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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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Tampa Underbelly Tour: Living To Eat Again

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Jeff Houck

Updated Jan 16, 2008 at 09:30 AM

Tony surveys the duck feet.

One thing you won’t get by reading today’s story about The Tampa Underbelly Tour, Part Deux: giant babies.

Yes, that’s right. Humongus offspring. Fake, of course.

After our meal at La Pequena Colombia, we walked a few doors down in the strip mall where it was located so we could stop in a store called El Encanto. The thing that got our attention was the line on the sign that read: House of Pinatas.

When we saw "House of the Pinatas" a few doors down, we had to stop in.

This was one of the oddest places I’ve ever been in. It wasn’t just that you had to limbo through the store underneath the pinatas. It was, well, the giant baby dolls.

Paging Stephen King… Mr. Stephen King

That’s just wrong. I’m sorry.

Anyway, if you want to get a sense of what it’s like to spend six hours eating yourself stupid at some of the tastiest spots in Tampa, check out the videos we shot:


Stop No. 1: China Yuan Seafood Restaurant

Stop No. 2: Honduras Cafe

Stop No. 3: La Pequena Colombia

Stop No. 4: La Lechonera

Stop No. 5: Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericano

The Big Finale:

To see a gallery of photos of the tour, click here.

And if you want to go and visit for yourself, here’s a map you can follow:

View Larger Map

Reader Comments

Por (andy huse) on January 18, 2008 (Suggest removal)

When i think of a culinary underbelly, I think of:
Popsicles at a meth lab.
Tuna casserole at a whorehouse.
Hot dogs at a crack house.
Tacos at a ##### fight.

But then, I do have a vivid imagination.
What you’re exploring is honest, blue collar, hard working eateries catering to regular people.  Sorry to nit-pick again, but i still think “under the radar” or “salt of the earth” or “word of mouth” works better than “underbelly,” which has such seedy connotations. 

That said, some of us are quite familiar with the places you’ve mentioned, and i do want to commend you for sharing them with the greater public.  Americans are culinarily sheltered, indeed.

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Por (Jeff Houck) on January 22, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Oh, I totally agree with you. Underbelly is, well, just a much more fun name than “Places you are too intimidated to try.” We’re just trying to share some of our favorite places that most people just don’t even consider visiting.

But if you have a place that sells Meth Pops, Crack Dogs or Cockfight Tacos, we’re always open for new experiences.

The tuna casserole? I’ll pass.

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