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NEWS: Armature Works hosting free viewing party for Downtown Tampa Lighted Boat Parade

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Armature Works continues to celebrate the holidays by offering a free viewing party for the Downtown Tampa Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, December 21st, 2019 from 6:30PM to 9:30PM.

The free event will take place on the Riverfront Lawn just south of Armature Works along the Hillsborough River.

The annual parade has become one of Tampa’s signature holiday events featuring hundreds of festive aquatic vessels as the make their way down the Hillsborough River.

Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets. The event is also pet-friendly.

Note: outside food, drinks, and coolers are not permitted at Armature Works.

Parking: Parking at Armature Works is free Monday through Thursday and Friday before 4PM, Saturday and Sunday mornings before 11AM. Parking at all other times is $ 5. In addition, there are over 400 street-side parking spots available. Valet is also available most event nights and weekends. For more information please visit armatureworks.com/parking.

Carlos Eats

December 18, 2019 |

NEWS: Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina exiting Sundial St. Pete, Armature Works entering

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After years of working to bring a mixed food concept to Downtown St. Pete, Celebrity Chef Michael Mina has sold Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina in the Sundial to Tampa-based Armature Works group BE-1 Concepts, which plans to change the space and surrounding businesses into a food hall with plans to open by late 2020.

Chef Michael Mina shared, “With so many other projects and opportunities in front of me, I felt now was the right time to pass the torch. I am beyond excited to see what Chas and his team have cooked up for this community.”

Chef Michael Mina is thought to be a powerhouse restaurateur with over 40 restaurants opened worldwide in large metropolitan cities such as San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Chef Michael Mina and Chef Don Pintabona at Locale Market.
Chef Michael Mina and Chef Don Pintabona.
Photo Credit: Locale Market

Locale Market was founded by Chef Michael Mina and Chef Don Pintabona and opened in December 2014. The concept will close five years later at the end of the holiday season in December 2019.

Former Tampa Bay Times Food Critic, Laura Reiley, reported back in 2015 that Chef Pintabona left St. Petersburg back to New York as soon as his one-year contract expired. Pintabona’s pedigree at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Grill was considered to be a big deal when Locale opened, but the concept never really seemed to take off despite many campaigns and changes. The team admitted to struggles between being a restaurant concept and a gourmet, locally-sourced market.

The biggest loss will be FarmTable Cucina upstairs that was recently finding ground with a new chef. Executive Chef, James Kirby, has worked hard to make the menu truly local in recent months as a former farmer himself.

BE-1 Concepts is also taking control of Jackie Z Style Co., Wellness Center at Sundial, D-Gallerie Fine Arts and additional vacant spaces on the lower level.

Armature Works in Tampa.

BE-1 Concepts owns numerous concepts in Tampa Bay and around Florida including Boca, Ciro’s Speakeasy, Atlanta Beer & Oyster, and Sea Critters Cafe. They also own Steelbach, BAR at Armature Works, Butcher N Barbeque, M.Bird, Cress and Stones Throw inside The Heights District.

Carlos Eats

November 7, 2019 |

NEWS: Dinner on the Lawn series coming to Armature Works November 14th

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Armature Works is launching a Dinner on the Lawn series starting on November 14th from 6PM to 9PM with an Autumn Harvest dinner. Chef Nathan Hardin of Steelbach and James Beard Award-winning Chef Anne Kearney of Oak & Ola will headline the event.

Chef Nathan Hardin of Steelbach and Chef Anne Kearney of Oak and Ola.

Dinner will be enjoyed under the stars with a view of Downtown Tampa and the Hillsborough River.

Armature Works Dinner on the Lawn Flyer

Tickets to the event start at $ 155 and include 5 courses, 5 wine pairings, live music, and a pop-up dining experience under the stars.

