Tag Archives: Bradenton Florida

Jose’s Real Cuban Food: 8799 Cortez Rd. West. Bradenton, FL

Standard

sangriaplantainspaella 2

My father invited a bunch of us to meet at Jose’s for dinner a couple of weeks ago. Bradenton is a trek and a half from where I work, but since a few family members were in town visiting, it was definitely an invitation I didn’t want to pass up.

When we pulled into the parking lot, it really looked like a dive. Knowing that my father doesn’t mess around about awesome food, I trusted that looks would be deceiving and it would be a great meal. Apparently, Jose’s was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives not too long ago. Ever since then, the local devotees are probably a little pissed off that the secret is out.

My dad had pre-ordered the paella, sangria and plantains for all of us so as soon as we sat down, everything was on it’s way out. The sangria was poured and I immediately noticed how different it looked from the sangria that’s served in most (way less authentic) places around here. It was a rich, dark purple-brown and had a wonderful cinnamon flavor to it. It tasted much more complex, with spices and different layers of flavor, than the fruit-juicy mixes I’m usually served.

The HUGE tray of paella was incredible looking. The menu says it will feed 8. There were 8 of us and we ended up taking almost half a tray home with us, and we are all pretty good eaters. Piled on top of a mountain of rice were mussels, lobster, shrimp, chicken, and sausage. The amount of food was really pretty insane. It seriously was enough for at least a dozen people- then again, we DID each have a side of plantains, so maybe without that we could have made a bigger dent. The plantains were delicious. Crisp edges, perfectly cooked, slightly caramelized. This side dish really could have been dessert.

There really wasn’t enough room left for dessert, but we were all dying to try the flan. We were only slightly disappointed when we were told that there wasn’t any left. We were really ready to go anyway, all feeling pretty sleepy from carb overload. I guess they felt bad that they were all out because the next thing we knew, they’d brought over a bread pudding for us to share. We all silently groaned looking at a dense, bread-y dessert that none of us really wanted or had space in our stomachs for. We each had a bite, and frankly, it kind of tasted like a heavy muffin wet with caramel sauce. Not really my thing, and not worth trying to stuff it in my already too-full belly.

Overall, the whole meal was really quite good. I’d love to go back to try some of the other dishes on the menu- especially the black bean soup, which the menu claims is ‘the best in the world’. I actually believe that might be true and will have to make a point to go find out!

 

 

Captain Brian’s Seafood Market and Restaurant: 8441 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

Standard

My parents told me about Captain Brian’s a long time ago as the place to get the best (and most reasonably priced) lobster around. After picking up Gabriel’s brand new car at Honda nearby in Bradenton, and before going to spend a fun day at the Ringling Museum, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try it out for lunch. We parked and went in to find a restaurant and fish market with very dated decor. There is a great, big, fish tank smack in the middle of the room, dark wood tables and chairs and light peach tablecloths and booths.  The rest of the patrons were mostly 70+ years old, and seemed to all be regulars. We were seated in a booth right away and the very warm and welcoming waitress brought us ice water and menus.

We looked over the menus which were filled with great sounding lunch options for around $8-$13 each. Most of them come with a side or two, and I was happy to find out that one of them could be the salad bar. I LOVE salad bars. I easily made my choice of a lobster roll which came with steak fries and cole slaw, and I went up to get my salad. The salad bar was small, but full of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, chick peas, potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, beets, olives, and more. I could probably have made a lunch of that pretty easily but saved room for my highly anticipated lobster roll. It came out soon after I finished my salad and was bursting at the seams with huge chunks of lobster. I’m used to paying far too much for a skimpy rolled filled with more mayo than seafood and this was a VERY pleasant surprise. The lobster itself was amazing. Sweet, perfectly cooked, and lightly dressed with mayo. The roll fell apart almost immediately, but ‘too much lobster’ is really not a reason to fault a falling-apart roll in my book. The thick cut steak fries were a great side, along with the fresh cole slaw.

After we polished off our rolls, we decided to split the banana split pie, mostly because I’m a sucker for a dessert I’ve never had before- and especially when it includes fudge and ice cream in a chocolate cookie crust. It had very thin layers of sliced bananas on top of the crust, then 3 flavors of ice cream, then a thin layer of ooey, gooey, sticky, delicious fudge, and then whipped cream on top with chocolate shavings to complete the deliciousness. YUM. We cleaned our plate super fast with this one.

I must say again that our waitress was really friendly, sweet and warm. I felt like a regular even though this was our first visit. With service like that, it’s no wonder that people return over and over again. I’m sure we’ll be back soon, certainly not for the old-age home type decor, but absolutely for the great service, fair prices and wonderfully fresh seafood.