Tampa night owls will be going hungry. Longtime Ybor City late-night spot Mema's Alaskan Tacos, at 1724 E Eighth Ave., has closed its doors. Call the phone number and a recorded voice announces that Mema's is no longer in business, and a sign on the door attributes it to "the dramatic downturn in the economy and rising food and utility costs." An anomaly in Tampa, it sold 50 kinds of beer and housemade sangria along with its Alaskan tacos until the wee hours — 3 a.m. on weekends.
What's an Alaskan taco? Meat (a white fish, chorizo, maybe salmon or even Florida alligator) and shell fried together, a trick the owner's grandmother, Mema, learned while living in Alaska in the 1950s. A funky taco shack that opened in 2004, Mema's will be missed.
More Ybor restaurant news
Eric and Shere Schiller, owners of Gaspar's Grotto (1805 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City), have acquired the small patio next door, which opens this week as the Sandbar. It will be open daily at the corner of 18th and Seventh, with a fun, tropical vibe.
Lunch in Carrollwood
The newly opened Carmel Café & Wine Bar in Carrollwood begins offering lunch Tuesdays through Fridays starting Nov. 1. With everything priced under $10, it's a Mediterranean menu of sandwiches, salads and flatbreads, and guests can use the restaurant's iPads to expedite orders. The restaurant is at 14306 N Dale Mabry Highway in Landmark Plaza. For more information, visit carmelcafe.com.
New in Clearwater
Sister restaurant to Flamestone American Grill in Oldsmar, Besa Grill opened on Monday at 2542 N McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater. The menu is contemporary Mexican, with a full line of tequilas and margaritas as well as a range of guacamoles and ceviches.