Food + Drink Tampa Area Restaurants

Foodspotting at Besa Grill and Cooper’s Hawk Winery in Tampa

This weekend was filled with a lot of amazing food! Prepare yourself: this post might induce hunger.

Yesterday, Besa Grill hosted a Foodspotting meetup. If you aren’t familiar with Foodspotting, it is a site/app all about food. You post pictures of food that you eat at restaurants, and it can be a great resource for finding tasty eats in your area. If I’m looking for a nearby restaurant, I can pull up the pictures people have posted on Foodspotting and get a preview of what others have sampled.

Besa Grill mimosa and bloody mary bar

Anyway, Besa Grill recently launched a brunch menu, and we were lucky enough to sample the offerings!

Besa Grill Bloody Mary Bar

Let’s get started with the drink spread. Besa offers a Bloody Mary and Mimosa/Screwdriver bar on Sundays, and they have more than just the ordinary ingredients to choose from.

Besa Grill brunch bar

To start: they boast two different infused vodkas for your beverage creations – a vodka infused with peppers and onions, and a citrus vodka with lemons and limes. They have all the fixings for a proper Bloody Mary, from fresh celery stalks, to pickles, to shrimp, and an array of spicy additions like sriracha and pepper.

Besa Grill mimosa bar

Besa Grill mixed juice

Now, if you’re interested in the sweeter side of things (like I am), you can create your own Screwdriver with the citrus vodka, OR you can create a mimosa. Besa Grill offers three different juices to pick from: regular orange juice, mango orange juice, and pineapple orange juice. In addition, they have a desert peach syrup that can be drizzled into your drink for added flavor. There are many combinations you can create! Plus – you can find a bevvy of berries to add to your drink for the perfect garnish.

Besa Grill bread basket

Of course,  we can’t forget about the food. To start: how about some fresh morning pastries? You can enjoy a basket filled with warm pastries from the kitchen…yum!

Besa Grill Besa shrimp

Next up: the Besa Shrimp: Gulf shrimp lightly breaded, fried, and topped with a sriracha agave aioli. It was sweet, it was a bit spicy, it was crunchy…and I loved the jalapeno slices on top. If you find yourself at Besa Grill and are a big fan of shrimp – definitely order this up!

Besa Grill salad

The Besa Salad was up next. It contained tomato, red onion, jicama, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, and a lime cilantro vinaigrette that Besa seriously needs to bottle up and sell. It’s delish!

Besa Grill vanilla bean french toast

The Vanilla Bean French Toast arrived at the table next. It was almost too pretty to eat, but that didn’t stop me. The french toast was topped with cinnamon vanilla bean custard and Vermont maple syrup and garnished with berries. Oh boy – if you’re a lover of the sweet things for brunch, this one is for you!

Besa Grill Crab Cake Eggs Benedict

Our table was then presented with my favorite dish of the event: the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict. Talk about delicious: poached eggs are placed on top of generously sized lump crab cakes, then drizzled with homemade hollandaise sauce. The eggs are served with Besa home fries as well. Now, this was a perfect brunch offering in my book! Swapping out crab cakes for the traditional English muffins for eggs benedict is such a taste treat, and I don’t know that I want to have this dish any other way from now on.

Besa Grill steak and eggs

My table mates soldiered on to the next menu item without me: the Steak & Eggs. This dish was a huge slice of prime rib topped with two eggs and Besa home fries.

Besa Gril bacon

Meanwhile…I munched on some amazing house made bacon slices…drizzled with a bit of balsamic. The slices were thick cut and were the perfect combination of crunchy and tender. Although the plate pictured was for the entire table to share, I probably could have just eaten that plate by myself and been a happy camper. So yummy.

Besa Grill Creme Brulee Flights

We were full at that point, but it was time for a bit of a sweet ending to brunch! The chef brought out Besa Grill’s creme brulee flight for us to enjoy. I love the concept – each flight contains four different flavors of creme brulee, and the chef changes the flavors over time. We sampled vanilla, Bailey’s, Nutella, and mixed berry.

Besa Grill Churros

And we weren’t done there. To put the final touches on our brunch, a basket filled with warm churros and dipping sauces were also placed on the table. Is there anything better than warm cinnamon sugar dough? I think not. It was the perfect ending to our meal.