Buy tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/dinner-on-the-lawn-a-steelbach-oak-ola-chef-inspired-dinner-tickets-75175904153

Menu:

Hors d’oeuvres

Pissaladiére- Provencal onion & anchovy tart, basil pistou

and

Liver Toast – Faux Foie, spiced pickles , chive, olive oil, Jamison B. sourdough

First course

Celeriac Remoulade, chilled griddled duck breast, roasted shallot-herb salad, Champagne vinaigrette

Second Course

NC Sunburst Trout – sweet potato, brown butter, mulled cider, fennel jam, burnt onion

Third Course

Grilled pork tenderloin, prune-tarragon farce, pork crepinette, griddled polenta, Armagnac braised shallots, prune demi reduction, Armagnac gastrique

Fourth Course

Bellwether Farms San Andreas, Autumn fruit compote, Jamison B toast

Sweetgrass Dairy Asher Blue, Whipped Kuespert Honey, Cornbread

Fifth Course

Tarte Tatin – Miso Caramel, Fuji Apple, Nikka Coffee Grain Ice Cream, Smoked Pecans

Carlos Eats

October 29, 2019 |

NEWS: Armature Works launches Hurricane Dorian Relief Drive

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Are you looking to help the survivors of Hurricane Dorian? Armature Works located at 1910 North Ola Avenue in Tampa is working to help the victims of the storm.

AW Mercantile, located inside of Armature Works, will act as a collection center for baby supply items daily through next Monday, September 10th from 9AM to 7PM. You can also bring hurricane relief supplies over to Boca Kitchen Bar and Market at either the SoHo Tampa or Brandon location, Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club, or Sea Critters Café in Pass-a-Grille.

Hurricane Relief Drive

All donors will receive a voucher good for 10% off at all Armature Works concepts and any of the aforementioned Armature Works affiliate family of restaurants. All donations will be delivered to SOL Relief, which focuses on “providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief with the use of aviation”. For more information about SOL Relief, visit solrelief.org.

Armature Works proprietors, Chas and Taryn Bruck, through The Bruck Family Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, will match any donated items received during this drive.

At least 60% of homes in the Bahamas were destroyed when Hurricane Dorian passed through and at least 7 people were killed.

Carlos Eats

September 4, 2019 |

NEWS: Inside the Box closing at Armature Works on June 23rd

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Inside the Box cafe’s outpost at Armature Works Heights Public Market is permanently closing down this week. You have until Sunday, June 23rd to enjoy their food at Armature Works.

Metropolitan Ministries will shift the focus of the social enterprise concept to catering. Inside the Box was given a year and a half lease at no cost from Armature Works to raise money for programs at Metropolitan Ministries and has used the lease to raise money at one of Tampa’s busiest spots in town.

Inside the Box served fresh sandwiches and fresh deli meat to visitors at the food hall. Metropolitan Ministries says this lease was helpful to “gain many valuable lessons while providing a rich learning experience for our clients and culinary students”.

Fans of the concept can still enjoy their food in the future at the Tampa International Airport and Orlando International Airport as well as at the Times building. Catering will be available for businesses or events.

Inside the Box has a Culinary Arts Program that helps train culinary students and pull them out of poverty. Their culinary program is growing and expanding and will soon open a second training location in a partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Over 250 students have graduated in the first 6 years. All graduates are now employed.

Inside the Box as a social enterprise made $ 1 million revenue in 2017 and grew that to $ 2 million in 2018 with Armature Works and Dough Nation added to the enterprise. Metropolitan Ministries has plans to continue growing and helping others through their social enterprise in the future.

Find out more about Inside the Box at itbcafe.org.

Carlos Eats

June 18, 2019 |

NEWS: M. Bird rooftop bar and lounge now open at Armature Works Tampa

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The minds behind Armature Works, Ciro’s, Boca, and Ichicoro have joined forces to create M. Bird, a rooftop bar and lounge, on top of Armature Works Tampa, a historic building that has been recently restored and opened a mixed-use space in Tampa Heights.

The bar program features a tropically-driven craft-cocktail menu with VIP bottle service and a selection of rums and other sugarcane spirits. Some cocktails on the menu include Mai Tai ($ 13), Hemingway Daquiri ($ 10), Singani Sour ($ 11), and Daisy de Santiago ($ 13).

Small plates will be available for visitors including vaca fritas tostones ($ 16), citrus glazed branzino ($ 28), jerk chicken egg rolls ($ 15), and a bite-sized version of mofongo ($ 15).

