Ask The Locals: Evan Longoria

click to enlarge Ask The Locals: Evan Longoria - HEIDI KURPIELA
heidi kurpiela
Ask The Locals: Evan Longoria

The Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria is regarded as one of the best third basemen in Major League Baseball. Drafted nine years ago by the Rays, the 29-year-old “Longo” is the longest tenured player currently on the team. In 2012, he signed an unprecedented six-year $100-million contract, reinforcing his mug as the face of the franchise.

Longoria was named 2008 American League Rookie of the Year following an electrifying season that spurred thousands of Rays fans to sport blue Mohawks and ended in a trip to the World Series — the first in franchise history.

In 2013, Longoria took a crack at restaurant ownership, opening Ducky’s Sports Lounge on Kennedy Boulevard in South Tampa. The boutique eatery features four lanes of mini bowling, a small, stripped-down version of regular bowling that sets Ducky’s apart from other celebrity-fronted restaurant ventures.

Longoria lives on Snell Isle in St. Petersburg with his fiancée Jaime Edmondson and their two children, two-year-old Elle and nine-month-old Nash. When he’s not hitting home runs at the Trop, you can catch him fueling up on beans and rice at Taco Bus, Red Mesa or Casita Taqueria.

“My daughter loves spicy food,” he says. “Jaime took her to Bodega the other day and she was like, ‘This isn’t Mexican food.’ The kid knows what she wants.”

His favorite breakfast of champions: The breakfast burrito at BANYAN CAFE. “It’s eggs, spinach and bacon. I love loading it with condiments like sriracha and homemade salsa. My daughter is just as crazy for the spicy stuff. She always asks for a ‘little dip dip’ of my hot sauce.”

The place you’d least expect to see him: SUNCOAST DANCE & MUSIC ACADEMY. “Some of the best quality time I spend with my daughter is before and after her dance classes. I usually pick a place where we can sit and eat for a while and then I’ll take her to class. She loves to dance.”

The secret to his physique: The California Salad at DUCKY'S. “It’s healthy, but it doesn’t taste like it. It’s got a good mix of things in it — cranberries, kale, cabbage, cheese and bacon. Who doesn’t like bacon?”

His favorite fast food craving: PDQ. “Maybe if I mention it here, maybe we can make it happen. I’d love to see PDQ [at the Trop]. If we could add PDQ to our concessions, I’d be eating it on the field. I order the turkey sandwich and sub in grilled chicken for turkey. I mostly do the drive-thru.”

Where he plans his play dates: CRESCENT LAKE PARK. “It’s just about space and shade. We have a little park by us, but it’s never busy enough. Kids like to play with other kids, so we tend to look for the places where more kids congregate.”

His favorite place to fly under the radar: THE DUBLINER IRISH PUB. “I’m a hole-in-the-wall kind of guy. I’ll go to a local dive before I’ll hit up some huge place. I’ve made friends with a couple of the servers over there. It’s an easy place to hang out, get a table, listen to some live music and not get bothered.”

Where he spoils his lady: THE DON CESAR. “If I feel like she needs a little pampering, I’ll get her a day at the Don CeSar. There’s the beach, the pool and a rooftop spa. It’s a nice facility.”

Local man crush: STEVEN STAMKOS [team captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning]. “Stamkos has been as good as they come for a long time. I have two of his jerseys and I wear them to the games.”

His favorite brewmeister: Doug Dozark at CYCLE BREWING. “He’s really good at what he does. I can’t imagine he’s not outgrowing that space on Central Avenue. Anytime you run a small operation you really see where the passion and inspiration comes from.”

Best bang for his buck: BERN’S STEAK HOUSE. “I think Bern’s has this assumed expensive reputation. If you think about it, for a place of that caliber, it’s really not that bad. You can get a steak and one side and split it with a friend and walk away very happy for $65. The service is impeccable and the experience is first class.”

Favorite local singer/songwriter: DANIEL B. MARSHALL. “His music has a folky, bluesy country influence. He has a James Taylor feel. A lot of times we’d catch him at the Dubliner. We’d request songs and he’d do these great covers.”

Best ballpark makeover: BELMONT HEIGHTS LITTLE LEAGUE FIELDS in Tampa. “A couple years ago, I partnered with Red Bull to renovate Little League fields in Tampa Bay. I was blown away when I went to the presentation and saw the before pictures. These kids have new grass, new batting cages, new everything –– all the stuff we take for granted as professional ball players.”

Favorite local charity: THE MOFFITT CANCER CENTER and THE TEAL RECOVERY PROJECT. “My involvement in Moffitt took off when our friend [Rena Carideo] was diagnosed with cervical cancer a few years ago. She was going to Moffitt for treatment when she started her own nonprofit foundation, [The Teal Recovery Project] which each year benefits a woman diagnosed with cervical cancer.”

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