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Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month returns August 27th

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Those looking to visit new restaurants in Orlando can enjoy deals soon during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. It kicks off on Friday, August 27th and runs until October 3rd. More than 80 of Orlando’s fine dining restaurants will offer a $ 37 three-course, prix-fixe dinner menu during the dining promotion.

On the list is Spanish restaurant JALEO at Disney Springs by Chef José Andrés. Course options include Traditional Pan con Tomate y Queso Manchego, Setas al Ajillo, Patatas Bravas, Gambas al Ajillo, Paella del Dia, Flan al Estilo Tradicional, and more. It is the biggest of the JALEO concepts by the chef.

Also of interest is The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park run by James Beard-nominated Chefs James and Julie Petrakis. Options for order include Chilled Gazpacho, Cape Canaveral White Shrimp & Grits, Mushroom & Gruyere Beignets, and Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta.

The Venetian Chop House

“Now in its 16th year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining continues to evolve with new features to make it easier for diners to research restaurant options, share plans and recommendations with others and even create a weekend getaway,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO for Visit Orlando. 

“Magical Dining is an important program for our community because of both the money raised for charitable organizations and the support it provides to our local restaurants, who are still working hard to recover from a challenging year.” 

Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar

La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is on the list with Napa Valley chef and restaurateur Donna Scala at the helm. The restaurant offers a mixture of traditional Italian and California new age cuisine. Options include Mafaldine Alla Lina which features porcini and pork ragu, tomato, reggiano, Risotto with sautéed shrimp, sweet peppers, English peas, melted leeks, and truffle cheese, and Butterscotch Pudding paired with house-made toffee.

New restaurants participating in 2021 include 310 Lakeside, 310 Park South, Adega Gaucha, Aurora at the Celeste, Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe and RusTeak at Thornton Park.

Visitors and locals can also enjoy special discounts at local hotels during Magical Dining Month with more than a dozen hotels participating. 

The new website built for this year’s dining month features a new tool for diners to “favorite” must-try restaurants and view a customized map with their selections. Diners can also share their list with friends, making it easier than ever to create a Magical Dining game plan.

Participating restaurants also have the chance to add a bonus Magical Dining menu option that is not offered on the regular menu in effort to offer more creative freedom beyond a prix-fixe menu.

If you’re looking to try a new place, there are plenty to choose from this year for Magical Dining Month.

Carlos Eats

August 25, 2021 |

NEWS: “Love Reimagined” dining pop-up coming to Tampa just in time for Valentine’s 2020

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There’s a new installment in an experiential dining series called “The Rooted Door” is coming to Tampa called “LOVE Reimagined”. It aims to be “a fully immersive pop-up that will inspire guests to celebrate the Art of LOVE”.

The pop-up will occur from Tuesday, February 11th to Saturday, Feburary 15th, 2020 (5 nights), just in time for Valentine’s Day week 2020.

The pop-up will occur at Red Door No. 5, in Tampa Heights at 1910 North Florida Avenue. Red Door is one of Tampa’s new destinations for culture and the arts. Originally constructed in 1925 and then was decommissioned as an active fire station in 1986. The building has since been restored.

Popular local chefs, Chef Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster & the Till and Chef Noel Cruz of Ichicoro Ramen, will headline the pop-up. Alvarez and Cruz have opened numerous projects recently around the city and are active participants in local initiatives in Tampa Bay. Chef Ferrell Alvarez is a James-Beard Award nominee.

Guests at the pop-up will walk through different spaces which unveil imaginative cuisine, cocktails, visual and performing arts and take them on a journey of the senses as the space transforms with each course.  Comfortable footwear is recommended.

The pop-up will last approximately 2 hours and reservation times include 6:30PM, 7:30PM, 8:30PM, and 9:30PM. Tickets start at $ 160 and are now on-sale.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Charlie Hounchell Art Stars Scholarship Award through Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts (TBBCA) to continue nurturing Tampa’s flourishing creative scene and support future creators in the community.

TBBCA has annually awarded six or more scholarships to some of the most talented and deserving Tampa Bay area high school students, providing valuable financial assistance since 2008.

Tickets can be purchased online on Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/love-reimagined-presented-by-the-rooted-door-tickets-85750005575

“Love Reimagined” is being organized by PASK Productions, “an experiential event marketing and branding agency delivers premium services to high-end clientele across the country.”

Their collaborations with brands include Hennessy Cognac, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin, Cirque du Soleil, CORZO Tequila , L’OREAL Paris, DUSSE Cognac, OXLEY Gin, ULTRA Music Festival, National Young Arts Foundation, Art Basel, and Beats by Dre among others.

Carlos Eats

December 18, 2019 |

Dining Guide: Great local restaurants to eat at in Brandon

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Full disclosure: I have performed sponsored work for Kiwami Ramen Sushi. These opinions on this list are strictly my own and do not represent any sponsors or paid work.

Brandon has been transforming over the years from a quiet suburban town to a busy place with tons of apartment complexes and subdivisions rising around the area. There is now a Top Golf, Dave and Buster’s, and the Westfield Brandon Towncenter has exploded with traffic. People are moving south to Riverview and East to Valrico. The new Riverview GDX and Xscape Riverview theaters further prove the population growth of this area.

Many people complain that there are not local options in Brandon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll find a wide-variety of food from a variety of cuisines around the area, if you know where to look. Most places will run you around $ 10-20 per person for a meal. The options continue to grow, here is a list of some of my recommendations.

Allegria Italiana: Your old school Italian eatery with white table covers and a romantic vibe, Allegria Italiana has a great variety of gourmet Italian food that is better than many places around the bay. The servers have been friendly on my visits and prices are about what you would expect for this kind of concept. Everything from the appetizers and pasta to dessert is great. $ $ 518 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 651-1166 allegriaitaliana.com

La Cubanita: Great Cuban sandwiches and steak sandwiches. You can’t really go wrong with their cafe con leche and a sandwich. They also have great deals on platters of food and have specials daily. There are many places around Brandon with sandwiches and coffee, but this is one of the best. They serve La Segunda bread which is of course the best. $ 723 W. Lumsden Rd., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 661-2253. 

Kiwami Ramen and Sushi: Newcomer serving quality, gourmet ramen and sushi. The perfect marriage no matter what your mood is. Prices are fair and far less than the options in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Lunch specials on weekdays and happy hour deals make Kiwami and even better choice. The rolls are different from you’ll find in most places in Tampa. 10262 Causeway Blvd., Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 393-0683. kiwamiramensushi.com

Ploy Thai: Ploy Thai has been serving Thai food for over a decade on State Road 60. The restaurant has changed and evolved over the year from more of a sushi concept and then back into a more Thai-focused restaurant. The menu is large and they have transitioned more into a finer dining concept. $ $ 1941 W. Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 684-5007.

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Sushi Kampai: If you like some simple rolls or great deals, Sushi Kampai is for you. The rolls are affordable and they also have lunch combos and bento boxes. You’ll find some Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food options on the menu as well. Service can be slow when they get busy so plan ahead. They also offer delivery and take-out if you’re feeling lazy. $ 10312 Bloomingdale Ave. #111, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 620-3717.

Taste of Berlin: This German eatery is owned by some German expats and has a great schnitzel. Most items on the menu are made from scratch down to the sauces. The German beer selection isn’t quite as expansive as Mr. Dunderbak’s in Tampa, but there are some decent options on the menu for those looking to wash down their food. The owners regularly host events here especially for Oktoberfest. $ $ 526 Oakfield Dr, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 685-9392.

