OK, you long-time readers know I don’t get too excited about too many of our seemingly neverending supply of new chain restaurants opening here in Wesley Chapel.

But, this one’s different. I genuinely love the new Bahama Breeze Island Grille, which opened on July 16 on the north side of S.R. 56, between the soon-to-open Hyatt Place hotel and Chuy’s Tex-Mex.

And, it’s not just because general manager Jeannie LaFever is so awesome. It’s always great to meet nice, energetic people who obviously love what they do, but we’re talking about a restaurant here. No matter how nice the management, wait staff and bartenders may be, if the food isn’t great, at least one local publisher would not be a frequent customer.

Known for its Caribbean fare and flair, Bahama Breeze is a chain eatery that delivers on its promise of great island-inspired food and drinks in a tropical setting with live music every night (and all day Saturday and Sunday). And, even though I’ve heard a few locals complain about the early crowds and that the restaurant isn’t located on a body of water and faces a busy roadway (blah blah blah), I’m just glad the food is up to snuff.

“And, even though we’ve been slammed, everything’s been running pretty smoothly so far,” Jeannie says. “People are just really excited we’re here!”

Jeannie’s favorite dishes include the most popular jerk chicken pasta, the true fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs. the beef empanadas, the jerk chicken wings, the coconut shrimp and the braised short rib & oxtail.

To date, I can vouch for two different sauces on your “Market Catch” fresh fish, which has been redfish on both visits for me. On mine and Jannah’s first visit, we thoroughly enjoyed the almond-crusted redfish topped with lemon butter sauce (great mashed potatoes and green beans as the sides), as well as the mango glazed redfish with grilled pineapple salsa shown above right.

On our most recent visit, Jannah went a little less adventurous, with her tasty Cobb salad, but I really loved the chimichurri sauce on the skirt steak churrasco. Skirt steak isn’t as tender as, say, a filet, and Bahama Breeze’s only other steak is an 8-oz. top sirloin (which I may just try on my next visit), but wow, with that sauce and the outstanding yellow rice and black beans served as sides, this is my current favorite dish at “the Breeze.”

Jeannie also wants to make sure that locals dive headlong into Bahama Breeze’s exotic tropic drink menu.

“Our Bahamarita is the bomb,” Jeannie says. “But you can’t go wrong with a mango jalapeño mojito, a Goombay Smash or a pineapple-coconut martini, either.”

Bahama Breeze Island Grille (25830 Sierra Center Blvd.) is open every day for lunch & dinner. For more information, call (813) 949-0779 or visit BahamaBreeze.com. And please, make sure Jeannie and her outstanding staff know you read about them in the Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News!

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