Episode 11 – Brocato's Sandwich Shop and Lakeland Shoutouts

Brocato's, Patio 850, Posto 9, 801 E Main

Show Notes

In Episode 11 we talk Cuban Sandwiches and Deliver Crab, two local Tampa Originals.

Get the best experience of both at Brocato’s Sandwich Shop, where you can watch them hand make the deviled crab.

And learn some great spots to eat in beautiful Lakeland Florida.

Transcript at the bottom of this page!

Brocato's Sandwich Shop

You can’t go wrong with either the Cuban Sandwich (pressed of course, we’re not heathens) or the Deviled Crab

5021 East Columbus Dr



The Brocatos Mobile App

Facebook Page!

Brocato's Sandwich Shop

Gros Michel Bananas were wiped out by the Panama Disease in the 50's. Isoamyl acetate is the compound that gives that "banana flavor", and is cheap and easy to produce. Banana Runts are the best Runts.


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Great Things Tampa Bay is hosted and produced by Kyle Sasser.

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(banjo music)
Kyle:  Hello and welcome to Great Things Tampa Bay.  The podcast about great eats, great places, and great people in the Greater Tampa Bay area.  I’m your host, KYLE SASSER, a Tampa Bay Realtor and all around friendly guy.
So, we’re going to be covering one of the oldest sandwich shops in the area over in Tampa.  The place is absolutely amazing.  A little quirky but that’s part of its charm.   I’d like to thank you for inviting us along on your commute to work or maybe you’re listening to us at home. I know Orphan Black; their last episode has aired.  So, you’ve got plenty of time to listen to us now. (soft laughter) and all of our previous episodes. Come talk to me on social media.  You can go to our website at greatthingstb.com and click on the Get Social link at the top of the website and there you’ll see links to all of our social profiles.  And you can also call and leave us a voicemail. That number is 727.440.4455.

So, ah, BROCATO’S SANDWICH SHOP, it’s an old-school place originally opened in 1948 over in Tampa. It’s located at 5021 East Columbus Drive in Tampa which is at the corner of I-4 and 56th Street. It’s a little funky whenever you get off I-4 there.  The roads kinda fly all over the place.  Basically, if you’re coming from downtown Tampa, the exit goes off to the left, and then you want to be in the right-hand lane to go under interstate, and then you’ll go straight.  And if you’re coming from Plant City, you want to take the exit ramp on the right, and then take a left to go under interstate.  So, it’s a little tricky to find cause they changed all the alignments of all the roads over the years.  But it’s definitely worth poking around to find this place!
So, Brocato’s is known for two main things…well, three main things.  One, they’re known for having one of the best Cuban Sandwiches in the area.  Honestly, they’re neck in neck with A.J.’s Press, which is…. it’s a newer place, out by Tampa’s Yankee Stadium, but we’re not talking about them today.  We’re talking about Brocato’s.  Brocato’s if you’re looking for a great Cuban Sandwich.  Everything’s fresh with big chunks of, you know, pork and all that other good stuff in there.  Tomatoes, lettuce, you know, bread, it’s all…it’s all amazing.  It’s an amazing Cuban Sandwich!  Do yourself a favor and go check it out.

And the other thing they’re known for is Deviled Crab.  And the best way to describe it is it’s out of this world!  You know the Cuban Sandwich thing is debatable, you know, it’s kinda even, kinda neck in neck with A.J.’s and Brocato’s.  But the Deviled Crab…Brocato’s has it locked down!

The third thing Brocato’s is known for is for being an absolute madhouse.  So, the place is built in 1948, you know.  So it has the green vinyl floors.  Looks like it was probably original.  And absolutely no order or anything.  You basically went inside and you know there’s like a hundred and fifty people there trying to make their way up to the cash register to put their order in.  And then, you know, the order people are putting sandwiches together and yelling out names.  The soda machine on the back wall.  People are trying to get over there to get their sodas. You know, there’s a few tables in the dining room there. (laughter) You know some people were trying to sit in the midst of this madness.

So it was a bit of an experience every time you went there and tried to get a sandwich.  Similar places I’ve seen there used to be an old show with David Attell called Insomniac or you know some of the Anthony Bourdain shows.  Where the places he goes are just packed with people, and madness, and loud, and packed, and craziness.  So, this used to be on that level, and on a slow day you’ll be in there with only twenty or thirty people.

