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4 New Restaurants To Check Out In Tampa

Looking for new restaurants to try in Tampa? It seems like new restaurants are opening all the time nowadays. Here are some ideas.

Timpano Hyde Park: This long-running Hyde Park Village restaurant closed down during the pandemic, but has recently reopened its doors to the public. The excitement for the neighborhood is palpable and the place has become more “instagrammable” akin to places such as Mandarin Heights. The outside patio is a plus in this cooler Florida weather. 1610 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 254-5870

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BellaBrava Tampa: The downtown St. Pete staple BellaBrava has crossed the bay over to Midtown Tampa. It’s a smart and strategic move considering how Tampa is realigning towards West Tampa with dozens of new businesses on the way. Tampa does have a number of quality and well-established Italian restaurants not too far away including Donatello’s, Bella’s, and more. The restaurant claims to be old world mixed with new world flair serving flatbreads, pizzas, and Tuscan flavors. 1015 Gramercy Ln, Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 524-5226.

Oronzo: Yet another Italian spot at Midtown Tampa, this time from the creators of Bavaro’s, Dan Bavaro. The restaurant is a partnership with Front Burner Brands of the Melting Pot and Burger 21. You’ll find pasta, Roman-style flatbreads, salads, bowls, and more. Dough and pasta are made fresh daily. 1120 Gramercy Ln D-200, Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 480-9663.

Babushka’s Hyde Park: This popular Russian restaurant in Temple Terrace is trekking over soon to South Tampa. I personally liked their pierogies on my last visit. Their original location was quite small, so this is a welcome upgrade and will have plenty of things to look forward to including infused vodka, brunch specials, and a caviar bar. Other items include beef stroganoff, Chicken Kiev, Russian braised cabbage, and more. 901 West Platt Street Tampa, Florida.

The Left Bank Bistro in St. Pete celebrates third anniversary Saturday

The Left Bank Bistro located at 1225 Dr. MLK Jr. Street in St. Petersburg will celebrate its 3rd Anniversary on Saturday, November 13th with a special Four-Course Prix Fixe Menu, live entertainment, and more. There will be two seating times that will take place at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM, available by reservation only.

Susanne Byram, owner of the Left Bank Bistro shares, “We’re so pleased to celebrate The Left Bank Bistro’s 3rd Anniversary and want to offer something special to everyone. Our chef has created a wonderful four-course menu that will show his amazing culinary skills.”

“Just like Paris in the 1920’s we’re ready to have some fun festivities as we ring in another year with the restaurant.”

Valet parking will be provided and roaring 20’s attire is strongly encouraged. With limited seating, reservations are required.

Starter options include a Mushroom Carpaccio with truffle oyster mushroom, capers, red onion, arugula, shaved parmesan with sherry vinaigrette. Cassoulet featuring duck confit, garlic sausage, white beans, and garlic crust.

Main course offerings will include a Filet Mignon Thermador served with grilled filet, lobster meat thermador, garlic spinach, and potato gratin. Tripletail with fregola black kale risotto, amanagne orange cream, and foie gras mousse.

Dessert options include Chantilly Cake, Chocolatetorte, and Creme Brulee.

The Left Bank Bistro is housed in a 1922 bungalow and has a French focus. For reservations call (727) 256-1691 or visit their website at theleftbankbistro.com.

Eat Filipino Food And Enjoy Filipino Culture At PhilFest Tampa 2021 This Weekend

Need plans this weekend? After cancellations due to COVID-19 including earlier in the spring of this year, PhilFest Tampa is back this weekend for it’s 25th annual celebration starting today and Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

PhilFest is an annual celebration of Philippine culture and food that includes dozens of local organizations and performing arts companies as well as local vendors and restaurants. It’s a great way to catch cultural performances and enjoy Filipino food in Tampa.

You’ll find lumpia, halo-halo, sisig, lechon kawali, chicken adobo, and other specialties scattered around the event. The event is held outdoors so bring an umbrella in case it rains. Also: Make sure to bring cash to get tickets to buy food and items around the event.

There will be a Tanghalang Pambata Talent Competition for Children, Tawag ng Tanghalan Singing Competition for Adults, Mr. and Mrs. PhilFest 2021, Revolution Hi-Hip competition, Yugyugan 2021 and more to enjoy at the festival.

Admission is $6 for entry. Children 5 years and under as well as Filipino and American veterans are free.

There will be live performances all weekend long.

Enjoy!

