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Hotel Bar now serving Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa has a new spot now open called Hotel Bar. The bar is a classy establishment that serves libations created by famous hotels around the world and also gourmet food.

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During my visit I tried the Hotel Nacional made with cana brava, giffard peche, pineapple, and lime. The cocktail comes from Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, Cuba. You’ll find other cocktails on the menu from countries including England, Japan, France and a nice selection from New Orleans.

The food menu includes lamb tartare, wagyu ragu, roasted lemon chicken, and prime rib as well as finger food such as deviled eggs and pita chips with various dips. Late night diners can enjoy a late night fare menu.

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The bar and restaurants fits in perfectly with the growing community around Downtown and offers a new spot to go out for a group outing or drinks after work. The ownership comes from Fly Bar & Restaurant who has been serving Downtown Tampa for years.

I am looking forward to big things to come from Hotel Bar and all of Downtown Tampa as our city keeps growing.

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Photos via Hotel Bar instagram

Name: Hotel Bar

Address: 200 N. TAMPA STREET, TAMPA FL 33602

Phone: (813) 533-2650

Hours: Open daily / 4PM-3AM

Website: http://hotelbartampa.com/

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Plant City Food Truck Rally this Black Friday 2016!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. I have been compensated for my time and writing. Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally works with more than 100 food trucks and books them for events, corporate and private catering, among other services.

Hey Foodies! Once you finish your Black Friday shopping this holiday on November 25th, head over to the Plant City Main Street Food Truck Rally from 5PM-9PM for a wide-range of gourmet food from local food trucks including burgers, barbeque, pizza, dessert, and more.

Plant City Main Street Food Truck Rally

There will be Santa photo opportunities on-site. The event is held in conjunction with Plant City Main Street and presented by Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally.

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1866000460300805/

Participating Food Trucks:

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Chef Marc Murphy and Chef Anne Burrell hosting demo, dinner

Chef Marc Murphy and Chef Anne Burrell are hosting a culinary demonstration and dinner at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa located at 5223 North Orient Road Tampa, Florida 33610 on Saturday, November 12th, 2016 beginning at 6:30PM.

Tickets cost $150 per person and can be purchased by calling (813) 627-6630 or via e-mail at info@greysalt-restaurant.com. Space is limited.

Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres during the demonstration at 6:30PM and enjoy a 4-course dinner at 7:30PM inside Grey Salt. Guests will also enjoy a special “Meet & Greet” with celebrity chefs inside in the VIP Plum Lounge.

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Chef Anne Burrell is the host of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” and “Worst Cooks in America – Celebrity Edition.” She was also one of Iron Chef Mario Batali’s sous chefs in the “Iron Chef America” series and appears on other shows on the network such as “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Chopped” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

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Chef Marc Murphy serves as the Chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants (Landmarc & Ditch Plains) and Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, and is the Chef and partner at Kingside in the Viceroy Central Park as well as the Chef and partner of Grey Salt at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. He is a regular judge on the Food Network’s top-rated show, “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior” and has appeared on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Beat Bobby Flay,” and the Rachael Ray show among others. He is also the author of “Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking.”

Plant City Food Truck Rally October 28th!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. I have been compensated for my time and writing. Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally works with more than 100 food trucks and books them for events, corporate and private catering, among other services.

Make plans for this Friday, October 28th, 2016 from 5PM-9PM for the monthly Plant City Main Street Food Truck Rally. Over 10 food trucks will head into Plant City Main Street for this food event. Check out photos from last month’s food truck rally here: http://www.plantcityobserver.com/photo-gallery/photo-gallery-plant-city-main-street-food-truck-rally. The event is sponsored by Plant City Main Street.

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Participating food trucks:

Event name: Plant City Food Truck Rally

Date & Time: Friday, October 28th, 2016, 5PM-9PM

Location: Corner of Drane Street and N Palmer Street

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1694458727548860/

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Downtown Lakeland Food Truck Rally tonight!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. I have been compensated for my time and writing. Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally works with more than 100 food trucks and books them for events, corporate and private catering, among other services.

Tonight (October 13th) is the monthly Downtown Lakeland Food Truck Rally from 6PM-9PM located at Munn Park – 201 East Main Street Lakeland, Florida 33801. The event is sponsored by Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, Downtown Lakeland, Auto-Owners Insurance, Fairchild, Addison and McKone Insurance Inc., and BioLife Plasma Services- Lakeland Florida Avenue.

