Sunday July the 10th my hubby totally surprised me with a trip to Gourmet Pizza Company in Hyde Park.  First of all I LOVE Hyde Park!  It’s so cute and quaint and beautiful!  We had just come from a double feature at the movies, and saw Horrible Bosses (which is absolutely hysterical) last.  For some reason, watching that movie made me really hungry for pizza and beer.  And ironically, that was my husband’s plan all along.  I was really excited to see that they had a pretty good selection of vegan pizza.  The primary reason I was super excited to be there was because we’d purchased a Groupon ages ago, or what seemed like it, since they were the only local pizzeria that offered Daiya cheese.  Why more places do not is beyond me, however, I was thrilled to be there.

The décor upon walking in was really simple, so simple that they ripped up what appeared to be crappy tile and ventured for the concrete floor look.  They had really expensive local art for sale on the walls, and did not offer wait staff.  I thought that was a brilliant move, for being a small place, you simply find a table, go to the register to place your order and they have someone run the food out to the table.  Great cost saving strategy for a small place and with the top shelf level of service that we got anyway, I would say it was the right decision.  After taking in the really cool atmosphere, which by the way, any vegan establishment I have ever been to with really amazing and cool décor always ends up having killer food.

I was pretty much starving, since my hubby didn’t tell me it would be nearly 7pm before we ate dinner.  I was eyeing up all the yummy food on the menu and decided that we HAD to try the Vegan Pizza Breadsticks with Daiya cheese.  The description read “Topped with garlic infused olive oil, then sprinkled with our own herb mixture. served with a side of our homemade marinara sauce for dipping.” That sounded to die for.  We also decided on the Mediterranean Vegan Pizza without olives, since I am not a fan, and with Daiya cheese of course!  The breadsticks came out fairly quickly, and since I really wanted a beer I chose from their pretty good selection of beers and got an Amstel Light to start off.  Boy were those breadsticks awesome.  Now I am a fan of Papa John’s doughy breadsticks, as I feel like if you’re going to do a carb coma night, you might as well go all the way!  But I have never ever found a marinara dipping sauce that I liked.  Gourmet Pizza Co. offers simply THE best home made marinara dip.  First off, it is not thick and goopy like most marinara sauces, it was really light, fresh and I could taste the fresh tomato and garlic in it.  Oh man was it incredible.  My taste buds were soaring and loving the garlicy cheesiness!  I originally wanted to save half of the garlic breadsticks, but my hubby and I were in heaven so we splurged and ate them all.

My Amstel Light paired well with the food thus far, but I decided that I had to go for my girl and get a Stella Artois, my absolute favorite beer, with the pizza.  When the pizza came out first thing I noticed was WOW the pizza was totally NOT greasy.  Now any good old family pizzeria I had ever been to really did a killer job with the pizza but always ended up with a nice layer of grease that would lie atop of the pie.  Not so for this pizza.  Instead, the top of the pie had spinach, basil, fresh diced tomatoes, and banana peppers and no grease to be seen!  The pizza is described in the menu as “garlic oil based pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, capers, fresh leaf spinach, our house cheese blend, banana peppers, black olives and feta cheese, finished with diced tomatoes.”  Now of course the pizza did not have feta cheese on it, as it was vegan, but it was loaded up with Daiya Mozzarella. My first bite was as close to pizza heaven as I have ever experienced.  Now, besides this vegan pizza my favorite is Amy’s Frozen Roasted Vegetable Pizza, without cheese, but we usually add Daiya.  The Mediterranean pizza was crispy with a nice thick crust.  The first thing that impressed my socks off was the fact that the diced tomatoes were abundantly flavorful.  Now I had just been food shopping yesterday, Saturday the 9th, and was barely able to find edible tomatoes.  So having really flavorful tomatoes on my pizza made me really really happy.  The next thing that made my mouth continue to water was the garlic oil base over the dough, man did those little bits of fresh garlic hit the palate right!  I am a huge garlic lover, so I couldn’t get enough!  Then every couple of bites you’d get surprised by a hidden caper beneath a layer of veggies and Daiya.  My second favorite thing about pizza is the crust.  And I am a bit of a fiend for a good crust.  Theirs was crunchy without being dry, the perfect crust, cooked ideally.  Oh man was this pizza amazing.  I truly can’t say enough good about Gourmet Pizza Company.  The staff was friendly, the food arrived fairly quickly, it was fresh, flavorful and super super good, and it was a great environment!  If reading this and seeing those photos of the food doesn’t make you want to go and get your pizza on, then I don’t know what else will.  I highly recommend it to any vegan in the Tampa Bay Area looking for a great pizza with fresh flavor.  They also served vegan cookies, but after the breadsticks and pizza I couldn’t fit anything else in!  I left happily carb coma’d out!  Thank you Gourmet Pizza Company for an awesome meal and a great experience.  You can BET I will be back as this is my new favorite pizza joint!