LC’s Cafe and Supper Club: LC’s Cafe is a nice little spot for a lite breakfast or brunch. They have some Cuban food options and also some breakfast options. It isn’t anything fancy, but the decor feels like home and it is a great place to go and catch up with someone. It is a family-owned small business. $ $ 1602 Oakfield Dr #103, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 526-9395.

Shrimp Boat: If you love seafood, you will love Shrimp Boat. This busy local restaurant on Bloomingdale serves quality seafood dishes and even their regular American dishes scream quality. It gets very busy, but there is usually some space in the bar area. They have happy hour deals and specials regularly and you also cannot go wrong with their soups. $ $ 1020 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, FL 33596. (813) 571-5858. shrimpboatgrille.com

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❤❤❤☺

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Green Island Frozen Yogurt & Tea Bar: Green Island has been around for over a decade if I’m not mistaken. They were one of the first boba shops and frozen yogurt shops to open in Tampa Bay. It’s a nice option if you’re on State Road 60 and heading to the nearby M.D. Oriental Market. Their bubble tea isn’t my favorite, but their Thai tea is pretty good and so is the coconut smoothie or watermelon smoothie (when available). $ 10047 E. Adamo Dr, Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 374-9006. 

Smokin Pig BBQ: Smokin Pig serves some great barbeque options and has plenty of space inside for those who want to dine-in. They have family deals as well as specials and combos. My favorite thing here is their Mac and Cheese, it is incredibly cheesy and delicious. Their brisket tastes great and I like their corn bread. $ $ 3834 US-301, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 512-2500 smokinpig.com

Chicago’s Best Burgers: If you want some truly amazing burgers do not miss Chicago’s Best. They maintain a low profile online, but they serve one of the best burgers I have enjoyed in Tampa Bay. You’ll spend a little more than some other shops, but the taste is well worth it. I highly recommend it. $ $  1925 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 654-3232.

 

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Carlos Eats

August 27, 2019 |

Dining Guide: 3 vegan eats that don’t break the bank in Tampa Bay

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This post comes from Deborah Bostock-Kelley. Deborah is a food writer and is going to highlight some great vegan and gluten-free eats for us. I am asked all the time about vegan food, but it isn’t my specialty so I am very excited to have her writing for us.

It’s hard enough to find restaurants when you are following a gluten-free lifestyle, but throw meat, dairy and egg-free into the mix and you would think your eating-out meal options would be limited to salad, salad and, yes, more salad.

For most chain restaurants, that option is sadly true, but surprisingly in Tampa Bay, individually-owned gems are making healthy living – vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – more mainstream, affordable, and available to an appreciative public.

With the help of the Now Find Me Gluten-Free, Happy Cow, and Vanilla Bean Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant-finder apps, my husband and I have been able to navigate this lifestyle to find several delicious options on the weekends through restaurants that can accommodate.

3 vegan eats to start your trip around Tampa Bay

Here are the first three restaurants to dip your toe into the animal-products-free lifestyle:

1. Thai Legacy

Photos via @michaelsalamey

First and foremost, the family-owned Thai Legacy, is hands-down the best Thai Restaurant for vegan options. Open for just two years in February, from the complimentary puffed shrimp toast with chili dipping sauce to an every-visit order of the huge bowl of lemony Tom Yum Soup, (family-sized because we love the leftovers) to the Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles or scratch-made red and green curries ranging from mild to I-can’t-feel-my-face hot, the separate Vegan menu offers nearly 30 different options – appetizers, soups, fried rice, noodles, curries, specialty meals and desserts.

Our favorite, Veggie Pad Thai, is incredibly flavorful stir-fried rice noodles with diced tofu, sweet radish, beansprouts, and crushed peanuts. It’s cooked in a mouth-watering, homemade, vegan Pad Thai sauce. Owner Preeda Saeiab always make you feel welcome and her chef, son Perry makes sure you leave with your belly full and taste buds happy. 120 North Parsons Avenue Brandon, FL 33510. (813) 685-8005. thailegacyrestaurant.com

2. Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a staple to the vegan community on the USF college side of town. Every menu item is affordable as the founder wants healthy vegan food accessible for everyone. We visit for their monthly buffet (usually the first Saturday of the month) featuring soups, salads, summer rolls, spring rolls, pasta dishes, sandwiches, veggie dishes and desserts that are always changing.

The restaurant features appetizers, salads, vegan chick’n wings, shrimpless shrimp and fishless fish, as well salads, burrito wraps, sandwiches with staples like French fries and vegan mozzarella sticks. While my husband gravitates to the sandwiches and wraps, as the soy substitute is not gluten-free, I enjoy the spring rolls and creamy potato kale soup with vegan cream cheese or the delectable Beyond Meat Burger without the bun. The large menu can please even the most finnicky of palettes. 1905 East Fletcher Avenue Tampa, Florida. (813) 977-7888. lovinghut.us/tampa/

3. Rawk Star Café

At Rawk Star Café it may seem odd that a restaurant would not have an oven, but it makes sense when you realize everything you eat there is raw. If you are what you eat, you are super healthy raw vegetables masquerading as burgers, pizza, spaghetti, and chili and you taste incredible.

Peanut, wheat/gluten, and soy-free, Rawk Star Café serves only organic, raw, and living vegan cuisine. From powerhouse smoothies, Mother Kombucha on tap, Bulletproof Coffee, eggless egg salad, collard leaf wraps, and salads to Rawghetti, a Raw Burger, Raw Pizza, a Raw Chili plate, and many types of raw desserts and sweets, there is something to tempt even the strongest meat-atarian.

My absolute favorite, the Raw Chili plate, is loaded with fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, carrots, celery, shiitake mushroom, red bell pepper, and jalapeno and cayenne for heat. It’s served over a bed of thinly chopped zucchini, and then topped with a macadamia nut “sour cream,” fresh tomatoes, and house-blended Prama Sprinkle. Despite normal, non-supersized portions, you do not leave Rawk Star Café still feeling hungry. The high nutrient food leaves you feeling full longer. 4011 Tampa Road Oldsmar, FL. (813) 855-0007 rawkstarcafe.com

Next time, we’ll visit Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, Ray’s Vegan Soul, and Halelife Bakery.

About Deborah: Deborah Bostock-Kelley is a busy restaurant reviewer, Broadway World theatre critic, playwright, producer, director, actress, children and young adult author, reporter for Groove Magazine, Seedling Magazine UK and Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles Magazine, and owner of The WriteOne Creative Services, a graphic design, web design, and copywriting company. As the philanthropic side of her company, she founded Life Amplified variety showcase in 2013 to give back to her community and was recognized in February 2016 as Bay News 9’s Every Day Hero and in May 2014 as FoxTV’s Hometown Hero. Life Amplified CONNECTIONS Broadway Tunes for Project No Labels is at Stageworks in June 2019 is her 13th showcase. Winning a 2017 Theatre Tampa Bay Jeff Norton Dream Grant, in January 2018 she wrote and produced the 2018 Broadway World award-winning (Best Actor & Best Actress) production, A Necessary Conversation (with Peter Nason) about bullying/gun violence/mental health with a community talkback at the Straz with proceeds going to Moms Demand Action, Tampa Chapter. The show has been expanded and she is directing later in 2019. Her one act plays have been performed in competition at Carrollwood Players, Tarpon Arts and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival. She also runs a blog about her gluten-free and vegan journey. www.dkvk.fun.