Event Name: PhilFest Tampa

Venue: Bayanihan Arts and Events Center

Date: Friday, November 5th to Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Cost: $6 admission, free for kids under 5 and veterans

Address: 14301 Nine Eagles Dr, Tampa, FL 33626

More info: https://pcfitampa.org/philfest-2021/

National Coffee Day 2021

National Coffee Day is September 29th. It is probably one of my favorite food holidays of the year considering how much I have come to love coffee over the last few years. Here is a list of local coffee shops I wrote about in Tampa a few years ago.

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

It wouldn’t be a food holiday without the deals. Here are some freebies:

Kahwa Coffee: Free small coffee drink of your choosing on September 29th (includes seasonal special pumpkin spiced latte).

Joffrey’s Coffee Midtown Tampa: FREE hot/iced coffee from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. 1 hot/iced coffee from 10 a.m. to 6p.m. First 25 customers of the day receive a FREE bag of our Ybor City Blend and a surprise from @monin_usa. FREE coffee themed ripples all day (on select beverages). More.

Starbucks: Disney World isn’t the only one celebrating a 50th birthday. Starbucks is celebrating their 50th Anniversary on September 29th during National Coffee Day. Starbucks is inviting customers to bring in a clean, empty, reusable cup (up to 20 fl. oz.) into participating cafe locations in the U.S. to receive a free cup of Pike Place® Roast brewed coffee*.

Dunkin’: All day on National Coffee Day, Wednesday, September 29, DD Perks® members can get a FREE medium hot or iced coffee with any purchase*. The free medium hot or iced coffee includes Dunkin’s Original Blend or Dunkin’s Limited Batch Series coffees, 100% Guatemalan Hot Coffee or Dunkin’ Midnight Hot Coffee. For anyone not already a DD Perks® member, they can receive their first perk as soon as the simple signup is complete. New Dunkin’ loyalty members can quickly create an account on the Dunkin’ app or online at DDPerks.com, and get one free medium hot or iced coffee with any purchase by scanning their loyalty ID at checkout, ordering ahead on the Dunkin’ app or paying with an enrolled Dunkin’ card on September 29.

Einstein: Order ahead in the brand’s app and receive hot or iced coffee. This is an ongoing promotion.

Krispy Kreme: Reward Members can receive a free brewed coffee and doughnut of their choice (no purchase necessary) and non-rewards members can receive a free brewed coffee on September 29, 2021.

Wawa: Any-size coffee free on September 29, 2021. Self-serve up to 24-oz.

A new Asian hotspot is now open in Brandon, Zimo Bakery and Cafe

There is a new Asian bakery, cafe, and boba shop that is now open in Brandon next to M.D. Oriental Market on Adamo Drive in the former location of Tokai Sushi. Zimo Bakery and Cafe is a cross between many different businesses you can find around Florida. Their bubble tea uses real fruits and fresh tea, similar to Royal Tea in Orlando. 

Bubble teas will run you around $5 — which is about standard nowadays for Tampa, although more expensive than Green Island which is just on the other side of the plaza from Zimo. Now that Kung Fu Tea and TBD Cafe has opened in Riverview, there are quite a few options available for bubble tea and tea for residents in the area.

The owners say one of their signature drinks is a Mango Pomelo Sago made with organic mangos, but I already knew what I was after from stalking their Instagram page. I ordered the Super Fruit Jasmine Green Tea which reminds me of a drink I love at Royal Tea filled with citrus fruit and tea. The drink was incredibly refreshing and I gulped it down. Excellent.

My fellow guest enjoyed a Thai Tea that was brewed to perfection with a nice punch and mixed with the perfect balance. We order Thai Tea at Green Island quite a bit and this one is seriously giving it a run for its money. It is notably a little more expensive though. 

Their Asian baked goods are most available in the morning, but still quite plentiful in the evening. Options include their Pineapple Bun, Custard Bun, Red Bean Bun, Cream Cheese Bun, Hot Dog Bun, Ube Bun, Egg Tart, and more. They also have a number of cakes. It’s very similar to what you’ll find at Sweet Buns in Tampa by the University of South Florida or 85°C Bakery Cafe in California, but notably their pastries taste much fresher despite popping in after 6 p.m. for a snack.

Egg tart is one of my favorite things in this world and it did not disappoint at Zimo. It would definitely be great to grab a fresh one in the morning. When is someone going to just buckle down and open a dimsum spot in Brandon and Tampa? We are long overdue and no Yummy House does not count.

The Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun was incredibly soft and flavorful. I recommend it. 

Zimo also has a cafe element which is different from other boba cafes and honestly very important for any tea shop’s survival. The menu is a little limited at the moment on entrees, although the owners said they are working on expanding it, and includes a Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Roasted Chicken Sandwich, Fried Basil Popcorn Chicken, Fried Calamari, and more. Most items are appetizers or fried food.

