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It's What's For Dinner - or Lunch

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Wet and rainy one day. Sunny and balmy  the next. Usually hot and always humid.

Welcome to Florida, RNC visitors!

Now that the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac is over for us and the Republican National Convention is underway, we can get back to helping you discover more about the Tampa Bay area other than its unpredictable weather.

And one of our favorite things to do here besides bask on beautiful beaches is to eat.

Tampa is home to a melange of foods, thanks to its Latin heritage and ever-growing diversity.

Just check out the Tampa Tribune's dining guide with a list of options ranging from the time-honored Cuban fare at West Tampa Sandwich Shop to the well-loved family-owned institutions such as Malio's.

Reporter Richard Mullins calls the restaurants among the "hottest political restaurants, and some pastoral escapes from the RNC hubbub.''

Tampa, like most communities, prides itself on local, home-grown eateries.

But the city and its surrounding municipalities also are known for a burgeoning chain-restaurant industry, as noted in Tampa Bay Times reporter Susan Thurston's recent story:

"The Tampa Bay area has long been a testing ground for restaurant concepts, having birthed major chains such as Hooters, Beef 'O' Brady's and, most notably, Outback Steakhouse,'' she writes.

"Outback began in 1988 with a single restaurant in Tampa and has expanded to include Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy's. Now operated as Bloomin' Brands, the company has more than 1,400 restaurants worldwide.

Many Outback alumni have gone on to pursue other dining ventures, some of them fast-casual concepts such the Red Elephant Cafe and PDQ, a more upscale version of Chick-fil-A.''

Here at WUSF, we've got our own list of faves for you to try (and their addresses). Most are within easy driving distance - just far enough away to escape the RNC crowds.

Now get out there and eat!

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