Carlos Eats

February 20, 2019 |

Dining Guide: Valentine’s Day 2019 in San Francisco

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Valentine’s Day is the second-busiest day in the year for restaurants after Mother’s Day.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spent $ 143.56 on Valentine’s Day just two years ago and that number keeps increasing every year with nearly $ 4 billion spent annually on an evening out. There are dozens if not hundreds of event around San Francisco Bay Area for Valentine’s Day 2019.

Here are Valentine’s Day events happening around San Francisco that I think are worth checking out, in case you’re still looking for plans:

  • Valentine’s Day at Le Colonial: Enjoy an a la carte menu with a number of specials and also a 4-course prix-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day for $ 85 (excludes tax and gratuity) from 5:30PM to 11:30PM (last reservation at 10:45PM). Choices include Lemongrass Chicken Two Ways, Grilled Halibut, Roasted Duck Breast, or Grilled Filet Mignon ($ 10 up-charge). Live music will be provided by Mark Robinson’s jazz trio from 7PM to 10PM. 20 Cosmo Place San Francisco, CA 94109. (415) 931-3600 lecolonialsf.com
  • Valentine’s Day Tasting Menu at ROOH!: Feeling like Indian? Me too. ROOH! will have a special tasting menu to enjoy for the occasion with many items including Chickpea Cake, Duck Sheek Kebab, Double Baked Soufflé , Tandoori Cauliflower, and more. Reservations can be made online. 333 Brannan St #150, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 525-4174 roohsf.com
  • Night of The Thousand Candles at La Mar SF: Enjoy Valentine’s Day at La Mar SF with their thousand candle celebration and their 3-course prix-course meal for $ 85 per person. Some menu items include seasonal Dungeness crab, Diver Scallops, and Chocolate Mousse. Pier 1 1/2 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105. (415) 397-8880. lamarsf.com
  • Valentine’s Day at Alexander’s Steakhouse: Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like a steakhouse. Alexander’s will be open from 5:30PM to 9:30PM on Valentine’s Day and have a $ 149 (tax and gratuity not included) multi-course prix-fixe menu featuring shared dishes and top-quality beef. Diners can add a wine pairing for an additional $ 69. Guests will receive a complimentary glass of sparkling rosé and each couple will be given a long stem rose at the end of their meal. 448 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 495-1111. alexanderssteakhouse.com
  • Valentine’s Day Starlight Cruise: Red and White Fleet is offering a special cruise in celebration of Valentine’s Day for $ 95 per person. The experience includes champagne on arrival, a romantic buffet dinner, live entertainment, and complimentary beer and wine. Buffet items include Roast Chicken, Santa Maria Carved Tri-Tip, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Spinach and Feta Pasta, and more. Red and White Fleet cruises are some of the most amazing trips I’ve been on across the San Francisco Bay Area with stunning views of Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and San Francisco all lit up at night. redandwhite.com
  • Valentine’s Day Bakery Pop-up at Harmonic Brewing: M. Denham Baking Co. will have a bakery pop-up at Harmonic Brewing in Potrero Hill on Valentine’s Day from 3PM to 7PM. Whole cakes and pies can be pre-ordered until Sunday, February 11th. Pre-orders get 10% off. On the menu: Oat Flour Chiffon Cake with passion fruit, buttercream, and lime leaf and Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie with walnuts. 1050 26th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 872-6817. mdenhambakingco.com
  • Valentine’s Day Beer & Chocolate Pairing: Triple Voodoo Brewery near Dogpatch is having a special beer and chocolate pairing on Valentine’s Day from 6PM to 9PM that includes 4 beers and 4 truffles from Recchiuti Confections. Tickets are now on-sale for $ 17. The pairing lasts an hour. 2245 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 598-8811. triplevoodoo.com
  • Romance from the Sky – Valentine’s Day at Cityscape Lounge: Get that beautiful city backdrop for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day. Cityscape Lounge is located on the 46th floor of Hilton San Francisco Union Square and is offering a special evening for $ 99 per couple (tax and gratuity included). The event includes reserved window seating for 2 for up to 1 1/2 hours, 2 glasses of Moët & Chandon Champagne, red or white wine, or specialty cocktails, a long-stemmed rose, and a dessert. Tickets are available now. 333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. (415) 923-5002 cityscapesf.com
  • Coffee & Jazz at Farley’s Coffee: Head over to Farley’s Coffee in Potrero Hill for some coffee and jazz on Valentine’s Day from 7:30PM to 9PM with James Everett. Admission is free. Bring a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion. 1315 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 648-1545. farleyscoffee.com

Good luck!

Carlos Eats

February 9, 2019 |

Dining Guide: Valentine’s Day 2019 in Tampa

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Looking for a special place to spend Valentine’s Day 2019 in Tampa? I have you covered.

Here are some options for ways to spend a meal or some time with someone special. Make sure you make your reservations early as Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days in the restaurant industry.

  • Rooster & The Till: One of Tampa’s hottest restaurants in Seminole Heights is offering a 4-course prix fixe meal for $ 60 per person with an optional wine pairing for $ 30 per person. Space is limited and reservations must be made by phone (813) 374-8940 6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604
  • Noble Rice: One of the best sushi restaurants located in South Tampa is offering a Valentine’s Day Omakase dinner starting at 5:30PM on February 14th. Tickets are $ 165 per person and are very-limited (already 50% sold!) to keep a romantic atmosphere. Omakase will feature 14 bites including toro, otoro, A5 wagyu beef, uni, and their top of the line seasonal fish with dessert included. Add a sake & champagne pairing for $ 65 per person. Book your reservation on Tock. 807 W. Platt St., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Coppertail Brewing Co.: Take your special someone out to a Valentine’s Night Market at Coppertail Brewing in Ybor City. The event will run from 6PM-10PM and feature 60+ makers in the backlot. Sip some local craft beer while you stroll through the market. Check out more info at the new Coppertail Market website: www.coppertailnightmarket.com 2601 E. 2nd Ave., Tampa, FL 33605
  • Yacht StarShip Cruises: Escape to a cruise on the bay with Yacht StarShip for Valentine’s Day with your significant other. Lunch and dinner cruises are available and start at $ 49.95. Tickets include food, live entertainment, roses, champagne, and more. Check out their website for all the options available.
  • Ybor City Wine Bar: This local wine bar in Centro Ybor is offering a Valentines Themed Wine Society event on February 13th from 7PM to 10PM. Guests will enjoy a wine tasting paired with chocolate and include Zin-Phomaniac Zinfandel and Chocolate Shop Red Blend among other surprises. Contact Ybor City Wine Bar at (813) 999-4966. 1600 E. 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
  • Ciro’s: Tampa’s first speakeasy club in South Tampa is offering a special 4-course prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Day from 5PM-1AM. Tickets are $ 95 per person. Main-course dinner options include Grilled Lamb Lollipops, 12 oz. New York Steak Strip, or Pan-Seared Scottish Salmon. There is an option for a bottle of Henroit Champagne and half a dozen of chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to your table (plus two Henroit champagne flutes to take home) for $ 49. Seating is limited. Call to make reservations at (813) 251-0022. 2109 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Shrimp Boat: One of the best hidden secrets in Bloomingdale is offering Lobster and Prime Rib as a special on Valentine’s Day. Of course their shrimp dishes are all incredible as well. If you’re looking for a great meal at a casual restaurant in the Brandon/Valrico area, check out Shrimp Boat. (813) 571-5858 1020 Bloomingdale Ave, Valrico, FL 33596
  • Haven Tampa: Treat your Valentine to a special curated 5-course Chef’s tasting menu at $ 75 per person and add a wine or whiskey pairing for $ 45 per person. Available Valentine’s Day only. Reservations available on OpenTable. 2208 W. Morrison Ave., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Terra Gaucha: This Brazilian Churrascaria is one of the best I’ve had and they offering a special offer to those who dine there on Valentine’s Day. A pass to return for a complimentary meal in the future. Come hungry because the meat flows non-stop at this steakhouse. Reservations available on OpenTable. 1108 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33629
  • Rusty Pelican: This waterfront dining destination on the Courtney Campbell Causeway is offering two options on Valentine’s Day: a V-Day gala or a romantic 3-course sit-down dinner menu. Reservations for dinner are available on OpenTable. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607

Did I miss something? Feel free to e-mail me at carloseats[at]gmail[dot]com with any options I may have missed.

