Datz, Tampa, Fla.
At its core, there is only one basic rule in the world of food. Whatever you create has got to taste good. However, if you can have fun with what you’re creating while still pulling off the taste you seek, so much the better. Sure, there will always be a place for the standard burgers and steaks, but when you add toppings, marinades and presentation to your entrees, they’re usually going to do two things. They’re going to stand out from the crowd, and they’re going to be that much better than the standard fare.
That’s the approach that Datz takes, going well beyond the standards of a meal and coming up with creations that are both unique and flavorful. On its website, Datz writes that they are flavor crusaders who consider the restaurant to be their playground, and they believe that ordinary belongs in a dictionary, not their restaurant. They’d have some company in that belief in San Francisco, Portland and in their own city of Tampa.
The way Datz makes itself different is by creating different tastes with high-quality ingredients in a setting with interesting decor. It’s not quite Lynn’s tree inside, but it’s still a very different atmosphere than the regular neighborhood bar. The walls are lined with shelves that feature bar taps from around the world, while the ceiling has chandeliers made from beer and wine bottles.
The menu is also printed newsletter-style, making it seem like you’re reading your choices in that morning’s paper. The only other place I’ve seen that is Des Moines’ Zombie Burger, and it was a nice touch there as well. It gives Datz both an old-time and modern atmosphere.
As you might expect, though, where Datz really shows its creativity is in its food. Amy and I went for breakfast on our visit, and Datz features an incredible lineup of breakfast foods, such as its create-your-own omelets that offer toppings such as white cheddar, goat cheese, green chiles, pork and brisket. I’m not sure how brisket would even taste in an omelet, but it’s got my attention. So do the red velvet pancakes, known as the Red Velvet Tower, topped with cream cheese icing.
But Amy, who knows this place well, pointed out that the must-try item at Datz is the monkey bread, which is a sweet pull-apart cinnamon-sugar batter. It’s covered in icing and honey, and it’s an incredible taste. The dough is fried to perfection, and the cinnamon, sugar, icing and honey all combine to form their own flavor, which really makes every bite one to savor. It’s like a really, really good cinnamon roll.
The only problem is that we forgot to specify just how much we wanted and ended up with the family size portion when an individual would have served us both well. Datz is not stingy on food, and this was a great reminder of that. I think we had enough monkey bread to last us a week if we wanted.
With the sweetness out of the way, it was time to taste the main course, which of course is the reason anyone goes to any restaurant that isn’t dessert-only. At Datz, that tends to mean eggs, but the beauty is in the details that they pay so close attention to in order to make things stand out.
One sandwich, the Babe-alicious, features ham, Swiss and honey mustard hugging the egg. Another combines spinach, bacon and gouda. There is really no way to go wrong here, but Amy and I, thinking on the same wavelength as we have a tendency to do, both decided we wanted to go for the Brie Bardot, which features spinach, tomato and velvety Brie along with the egg. The sandwiches are all served with breakfast potatoes, making for an easy combination.
Wow, was this amazing. The Brie already melts by the time it gets to your table, and the other ingredients work with it perfectly. The egg is cooked great for a sandwich, it’s not too hard but the yolk will not run when you bite into it. Tomatoes and spinach both add their own layers of flavor to the discussion and complement both each other and the taste of the Brie and the bread.
On top of that, the breakfast potatoes were excellent. In one of the few instances where I’ll say anything good about the South (which I still insist that Virginia was not a part of, there’s a reason it falls under Mid-Atlantic), the breakfast potatoes or home fries down there are second to none and they are the standard for which I judge other’s potatoes.
But these are wonderful, crispy on the outside and much like a baked potato on the inside. Along with the sandwich, these are certainly worthy of recognition as some of the best I’ve had in my life.
The one issue is that again, there’s too much food. I even couldn’t finish everything, and I tend to eat a lot. Amy didn’t come close. We had to stuff over half of each of our plates in a refrigerator. That’s how much they give you here. This place does not sacrifice quantity for quality, nor does it sacrifice quality for quantity. They believe everyone should leave full after a creative meal, and they make sure that you do.
I can’t speak for lunch and dinner, but as you might expect, the high-brow ingredients continue as the day rolls on. Lunch and dinner see things like salmon clubs and high-brow chicken dishes. At any time of day, there’s going to be something to satisfy every taste bud.
There’s a reason that Datz is rated so highly by so many. It’s because it has the perfect blend of creative flavors, while still keeping to the principal of taste being the most important thing. They call it pure culinary bliss, and I’d have to agree.
Time to visit: Anytime of day, but some times will need reservations more likely than others.
Wait during my visit: None, but that’s because I went for breakfast on a weekday. Datz gets ridiculously busy on weekends according to Amy, but she planned things very well on this trip.
Location: Datz is at 2616 S. Macdill Avenue in Tampa, Fla.
Parking: Not great, but there is an overflow lot near the restaurant that is about a minute away, so it’s manageable.
Cost: Most things will cost about $10 a person here. Costly, but worth it.
Seating arrangement: Standard tables and chairs here.
Specialty items: Creative creations