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San Francisco bars and restaurants experience temporary closures due to COVID-19

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This article was originally published on August 10th, 2021 to Newsbreak.

A growing number of bars and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area are experiencing COVID-19 positive employees and suddenly closing temporarily while they try to navigate the virus cases as the delta variant begins to grip America.

This comes after the San Francisco Bar Alliance recently banded together to begin requiring COVID-19 vaccine proof for indoor entry, as a proactive step to fight increasing cases and avoid a potential future shutdown which has devastated business in California since the pandemic began. The move was applauded by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, although the government has yet to pass a mandate for the public themselves and instead has brought back indoor mask mandates.

Despite the push for vaccine mandates and proactive bar requirements, there are an increasing number of businesses sharing COVID-19 positive news on their social media channels.

El Lopo Wine Bar on Polk Street shared this on their Instagram profile, “Someone in our community has unfortunately tested positive, so we’re going to be closed until at least Wednesday the 11th. We’ll be back as soon as our entire team has been cleared. Cue the smug comments from the antivaxxers…”

Bar owner, Daniel, shared with me: “Broadly I’d just say that anyone who wants to help the bar industry recover should get vaccinated, to minimize how much longer this thing can drag out. From bar to bar, just try to respect whatever safety rules a business is asking guests to follow. Yes, the rules take some of the fun out of it, but they’re there so that we can go back to having more fun sooner. The people who made those rules aren’t doctors, but they thought long and hard about how best to protect their staff and customers without going out of business, and this is what they believe has the best chance of getting them there.”

Meanwhile, Aziza located at 5800 Geary Boulevard in San Francisco’s Richmond District shared news of their own temporary closure on Instagram, “last week one of our team members tested positive for covid-19. out of an abundance of caution for all, including our patrons and the public in general, we decided to close Aziza for a couple of days and required our entire staff get tested. When it was all said and done, and after a few initial false positive rapid tests, 3 fully vaccinated members of our staff were confirmed infected with the delta variant of COVID.”

“As a result, we decided to stay closed for a minimum of 12 days to allow everyone to recover mentally and physically. This pandemic is not over yet. We are still in the middle of it, and we need to keep our guards up and be cautious. As a safety measure and an act of patriotism, everyone should be willing to show proof of vaccination before being allowed to fully integrate back into society.”

“This should be mandated by Mayor London Breed and Governor Gavin Newsom in order to provide protection for all. If people choose not to get vaccinated, that is their constitutional right, but it should not come at the expense of others. It’s not the responsibility of small businesses such as restaurants to decide whether it is right or wrong to verify proof of vaccination from the public. That’s the government’s job. The bottom line is that people who chose not to get vaccinated are putting themselves, others and our society as a whole at risk. They should not be allowed to get on planes, go to restaurants, visit museums, stay in hotels, attend indoor sporting events….etc until they decide to be responsible and accountable members of society.”

“Gavin Newsom do your job and put into law a mandate that makes it very hard for anyone who chooses not to get vaccinated to inflict more hardships on those of us who believe in science and reason, and who want to seriously end this pandemic and all the s*** it has put most of us thru in the last year and a half. Let’s show some balls and make unreasonable people act reasonably for the sake of all. It has to come from you, so don’t hide behind politics. You know it’s the right thing to do.”

Recent polls of San Francisco residents show they support vaccine mandates, time will tell if they are implemented by the government.

Carlos Eats

September 1, 2021 |

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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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 |

SF Restaurant Week 2019 starts January 23rd – 100+ restaurants participating

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SF Restaurant Week starts Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 until January 31st in San Francisco and is presented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Participating restaurants will offer special prix-fixe menus during this time.

Lunch (2 courses) will cost $ 15 or $ 25. Dinner (3 or more courses) will cost $ 40 or $ 65.

It’s a great time to get out there and try a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try and get a feel for the restaurant at an affordable price. Over 100+ restaurants will be participating in SF Restaurant Week in 2019.

Some restaurant participating include Barbara Pinseria & Cocktail Bar, flour + water, Nami Gaji, PABU Izakaya, Sushi Ran, and more.

Diners who visit at least 4 restaurant can submit entries with proof to the official Facebook event page for a chance to win up to $ 1,200 in dining gift certificates to different restaurants.

SF Restaurant Week hashtag is #SFRW

The official hashtag for SF Restaurant Week is #SFRW – Follow SF Restaurant Week on Instagram @eatdrinksf and on Twitter @eatdrinksf

You can check out all the restaurants on the list and even a map at www.sfrestaurantweek.com/restaurants/

Carlos Eats

January 21, 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 |

Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week features over 100 restaurants June 1st-June 14th

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Savor Sarasota restaurant week will celebrate their 13th year with over 100 participants from June 1st to June 14th of 2018. The annual restaurant week that actually spans two weeks features multi-course pre-fixe meals for $ 16 at lunch and $ 32 at dinner.

Siesta Key, Florida

Sarasota has the highest concentration of Zagat®-rated restaurants in Florida. Siesta Key in Sarasota was named the top beach in America in 2017 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards™ and by Dr. Beach.

The restaurant week is a great way to see what Sarasota has to offer and there are many new places popping up all over town.

