The appeal of TV serials like Cheers, Friends and Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is having a tight group of buddies who are willing to exalt in your victories, commiserate in your setbacks, and, of course give you a rousting birthday celebration every year.
Lacking a favorite watering hole and posse of pals, where can you go to pick up a little cheer on your birthday?
A few restaurateurs value your big day and offer you an entrée (you may need to register ahead). With the economy faltering, even a free dreamy dessert, works as a treat. Just remember to BYOL (bring your own license).
- Free Buffet: The Crazy Buffet in Tampa will make you go a little nutty sampling a little bit of everything. Some 50 varieties of sushi, snow crab, shrimp and other seafood, stir fries, steak, barbecue, and more, meet at the self-serve extravaganza. Expect Japanese, Chinese and other multi-cultural choices and there is a Hibachi Grill where the cooks will prepare food to order. Bring a guest and the one born that day gets to eat free.
Crazy Buffet; 2702 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL
- Free Steak: The menu serves some big boy rib eyes and porterhouses and choice wahoo, cobia and black grouper. There’s gator for an appetizer, too.
Texas Cattle Company; 2600 34th St. N; St. Petersburg, FL
- Free Entrée: The Philly cheese steak omelet, lobster bruschetta or almond joy crepes are a find. Get a free meal if you’re registered for the breakfast club or a Chocó-berry crepe, even if you are not.
Brunchies; 14366 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.; Tampa, FL
- $15 Coupon: A versatile mix of ocean and Orient meet at this fun restaurant tucked in Whaley’s Plaza where the birthday celebrant gets a $15 credit toward dinner.
Koto Japanese Steak House & Asian Food; 533 S. Howard Ave.; Tampa, FL
- Free Sub Sandwich: Firehouse Subs offers a 12-inch sub at the flash of a driver’s license. A signature style of Firehouse is its steamed sandwiches so be warned if a cold sub is what you crave, you have to alert them.
Several Bay area locations
- Free Chocolate Toffee Torte or Tiramisu: The wood fired pizza at Bella’s is terrific and so are the pastas.
Bella’s Italian Café; 1413 S. Howard Ave.; Tampa, FL
- Free Sundae: Wish it were a free hand-cut sirloin, prime rib, pork chop or a juicy burger but it is ice cream.
2055 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL; (813) 879-4676
2110 E Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL; (813) 971-5300
8314 Citrus Park Dr. ; Tampa, FL; (813) 926-7803
- Free dessert: CPK’s pizzas are many but the flurry of flavors from pecorino Romano, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, sautéed garlic and spinach on the white pizza wins me over every time.
California Pizza Kitchen; 2223 N. Westshore Blvd.; Tampa, FL
- Free chocolate mousse cake or red velvet cake: St. Petersburg’s Café Alma has a loyal fan base for its Mediterranean cuisine in this comfortable, friendly restaurant. (Thursday has a $22 prix fixe choice.)
Café Alma; 260 First Ave. S.; St. Petersburg, FL
- Free Chocolate Tart: Chef Chris Ponte consistently wows us with his seafood and meats and his menu changes regularly, always in a positive way.
13505 Icot Blvd.; Clearwater, FL
- Free Brownie: ‘Nuff said.
Cantina Laredo, The Shops at Wiregrass; 2000 Piazza Ave., Wesley Chapel, FL
- Free Sundae:
Outback Steakhouse, 3403 Henderson Blvd., Tampa. FL (813) 875-4329
11950 Sheldon Rd., Tampa, FL; (813) 920-3100
11618 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.; Tampa, FL; (813) 969-4329