and both sweet and savory. I'm glad someone thought of a dish like this! I'll be raving about it to everyone I know. The cream cheese was definitely noticeable, but not at all overpowering. The accompanying whipped cream and strawberries were a nice addition.

I chose the Home Fries as a side with my meal.

Home Fries
Home Fries

The Home Fries were pretty much devoured by us in no time flat. With a nice mixture of soft and crispy, the potatoes were also perfectly seasoned.

As with lunch and dinner, there are Lodge Specials during brunch. You can take advantage of specials on Mimosas and Blood Marys, among other items. Brunch is served until 3pm. During brunch hours, there are also a large number of lunch items available. Live music can be heard on the patio.

There is no doubt that I'll be back for brunch many times over. Next time, I plan on starting with a Strawberry Basil Mojito and ordering the Eggs Rancheros (2 eggs any style with Turkey Chili, Queso, Ranchero sauce and fresh Guacamole, served with tortilla chips) or the Banana Stuffed French Toast!

In fact, The Lodge has been nominated for Best BRUNCH in the Tampa Bay area on DealChicken.com and WTSP.com and it's rightly deserved! If you have tried The Lodge and have been blown away like I have, please vote here! If you have not visited The Lodge for brunch, there are 39 days left to vote so before then, be sure to visit and experience what everyone is talking about!  :-)

Also, if you have not already entered, there is still time to win my giveaway for gift cards to The Lodge! There will be 3 winners and I have 2 $25 gift cards and 1 $50 gift card up for grabs. This giveaway ends Thursday evening and winners will be announced Friday morning. The Lodge has quickly become one of my favorite places and I hope you all enjoy it too! **If you do not see the giveaway below, please click on "Read More" under my signature**


The Lodge

My time at The Lodge started at 7pm last Friday. I was invited to sample their menu and was eager to get started. My first impression was that The Lodge was inviting and would be a great place to gather with friends for fantatic food, delicious drinks, sports and hanging out. I immediately noticed that the walls were painted a deep red, there were multiple big-screen TVs (and a projection screen!) lining the restaurant. Drink and food highlights were proudly displayed on chalkboards against a main wall and the area behind the bar. Everyone was laughing and enjoying what they were eating and drinking.

We were greeted by the manager, David, and led to our booth which had a "Reserved for Jennifer Buggica" sign that, I admit, made me a little giddy. David introduced himself and sat with us, explaining the concept of the restaurant, where they've been and where they're going. Having not been to The Lodge before, David and Chef Carlos prepared a sampling of the cuisine The Lodge has to offer.

The Lodge's dinner menu is composed of Appetizers, Almost Famous Sliders, Crisp Salads, Lodge Sushi, Brick Oven Pizzas (offered in full, half and quarter sizes), Mac-N-Cheese, TV Dinners, Sweets & Sides and Open Flame Grilled Burgers and Sandwiches.

While waiting for our first nibble, I ordered a white sangria and a State Fair Appetizer Platter for Two, which consisted of Crispy Calamari, Pot Stickers and Baby Corn Dogs.

Each item came with its own dipping sauce: Marinara for the Calamari, Sweet Sesame Soy for the Pot Stickers and Mustard Aioli for the Baby Corn Dogs. The Mustard Aioli was great, with the typical mustard taste, only more creamy and also sweeter.

Next, we were given Lodge Salads. Mixed greens, apple, bacon bits, tomatoes, walnuts and cheddar cheese, tossed in a sherry shallot vinaigrette, the salad more complex than one would think, and was so different from the typical salad you'd find elsewhere.

(taken after I ate half of it)

I honestly would never have thought to throw these ingredients together in a salad, but it worked wonderfully. And besides, you can never go wrong with a mix of sherry and shallots.

At this point, David came back out to sit and chat. Upon noticing that my white sangria was a little low, he offered to bring me a Seabass Martini, a drink he personally created.

The Seabass Martini is made with Malibu, Peach Schnapps and Pineapple Juice, and topped with Champagne. This martini was so good and definitely something I'll order again. Refreshing and light, its popularity is no surprise.

With a continuous stream of food, we pretty much tried something in each part of the menu. We sampled:
  • Buffalo Chicken Mac-N-Cheese. The Lodge has a special section of the menu dedicated to Mac-N-Cheese, which makes me believe I'm not the only one obsessed with this side dish. The other choices include Regular, BBQ Chicken, Italian Meatball and Chicken Parm. While the macaroni is great by itself, the real highlight of this particular flavor was the bits of buffalo chicken and the crispy breadcrumbs. This Mac-N-Cheese had a nice kick to it.