Nowadays, they have definitely changed things up quite a bit.  There’s some structure whenever you come in.  They have the Tensabarriers like the…you know…the things you see at the banks to kinda corral you, put the sandwich order in and then you go by the guys who are putting the sandwiches together.  You know they still call the names out so it still has that bit of the charm, but it makes a lot more sense, and not as off putting to newcomers I guess you could say.
And the brand and marketing stuff, they’ve actually picked up as well.  It used to be like really homespun stuff, but nowadays they have their name on the foam cups that you get your drinks in and lots of cool stuff.  And it’s…it’s really cool to see the transition that they’ve made recently.

They also have recently built... some outdoors eating areas and don’t worry these are shaded. Yea, you’re not going to sit out there and bake.  The tables are actually positioned in front of where they make the Deviled Crab by hand so…you know…you can watch that.  Watch the masters at work!  And even if you don’t like Deviled Crab, like I like it but I’m not like a huge fan of it, if I see it anywhere else, the Deviled Crab is so good at Brocata’s that it basically ruins it for every other restaurant in the area.  You can’t even attempt to eat it at another restaurant because you’ve had the best.  And also, the best thing you can do is throw some Texas Pete on it.  That hot sauce definitely takes it…you know…to another level!
Other interesting thing about Brocato’s, all the sandwiches and Deviled Crabs also come with a drink.  Including an eight ounce of beer. (laughter) Which is kinda cool!  Fun thing to swing by on lunch break.  And it also comes with some chips, which has always been the case, but it was a little tough trying to find the chips the last time I was there.  Just a little pro tip:  They are in the trash cans lined up against the wall. They’re just piled full of bags of potato chips.  So, just kinda go buy there and see the...you know pick out the ones you like.

And keeping in line with their updates and branding and marketing and all that stuff, you can also now order online. And they also have a mobile app.   So, you don’t have to go there and try to fight through all that.  You can put your order in, and then just show up, pick it up.  Pretty Awesome!
So, Brocato’s been there since 1948.  They originally started as a grocery store.  Then they moved to a meat market, and then really hit their stride as a sandwich shop.  You know most people in Tampa that have been there love it.  Honestly, you can usually just show the picture of the inside and a bunch of people will recognize it and tell ya how much they love it. So, keep up the good work bros…. Brocato’s.  (soft laughter)

Kyle:  Naf!  The wife is shaking her head at me right now.


A little personal story.  You know I did spend quite a time in my younger days in Lakeland and Winter Haven.  I went to high school over there.  First part of my young professional life, I was over there doing computer work and all that good stuff.  I hadn’t really been back there in probably fifteen, twenty years and I had the chance to go back recently for a high school reunion that had a number that I really don’t want to say out loud.  but we had a chance to go to some of the restaurants over there.  And honestly, I just want to acknowledge Lakeland and, you know, the improvements that they had been making culinarily and just give a shout out to a few of the great restaurants over there.  And also, the other weird thing about all these Lakeland restaurants, they really have a thing for putting numbers in their business names.   You know, just kinda a thing they do over there.
So, first up, PATIO 850.  It’s on South Tennessee Avenue, kinda close to Florida Southern. So, if you’re going to Florida Southern to check out the architecture and all that good stuff, take a stop by Patio 850.  It is primarily outdoor seating, so kinda keep that in mind if the temperatures high.  But the food is absolutely worth it!  Absolutely worth stopping by there! And that whole section there, they’ve actually redone quite a few of the buildings which was very cool to see.

Next up is POST 09, which is at 215 East Main Street.  Gotten lots of recommendations from different people in Lakeland.  So, definitely a place to check out.  And last but not least, is 801 EAST MAIN which is both the address and apparently, the name of the place.  Like I said they really have a thing for numbers in their business names.   This place, I believe from my understanding, is a combination of few different restaurants, POOR PORKER, BAR CALEXICO, BEARCAT and BIG 6.
The wife and I, we’re going to be heading out there sometime in the next few weeks just to check out the school and what sort of architectural updates they’ve made.  I know they’ve built some new buildings there at Florida Southern.  For those of you that do not know, it’s the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world.  Ah...definitely worth the pilgrimage.  But, yea, it’s always good to have some great places to go eat when you’re out there.


Kyle:  Honestly, the biggest thing that’s going on with us currently is we’re getting ready to head to our Eclipse Vacation up in Georgia.  Those of you who do not know, there’s a total solar eclipse on August 21st.   So, down here in Florida is actually going to only be a partial eclipse.  And please, protect yourself, because even though it’s gonna be an eclipse, if you look directly at the sun it’s going to burn your eyes out.  Even down here in Florida make sure that you have some sort of, you know, certified protections for that.  So, we actually heading up to North Georgia, gonna be taking in the eclipse.  We’re hoping for good weather.  Should be fun.  We’re pretty excited, right?