They have a $9.99 lunch deal for food and a drink, which isn’t bad at all for those in the area. 

Outdoor dining is noticeably limited at the moment, hopefully it will expand considering the surge of COVID-19 in Florida at the moment. Their neighbor First Choice BBQ has a number of tables outside now. Pretty much every staff member was wearing a mask which was greatly appreciated and they did seem to be taking most precautions despite no real local regulations at the moment.

I noticed a coffee and espresso machine, which might come in useful for a quick morning run for baked goods and coffee. I am not sure why most bubble tea shops in Tampa don’t have any coffee options, but it is long overdue if you ask me. Sometimes I just want to grab a drink while catching up with a friend or family member. 

If you haven’t been to Zimo Bakery and Cafe yet, I highly recommend heading over and giving it a try. 


Zimo Bakery and Cafe. 10115 E Adamo Dr, Tampa, FL 33619.

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month returns August 27th

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.

Willa’s Provisions hosts Miami’s Benh Mi for a pop-up this weekend in North Hyde Park

Willa’s Provisions in North Hyde Park will host a pop-up on Saturday and Sunday this weekend with Miami’s Benh Mi from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Benh Mi is a Vietnamese-inspired eatery in Miami Beach founded by Executive Chef Benjamin Murray and Chef-restaurateur Michael Kaplan, featuring a menu of homemade Bánh Mi sandwiches, salads, snacks and pastries.

Murray and Kaplan make all items in-house, except for the bread, sourced from Bettant Bakery located just down the street from Benh Mi, named after the popular Vietnamese sandwich, the Bánh Mi. . They are dedicated to procuring ingredients from local and artisanal purveyors, farms, and businesses that ensure a high-quality touch.

“Michael has been a mentor and friend of mine for years, and we’re honored to welcome him and his creative team from Benh Mi to Tampa for the weekend,” said Willa’s Provisions Cofounder Merrin Jenkins.

“We’re looking forward to introducing the neighborhood to Benh Mi’s menu while pairing beloved items from our own cocktail and food program. This will be the first of many pop-up collaborations we plan to host in the future featuring talented chefs and restaurants we admire.”

“I always wanted Willa’s and Willa’s Provisions to be more like a lifestyle brand than just a restaurant and cafe. A place where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks in a casual and warm environment, but also a trusted source and curator, a place where you can discover new ideas, cuisines, or pantry goods.”

“A big part of Willa’s culture is to be a lifelong learners and this pop-up and collaboration is about introducing Tampa to Benh Mi. Not to mention one of the founders – Michael – is a dear friend and my favorite cooking partner. We’ve cooked everything together from homemade pastas and sauces to back yard bbqs for 20 people. He’s a professionally trained chef and I’m the amateur home cook learning from him – which is always a blast.”

Guests are invited to experience a taste of the eatery with a menu that will feature Char Siu Mushroom Bánh Mi Sandwich, Xtra Crunchy Chicken Tender Bucket, Green Papaya Salad, Iced Ube Latte and more, plus Willa’s favorites with a Benh Mi spin, including an exclusive Willa’s Provisions Roasted Chicken Bánh Mi sandwich. On the cocktail side, guests can enjoy beverages in pouches like the Saigon Sunrise, Willa’s Fix, and Willa’s Peach Tonic.

Veggie Spring Rolls
Char Siu Mushroom Bánh Mi Sandwich
Ube Latte

“We are so excited to collab with Willa’s to bring our Vietnamese inspired cuisine to Tampa. Willa’s and their owners/operators share so many of the same values as us, with regards to product sourcing, quality of food, innovation and team building. Working with people that are so aligned with us is always a special pleasure, we hope Tampa is as welcoming as Miami has been,” said Michael Kaplan, New Wave Hospitality Group Owner/Partner.

Originally started as a passion project of Murray’s during the height of the pandemic, Benh Mi has flourished into a successful brick and mortar location receiving praise from Forbes, Eater Miami, Time Out Miami, The Miami Herald, Indulge Magazine, and more. Chef de Cuisine of Pao by Paul Qui in Miami, FL.

Murray fuses his ingredients and techniques from his mother’s native Japan and his father’s traditional American cooking. He worked his way up through some of Miami’s most popular restaurants and became Chef de Cuisine of Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami.

Annual Bier Fest returns to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on August 13th

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is bringing back their annual Bier Fest to the Tampa theme park on Friday, August 13th, 2021. This will be the 4th year this event runs and highlights craft beers from Florida and beyond.

There will be an all-new beer trail, weaving through the park’s iconic coasters, local live music, and animal habitats while incorporating fan-favorite restaurants and outdoor culinary stations, including the new Giraffe Bar. This year, park guests can take a new adventure each Friday through Sunday from August 13th to October 31st.