  • Tempura Fried Sushi. I can honestly say that it is the best sushi I have ever tried. The Tempura Fried Sushi is made with spicy shrimp and crab rolled with crispy onions and cream cheese then tempura fried and topped with Kabayaki sauce and Sriracha Aioli. Honestly, I was sold at Sriracha, but the sushi continued to impress. It was perfectly fried and there was a nice ratio of all the fillings so nothing was overpowering.

  • Popcorn Chicken. This chicken has a sweet and sour glaze and is not yet available on the regular menu. They have it available some nights on the same menu with their specials and if you see it, it's a must-order! One of my favorite dishes of the whole night, this chicken's glaze is simply delicious.  It was savory, juicy and sweet with a slight kick.

Buffalo Calamari (left), Sweet & Sour Calamari (right)
  • Buffalo Calamari and Sweet & Sour Calamari. The Lodge will be doing a slight revamp to their menu soon; neither of these are available on the regular menu yet, but we were lucky enough to preview them. I thought both had great flavor and the dipping sauces were wonderful too.

  • Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad. This salad was brought out as our last side before dessert. Cucumbers are at the top of my list of favorite fruits and cucumbers paired with a vinaigrette is so palate-cleansing, refreshing and delicious! I highly recommend getting this side.

  • Fried Raspberry Cheesecake with ice cream. What a perfect end to our meal! Even though it was fried, the dessert was not heavy. The hotter fried cheesecake mixed with the cold ice cream had exceptional flavor.
Finally, we were treated to their Blue Long Island fishbowl! A massive fishbowl with plenty of fresh fruit and my favorite, dried ice, it was too large to finish between two people, but it was fun and tasty!

The Lodge's bar was pretty impressive. They feature an extensive collection of beer, wine and liquor. Wines, sake, sangria and classic cocktails are offered on the menu. Group drink dispensers are available and you can always find a number of tables partaking in either the fishbowl or these dispensers.

The Lodge features a daily happy hour from 11:30am-8:30pm (until 7:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays) with $3 select drafts, $4 select wines, $5 select martinis, $5 Sangria, $5 Svedka & Call Cocktails, $6 Jager and Patron shots and more! Promoters from liquor companies are also present if you want to try their brand. Last Friday, we happened to try Bushmills Irish Honey Whiskey.

In addition to the daily happy hour, there are other specials to be found:

Daily- Tapas Happy Hour with the special price of $4 for select apps
Tuesdays- $9 Grill and Chill and Yeungs and Wings. This special includes an Open Flame Sirloin Burger, Turkey Burger or Grilled Chicken Sandwich plus any 3 sides! Or, a dozen wings and a pitcher of Yuengling for only $9!
Wednesdays- WTF Wednesdays?! which includes $5 sushi rolls, $5 burgers, $5 full pizzas, $5 for a dozen wings and $5 domestic beer pitchers.
Thursdays- Ladies' Night. A group of 4 or more ladies receive a complimentary bottle of champage and Happy Hour all night long for everyone.
Sundays- Industry night with 51% off with employment verification!

As the night goes on at The Lodge, the lights dim more, the music gets a little louder and it becomes more like a night lounge. A DJ plays Thursday-Sunday nights and they have a go-go dancer Friday and Saturday evenings. During the weekend The Lodge regularly gives away a bottle of Patron to the group that sings "Sweet Caroline" the loudest!

Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, come to The Lodge for their brunch and $3 mimosas! I know I am looking forward to trying their NYC Pretzel French Toast and their Monterey Hash.

When visiting The Lodge choose a table inside or outside. The patio features live music; we were treated to a live reggae band. If you are looking for a place to watch your favorite sports, The Lodge is it. With a vast number of TVs, you can find your favorite sports events here nightly, including the UFC fights.

Finally, with a full stomach and a nice buzz, the obligatory photos were taken:

with David and Erica, our server

with Carlos, the Chef

The sweet staff!

my friend, Tony! 

Now, of course I have to share my favorite photo of the night. I'm a huge Tampa Bay Lightning fan and wouldn't you know...Steven Stamkos himself agreed to take a photo with me! :)

And! The Lodge was gracious enough to supply gift cards for a giveaway! Enter using Rafflecopter below (***IF YOU DO NOT SEE THE GIVEAWAY, MAKE SURE TO CLICK "READ BELOW" UNDER MY SIGNATURE***). I have 3 gift cards (2 for $25 and 1 for $50) up for grabs and no one person can win more than one gift card. You have a total of 9 potential entries. This giveaway will run until Thursday night, April 19th, and the winners will be announced on Friday, April 20th. If you have any questions regarding Rafflecopter or this giveaway, please email me at jensfood@yahoo.com.

A huge thank you to The Lodge, David, Erica, Carlos and everyone who made this experience a great one!

The Lodge on Urbanspoon