Love's Artifacts Bar and Grill brings a much-needed bit of comfort to South Tampa

As I sit down at the table, I can't help but reach out and, well, play with the table decorations. There's a gleaming yellow lemon sitting next to a massive carrot — the kind of thing you only seem to find at farmers' markets these days — sitting atop a mismatched tablecloth and doily set. Stacked at the far end of the table are three books that look like they came from a decorator's warehouse, kinda fancy, kinda old, kinda not the types of books anyone would actually read. One is actually in German.

Combine all that with the mismatched furniture in a dining room and bar that's essentially a warren of small spaces decorated with auto memorabilia and a slew of antiques and kitsch, and you have a restaurant that's instantly comforting and homey. It feels like the place has been here forever — instead of just a couple of months — and it matches the food perfectly.

Love's menu is just as much a mishmash of styles, with elements of Southern home cooking, barbecue, Florida coastal cuisine and the occasional fine-dining flourish. At its best the food is better than your momma's. At its worst the food is still hearty and filling. Not bad for a restaurant that used to be a used car lot.