Carlos Eats

January 30, 2019 |

Dining Guide: Valentine’s Day 2019 in Tampa

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Looking for a special place to spend Valentine’s Day 2019 in Tampa? I have you covered.

Here are some options for ways to spend a meal or some time with someone special. Make sure you make your reservations early as Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days in the restaurant industry.

  • Rooster & The Till: One of Tampa’s hottest restaurants in Seminole Heights is offering a 4-course prix fixe meal for $ 60 per person with an optional wine pairing for $ 30 per person. Space is limited and reservations must be made by phone (813) 374-8940 6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604
  • Noble Rice: One of the best sushi restaurants located in South Tampa is offering a Valentine’s Day Omakase dinner starting at 5:30PM on February 14th. Tickets are $ 165 per person and are very-limited (already 50% sold!) to keep a romantic atmosphere. Omakase will feature 14 bites including toro, otoro, A5 wagyu beef, uni, and their top of the line seasonal fish with dessert included. Add a sake & champagne pairing for $ 65 per person. Book your reservation on Tock. 807 W. Platt St., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Coppertail Brewing Co.: Take your special someone out to a Valentine’s Night Market at Coppertail Brewing in Ybor City. The event will run from 6PM-10PM and feature 60+ makers in the backlot. Sip some local craft beer while you stroll through the market. Check out more info at the new Coppertail Market website: www.coppertailnightmarket.com 2601 E. 2nd Ave., Tampa, FL 33605
  • Yacht StarShip Cruises: Escape to a cruise on the bay with Yacht StarShip for Valentine’s Day with your significant other. Lunch and dinner cruises are available and start at $ 49.95. Tickets include food, live entertainment, roses, champagne, and more. Check out their website for all the options available.
  • Ybor City Wine Bar: This local wine bar in Centro Ybor is offering a Valentines Themed Wine Society event on February 13th from 7PM to 10PM. Guests will enjoy a wine tasting paired with chocolate and include Zin-Phomaniac Zinfandel and Chocolate Shop Red Blend among other surprises. Contact Ybor City Wine Bar at (813) 999-4966. 1600 E. 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
  • Shrimp Boat: One of the best hidden secrets in Bloomingdale is offering Lobster and Prime Rib as a special on Valentine’s Day. Of course their shrimp dishes are all incredible as well. If you’re looking for a great meal at a casual restaurant in the Brandon/Valrico area, check out Shrimp Boat. (813) 571-5858 1020 Bloomingdale Ave, Valrico, FL 33596
  • Haven Tampa: Treat your Valentine to a special curated 5-course Chef’s tasting menu at $ 75 per person and add a wine or whiskey pairing for $ 45 per person. Available Valentine’s Day only. Reservations available on OpenTable. 2208 W. Morrison Ave., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Terra Gaucha: This Brazilian Churrascaria is one of the best I’ve had and they offering a special offer to those who dine there on Valentine’s Day. A pass to return for a complimentary meal in the future. Come hungry because the meat flows non-stop at this steakhouse. Reservations available on OpenTable. 1108 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33629
  • Rusty Pelican: This waterfront dining destination on the Courtney Campbell Causeway is offering two options on Valentine’s Day: a V-Day gala or a romantic 3-course sit-down dinner menu. Reservations for dinner are available on OpenTable. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607

Did I miss something? Feel free to e-mail me at carloseats[at]gmail[dot]com with any options I may have missed.

Carlos Eats

January 23, 2019 |

Cigar City Brewing at TPA in running for Best Local Dining award by USA Today

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USA Today‘s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards currently has Cigar City Brewing at TPA (Tampa International Airport) in the running for two categories: Best Airport Bar/Restaurant Atmosphere and Best Airport Bar.

Cigar City Brewing opened last year in the Airside C of Tampa International Airport and is serving and brewing local craft beer to airport visitors daily with Cuban food. Popular crafts such as Jai Alai, Invasion Pale Ale, Maduro, and Florida Cracker can be found at the airport brewery along with other selections.

Votes are accepted daily and Cigar City and TPA is looking for locals in Tampa and fans of the craft beer success story to help spread the word.

How to vote:

Best Airport Bar/Restaurant Atmosphere: http://bit.ly/cigar2019

Best Airport Bar: http://bit.ly/cigarcity2019

Cigar City Brewing was founded by Joey Redner in 2007 in Tampa and pays homage to the rich history of Tampa and Ybor City. It is one of the biggest supports of Tampa Bay’s craft beer scene that now includes over 100 breweries. Cigar City produces over 60,000 barrels of beer a year and has released over 6,000 individual brands of beer. Their annual Hunapu’s Day release party is one of the most popular and exclusive craft beer events in the country.

Carlos Eats

January 19, 2019 |

Dining Guide: 10 restaurants to enjoy a Cuban Sandwich in Tampa

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Tampa founded the Cuban Sandwich in the 1800s and is home to the annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival. it would be a mistake to visit Tampa without grabbing one. There are dozens of options on where to eat and each place and many options are great.

Here are some recommendations on 10 places to enjoy a Cuban Sandwich in Tampa.

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No. 1 – The Floridian – Cubans don’t get much better than The Floridian. This is a classic, no frills, Tampa restaurant (originally from Treasure Island across the bay) that has excited my taste buds over and over again. The way they press the bread hits the palate just right. The Floridian won the Cuban Sandwich Festival in 2015 and it was well-deserved and worth your time, plus the prices are great. 4534 West Kennedy Street Tampa, Florida. (813) 287-6622 www.tampasbestcuban.com

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No. 2 – Palm Avenue Sandwich Shop – This is a dive in Ybor City that I have frequented many times with my Mom. They say mother knows best and Palm Avenue Sandwich Shop is truly a wonderful place to enjoy an authentic and flavorful Cuban Sandwich or any sandwich really (dear lord the steak). The deviled crabs are a nod to Tampa’s past and the Cafe con Leche is excellent. Finding parking can be a little difficult and you should certainly bring cash, but it is worth the effort. 2002 North Nebraska Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 223-5157

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No. 3 – La Segunda – The shop that supplies Cuban bread to most restaurants throughout Tampa also opened a swanky new dine-in restaurant this past year and it deserves a look. La Segunda has been making Cuban bread since 1915 and lasted four generations as a family-business. Take an entire hand-made and freshly-baked Cuban bread loaf with you and enjoy some great eats. 4015 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida, 33609. (813) 540-9119 http://www.lasegundabakery.com

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No. 4 – Bearss Sandwiches – This is an old-school sandwich shop near Carrollwood that makes a ton of great things, but their Cubans are also incredible. The staff does have attitude by design, so be prepared for that and make sure you know your order before you get to the register. They stay busy because of their quality and history, but there are many people in Tampa who have yet to enjoy a sandwich at Bearss. 14022 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 961-9486.

