Review: Cozy Pinky’s Diner in South Tampa is worth the wait
On a recent Saturday morning, several groups of people mingled near the entrance, waiting for seats to open up. The smell of coffee lured many of us to an old hutch by the bar, where mismatched mugs invited us to help ourselves to various flavors of fresh brews – from Jamaican Me Crazy to Persian Prince. The self-service option (bonus points for the jars of cinnamon and nutmeg) was much appreciated for those who don’t mind waiting for food but need coffee ASAP.
After waiting about 15 minutes, the backlog of diners had all been seated, and we snagged one of the three larger tables at the front of the diner. Our waiter popped up immediately, offering beverages and answers to any questions.
The breakfast menu was pretty straightforward, with some delightful twists on classic diner food. Frittatas replace traditional omelets as the egg dish of choice. The Stuffed French Toast is made with Cuban bread, and oatmeal pancakes take up a spot on the griddle next to their buttermilk cousins.
The frittatas (think baked, open-face omelets) come in six themes, from Tuscan (prosciutto, turkey, rosemary, onions, spinach, tomatoes and provolone) to Mexican (chorizo, onions and green peppers topped with cheddar, homemade salsa and sour cream) to just plain-old Breakfast (potatoes, bacon, onions, mushrooms and cheddar). There’s also an option to make your own, choosing from a list of 19 ingredients.
The frittata we picked was filled with turkey, gouda, basil, mushrooms and onions. It was baked to perfection – just firm enough to be cut into pieces but still soft and fluffy like eggs should be. On a second trip, the Veggie version proved just as filling, with large chunks of peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and spinach smothered in cheddar cheese.
The Stuffed French Toast was much larger than we had pictured. Because of the Cuban bread, we were anticipating small, round pieces. But the slices were cut at a diagonal, making them long and skinny – perfect for sandwiching the warm, homemade berry cream cheese inside.
By far, though, the griddle items that won our hearts – and stomachs – were the oatmeal pancakes. At our waiter’s suggestion, we added fresh strawberries to the mix. That turned out to be a recipe for heaven – smooth, creamy pancakes punctuated by sweet, thinly sliced berries. The plate won two thumbs up from the whole table.
Our second visit was on a Wednesday during the lunch rush. But the rush was more of a hush at Pinky’s, where plenty of open tables made for quick and quiet dining. There was one waitress holding down the fort, and she had no problems keeping up with her six tables.
On that visit, The Ultimate Fried Egg Sandwich lived up to its promise of being “the best fried egg sandwich ever,” with the layers of egg, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, cheddar, Swiss and mayo providing complementary textures and tastes.
The Roasted Turkey sandwich was equally scrumptious, and we definitely made the right choice by getting it pressed. (All sandwiches can be served toasted or pressed.) The heat helped blend the flavors of roasted turkey, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, olive oil and vinegar.
In addition to a long list of breakfast delights and sandwiches, Pinky’s offers a standard selection of salads (chef, Greek, Cobb, etc.) with homemade citrus vinaigrette or Greek dressings. There is also a tomato bisque soup and side options of homemade potato salad, coleslaw and fresh-cut fruit, all of which are fine choices.
For those looking to entertain themselves while chowing down, the diner offers free Wi-Fi and a big shelf full of books to borrow from. (We recommend the old encyclopedias.) There’s also outdoor seating for diners with canine companions.
In the end, the only thing we didn’t like about Pinky’s was what we saw when we stepped on the scale in the diner’s bathroom, but we’ll take the blame for that one.
BOTTOM LINE: Good neighborhood brunch spot
WHERE: 3203 Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
CREDIT CARDS: V/MC
CHILDREN’S MENU: No, but kids eat eggs, right?
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes (from the back door)
PRICE: Entrees range from $2.95 (egg and cheddar Cuban) to $12.95 (steak and eggs)
CONTACT: (813) 831-9339 or www.pinkysrestaurant.com
Tribune reviewers eat anonymously. Corrie Benfield can be reached at (813) 259-8419.