Taryn Buck, co-owner of Armature Works, shares: “M.Bird’s origin comes from the Florida State Bird, the mockingbird, with live greenery and pops of color, guests will feel as if they are stepping into another city…it will be a completely different and unique experience.”

Decor-wise the bar and lounge with have a mod-dec design with unique seating options. The rooftop bar offers unobstructed views of the skyline in Tampa and waterfront views of the Hillsborough River. Guests must be 21+ to access M. Bird and reservations are required for parties of 6 or more.

Find out more about M. Bird at mbirdtampa.com.

Carlos Eats

March 27, 2019 |

Armature Works celebrates one year anniversary of success in Tampa

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It has been exactly one year since Armature Works opened its doors to the City of Tampa in Tampa Heights.

The historic building and food hall changed the city for the better and gave many restaurateurs and food brands and opportunity to shine on Tampa’s waterfront just outside of Downtown Tampa.

The venue has also served as a coworking space, event space, wedding venue, and more.

One of the owners and operators of Armature Works, Taryn Bruck, reflected on the past and future of the facility:

“We have learned a lot over the past 365 days and look forward to making your experience at Armature Works better than the last. Our success is attributed to our incredible vendors, hard-working team, and most of all our loyal AW fans! We can’t wait to show what we have in store for 2019!”

Photo credit: Zach Gresham of Adventure Marketing

I talked to a few of the businesses inside the Heights Public Market. Heights Public Market, HPM for short, is the food hall portion of Armature Works. The hall has thousands of customers walk through every week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I spoke with Stephanie Swanz, owner of Empamamas, and she told me:

“This past year has been one of the most rewarding times of my life and I am forever grateful to Chas, Taryn, Adam, and Frank for the opportunity and believing in Empamamas. Not only has Armature Works become one of the most desirable places to visit in Tampa, but it has completely changed the landscape of the neighborhood and I’m so excited to see their future projects unfold over the next few months”.

Graze 1910 has served over 90,000 eggs to hungry diners in the Heights Public Market according to owners, Ray and Lauren Menendez. If you haven’t enjoyed a mimosa and avocado toast with an egg for breakfast, you should. I did for Valentine’s Day 2018.

Clifford Barsi, Vice-President of Social Enterprises and Food Services at Metroplitan Ministries, reflecting on the past year:

“Metropolitan Ministries is very thankful for the opportunity to expand our Social Enterprise concept, ‘Inside the Box Cafe‘, through the generosity of Armature Works owners/developers: Chas Bruck and Adam Harden. They have given us a platform for our Culinary Program to get exposure for our students and to gain foodie acclaim for our in-house brined, cured, roasted, and smoked meats. That’s Good Food, Doing Good with the help from Good People! #Training+Jobs+Hunger Relief = Good Food Doing Good!”

Jen Bingham, owner of Cru Cellars, shared this:

“It’s been an amazing year at Armature Works, and we are so proud to be part of the wonderful space they’ve created here! For Cru, it’s been a great opportunity to engage with guests about wine – helping them to find that perfect glass of wine to enjoy, while also introducing them to new things. The Show & Tell space has been a hit for our Cru U wine classes and walk-around tastings”.

Here are some upcoming events at Armature Works:

  • Saturday, February 9th from 9AM-1PM – Heights Morning Market: Shop around for locally sourced and grown produce, meats, seafood, artisanal food items, packaged jams, sauces, and more on the Armature Works lawn.
  • Saturday, February 9th from 2PM-4PM: Chinese New Year: Armature Works will celebrate Chinese New Year. It is the Year of the Pig! Watch live performances and enjoy some great from Asian vendors inside the Heights Public Market.
  • Wednesday, February 13th from 5:30PM-9:30PM – Heights Night Market: Live-music and local vendors will rock the night away in front of the Hillsborough River. This event occurs every 2nd Wednesday of the month.
  • Thursday, February 14th from 7PM-9PM – Valentine’s Movies on the Lawn – Hitch: Looking for something low-key on Valentine’s Day. Celebrate the day outside at Armature Works with a free public screening of Hitch. Don’t forget your lawn chair or blanket. Popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase as well as food from the 14 vendors inside Heights Public Market. First-come, first-serve. Arriving early is recommended.
  • Wednesday, February 20th from 6:30PM-9:30PM – Sushi Battle Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay’s hottest sushi competition is back and this year it’s at Armature Works. Restaurants will compete for who makes the best sushi, while attendees will feast on all the sushi they can eat. 21+ event. Tickets are now on-sale.
  • Saturday, February 23rd from 3PM-8PM – One Year Birthday Bash: Armature Works will celebrate its one year anniversary as Tampa’s largest food hall and historic venue.

