SEFFNER — Olga Isaac describes her family as "food junkies."
Growing up in Puerto Rico, she enjoyed a variety of meals, from slow-cooked shredded beef and yucca to marinated conch and mofongo.
Isaac moved her family to Seffner in 2007 after leaving Puerto Rico in 1999. She brought with her a taste of the island, opening Latin Taste Cuisine, an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant, June 7.
"We're really into Puerto Rican food," Isaac said. "We hope a lot of people like it so we can make it grow for the kids to take over one day."
Isaac and her husband Fernando Pizarro, who designed and built the eatery at 1113 W Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., have three children who can all be seen at the restaurant on any given day.
Fernando Pizarro Jr., 19, is a chef in training at a Brandon hotel. Kelvin Pizarro, 18, just graduated from Armwood High School and plans to study business management at Hillsborough Community College, and Keysha Pizarro, 15, is in Armwood's culinary program.
"We just have a good time," said Keysha, who greets diners with a bubbly smile. "People say, 'Oh my gosh, this is delicious.' "
And then, Keysha said, those same people usually ask for the recipes, which the family guards like crown jewels.
Isaac's mother, Julia Perez, cooks many of the dishes, and her husband joins the family on Saturdays to mash green plantains with butter and garlic, to which a choice of meat (including shrimp, octopus and conch) is added for the mofongo weekly special.
Local diners who eat in will enjoy an extra dash of nostalgia knowing that the tables at Latin Taste Cuisine were salvaged from Brandon landmark Ben's Family Restaurant, then refurbished, after a May 19 fire.
The bistro offers a daily lunch special for $4.99 that includes a quarter chicken, white rice and a choice of beans. Extra sides are $1 more.
Open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Isaac also proudly offers breakfast that includes another secret family recipe for pancakes. Call (813) 658-8204 to place a takeout order.
Mall welcomes fries shop, soccer store
Jimmy's Seaside Fries opened at Westfield Brandon mall last month near JCPenney, as the new local mall kiosk franchise that began in Clearwater expanded to its second location. The concept came from three industry veterans, including Brad Bridges, founder and CEO of You Say When Yogurt Shoppe.
Jimmy's Seaside Fries invites patrons to top their fries or toss them in 13 signature styles. For the sweet tooth, try the funnel fries or funnel cake.
United World Soccer opened earlier this month at the mall as well. Just in time for the World Cup, the store features jerseys from many of the participating countries.
According to Dawn Arvidson, marketing director for Westfield, the mall also expects some new businesses and changes for July. Footlocker and Footlocker Kids are both undergoing remodeling and expansion, and the Footlocker Kids line is scheduled to offer more items.
Brandon Mall Dental will open near Sears in July, and Charley's Philly Steaks will open in the food court.
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