Like many neighborhoods across America, you don't have to look very hard to find an industrial park near our house. This particular industrial park sits about a five-minute drive from the Canteen, just south of Tampa Bay Downs, and its tenants include (among more mundane operations) a free water skiing show on Saturday evenings courtesy of the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team. Anyway, I was driving down Douglas Road (the park's main drag) one sunny morning (not to see the skiers - I was on my way to pick up Cub Scout t-shirts) and noticed a small, nondescript restaurant tucked away in the corner of a strip mall. The sign outside the building said "Andy's Spanish Restaurant" (472 E. Douglas Rd., Oldsmar) and appeared to be the type of laid-back, no-frills place that ethnic food enthusiasts like myself are constantly seeking out, so I decided to pop in for lunch one day.
Andy's is a blue-collar worker's nirvana, where patrons can get a large plate of tasty grub for a very reasonable price. If you're able to navigate the cramped parking lot (arrive before noon to beat the lunch rush), inside you'll find not what I normally consider to be Spanish cuisine (i.e., tapas), but Cuban instead (in fact, I've come to realize that in Florida, "Spanish" and "Cuban" food essentially refer to the same thing), with a menu offering roast pork sandwiches, stewed meats (such as beef and sometimes goat), plantains, yellow rice/black beans, empanadas, and the like. Dishes are prepared in large hotel pans and delivered cafeteria-style (you grab a tray, receive your order, pay, and sit down in the dining room), with a side of Cuban bread available to anyone who wants it. On my first visit, Andy's daily special was fried whitefish, which I ordered with a side of yellow rice and black beans, plus a drink, all for less than $10.
The fish wasn't bad (the breading had a slight spiciness to it), but the beans and rice were spectacular, probably the best I've had since we arrived in Tampa, and they were even better when garnished with chopped onion and a slathering of the house-made hot pepper sauce (both of which are in bowls next to the cash register).
I opted for take-out the next time, trying out the media noche (basically a Cuban sandwich made with sweet bread instead of Cuban bread) and more of those fabulous beans/rice (with more of the onions and hot pepper sauce, of course). The sandwich was nice and crisp on the outside, and full of thick ham/pork, with a little bit of salami in a nod to Tampa's Italian heritage (the Cuban sandwich purists in Miami would find this to be heretical). I can't say that I liked the media noche quite as much as my favorite food truck Cuban, but it was plenty good enough to warrant future consumption. All in all, I think Andy's is a local gem and I'm anxious to stop by again, hopefully to get me some stewed goat or oxtail...