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  • Tori Cannella

I Tried 3 of Tampa's Newest Restaurants: Worth it or Not?

Tampa has had so many new restaurants open in just the past few months, and I have been so eager to check out all the newest hot spots. On the list of places we tried this week: Jotoro Kitchen & Tequila Bar, Haiku, and Sal y Mar.

First up, Jotoro.

One of Sparkman Wharf's newest additions, Jotoro is a modern mexican restaurant with colorful decor, and party like ambiance. Whether you like tequila or not, there's something on the cocktail menu for everyone. I went with the Blueberry Gin Fizz, and my friends ordered the Spicy Watermelon & Mango Peach Sangria. They were all so good, I'm a huge spicy marg girl and the one here is bomb, definitely in the top 3 best spicy margs I've had. If sweet drinks are your thing, the Prickly Pear Margarita is a great option, (and it's very instagram-able). I went with a large party so we ordered tons of food, starting with The Three Amigos which is their house salsa, guac & queso - it was pretty on par with other mexican restaurants, the only thing that stood out to me was their salsa. It had a smokey flavor and tasted super fresh.


For the main event, we got the Mexican Chorizo Fried Rice to share, I ordered the Baja Shrimp tacos, my boyfriend got the East LA Style Burrito, and my friend got the Spicy Vietnamese Steak tacos. Everything was good, but not amazing. The fried rice had a lot going on in terms of flavor, and just wasn't my favorite. The tacos were good but not worth the price in my opinion. For $14 you only get 2 and no sides. Out of all that we ordered, I'd say the steak burrito was the tastiest.


The verdict: I had high hopes for Jotoro but left underwhelmed. I would go back but only for drinks. There are much better mexican options at this price point and below with better food.


Sal y Mar

Located in Tampa's newest up & coming neighborhood, Midtown, Sal y Mar is a rooftop restaurant inspired by Tulum. The decor is immaculate inside and out, and the menu is fit for foodies.

I have to say, this place really exceeded my expectations.



In my experience, rooftop bars usually lack in quality what they make up for in views, but in Sal y Mar's case, this isn't true. We didn't have a reservation, we showed up around 6pm and were able to snag a table outside in the bar area, but I definitely recommend having one as the hostess had to turn away most parties because they were fully booked for the night.

The drinks here are seriously so good. Pictured above is their Mai Tai which I originally glanced over because I don't like rum, but once I asked our server what she recommended and she told me how they make their's I was sold - it's made with peach and orange blossom vodka and aperol...Y-U-M. If you aren't into sweet drinks you will love this one, definitely will have to recreate at home sometime.

We also shared the Cajun Shrimp Corn Fritters and they were excellent. We sat in the bar area, but the restaurant area has an even larger menu with entrees. They all sounded great, so I'll definitely have to be back for dinner sometime.


The verdict: original cocktail menu, expansive menu, and great ambiance. Worth the price and I will definitely be returning.


Haiku

Right in the heart of downtown Tampa, Haiku is an Izakaya style Japanese restaurant with a lively vibe. The decor was very similar to Tao, if you're familiar with that restaurant, which makes this a very instagram worthy spot.

I started off with the Dragon's Breath drink and liked it, but not as much as I thought I would have. It's most likely because there is sake in it, in addition to the gin, and I'm not the biggest fan of sake but I wanted to try it out. It was basically like a Japanese cucumber martini, very refreshing but quite strong.


Izakaya means tapas style, so we ordered lots of different plates, and we weren't let down by any. The Tuna Tartare was great and the crispy rice made it extra good - very similar to the tuna appetizer at Catch. The Haiku Roll was a stand out for us, it's a tenderloin sushi roll with asparagus, shiitake, and gold flake. My boyfriend is a fried rice connoisseur if you will, so we had to try the chicken fried rice. It was not what we expected at all in terms of flavor but it was out of this world, and it was a very large portion so if you're not ordering lots of small plates, this is a great entree option.


We really enjoyed our entire experience here. The verdict: this is a great date night option, fresh sushi and innovative menu, I'll definitely be back to this spot soon!


With so many new restaurants popping up around the Tampa Bay Area, I've decided to make Worth it or Not a series, make sure to join my mailing list to stay up to date.


Till next time,

xoxo Tori


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