My husband and I have a date night every Sunday.  This particular Sunday, we decided we did not want to cook, and would rather enjoy some tasty new vegan food.  I parlayed my handy VegOut app for the iPhone and looked for some recommended eats nearby.  I couldn’t help but notice the rating for Nitally’s Thai-Mex Cuisine.  It was shown as a Thai-Mexican Fusion restaurant on my app.  Now I am a huge Thai food fan, and a HUGE Mexican food fan.  So we decided, especially after seeing several reviews saying they know how to cater to vegans and vegetarians, that we would head there.

First impression was what an awesome décor on the interior!  It was very loud and bright with colors, I absolutely love the black and white plastic awnings that adorn the walls, as well as the chalk board for the ‘Inferno Soup hall of Shame,’ and the drink board.  It’s very welcoming and very small.  It is unfortunately also VERY hot in the summer.  (This is my ONLY complaint though, so don’t stop reading!)  I would suggest getting food to go, unless you are okay to brave through the heat to have your meal there.

The menu is extensive, offering over 70 dishes with a full Thai menu, a full Mexican menu and then the Fusion menu.  There is also a healthy offering of beverages, including more teas than I have seen in any restaurant, and some authentic beverages called (I hope I don’t botch this too badly…) Boboas, beer and wine.  When we sat down we were greeted by a sweet young waiter and he let us know that food was taking about 20 minutes to come out and asked if we’d like to look at appetizers first.  We wanted to save our appetite for our main meal so we said we’d be fine with the wait.  I had a Hoegaarden beer, my favorite, and when I asked for a second they had run out.  The waiter asked if I wanted to try something new or was there another beer I would like instead, I asked him to recommend something, told him my preferences and he suggested a Polish beer.  I stupidly should have written the name down, but by the time that we were on beer #2 we had our food and I was totally distracted!  However, the beer he recommended was nice and went down well with the food.

My husband is a bit timid with new food/places, so he ordered Pad Thai from the Thai portion of the menu, and he got chicken with it, as he does not eat a full vegan diet like I do.  (Shame, I know, but at least he does at home which is 99% of the time!)  I wanted to try something new and ordered a Chipotle Mexican Stir Fry, which was on the fusion menu, and I can’t get onto the website to give the specific name so my apologies.  I got it with Tofu and asked it be made vegan.  The waiter was also kind enough to let us know that Nitally’s mild for spicy is what most people consider medium, and their medium is closer to hot.  Since I love spicy, but also love to eat my food, I ordered mild.

When our food arrived I was shocked at the amount of food we both got.  It was definitely worth the price, and the wait!  Fresh, FRESH, FRESH veggies hot food and the flavor was out of this world.  I think that the Chipotle stir-fry ranks among my absolute favorite foods EVER.  The flavor of the sauce was a bit like a Mexican red sauce with a smoky mesquite flavor.  The tofu just sopped it up and was absolutely amazing.  And I am a picky tofu eater, I absolutely HATE when a restaurant just fries or boils it and it’s chewy and has no taste.  Nitally’s definitely knew how to cook it and it just enhanced all the flavors on the dish.  I wouldn’t change a thing about the dish, but I can imagine that with some pineapple added in (not sure if this is Thai or Mexican themed though…) that I might have fainted due to all the amazing flavors!  I was just about to that point as it was since the food was so incredible.

