Fresh Caribbean mahi from PopStroke

Despite all of the recent newcomers to the Wesley Chapel dining scene, if you’re still looking forward to some of the restaurants that are planned to open in and near Wesley Chapel, join the club.

Two highly touted and anticipated places — Cooper’s Hawk Winery (bottom center photo) and Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse (bottom left) have not yet even begun building. Meanwhile, the Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar (bottom right), in the same plaza as Chicken Salad Chick, still has just a dirt floor. The good news is that there are others that are a lot closer to bringing great new options to our area.

One that just opened that I, for one, didn’t realize was such a good restaurant is PopStroke, the new Tiger Woods-designed (and co-owned) mini-golf course. The biggest problem with PopStroke to date is that it’s been so packed every day, it’s hard to find parking to get into the open-air (but covered) restaurant to sample some of its great food options. My favorite, to date, is the fresh Caribbean mahi (top), which is grilled with tasty jerk seasoning and a warm pineapple salsa that gives it a semi-spicy, slightly sweet flavor. The mahi is usually topped with two grilled shrimp, but I had to have (and photograph) it without the shrimp. Truly delicious. And, the side of grilled zucchini and squash ribbons also was tasty and healthy. Even PopStroke’s creamy hard-packed ice cream also is really good.

Borrego lamb shank from Azteca D’Oro

Hopefully opening within the next couple of months is Azteca D’Oro, the upscale Mexican place replacing Cantina Laredo at The Shops at Wiregrass. With a huge menu of options, including upscale entrées like the marinated Borrego lamb shank (left), Azteca D’Oro can’t open soon enough for me!

Speaking of Latin cuisine, owner Cindy Cruz says her Rice-n-Beans Express should only be a few weeks from opening on S.R. 54 in Lutz. Cindy says that those of us who enjoy the Puerto Rican-inspired sit-down dining at the Rice-n-Beans on Wesley Chapel Blvd. and those looking for quick, delicious sandwiches and hot food specials should be thrilled when her Express location opens.

And, despite the fact it should be several months before it opens, Shuckin’ Shack promises a menu focused on shrimp and oysters (neither of which I can eat). But, there will be plenty of other seafood and non-swimming options at the North Carolina-based, two-dozen-link chain’s newest location off of the WC Blvd. Extension, including some pretty great-looking snow crab legs (right) — which (at least, to date) I am able to eat. There also will be mahi-mahi bites, sandwiches, wings and other options to keep things interesting. 

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