Check out the full event calendar at: http://armatureworks.com/calendar/

Carlos Eats

February 2, 2019 |

Support Tampa Bay Food Fight October 16th at Armature Works

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The Tampa Bay Food Fight is returning this October in the fight against poverty and hunger. Chefs from Tampa and St. Petersburg will put out their best food in the name of charity. Which city do you think will will win? The fundraiser will occur on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 from 6:30PM-9:30PM in Tampa Heights at Armature Works (1910 North Ola Avenue).


 


The competition will be hosted by WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil and Radio Personality Mike Calta. Tickets are $ 125 and are now on-sale. Buy your ticket at tampabayfoodfight.org Participating Tampa restaurants include:

  • Elevage
  • CENA
  • Steelbach
  • Oystercatchers
  • Armani’s
  • Hemingway
  • Ava
  • Oxford Exchange
  • Bern’s Steak House
  • Inside the Box
  • Dough Nation
  • Cru Cellar
  • Graze 1910
  • World of Beer
  • Zukku Sushi
  • Ciccio Cali
  • Ocean Prime
  • Mise en Place
  • The Rez Grill
  • Rooster & The Till
  • Forbici
  • Haven
  • Chismis

Participating St. Pete restaurants include:

  • The Mill
  • Parkshore Grill
  • The Avenue
  • Noble Crust
  • Better Byrd
  • Hawker’s
  • The Birchwood
  • Big Storm Brewery
  • Mini Doughnut Factory
  • Il Ritorno
  • The Peabody
  • Locale
  • Dr. BBQ
  • Red Mesa
  • Ichicoro

The line-up is truly exceptional. The event is organized by Metropolitan Ministries and benefits Metropolitan Ministries and Inside the Box which are working to fight homelessness, poverty, and hunger.

Carlos Eats

September 12, 2018 |

News: Petit Piquant now closed. New concept in the works.

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Scoop: Petit Piquant located near North Hyde Park is now permanently closed. The French-inspired bakery served a wide range of pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. I was personally a big fan of their Kouign-Amann pastries.

Instagram Photo

Rumor Mill: The owners Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera are pursuing a new business venture called Xilo Mexican Steet Food. The concept was first used a pop-up at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa Heights.

More details as I get them!

Check out Xilo Street Mexican on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xilostreetmexican/

Check out Xilo Street Mexican on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/xilostreetmexican/

 

Carlos Eats

July 13, 2018 |

Taking a look Inside the Box at Armature Works

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I have long heard of Inside the Box, but never actually been to the cafe before. I reached out to Inside the Box when they opened at Armature Works in Tampa Heights to get the story behind this unique project.

I met up for a few hours with their PR representative and Executive Chef Clifford Barsi walked me through their operation. Inside the Box is a social enterprise that generates funds to help fund Metropolian Ministries. 100% of the profits from the deli go back to the charity.

Chef Clifford Barsi spearheaded social enterprises for Metropolitan Ministries after volunteering there and realizing he wanted to help combine culinary with helping people get back on their feet.

Attacking Poverty Using Culinary Arts Training

Inside the Box primarily employees people who need work that have trained under their Culinary Arts program for their cafe and also helps those in need get employment and training at some of Tampa’s busiest restaurants including Mise En Place, Boca, Bizou Brassie, and Oxford Exchange.

The goal? To help those in need get higher paying jobs by giving them desirable skills that are needed in kitchens. Poverty often exists because people don’t have access to training and Metropolitan Ministries is working to change that.

The cost of living in Tampa has been climbing at a rapid pace although recently slowing behind the national average (sometimes 15% increases in rent prices year over year in the mid 2010s) since major investment projects around the bay began and programs like this will be needed more as people need better paying jobs to afford living in our city.