Abbie:  Very excited!

Kyle: Yea, that’s the… that’s the seal of approval…(laughing)…being…being yelled in the background there.   So, other than that, you know, just working and doing things.  Doing the podcasts.  I have been attending some of the Tampa Podcaster Association meeting which is very cool.  They’re actually putting out a movie called, The Messenger on iTunes.  So, if you’re interested in podcasting at all, in kinda like what it’s all about, or what it takes.  Be sure to check that out.  They’re doing pretty well.  They’ve been doing some presales.  From my understanding for actual release date, it’s currently at number one just from presales and that’s, not just in the Documentary Category.  That’s against all the big Hollywood stuff as well.  So pretty exciting!  And, you know hopefully I’ll have some additional updates for that soon as well.


Have you ever wondered why Banana Candy doesn’t taste like bananas?  There used to be another type of banana.  It was called the Gros Michel and it was very widespread and popular up until 1950.  And this was pretty much the banana that everybody ate.  Unfortunately, every Gros Michel banana plant was genetically identical.  They basically, you know, kinda spliced plants together.  Like they’d take a cutting, you know, tie it to another plant to grow.  So, genetically they were all identical which makes them very susceptible to disease.

Eventually, the Panama disease, which is a fungus, rapidly tore through all the banana plantations and wiped it out.  Now it is available in a few select regions in the world.  From what I read, Thailand, few other Asian places.  But so far as a commercially viable banana, it’s days were done.

Eventually, a new banana was developed, the Cavendish, which is the one we love today!  But again you know they’re all clones so the exact same thing could happen again.  Luckily, it’s a little more resistant to the Panama disease, fungus, that, you know, wiped out the Gros Michel.  But there have been reports of the fungus, you know, taking hold a little bit.

Anyway, that little, bit of history aside…. back to the artificial candy flavor.  So, the primary component in the taste of a banana is, and I’m probably going to murder this, but it’s isoamyl acetate.  And that’s the primary flavor compound.  This compound was originally isolated a little over a hundred years ago.  One of the main differences between the Gros Michel and the Cavendish, which is the one we have now, is that the Gros Michel had a higher concentration of this compound.  So, many people believe that the artificial flavor more closely resembles the Gros Michel.  But it’s not a hundred percent match, of course.  Ah, you know, there’s a lot of sugars and, you know complex things.  You know taste is a very, very funky thing.
But there you go, if you want to boil down to like a ten second thing that you can argue with your friend about.  You can just say “Dude, the reason banana candy doesn’t taste like real bananas is because it’s based on another banana that was wiped out before we got the bananas we got now. So there! “(laughter)

So, I want to thank you for sharing Great Things Tampa Bay with your friends and family.  It’s with your support that we’re having the great success that we’ve had.  And if you have not shared us yet, I’d like to challenge you to share us with just one friend.  Just that one friend that for some reason has something with a banana print.  Maybe a cell phone case, tee shirt.  Maybe they have, you know, banana underwear.  I don’t know, whatever.   So, that person, tell them that there’s a banana podcast out there for them.  (laughter)
Looking for your own great place in Tampa Bay?  I’m also a licensed realtor.  You can give me a call at 727-300-2111 or you can send me an email at kyle@sassergroup.com.  That’s k-y-l-e@s-a-s-s-e-r-g-r-o-u-p.com and I’d be happy to help you find the perfect home or condominium for you here in Tampa Bay.
If you would like to tell us how awesome, or how horrible we are, you can go to our website, greatthingstb.com.  That’s g-r-e-a-t-t-h-i-n-g-s-t-b.com and click the Get Social link at the top of the website there on the menu bar.  You can also join our discussion group which is going really well.  We’ve got over five hundred people in there. People asking for recommendations, giving experiences, all that good stuff.  I know this week we also had, a little, health code notice that was put out there.   So, you might wanna, log on there and see which restaurant not doing so well.
Also, you can always call and leave us a vmail review or suggestion.  That number is 727-440-4455.  You consent to us using your question, of course, but I promise I will not answer it.  You will not have to speak to a person there.   You can also subscribe to us on iTunes or Google play.  Thanks for listening and see you next time!

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