Beer fans can enjoy over 50 varieties of IPAs, wheat ales, stouts, and more. This year’s event shines a spotlight on breweries that bring flavor to Florida and beyond, with iconic local, regional and national brews incorporated into new shareable samples at over a dozen culinary locations.

Highlights include the Brews & Chews with Funky Buddha Brewing, pair a “Hop Gun IPA” with Busch Gardens’ new Drunken Shrimp Papaya Salad that will feature beer-battered and golden fried shrimp topped with Tajin and Thai chili Buddha dressing.

Pub Grub featuring Alcatraz Brewing: Enjoy a “2 X IPA” with pepper-smoked chopped brisket poutine, including beer-battered French fries smothered in blue cheese, caramelized onions, and chipotle BBQ sauce.

Garden Gate featuring Anheuser-Busch will pay tribute to the theme park’s roots and features the return of fan-favorite Mojo-roasted heritage pork pub chip nachos topped with pepper jack mornay cheese and a savory avocado crema.

Kraft-Heinz Kitchen featuring Sierra Nevada Brewing will bring a tantamount of flavor packed into the new High Altitude Smoked Elk Jalapeño Sausage Chili topped with a drizzle of Kraft-Heinz cilantro sour cream.

Beer will be featured from Big Storm, 3 Daughters, Motorworks, Cigar City, Coppertail, Yuengling and more.

There will also be new sangria and mimosa bar pairs with the whiskey-inspired gourmet cupcake flight fresh from the park’s bakery for the perfect dessert combo.

For those not interested in drinking, several festival locations will feature non-alcoholic beverage options as well, including at the new Giraffe Bar. Barrilitos strawberry hibiscus or watermelon Agua Frescas will offer a chance to cool off on summer days and guests can enjoy Serengeti views from panoramic windows or the open-air patio.

The most economical way to enjoy the fest is to purchase a Bier Fest Sampler Lanyard, which start at $49.99 for a 8-sample punch card. Busch Gardens Pass Members get an exclusive offer of 15 items for the same price as a 12-item Sampler to enjoy three extra samples for free.

Consistent with CDC guidance, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay recommend that guests wear face coverings while indoors.

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

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.

Tropisueno serves delicious tacos that bring back powerful memories in San Francisco

The last time I was at Tropisueno at 75 Yerba Buena Lane it was years ago for a party on Cinco de Mayo. My cousin once worked there as a bartender so she had mentioned it after another plan went bust. When we arrived back then there was a live band, DJ, and shots flowing. The tacos were what I remembered the most though.

In between margaritas and tequila/mezcal shots, I was buying carne asada tacos to attempt to keep an incoming hangover at bay (it didn’t work). The flavor of the carne asada stayed with me over the years and I wondered how they were doing at Tropisueno.

I stopped by recently for tacos and found the place moderately busy. I grabbed a table at their outdoor courtyard which has tall glass windows, perfect for shielding you from the cold wind that blows in the evenings. 

Tropisueno is much fancier than the taquerias I normally frequent in the Mission District, to me each place has its own appeal for different reasons.

The waiter was new and in-training, but there was no noticeable change in the quality of the food or experience. One of the things I find most fascinating about dining in San Francisco after this return is how good the food still is in San Francisco, despite literally everything working against the dining scene here and that is why I believe San Francisco will rise again as a food destination.

Shutdowns, bar closures, a lack of tourists, the exodus of Silicon Valley, confusing government regulations, and a surging Delta variant have not stopped the restaurants in San Francisco from serving some of the best food I’ve ever had. It tastes almost like a pandemic never happened, but if you look around, the places feel emptier and the business is most certainly slower than it has been in for a long time. 

I ordered a plate of tacos with rice and beans. The order comes with chips and salsa, three different sauces to be precise. Each one is enjoyable in its own way, I personally don’t have a preference. The rice and beans are cooked to perfection, moist and soft with each bite.

I enjoyed a Cena Del Oso margarita cocktail made with El jimador, Drambuie, cassis, and fresh lime juice rimmed with smoked salt. It hit the spot and created an instant buzz that was just right for 5 p.m. and a day running around the city for work.  

Of the taco choices I ordered Carnitas and Carne Asada. Both were delicious in their own right and stacked to perfection, but I leaned toward the Carne Asada. 

It was partially the exquisite taste of the meat in my mouth, each bite a savory bit of juiciness as I chomped through and in the back of my mind a time before the pandemic where I danced the night away with my cousin while sipping margaritas when the city was fully alive and not battling a plague. 

Tropisueno. 75 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 985-2264.