Ybor City, Florida

For today’s wander, I present Ybor City, Florida.

 Ybor City was at it’s heyday in the 1800’s, as the Cigar Capitol of the world. Ybor was also a melting pot for many different cultures with immigrants coming from Cuba, Italy, Germany, and Spain. The artists from the many different cultures helped make this city into what it is today. There are art galleries, amazing  restaurants, and music venues lining the streets.

So today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite places to visit in Ybor City in no particular order!

#1 The Ritz

The Ritz is an amazing special event and music venue. The  Ritz was built in 1917 as the Rizoli theater. It underwent a $2 million renovation and reopened as a special events/music venue in 2008. The inside of the Ritz is amazing. It has beautiful chandeliers and original checkered floors. Jackson and I went and saw the band Sleigh Bells there a few years ago and the venue was small enough for the concert to feel like a private show. One day if you’re walking down there and you see someone in the ticket box, ask to see if they will give you a tour of the inside! And on that tour, ask about their ghosts!

#2 La France

I can’t even begin to describe my love for this store. You need a cute cloche hat? Go here. You need an authentic 1920’s flapper dress? Go HERE!  I’m telling you, this store will take care of all your vintage clothing and accessory needs!


You walk in to walls stocked full of vintage pieces for men and women, glass cases with antique pocket watches, and brightly colored crinoline slips dangling from the ceiling.


 Everywhere you look there is something adorably vintage! And, if you don’t need any of the aforementioned things, which is insane because every girl needs something vintage in her life, you can go in and play with their adorable dog that helps manage the store. What else could you ever need?

#3 Stone Soup Company

This place is becoming somewhat of a regular for us when we go to Ybor because the food never disappoints. The Stone Soup Company not only has amazing soups and sandwiches, but they are also geared to make you feel good too! They make many of their dishes with air-cooking and use mostly locally based produce, which makes for a healthier eating experience! They have won awards for their Cuban sandwiches,which is saying a lot because many places in Tampa claim they have the best cubans, but these guys can prove it!  However, our favorite thing on the menu has a bit of a more Mediterranean feel!  I absolutely love the Souvlaki, which is more or less a chicken gyro. Jackson’s favorite is the Mediterranean Flatbread with gyro meat. Both have awesome flavors and definitely keep us coming back for more!

The restaurant also has an amazing atmosphere and feels really laid-back. They have fantastic classic rock songs playing in the background that helps set the tone.

We wholeheartedly recommend The Stone Soup Company.

#4 The Blind Tiger

Jackson and I just found this place today, but after the experience we had we will definitely  be visiting more often. The Blind Tiger opened it’s doors to Ybor City about 6 months ago, and I get the feeling that it’s a well-kept secret. They serve Buddy Brew coffee and TeBella tea. They have yummy looking pastries for sale and even have an oatmeal bar where you can make your own oatmeal mixes. Jackson indulged in their nitro-tapped coffee, which is basically black coffee that is chilled with a nitrous tank and served out of a tap.


While I enjoyed a fresh Blueberry Pomegranate Green Tea.

The decor of the shop was lovely. The giant chalkboard wall displaying the menu was perfect.

The staff was adorably dressed in button-down shirts and bow-ties. They were so friendly and very knowledgeable about their menu.

The atmosphere was everything you could have wanted out of a coffee shop and more. Soft jazz music played in the background, and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and read a book while I downed some freshly brewed tea.

If you are looking for a nice place  to study and drink some amazing coffee, this is your place.

There are many other wonderful places to visit in Ybor, and one day I will do a part two to this post. But these are my go-to places when I think of visiting Ybor! I hope this post has inspired you to want to visit Ybor City, FL!

The Best Thing You’ll Ever Eat

You think I’m kidding about the title, but I’m definitely not. I can’t believe that for my first cooking/baking post I’m going to give away my most prized recipe….but you guys are amazing for checking out the blog, so I’ll share. 😉 The dessert I’m baking today is banana blondies! They are moist (yes, I’m sorry for all of you out there that hate that word, but I have no other way to describe it), soft, and absolutely delicious. They are super easy to make too, which always is appealing to me! So? Are you ready to get started baking your way into culinary history? Ok, good. Let’s get started!

First things first. Cute apron? Check.

Next, Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your 8×8 pan with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray then set aside.

Next, melt a stick of butter. After the butter is melted put it in your stand mixer. Mix butter and 1 cup of light brown sugar until combined. Then add an egg, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp of salt. Mix until combined.

Finally add in 1 cup flour and 1 mushed medium sized banana. Now, I don’t know about you, but there is something really soothing in mushing a banana with your hands. I’m sure there is probably an easier and less messy way to mush a banana, but I’m in it for the fun. Ha! After all these ingredients are mixed together and smooth, spread the mixture in the foil lined pan you previously prepared.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. I take them out at 25 minutes. Once they are out transfer to a wire rack to cool. Or if you are like me and aren’t cool enough to have a wire rack, I find taking them out of the pan and putting them in the foil on some dish towels works just fine!

Next, you have to make the yummy brown sugar frosting! In a medium saucepan melt 1/2 stick of butter. Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar and combine. Add 2 Tbsp milk and stir until mixture comes to a boil. After it comes to a boil, remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. That part is so important! Sometimes I let it sit for 6 minutes just to be safe.

After, stir in 1 cup powdered sugar with a whisk. It should turn into a pretty thick frosting-like texture, because after all it is icing!

Next, and THIS IS IMPORTANT, lick half of the whisk! You’re welcome.

Then let your friend, or husband in my case, lick the rest of it. They’re welcome.

Spread the frosting on the blondies and allow the frosting to set.

 Let the blondies cool most of the way before cutting. But, if you’re a rebel like me, and you just can’t take the smell of the delicious banana goodness for another second, you can let them sit for like 5 minutes then cut into them. They may not be as beautiful as they would’ve been if you could wait…. but who cares! You’re going to eat them anyways!

And that’s it! You’ve baked your way into history! Your friends and family will thank you for weeks. They will invite you over to their house just so you will make them your famous blondies. Feel free to share… or don’t. I won’t judge!

*Banana Blondies*

Blondies Ingredients:

~1/2 cup butter ~1 cup light brown sugar ~1 Egg ~1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla ~1/4 Tsp salt ~1 cup Flour ~1/2 cup mashed banana (1 medium banana)

Brown sugar frosting Ingredients:

~1/4 cup butter ~ 1/2 cup light brown sugar ~ 2 Tbsp milk ~1 cup powdered sugar

Blondies Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a stand mixer combine melted butter and sugar. Mix until combined. Add in egg, vanilla, and salt. Continue to mix. Finally add flower and mashed banana. Continue mixing until the mixture becomes smooth. Spread in previously prepared pan.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes. I suggest 25 minutes.

4. When done baking, transfer to wire rack or towel.

Brown sugar frosting instructions:

1. Melt butter in saucepan, then add brown sugar and mix until combined. Then add milk.

2. Let mixture come to a boil. After, remove from heat and let sit for 5-6 minutes to cool.

3. Stir in powdered sugar and mix with a whisk until texture becomes thick.

4. Spread frosting on top of blondies and allow frosting to set and blondies to cool.

5. Enjoy and try not to eat the whole pan. 🙂