Thanks again to Besa Grill for hosting a great brunch through Foodspotting – make sure you check it out if you’re in the area!

Besa Grill on Urbanspoon


I can’t end a weekend food recap without talking about another amazing meal I enjoyed. Two weeks ago, Cooper’s Hawk Winery opened its newest location in Tampa across from International Mall. As soon as I heard about it, I was perusing the menu and drooling. After visiting the Tampa Pet Expo on Saturday, we decided to stop in for lunch on the way home. Best idea ever. I’m officially hooked.

To start – Cooper’s Hawk Winery itself is beautiful on the inside. It boasts a retail section and wine tasting bar as you enter the front doors. The interior is extremely spacious, with ample windows from floor to ceiling. As soon as we walked to our table, I knew it was going to be an amazing meal.

Coopers Hawk Winery

Cooper’s Hawk Winery offers an extensive list of wines – all in their own label. You won’t feel restricted though – it took us a long time to decide on what we wanted to sip on. Thankfully, the staff is more than happy to offer you samples of the various wines to help you make a decision. Since it was the afternoon, we were all in the mood for white wine. I decided on the Sauvignon Blanc, Justin enjoyed the white sangria, and my mom had a glass of the Unoaked Chardonnay. I’d order a glass of all three of them again in the future!

Coopers Hawk Winery pretzel bread

Before your food arrives at your table, a small loaf of warm pretzel bread is placed in front of you…along with whipped butter. This meal was off to an amazing start already…our loaf was piping hot, and had a nice crunch on the outside but incredibly soft insides. Yummm.

Coopers Hawk Winery lettuce wraps

Since we hadn’t dined at Cooper’s Hawk before, we decided to order an appetizer before our lunch so we could sample an additional item on the menu. I am SO glad we did so. We ordered the Thai lettuce wraps, and they absolutely blew us away. The plate was filled with soy glazed chicken, julienne carrots and squash, crunchy wontons, and their signature peanut, cashew, and soy caramel sauces. The rolls were served with Boston Bibb lettuce for rolling. Oh. My. Gosh. These are the perfect, light appetizer – filled with amazing flavors and textures. I am not kidding when I say that I would be tempted to order these as a meal just so I could have them all to myself.

Coopers Hawk Winery Asian pork tenderloin sandwich

As for our lunch entrees, Justin decided on a sandwich – the Asian Barbeque Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. It contained thin sliced pork tenderloin, prosciutto, pineapple, swiss cheese, ginger scallion mayo, and crunchy Asian slaw. The flavors were unique and the pork was extremely tender. The sweetness of the pineapple really added something different to the mix.

Coopers Hawk Winery Barbeque Chopped Chicken Salad

I ordered a BBQ Ranch Chopped Chicken Salad for my lunch. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, rotisserie chicken, cheddar, and cilantro were in the bowl, along with ranch dressing, corn and black bean relish. Also on top were crispy onion strings and a bit of barbeque sauce. Yum yum yum. I love a chopped salad, and the components of this one were fresh and wonderful.

Coopers Hawk Winery Drunken Shrimp

Finally, my mom ordered another appetizer as her main dish for lunch: the Mexican Drunken Shrimp. With a beautiful presentation to boot! The dish features shrimp wrapped in bacon, served in a tequila lime butter sauce with fresh guacamole. She couldn’t stop raving about them. I don’t blame her – I simply sampled a taste of the guacamole and the sauce and knew it was an amazing dish!

So, I think it’s safe to say that we will be returning to Cooper’s Hawk Winery again in the future…from the friendly staff to the wonderful food, to the lovely atmosphere, it is definitely a wonderful new addition to the Tampa area!

Cooper's Hawk on Urbanspoon


Where have you dined lately? Have you tried out a new restaurant recently?



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    • I’ve never tried it myself, but I would think sriracha would be pretty darn tasty in a Bloody Mary for those who like spice!

  • Great post, Katie! You definitely did Besa Grill beautiful justice! And who would have thought the most beautiful drink at the table wouldn’t even have alcohol 😉 I impress myself! Ha! I can’t wait to check out Coopers Hawk, you definitely have put it on my lists of immediate needs!

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