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No. 5 – Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine – During the great food truck battles of the early 2010s, Faedo’s constantly reigned supreme knocking out hundreds if not thousands of Cubans throughout the Tampa Bay area and now the owners have settled down into a restaurant. Their Cubans are absolutely loaded with ingredients and buttered on-top, they are quite tasty and many of the inspiration that the Faedo couple draws on comes from growing up in Tampa and being influenced by the immigrant foundations of the City of Tampa. 1218 Ray Charles Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 284-6106

No. 6- Riverview Fresh Market – Living in the Tampa suburbia of Riverview for years caused me to go looking for a quality Cuban and Riverview Fresh Market, known before as Bori-Mex, serves excellent sandwiches and has a mean Cuban. It may not be superior to some of the titans of Tampa Bay, but for a neighborhood shop and bodega it does pretty well at satisfying all my taste buds and making me happy. 9613 US-301, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 374-2353

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No. 7 – Columbia Cafe – Although Columbia is not my favorite place to get a Cuban, they have been serving one for longer than anyone else in Tampa Bay and opened with the Cuban on their menu in 1905. The views on the Tampa Riverwalk and a Cuban Sandwich in hand with freshly baked La Segunda Cuban bread and a glass of sangria is an ideal day for me in Tampa. 801 Old Water Street #1905, Tampa, FL 33602.
(813) 229-5511.

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No. 8 – Cafe Hey – This was one of the first restaurants to be established in what is now known to most people as Tampa Heights. When the area was just developing I was regularly making trips to Cafe Hey for a quality Cuban Sandwich and it did not disappoint. 1540 North Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 221-5150

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No. 9 – Bodega – Many people swear by Bodega and the upstart founded in 2013 has managed to successfully appear in both Tampa and St. Petersburg in just a few years. The owners call it “Latin street food” and their flavor profile is more of an interpretation rather than rooted in history like most Tampa Cuban powerhouses. The lines don’t stop forming and for a town where people bounce from one place to next easily, Bodega has become a household name. 5901 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 533-3333 http://www.eatatbodega.com

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No. 10 – Don Pan Bakery – If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a correlation between bakeries and great Cubans and Don Pan is no exception. Their Cuban Sandwich is solid and a contender for the area. Don Pan was rapidly expanding around Tampa for some time, but seems to have scaled back and is focusing more now on operations. 202 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33609. 813-350-0500

Carlos Eats

January 14, 2019 |

100+ restaurants participating in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month 2018

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Taking a trip to Orlando soon? Something delicious is cooking in “The Theme Park Capital of the World”.

Prepare to enjoy some serious dining deals for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. 100+ restaurant will be offering three course prix-fixe meals for $ 35 per person. The restaurant month is sponsored by American Express and will run from Friday, August 24th to Sunday, September 30th.

It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve been wanting to experience. New additions for 2018 include first-time vegan options as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options.

$ 1 from every meal will be donated to a local charities Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

According to Visit Orlando, “Proceeds from Magical Dining Month will help Best Buddies expand its programs into Orange County middle schools with high populations of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This mentorship program helps improve students’ quality of life and foster an inclusive middle school culture, by erasing the barrier that typically separates students with disabilities”.

Also: “Proceeds from Magical Dining Month will help the Down Syndrome Association expand its emergency and crisis fund, pay for potential medical needs not covered by insurance, and fund therapy scholarship programs.”

Some notable restaurants on the list include Morimoto Asia, Wine Bar George, K Restaurant, Pharmacy Orlando, Seito Sushi Baldin Park, and more. You’ll find everything from local hotposts to chains and even some steakhouses and upper-tier restaurants on the list.

Check out www.orlandomagicaldining.com for the full details, menus, and more.

Carlos Eats

July 12, 2018 |

BEST OF METRO 2018: Dining & Spirits

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  Best of Dining & Spirits   The Hall on Franklin Best New Food Court Concept A chic new restaurant in the Tampa Heights area offers seven drink and food establishments, from a coffee bar to a cocktail bar and five eateries, from seafood to asian inspired street food. A great place to meet up […]
Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog

January 8, 2018 |

BEST OF METRO 2018: Dining & Spirits

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  Best of Dining & Spirits   The Hall on Franklin Best New Food Court Concept A chic new restaurant in the Tampa Heights area offers seven drink and food establishments, from a coffee bar to a cocktail bar and five eateries, from seafood to asian inspired street food. A great place to meet up […]
Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog

December 16, 2017 |

Ocean Prime unveils new terrace, dining room

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This is a sponsored post for Ocean Prime. I was invited to visit the restaurant for a dinner tasting to experience the new terrace and dining room and to check out additions to the menu and share my opinions with my readers. Opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Ocean Prime.

Ocean Prime recently finished a re-design to their terrace and dining room.

I visited the restaurant on Monday to experience and see it for myself. It is quite beautiful and features outdoor seating that can sit up to 80 guests with lakefront views. New high-top tables have also been added by the outside bar. The design is modern. Private dining is available in the terrace. The interior added improved woodwork and new seating, light fixtures, and fresh paint.

Dining at Ocean Prime has been a pleasure since they first opened and this visit was also enjoyable. Our waiter Brian Atwood was excellent and very helpful when going over the wine menu.

He recommended a Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from 2014 which seems to be an exceptional year for California wines. The wine was excellent with our meal. It’s always helpful to have a waiter that understand good wine.

We started our meal with the Prime Roll ($ 18) which features Tempura Shrimp, Cream Cheese, Scallions, and Beef Carpaccio. Ocean Prime is a restaurant you wouldn’t expect great sushi at, but it truly delivers on sushi just like it delivers on steak and seafood. I voted for Ocean Prime in the 2015 Sushi Battle as a Judge and would gladly vote for them again after enjoying this roll.

I will normally shy away from cream cheese in my sushi rolls, I feel like it detracts from the main ingredient – but they perfectly matched the flavors here. The prices of the sushi rolls are not much more expensive than you’re mid-tier restaurants, but with much better quality.

The Teriyaki Salmon ($ 37) at Ocean Prime is also excellent. Ocean Prime is a seafood restaurant, but even their Polynesian influences beat out some of the best known Polynesian restaurants in the business, even in the higher-end restaurant space. Attention to seafood quality and sauce are the key here. I recommend this dish for a lighter dinner.

Would it really be a tasting at a steak and seafood restaurant without a steak? This special is the 30-day dry aged ribeye steak (MKT) and it had incredible marbling and was packed with fatty pockets from the dry aging process. The black truffle with it was quite an addition. Truffle always has a strong flavor so you might want to keep it to the side.

The Jalapeno Au Gratin ($ 12) is a perfect side. Utterly cheesy on top with plenty of potato inside. Initially you might think you can order another side, but I guarantee this dish is quite filling.

The food and drinks at Ocean Prime perfectly match the restaurant and the new upgrades to the terrace and interior only complete a great experience. Ocean Prime can fit both a personal and business atmosphere and I am consistently impressed with their dedication to quality.

I’ll be back soon.

Ocean Prime Tampa serves lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Dinner is served from 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, dinner hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. 

The lounge is open daily, and happy hour is offered Mondays through Fridays from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays from noon – 4 p.m. For more information, visit the website or call 813-490-5288.