Metropolitan Ministries takes a look at what skills restaurants need from potential employees and seeks to teach these skills to their trainees. Some skills include how to be a prep cooks, advanced knife skills, how to clean a fryer/change oil, and knowledge of different essential foods. Trainees are placed in busy restaurants to build these skills that will ideally lead them to a career and financial stability.

Classes are small with only 8-10 students and is offered each quarter of the year. The course is 16-weeks. Each student is funded on a full scholarship. Only those in need qualify. Each culinary arts program features:

  • 150 hours of culinary classes
  • 20 hours for a Food Handling Certification Course
  • 100 hours of High Volume Production experience
  • 100 hours of Cafeteria experience
  • 100 hours of Restaurant experience
  • 40 hours for a Life and Employment Skills Course.

One particular skill that Chef Clifford Barsi highlighted was the importance of learning how to take a recipe and multiply or divide it. Consistency is key when restaurants are trying to create customer retention and this kind of skill is often missed in cooking programs.

None of this would possible without volunteers, donors, fundraisers, and these new social enterprises that are helping to fund these programs.

More info about their social enterprises: http://www.metromin.org/about/social-enterprise.html

Inside the Box Cafe Recommendations 

Inside the Box serves gourmet deli meat daily at Armature Works and also serves some delicious sandwiches. The price point matches the other vendors in the building at around $ 10-$ 12.

To me the best deal from the Inside the Box Armature Works stand is the deli meat which is sold at prices similar to popular Boar’s Head deli cuts, but will instead help fund a cause that aims to change and improve people’s lives.

As far as sandwiches are concerned – I tried a smoked lamb sandwich during my visit and it was absolutely delicious. During the soft opening for Armature Works I also tried a delicious turkey sandwich. The bread and cuts are certainly gourmet.

Some menu items include Smoked Salmon, Roast Porchetta, NY Strip Pastrami, and NY Strip Corned Beef. Sandwiches are steamed to keep them moist and warm when served with cheese. Plenty of sides are available to enjoy with your food.

Instagram Photo

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Chef Clifford Barsi tells me that Inside the Box tries to source locally in Florida when possible, but as the Tampa Bay Times has highlighted before, that can be a challenge in Florida. You’ll find some Florida cheeses and cuts around the deli when in season.

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Inside the Box also has a local market on the side where you can find lots of local produce, vegetables, coffee, and culinary goods as well as fresh bread from popular local vendors from around Tampa Bay and Florida including Piquant, Urban Canning Company, Sunset Salsa, Le’Anns Cheesecakes, and more. I’m hoping this market expands because I would like to see more things like this in our food halls.

Annual Fundraisers

You can help support the mission to end homelessness and poverty by supporting some key annual fundraisers put on by Metropolitan Ministries – although they are also always in need of volunteers to come help them get things done at the non-profit.

Metropolitan Ministries is a 4-star out of 4-star charity according to Charity Navigator.

Instagram Photo

Tampa Bay Food Fight is annual competition that Metropolitan Ministries organizes between chefs from both sides of the Howard Franklin Bridge. Proceeds from the event go back to supporting the charity.

Their Bridge Builders luncheon is coming up on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 at Hilton Hotel Downtown and WWE SuperStar Titus O’Neil is the keynote speaker this year. There are plenty of ways to get involved.

You can donate to Metropolitan Ministries directly here: http://secure.metromin.org/site/SPageNavigator/donate.html

Carlos Eats

March 8, 2018 |

Surf & Turf Truck serving great seafood at Armature Works

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Surf & Turf Truck and I go back a few years. We met during a food truck rally blitz in Seminole Heights and Ybor City. Always friendly at the register and humble about their food and vision.

I met the owner of Empamamas, Stephanie Swanz, at Surf & Turf Truck when she was working their front window while her food truck was being finished up. She perfectly matched their chill and friendly attitude – something not to be missed in a business where most of your business is done at an ordering station.

Surf & Turf always came ready to serve and would knock out order after order at each event they were at. The truck remained creative with themed events, while also serving seafood staples on the regular.

