I never turn down a brunch date, whether with J., the girls, or our whole gaggle of friends – it’s always a grand time. Our most recent group foodie adventure was to Boca in the Hyde Park/Channelside area of Tampa. J. and I had been there once before for dinner many moons ago when the farm to table focus was not quite mainstream. Boca is always ahead of the curve it seems and their menu offers twists on classics to appease every palette.
“Local. Simple. Honest.” That’s Boca’s mantra and they definitely live up to it. Boca’s menu is based off local ingredients and sourced from nearby farmers and specialty food purveyors. You can check out all the local ingredients in the latest edition of the Local Dirt on their website. The restaurant inside is inviting, warm, and comfortable, with lots of wood (including a planter wall of lettuce), cozy hightops, and intimate dining rooms with industry style lighting and accents. It’s a great place to gather with friends and family.
J. and I started off with splitting the fried green tomatoes – with pimiento cheese, tomato jam, and bacon. The breading was crisp and light and stuck to the fried green tomato well. Each of the toppings on their own are perfect complements to the fried green tomato, but all three is a creamy, sweet, salty perfection. I also got a glass of their “F’rose & F’rozignon Blanc” a blended frozen wine slush. It was basically like an adult slurpee. While I probably couldn’t have more than one (it was decently sweet) it was the right consistency (not too icy) and I’d consider it a great alternative to a mimosa for brunch.
Unsurprisingly, J. went for the chicken and waffles (although I had my eye on it too) – fried chicken tenders, buttermilk waffles with molasses maple syrup and sriracha plum glaze. I appreciated that the chicken was boneless, it’s much easier to eat. The breading was not too heavy, perfectly crispy (even with the syrup), and well seasoned. I found the waffles to be a little bit dense, but a bite of chicken, waffle, syrup, and glaze hit all the right flavor combos on your tongue. I’d put that sweet and spicy sriracha plum glaze on any meat.
The BBQ pulled pork benedict was calling my name – two poached eggs and bbq pulled pork on jalapeño & cheddar toast, cilantro lime hollandaise, house hot sauce, and served with potato hash. BBQ for breakfast may sound weird, but Boca makes it work. The bbq pulled pork was fall apart tender and the sauce was sweet, which I really enjoyed. The jalapeño and cheddar toast was light and acted as the “cornbread” to this meal to soak up all the sauce and runny egg. I think the cilantro hollandaise got a little overpowered by the other flavors, but alone had a great unique flavor – and dipping the potato hash in it was absolutely delicious.
No matter what you order at Boca, you are in for a treat. They truly know how to take a comfort classic, and upgrade it – both in flavor profile as well as with their locally sourced ingredients. They do it right, and it’ll keep people coming back again and again. I’m already looking forwarding to my next trip.
One last note…they also offer a variety of fresh muffins with apple butter. Get. A. Muffin. Trust me.