To host your next gathering at Ocean Prime Tampa, contact event sales manager Jo Truett at PrivateDiningTampa@cameronmitchell.com or call 813-490-5288.


Carlos Eats

December 3, 2017 |

HIRING: Seminole Hard Rock seeks over 50 new team members for new fine dining restaurant

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Seminole Hard Rock & Casino Tampa located at 5223 Orient Road will be opening a new fine dining restaurant later this year with a projected opening date of December 2017 and is now searching for applicants for over 50 new positions.

Available positions include Managers, Servers, Bartenders, Barbacks, Bussers, Food Runners, Cooks, Hosts, and Hostesses. Training for positions would begin in early November.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have “exceptional guest service and communication skills”, and “at least one year of guest service experience”.

Interested applicants can inquire at http://www.gotoworkhappy.com.


Carlos Eats

September 18, 2017 |

Tampa Bay Taco Tuesday Dining Guide

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Wondering where to eat for Taco Tuesday in Tampa? No, I’m not talking about your average Tijuana Flats. Taco Tuesday offers deals at many great spots around town and no two taco places are created equal.

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Here is my list of go-to spots for Taco Tuesday deals in Tampa Bay and places I’d recommend visiting. There may be more restaurants offering the deal, but that doesn’t mean I recommend them.

  1. La Villa River Hills: I am a Mexican food snob from San Francisco and most places in Tampa are “good for Tampa” and that is about it – they don’t even come close to the quality or ingredients of taquerias on The Mission. La Villa River Hills is the real deal though. Fresh, Mexican cuisine at an affordable price and the quality is apparent in everything from their salsa to their tamales. They offer $ 2 tacos on Tuesday. The location is near FishHawk and Valrico which is a long drive for many – but well worth it. You might want to call-ahead because the restaurant is small, but this is easily my favorite Mexican place in Tampa Bay right now.
  2. Ciccio Cali: One of the best known Taco Tuesday deals in town. Many of the bowls available at Ciccio Cali can be converted into flour tacos for just $ 2 each during Taco Tuesday. They load them up. My favorite? Hot & Crunchy Tuna. The flavor is there. More places should experiment with sushi tacos in general. Be patient because the crowds can get crazy and my experiences with hostesses have been mixed. It’s located in Brandon, New Tampa, and St. Pete.
  3. TacoSon: The original Taco Bus. TacoSon is where the owners of the original Taco Bus opened shop after their sale and you can tell by the crowds that the original fans have followed them to this location on 56th Street. Avoid the drive-thru unless you’re comfortable with sitting in your car for long periods of time and just go inside. They don’t do Taco Tuesday deals, but on the flip-side tacos there are $ 2.50 everyday. Real deal. They now have locations in St. Pete and Wesley Chapel as well.
  4. California Tacos To-Go: This local chain has excellent tacos and offers 2 tacos, chips, and a drink for $ 6.99. A little more expensive than some other spots, but the quality is definitely there. Most recipes hail from SoCal and the loaded fish tacos are truly amazing. Locations in USF, South Tampa, and St. Pete. It’s one of the few places that Guy Fieri recommends that I can agree with.

If a place did not make the list – it is likely that I either do not recommend it, I haven’t visited the place, or I forgot and this list will be regularly updated as well so look for that. If your favorite place isn’t on the list that’s okay too. This is an opinion-based piece and you are entitled to your opinion.


Carlos Eats

August 1, 2017 |

Best of Metro 2016: Dining & Spirits

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The Best of Metro Tampa Bay.

Best of Tampa Bay Metro 2016

the bay’s best

 


Tampa Bay Dining & Spirits


 

 

 


Rococo Steak
Best Steakhouse in St. Petersburg
Housed in a historical 1920s building, Rococo’s menu offers steaks and seafood for the discerning steak lover, using only the finest and freshest ingredients. The wine collection includes more than 650 wines from around the world. 727.822.0999; www.rococosteak.com.


Stillwaters Tavern
Best Modern Tavern
A gathering place for hipsters and those seeking delicious food. The rustic interior, hanging edison bulbs and white subway tile, set a great scene with the open view to the kitchen. Chef Jeffery Jew combines the familiar with a twist for tasty, daily specials and entrees. 727.350.1019; www.stillwaterstavern.com.


Piquant Epicure & Cuisine
Best Patisserie and French Inspired Restaurant
The weekends are popping with couples and friends enjoying a delicious lunch or brunch. The menu has tasty egg dishes, sandwiches, along with delicious crafted cocktails setting the mood for a great weekend. 813.251.1777; www.piquanthydepark.com.


Locale Market
Best New Foodie Market
Located inside Sundial in downtown St. Petersburg, the coolest chef driven market around offers numerous food stations to have a freshly prepared meal or take-out. The grill created the St. Petersburg Burger, which is a must try. Go hungry as there are lots of tempting treats inside. The market offers fresh seafood, pastries, cheeses and more. 727.523-6300;  www.localegourmetmarket.com.


Cask Social Kitchen
Best Southern Cuisine and Hospitality in SoHo
Partners TJ Miller, Adam Itzkowitz and Buccaneer Vincent Jackson opened Cask to offer a hip take on Southern cuisine and hospitality. In the heart of SoHo, it’s a great place for dinner or to relax over a cocktail. The crab ’n cheese mac and spicy duck wings are favorites. The bar is a great perch to watch the games on the surrounding TVs. 813.251.0051; www.casksocial.com.


Sea Salt St. Pete
Best Raw Oyster Bar in St. Petersburg
The 80 ft. raw bar has the freshest and largest variety of oysters from around the country shipped in daily. The flavors of the fresh catch and other daily entrees are seasoned with over 130 salt varieties. Chef Fabrizio Aielli owns and operates Sea Salt in Naples. 727.873.7964; www.seasaltstpete.com.


The Mill
Best New Restaurant in St. Petersburg
Opened in July 2015, The Mill has taken downtown St. Pete by storm with its well-designed interior and creative cuisine. Foodies are delighting in the concept  created by Chef/Owners Ted Dorsey and Jason Griffin. A Farm to Table concept with locally sourced and unique combination of ingredients are on the menu for weekend brunch, lunch and dinner. Try the in-house made duck bacon, pork cracklins or the Not Your Momma’s Grilled Cheese. 727.317.3930; www.themilldtsp.com.


Dinner Done
Best Prepared Meals To-Go
Whether you want to have a cooking session with friends or pick up the meals already prepared, Dinner Done provides monthly selections with enough variety to satisfy the entire family. It makes dinner time so easy. 813.264.7700; www.DinnerDone.com.


Annata Wine Bar
Best Place to Sip and Savor
Tucked into a strip center along Beach Drive, Annata’s is the ideal date night or place to gather with friends. A bottle of wine and the cheese and charcuterie plate will make your heart sing. Music on Monday nights. No reservations – first come, first served. 727.851.9582; www.annatawine.com.


Anise Global Gastrobar
Best Chic Bar in Downtown Tampa
The vibe and chic interior attract a hip, up-scale crowd looking for hand-crafted cocktails along with innovative and fresh cuisine. 813.225.4272; www.aniseglobal.com.


Coppertail Brewery
Best Brew in Ybor
The expansive location on the edge of Ybor City has created some great brews and community partners. Stop by for a brewery tour and a taste of four primary beers including Free Dive (IPA) and limited edition brews including an exclusive brew created for Tampa’s Oktoberfest. 813.247.1500; www.coppertailbrewing.com.