Now they have landed at the new Armature Works building as a vendor in the Heights Public Market. This lucky break came through their network of business contacts. I am sure the owners of Armature are pleased with what they found at Surf & Turf. As a vendor they are a great contrast from the other options at the market.

Lobster Roll

Genuinely good seafood in Tampa is harder to find than one would think. Way too many places stick to just grouper and tilapia and charge too much. There are only a few places that you can enjoy seafood in a casual setting. Surf & Turf took risks on lobster rolls before it was hip in Tampa. During my chat with the owner, Adam, I took a look at some other menu items including the Blue Crab Roll and Salmon Burger.

Instagram Photo

Blue Crab Roll at Surf & Turf

The Blue Crab Roll is at a much friendlier price point than the Lobster Roll at $ 12 and still packs tons of flavor. I have to say that for a small amount of time restaurants in Tampa were throwing Old Bay seasoning on everything and doing it incorrectly (much to my disappointment), however the Old Bay Mayo in this blue crab roll is superb. The bread is perfectly done as well. Is there anything better than a delicious sandwich? I think not. A scrumptious side of brussel sprouts completes the order.

Salmon Burger sample

*sample size

Surf & Turf’s Salmon Burger also did not disappoint and left me licking my fingers in joy. Quite buyer friendly at $ 8 – this burger is both filling and delicious inside and on the healthier side. I would order this Salmon Burger any day of the week and it was indeed sold out that day after customers gravitated to it.

Surf & Turf is on The Daily Meal’s Top 101 Food Trucks for 2016 at #42 and it deserves more recognition in Tampa. It is great to see gourmet food trucks on the move in our city. You can now visit Surf & Turf daily at Armature Works for the time being and I highly recommend heading over and giving them a try.

Carlos Eats

February 7, 2018 |

Armature Works food hall now in soft opening

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The long awaited Armature Works Heights Public Market is now in soft opening in Tampa Heights. The building opens at 7AM and most concepts are open by 11AM.

The food hall features over 10 different food concepts and bars throughout and is waterfront right off the Tampa Riverwalk near Waterworks Park.

I visited the soft opening preview last night and I’m back today trying out the menu at different concepts throughout the building. Everything has been delicious so far and you’ll find almost everything you might want to eat.

Visit them online at http://armatureworks.com/

Here are some photos:

Chicken slider samples from the all-day breakfast and lunch spot called Graze 1910.

Salmon Poke Bowl sample from Zukku Sushi.

Horchata Latte from Union Coffee (more popularly known as Commune and Co.).

Korean Philly Sandwich from BNB BBQ.

Pork Belly Bowl from Ichicoro Imoto.

Steak samples from Cru Cellars.

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Instagram Photo

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Instagram Photo

Carlos Eats

February 5, 2018 |

Empamamas now open at Armature Works

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Local food truck Empamamas has joined the vendor list at Armature Works for the Heights Public Market today. Several empanadas have appeared on the soft opening menu and it will expand with some time.

This is a huge deal for local food trucks and shows their gourmet power, especially after Surf & Turf is already doing great inside Armature Works. Today I had the signature dish, Tampa Girl Empamama, which is pretty much like a Cuban sandwich inside an empanada.

Here’s hoping to see more from them soon!

Instagram Photo

Carlos Eats

February 4, 2018 |

Indie Flea Market launches at Armature Works – 1/21

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The popular Indie Flea Market will expand to Armature Works on Sunday, January 21st, 2018 from 11AM-3PM.

The event will be recurring every 3rd Sunday of the month. Vendors will assemble at the upcoming food hall and event center to sell “handmade wares, upcycled home goods, vintage treasuries, artisanal foods, flowers and cacti…to name a few things”.

Hundreds of people regularly attend this event so it is great that they are expanding in size.

The event is a dream come true for Tampa’s growing hipster-scene that started in Ybor City and Seminole Heights, and has now shifted into Tampa Heights.

Still no concrete word on when Armature Works (originally slated for a September 2016 opening) will open fully to the public, but it has to be close if the posts online are any indication.

Address: 1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/176520142952144/

Follow Indie Flea on Instagram: @IndieFlea

Carlos Eats

January 16, 2018 |
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