Travel Channel heading to Tampa's Datz Deli

Published July 25 2012
Updated July 25 2012

TAMPA — The Travel Channel will be at the Datz Deli on Wednesday to film a segment for a show.

They are scheduled to visit the deli, 2616 S MacDill Ave., from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will be featured in the show, "Paradise," during an episode about meatloaf.

Datz has been known to attract local celebrities including Rays, Bucs and Bolts, as well as area politicians. From packed weekend brunches to a variety of tastings, Datz Tampa exudes a neighborhood atmosphere.

"It's a very comfortable place," says Heather Stalker, the classically trained chef who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and whose current job title is Datz's director of fun.

Entrepreneurs Roger and Suzanne Perry moved to Tampa from Ocala in 2007 and opened for business two years later.

The market's shelves are laden with items that range from natural peanut butter to oils, vinegars and other such delicacies. The menu is even more extensive, and Stalker says Datz's offerings are ever developing, pushing people to experiment beyond traditional bounds. There's cold-brew Kahwa coffee that drips through the coils of a giant siphon, and persons of means can sample a rare John Ramsay single-malt Scotch, $100 an ounce, $1,500 per bottle.

"We're rebranding a little bit and sourcing more items that are available in Florida. We have a lot of new exciting things. Our gelato is made locally, and we're in the process of sponsoring a hive so we can have locally made honey," Stalker says.

Tastings can run the gamut from food and wine to craft beers and boutique spirits.

"Part of our mission is to expand everybody's palate," Stalker says. "We do change our menus and our offerings. Some people get upset when their favorite thing is no longer on the menu." The staff routinely accommodates special requests, however. "We are independent. We are locally owned. We want to offer a whole mashup of various flavors and ideas."

Patrons regularly travel from as far as Miami and Orlando for the Datz experience, but those looking for a Tampa Bay replication of New York's Carnegie or Katz's delis may not have a full understanding of the culture at the Perrys' place.

"We're evolving more into a place for modern American comfort food and a gastropub atmosphere," Stalker says. "People do still think of us and the Havana Hottie, our very loose take on the Cuban sandwich." The exceedingly generous-sized Reuben is a favorite, as are the homemade potato chips. Meats are smoked on the premises.

The top sellers: Waffles n' Tweet, the Datz take on chicken and waffles; and Barry C's Meatloaf, stuffed with four-cheese macaroni and cheese and named for Tampa lawyer Barry Cohen, who visits often.

"When we added that to the menu, it shot up to No. 1," Stalker says.

Information from Times food critic Laura Reiley was included in this report.