My husband is originally from England, and they have some pretty fantastic Thai cuisine there so he is a huge critic, especially of his favorite Thai dish, Pad Thai.  He took one bite and said simply ‘This is THE best Pad Thai I have EVER had.’  He said the food tasted incredibly fresh, and that he would definitely be coming back to Nitally’s again.

The portions were so generous that we had no room for dessert because we couldn’t stop eating our fabulous dinners!  So if you’re a fan of desserts, eat half your dinner and take the rest home so you can enjoy more of Nitally’s cuisine.

If you like Mexican food, and if you like Thai food, you HAVE GOT to try Nitally’s.  It might be a little bit hot and uncomfortable in the restaurant, but the food is SO worth it.  I think they just may be having some AC troubles, and in saying that I am SURE they want it fixed as badly as the customers.  This is my new favorite dinner spot because there is so much food to try and they are incredibly vegan friendly, the food is amazing and the service was great!  I don’t just recommend it, I endorse it!  I order you all to get your butt down there and try out Nitally’s NOW!

Being a vegan there haven’t been all too many dining options in the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay Area.  I recently downloaded the VegOut app for my iphone, which came recommended by a great vegan blogger I follow on Twitter quarrygirl.  The app is nothing short of awesome.  We found a few new places and decided for the mood we were in to try Vida De Café, on St. Pete Beach.  First, a disclaimer, their website leaves much to be desired, and I believe does no justice to the food and atmosphere of Vida De Café.

Raw Vegan Sushi from Vida De CafeWhen we arrived, it was a Sunday evening and a quiet night down on the beach.  We were the only two people that were in the café, and arrived about 5pm, for an early dinner.  The atmosphere is simple, beachy and calm.  The décor is mostly from Ikea, modern, simple and comfortable.  There were several items on the menu that I was interested in, but finally settled on the Sushi with Ginger Pate, and my husband got the Spicy Pad Thai.  (I want to note, that the food is fully vegan and also all raw.)  The flavor of my sushi was outstanding.  It was fresh, flavorful and I absolutely love when I can taste a multitude of flavors all at once.  The avocado was rich and creamy against the crunch of the spinach and carrots.  The nori it was wrapped in was raw, and I have never had raw nori, it was awesome!  The flavor of that just added to the great taste of the rolls.  I felt that the plate was a fairly large serving and priced well for what I received.

Raw Pad Thai from Vida De CafeMy husband’s Spicy Pad Thai did not disappoint either.  It was very very tasty with again, loads of flavor.  The Zucchini noodles were absolutely fabulous.  Everything was again, extremely fresh and flavorful.  The only negative on that dish was that neither of us felt it was spicy, nor did it taste anything like any Pad Thai dish we had ever had.  But we’d both get this dish again, knowing how great the flavor was and how nice and fresh all of the produce was.

We both had water to drink, and I ordered a green tea.  I was a bit disappointed that they did not offer Agave Nectar or raw sugar to add to the tea, and it was rather unflavorful as far as any green tea I have tasted.  So I cannot recommend the green tea but the water is water, and the food is amazing.

The only disappointment on my part was that they were totally out of the Fudge Brownie and ChocoChip Ice Kream.  MAN did that look amazing on the website and the description made my mouth water!  So I was disappointed on that, but it is just one more reason to head back there!

Our service was good, and we would definitely recommend Vida De Café to anyone wanting to try some freshly made food in a great small restaurant on beautiful St. Pete Beach.  It’s a hidden gem that should definitely have more attention.