Ava Restaurant
Best Inspired Italian in SoHo
Co-owned by baseball coach Joe Maddon and 717’s Michael Stewart, Ava’s offers rustic  Neapolitan pizzas and delicious handmade pasta. The Bucatini Alla Vaccinate Pasta with oxtail and pine nuts is a popular pasta favorite, along with the Funghi pizza made with cremini and shiitake mushrooms. 813.512.3030; www.avatampa.com.


Ocean Prime
Best Restaurant Scene
The central location makes Ocean Prime the ideal meeting spot for business or pleasure. The popular bar offers live piano music inside or relaxing outside. Steaks, seafood and the Ahi Tuna appetizer are popular choices. 813.490.5288; www.ocean-prime.com.


Pete’s Place
Best Karaoke Bar
Recent renovations and a new menu have made Pete’s Place a bit more upscale, but it is still the best dive bar in Tampa to get your song on. This place is not for amateurs, the regulars really can carry a tune. 813.282.9039; www.petestampa.com.


Haven
Best New Wine Bar
A new concept from Bern’s serves 40 wines by the glass, 300 bourbons and  delicious and innovative small plates. The 60 cheese and charcuteries available are simply heavenly. 813.258.2233; www.haventampa.com.


The Getaway
Best Tiki Bar
Enjoy great sunset celebrations, cocktails, music and new menu items from the on site kitchen. Located on Gandy Boulevard on the St. Pete side, lies an  escape to the tropics, without ever leaving the Bay area. 813.267.1602; www.thegetawaytampabay.com.


Castile
Best Tapas on St. Pete Beach
Located inside the Hotel Zamora, Castile offers a Spanish-influenced menu, small plates and spectacular rooftop lounge for stunning sunsets. 727.456.8660; www.castilerestaurant.com.


Seasons 52
Best Seasonal Restaurant
The ever-changing menu offers a reason to keep coming back with fresh salads, flatbread and entrees. The healthy offerings and mini-desserts are sized to satisfy the most discerning palate. 813.286.1152; www.seasons52.com.


Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Best Seafood Restaurant in Westshore Business District
Enjoy the scene with live jazz music seven nights a week in the V Lounge for a great place to relax with a cocktail. Serving only delicious seafood and prime aged steaks. 813.877.7290; www.eddiev.com.


BellaBrava: New World Trattoria
Best Italian on Beach Drive
Enjoy European-style dining inside or outside with a delicious menu of Italian pastas, meats, seafoods and pizzas. There is great people watching along Beach Drive. 727.895.5515; www.bellabrava.com.


Oxford Exchange
Best Atmosphere Lunch
The Oxford Exchange houses a restaurant, Tea & Coffee Bar, The Shop + Book in a stunning renovated building. Open for breakfast, lunch or high-tea with a tempting menu of sandwiches, soups and salads. Menu favorites include the Chicken Burger or lobster BLT. 813.253-0222; www.oxfordexchange.com.


Armani’s
Best Terrace View
Inside the Grand Hyatt on the 14th floor is a spectacular view from the terrace at Armani’s. The Northern Italian cuisine or the view never disappoints.  813.207.6800; www.grandhyatttampabay.com/restaurants.


Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club
Best Hand-Crafted Cocktails in Tampa
While a password is required to enter, Ciro’s offers delightful and delicious hand-crafted cocktails by bartenders, who are passionate about their craft. 813.251.0022; www.cirostampa.com.


Cafe Ponte
Best Diverse Cuisine
The American menu is updated seasonally and continues to offer tantalizing dishes at Chef Chris Ponte’s Clearwater restaurant. The Bay area hot spot is a delight for the palate, open for lunch and dinner. 727.538.5768; www.cafeponte.com.


Edison: Food + Drink Lab
Best Creative Cuisine
Recently hosting a dinner at the James Beard House in NYC, Chef Pierola and her team continue to create a unique and interesting blend of flavors and provide guests a gastronomic delight with a menu of small plates that changes frequently. 813.254.7111; www.edison-tampa.com.


CopperFish Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar
Best Wood Hearth Roasted Fish
The horse shoe shaped bar is a great place to gather with friends for an end of day cocktail, along with a delicious  skillet from the grill with choice of mussels, shrimp, clams or the freshest oysters from the gulf and both coasts. The fresh, contemporary décor is warm and inviting. 813.251.6789; www.copperfishtampa.com.


Ulele
Best Waterfront Eatery
Open for lunch and dinner, the location in Tampa Heights offers stunning sunset views along the Hillsborough River. Owned by the Gonzmart family, the menu is inspired by Floridian native influences and a twist on southern classics. Fried Okra and the deconstructed seafood pot pie are menu favorites. 813.999.4952; www.ulele.com.


Mandarin Hide
Best Cocktail Culture
The generous pours and friendly bartenders make Mandarin Hide a watering hole that you don’t want to miss. On Central Avenue, tucked between two other bars, it’s a St. Petersburg gem. 727.231.4007; www.mandarinhide.com.


Roux
Best Creole Nouvelle Restaurant
For Nawlins’ style food with a bit of a twist, Roux offers up delicious gumbos, po’ boys, shrimp & grits and oysters. Open for lunch and dinner and a great Happy Hour. 813.443.5255; www.rouxtampa.com.


Rick’s On the River
Best Live Music on the River
A friendly place offering wings, oysters and traditional bar food and live music along the Hillsborough River. For those arriving by boat, dock slips are available.
813.251.3010; www.ricksontheriver.com.


Del Frisco’s Grille
Best Al Fresco Bar
Gather with friends for an evening and enjoy the setting sun and window on the Westshore Business district. Open for lunch and dinner, the American cuisine plates are large enough to share. 813.878.6890; www.delfriscosgrille.com.


Cigar City Brewing
Best Locally Brewed Beer
The brew, Jai Alai India Pale Ale, honors the past of the Jai Alai frontons, a game from the Basque region of Spain once played in Tampa. The brew pairs nicely with spicy dishes and Spanish favorites of Deviled Crabs and Empanadas. Brewery tours available. 813.348.6363 ext. 206; www.cigarcitybrewing.com.


RumFish Grill
Best Restaurant with a Tank
The Guy Harvey restaurant serves up a delicious menu of seafood and steaks on St. Pete Beach, complete with a large fish tank that guest can make reservations to swim with the fish. The outdoor deck offers great cocktails. 844.786.3474; www.RumFishGrill.com.


Council Oak Steaks & Seafood
Best Steakhouse Inside Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa
The cut to order, in the on-site butcher shop, prime dry-aged steaks melt in your mouth. The Raw Bar Sampler with its display of Alaskan King Crab, Maine lobster, jumbo shrimp, and oysters is not to be missed. The Lounge offers a special menu and wines on Wine Down Wednesday. 813.627.7628; www.seminolehardrocktampa.com.


Mazzaro Italian Market
Best Italian Market
The iconic St. Petersburg market offers the best of Italy with the finest meats & seafoods, homemade pastas, deli, bakery, cheeses, coffee and gourmet imports. The bakery offers over 30 varieties of Italian cookies and gelato. 727.321.2400; www.mazzarosmarket.com.


Oceanic Oriental Supermarket
Best Asian Market
From the deli to the produce, shoppers will delight in all things Asian including fresh fish, duck, herbal medicines and teas. There is also a large selection of dishware and cookware.  813.228.8110; www.oceanicmarket.com.


