Even if you’ve somehow still never heard of Tarek’s Café in the Shoppes at Amberly plaza in Tampa Palms, owner Tarek Elsayed’s original Tarek’s Café on the USF Tampa campus is a 26-year institution that is packed every day with hungry — and often, cash-strapped students.
So, Tarek (photo on next page) knows how to feed you on a budget. The problem is that after a decent opening in February of last year, his Tampa Palms location — which actually took over our former office in the plaza — was soon saddled with Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. construction woes which continued until very recently.
“We’ve always done well for breakfast, but our lunch and dinner business in Tampa Palms was building until they started that construction,” says Tarek, trying to maintain his usual smile. “The construction really hurt us, but now that it’s over, I want your Neighborhood News readers to know that I now offer delicious, from-scratch food for breakfast, lunch and dinner!”
We’ll get back to breakfast and lunch in a minute, but Tarek just brought back dinner after Labor Day and he truly is offering an outstanding selection of 12 dinner entrées, all served with salad and most served with your choice of two sides — all for just $9.99! And, you can add one of Tarek’s awesome desserts and a soft drink for just $3 more.
Our office favorites are the homemade beef (there’s also veggie) lasagne, the meat loaf, the hearty beef stew and the huge serving of chicken parmigiana. I’m not a salmon lover myself, but the creamy dill sauce served on the salmon is very tasty as are sides like real mashed potatoes and fresh veggies.
For the kids, dinner costs just $6.50 for chicken tenders, grilled cheese or a smaller burger, and all include their choice of fries or fruit.
Tarek’s is already a really convenient place for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a capacity of nearly 150 people, although the spacious dining room only has 100 or so seats as currently configured.
“This is a great place for breakfast before church or brunch after, for after youth baseball, soccer and other sporting events and even for business meetings,” he says. “I also provide catering for up to 200 people. Just give me an idea of the menu you’d like to serve and let me do the rest.”
Breakfast & Baked Goods
Although he can’t serve pork products in his restaurant (so, no regular bacon or sausage), Tarek does an outstanding job with breakfast, too. He says people still tell him he serves the best corned beef hash in town, he made me a great egg and cheese sandwich on Cuban-style bread and people rave about his pancakes, too.
For lunch, Tarek also makes excellent gyro sandwiches with crispy French fries and a thick, juicy adult-sized burger that also is on the dinner menu.
But, if you haven’t tried Tarek’s house-baked chocolate chocolate chip muffins, his baklava or our office’s favorite — his white-chocolate-covered brownie balls you’ll kick yourself for not trying them sooner once you do.
Tarek’s Café (15345 Amberly Dr.) is open every day except Mon. for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Call (813) 252-3238 or visit TareksCafeandGrill.com.