New restaurants include: Smoked Meats; Café Epicure, Chaz 51, Chef Rolf’s New Florida Kitchen, Crab & Fin, Element – Modern Mediterranean Grill, El Greco Mediterranean Café, Evie’s Tavern on Main Street, EVOQ Restaurant, Farlow’s on the Water, Half Shell Seafood House, Howards Restaurant, Italian Tradition Restaurant & Martini Bar, Paradise Grill, PizzaSRQ, Prague, Rodizio Grill, Taverna Grill, The Bodhi Tree Café, The Coolinary, The Fountain Kitchen & Wine Bar, The Italian Grill, Tokaj and Two Senoritas.

Returning restaurants feature: 62 Bistrot, Alpine Steakhouse, Andrea’s Restaurant, Angelo’s, Apollonia Grill, Barnacle Bill’s Seafood, Beulah Restaurant, Bijou Café, Blu Island Bistro, Blue Rooster, BRIO Tuscan Grill, Café Baci,Café BarBossa, Café L’Europe, Café Gabbiano, Café Venice Restaurant & Wine Bar, Captain Brian’s Seafood Market Restaurant ,The Capital Grille, Carmel Café & Wine Bar, CasAntica, C’est La Vie University Park-Lakewood Ranch, Chart House, Chianti Ristorante Italiano, Crow’s Nest; Currents, Duval’s, Fresh.Local.Seafood, Euphemia Haye Restaurant, Fins @ Sharky’s, H2O Bistro, Harry’s Continental Kitchens, Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, Jack Dusty; La Scarpetta, Libby’s Café & Bar, Lila, Lolita Tartine, Louies Modern, Mattison’s City Grille, Mattison’s Forty-One, Melange, The Melting Pot,  Michael’s On East, Miguel’s, Mona Lisa Restaurant, Mozaic, Muse at the Ringling, Ophelia’s on the Bay, Paris Bistrot, Red Clasico Sarasota, Roessler’s Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Salute!, Sardinia Restaurant, Season’s 52, Selva Grill, Shore, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Stonewood Grill and Tavern, Table Creekside, The Rosemary, The Starlite Room, Tommy Bahama and Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi Grill.

Get all the details and menus at: http://www.savorsarasota.com

Savor Sarasota is sponsored by Sarasota Magazine, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and OpenTable.

Carlos Eats

May 31, 2018 |

Smashburger plans 35 new restaurants in Florida West Coast

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Smashburger opened its first Tampa location last week in South Tampa at 4035 South Dale Mabry Highway and plans to open at least 35 new restaurants along the Florida West Coast in the next 5 to 6 years.

The investment will cost $ 37 million dollars. Each location will employ 30 people, adding about 1,400 new jobs in total to the region.

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The Denver-based, fast-casual, burger concept is also located in Clearwater and Sarasota. Smashburger was founded in 2007 and serves “made-to-order, never frozen” burgers.

Their localized burger for the Tampa Bay area is the “Media Noche” burger, which contains smoked ham, aged Swiss cheese, pickles, red onion, and mustard on an egg bun. Local craft beer from the area will be a highlight of these locations.

Some would say the Tampa market is over-saturated with burger concepts. I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

There are just a number of low-quality, badly-managed, and overpriced restaurants that have expanded too much and you can see that playing out in the market with bankruptcies and retreats from locations.

The burger business is a $ 73 billion dollar business and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Smashburger is participating in the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Burger Week and serving their “Sin City Burger” from Vegas for the promotion for $ 6.69 plus tax. The burger features “signature Smash sauce (a mayo, mustard, relishy blend), topped with a fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, and haystack onions”.

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I stopped by last week for a taste and my favorite burger was the Truffle Mushroom Swiss. I thought about that burger days after visiting. I don’t care what food snobs say about truffle being overrated, I’ll take some on everything, thank you very much.


Carlos Eats

October 24, 2017 |

Grant program draws new restaurants, shops to Tarpon Springs

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A grant program aimed at revitalizing downtown Tarpon Springs is successfully drawing new businesses to the area.

  • Recruitment grant offers businesses up to $ 7,000
  • City began offering grant last year
  • Tarpon Springs has seen at least $ 1 million in private investment

The city’s restaurant recruitment grant offers businesses up to $ 7,000 to improve the interior of an existing building.  

Economic Development Manager Karen Lemmons said a total of nine new restaurants and shops have used the grant.

“We have a lot of historic buildings right on Tarpon Avenue,” Lemmons said.  “So to see them re-purposed and put back into great shape is a nice shining way of coming into the city.”

Among the new businesses taking advantage of the grant is the soon-to-open KC Que BBQ restaurant on East Tarpon Avenue.

“We wouldn’t be doing it without the grants,” said KC Que BBQ owner Mike Kaiser.

A few blocks away, BackDraught’s restaurant also took advantage of the restaurant recruitment grant.

“It allowed us to really bring this to the full potential that we knew it could be,” said BackDraught’s co-owner Dillon Walts.

The city first started offering the grant last year. Recently, the city added more funding to the program.

In return, Lemmons said the city has seen at least $ 1 million in private investment.

All future businesses are welcome to apply for the grant.  Applications are available at City Hall.

Bay News 9 – business

August 27, 2016 |
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