Bern’s Steakhouse
Best Classic Dining
The iconic Tampa institution will prepare your steak exactly the way you like it. Great for any celebrations, Bern’s makes everything seem special. Save room for the classic Banana Cheese Pie with a   private booth in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. 813.251.2421; www.bernssteakhouse.com.


Caretta On The Gulf
Best Dining With Sunset View
Enjoy a magnificent sunset every night at Carretta, located inside the stunning Sandpearl Resort. The Sunday brunch offers an array of fresh seafood from the raw bar. 727.441.2425; www.carettaonthegulf.com.


Boca Hyde Park
Best Rustic Farm Charm
The farm to table food concept is evident on the menu at Boca. The menu changes with availability of ingredients. The rustic casual, yet chic interior, is a great place for cocktails or enjoy a meal with friends. Open for lunch and dinner. 813.254.7070; www.bocatampa.com.


The Capital Grille
Best Dry-Aged Steak
The dark wood and elegant interior are cause to celebrate while enjoying nationally renowned dry-aged steaks. Toast to a great dining experience with a selection from the more than 5,000 bottled wine list. 813.830.9433; www.thecapitalgrille.com.


Dunedin Brewery
Best Local Microbrewery
The Dunedin Brewery has been passionately brewing beer since 1996, as the oldest microbrewery in Florida. 727.736.0606; www.dunedinbrewery.com.


Marchand’s Bar & Grill
Best Special Occasion Dining
Located inside the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, the elegant restaurant provides a sophisticated atmosphere and dining experience for that special occasion or Sunday brunch. 727.824.8072;  www.marchandsbarandgrill.com.


Tryst Gastro Lounge
Best Place to Rendezvous for Cocktails on Beach
The outside seating and music brings a fashionable and chic crowd to enjoy a seasonal, changing menu of small plates or entrees of beef, salmon, chicken or lamb. Enjoy 27 draft beers and 180 bottles or handcrafted cocktails. 727.821.4567; www.trystgastrolounge.com.


Mise en Place
Best Modern American Cuisine
For 29 years, Mise en Place has been a Bay area staple on the dining scene as owners Chef Marty Blitz and Maryann Ferenc constantly evolve and innovate their offerings with the seasons. 813.254.5373; www.miseonline.com.


717 South
Best South Tampa Spot
717 serves up a delicious menu of best of Italy and the Pacific Rim dishes created by Chef Robert Masson. Owner, Michael Stewart hosts numerous fundraisers to raise money for local charities. 813.250.1661; www.717south.com.


Ceviche
Best Tapas in Town
Enjoy over 100 different hot and cold tapas, from garlic and olives, to oxtail and chicken livers at locations on both sides of the Bay. Relax in a unique Spanish atmosphere and ambiance, while sipping a glass of red, white or cava sangria. 813.250.0203 Tampa or St. Pete 727.209.2299; www.ceviche.com.


Cru Cellars
Best Boutique Wine Bar
The Wine Garden offers the ideal spot to sip a glass of wine from the diverse and carefully selected list and share a small plate under the stars. Browse through the wine shop to purchase a favorite bottle and now offering wine delivery service. 813.831.1117; www.crucellarstampa.com.


Cantina Laredo
Best Sophisticated Mexican
At the Wiregrass Mall in Wesley Chapel, Cantina Laredo offers a blend of sophisticated and authentic Mexican food. Try the table side prepared guacamole or the sizzling fajitas. A variety of margarita flavors with specialty tequilas are available. 813.907.3068; www.cantinalaredo.com.


The Refinery
Best Revolving Menu
The menu changes every week to reflect food that is fresh from local farmers, and in season. From salad dressings to sausage, everything is made in-house by Chef Greg Baker and his team. 813.237.2000; www.thetamparefinery.com.


Ella’s Folk Art Cafe
Best Sunday Afternoon Escape
Sundays mean Soul Food with a chance to relax and tantalize the taste buds. Experiment with new combinations, such as fried chicken and waffles or chocolate covered bacon while listening to live music. 813.234.1000; www.ellasfolkartcafe.com.


Sail Pavilion
Best Downtown Tampa Oasis
By land or sea it is easy to reach the Sail Pavilion along Tampa’s downtown Riverwalk with great food, music and views. This urban oasis is pet-friendly. 813.373.1193; www.sailpavilion.com.


Wine Exchange
Best Wine and Dine
Located in Hyde Park Village, this bistro and wine bar offers a European experience with over 40 different wines and an inspired cuisine of pizzas, salads and pastas. Indoor and outdoor seating, along with a full service bar. 813.254.9463; www.wineexchangetampa.com.


Datz
Best Foodie Fix
The ever evolving, Datz mixes up the menu to provide tempting food and events for local foodies. There are classic mouth-watering sandwiches, including Cue the Brisket and Birds of a Feather ­– a delicious chicken salad – to the great wine bar and craft beers on tap. Portions are over-sized, so come hungry or willing to share. 813.831.7000; www.datztampa.com.


Byblos Café
Best Mediterranean Cuisine
Enjoy a menu of hummus, falafel, dolma or delicious kabob or gyros and other authentic Lebanese favorites. Open for lunch and dinner. Belly Dancing show on Saturday nights. 813.805.7977; www.bybloscafe.com.


Pelagia Trattoria
Best Modern Italian
Pelagia is a hidden treasure of culinary delights offering great salads, sandwiches and homemade pastas for lunch, and stone-oven pizzas for dinner, tucked inside the Renaissance International Plaza Hotel. The menu changes each season, but the Italian and French influences never go away. 813.313.3253; www.pelagiatrattoria.com.


Grille
Best Creative Cuisine
Chef Zack is always on the hunt for new flavors and combinations. Z Grille is a hip and trendy restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg that serves up creative food for brunch, lunch and dinner. Try the Dirty D’s Deviled Eggs, or classic Dr. Pepper BBQ ribs. 727.822.9600; www.zgrille.net.


Hula Bay Club
Best Laid-Back Eatery
Escape to Hula Bay for lunch, dinner and boat drinks with the scenic water views, island-inspired cuisine, and cool pool. Live music and DJ’s down at Dukes, provide a Hawaiian casual atmosphere. 813.837.4852; www.hulabayclub.com.


Salt Rock Grill
Best Seafood Dining
Offering one of the best wine cellars on the beach in Indian Shores and a go to restaurant for fresh, local seafood. Land lovers can enjoy steaks cooked over the natural oak and citrus wood pit fire. 727.593.7625; www.saltrockgrill.com.


Columbia Restaurant
Best Spanish Cuisine
Owned and operated by five generations of the Gonzmart family, The Columbia Restaurant has been an Ybor City culinary delight since 1905. The Spanish cuisine includes the famed 1905 salad, chicken and yellow rice and ropa vieja. The Sangria is not to be missed. Be entertained by talented Flamenco Dancers. Ybor City – 813.248.4961; www.columbiarestaurant.com.


The Canopy at The Birchwood
Best Roof Top Lounge
The weekend hot spot above the chic boutique hotel has a hip rooftop bar  complete with cabanas, living room seating and fire pits for those cool evenings. The four stories above Beach drive provide breathtaking views of Tampa Bay, Straub Park, and downtown St. Petersburg.  727.896.1080; www.thebirchwood.com.


Souzou Fusion
Best Asian Cuisine
Signature sushi, hot plates, cold plates, noodle & rice sections are sure to please the palate. St. Petersburg’s newest and hottest place for sushi lovers, will delight those looking for a fresh take on sushi.  727.823.4050; www.souzoufusion.com.


 

 

 

 

 

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Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog

January 6, 2016 |
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