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/982383938539184/

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Participating food trucks:

USF Homecoming XX Food Truck Rally

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. I have been compensated for my time and writing. Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally works with more than 100 food trucks and books them for events, corporate and private catering, among other services. Opinions posted are my own and do not represent the views of Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally or businesses listed.

On Friday I visited the University of South Florida Sun Dome for a food truck rally for USF Homecoming XX. Food trucks were spread around the event including Boom Boom BoxChurroland TampaJust Smokin BBQ, Kebablicious, SantoriniSawadee Thai Food, and WING BOX. Homecoming is one of USF’s longest traditions, dating back to 1964, the year after USF’s first graduating class.

Boom Boom Burger

First we stopped at Boom Boom Box food truck. It was hard to decide what to order – but their Boom Boom Burger looked appetizing so we decided to order it. Indeed, it was an extremely delicious burger down to the last bite and a large portion that would be filling for hungry food truck rally attendees. The sauce really makes this burger and definitely makes me want to try the other things on the menu that utilize it. The fries were also great.

Sawadee Thai Food Truck

Next we stopped at Sawadee Thai Food Truck, not to be confused with Sawatdee Thai Cuisine located on 56th Street by USF. I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of a Thai food truck – but we decided that a Pad Thai would be a quick way to judge whether the food was good at Sawadee.

Chicken Pad Thai

I was surprised with both the portion size and dedication to quality on Sawadee Thai Food Truck. It tasted just as good as a Pad Thai you can get in a Thai restaurant and the price was fair at around $7. The attention to detail was there and the owners at the food truck were really friendly and remembered a friend of mine who visited the truck over a year ago.

Noodles

One of the last things I tried was the noodles off the Sawadee Thai Food Truck. Also delicious and clear dedication to authentic cuisine. I’d definitely go back to this truck and try some other more exotic things in the future – they had quite a few choices and the prices were definitely inviting.

Overall, we had a blast wandering around the food truck rally trying different food at the rally and the weather was favorable thanks to Hurricane Matthew bringing in a cold front and lots of windy weather which is welcome after an extremely hot summer. This concluded our visit to the USF Homecoming XX Food Truck Rally.

Gyro Zone serves up excellent, affordable Lebanese food

There is this is hole-in-the-wall restaurant I have been frequenting by USF and the University Mall called Gyro Zone. It fits every definition of the phrase “hidden gem”.

The prices are fair and trend under $10 with student deals and combos that can appeal to the college students. The hours are also college-friendly with Gyro Zone open until midnight from Monday-Saturday (good luck finding a decent meal after 10PM at other places by campus). The food will leave your heart and stomach in a good place.

When you walk into Gyro Zone – you’re not sure what to expect. The place is simple enough – a long hallway with tables and a counter for ordering your food and pickup. The kitchen is open you so you can see the schwarma in all its fine excellence and their dedication to quality as they prepare the food.

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Picking a menu item can be tough – I have trended towards chicken schwarma on most visits – simply because it is the best chicken schwarma I have had in the Tampa Bay area. It’s incredible. I usually grab it in a pita, but on my last visit yesterday I decided to go for the Schwarma Bowl which comes with rice, chicken schwarma, some veggies, and a drink. All for around $7. It. is. amazing.

Gyro Zone has 41 reviews on Yelp and seems to have organically reached a 5-star average, yet every time I visit the place isn’t busy which has me concerned, so here I am…writing my love to this excellent food. I have visited over 6 times in the last 3 weeks and I left happy and satisfied every single time.

The fries that they serve with their pita are better than Five Guys and cooked to perfection. The owner (I assume) and employees who work there are always super chill and friendly. They offer delivery (I hear they may be on UberEats soon? – let’s hope).

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I finally tried the hummus on my last visit. I LOVE hummus – but my experiences with it are all over the place depending on what restaurant you eat it at. The hummus at Gyro Zone was excellent and came with some of their pita chips which I’ll add are also crazy good. Everything here is just on-point and exceeds expectations.

My friend was feeling adventurous yesterday and decided to order the cheeseburger at Gyro Zone. Sure – not an ode to Lebanese cuisine. However, I took a bite or two or three out of his burger and it was insanely delicious. I’m not sure if it was the sauce in the burger or the seasoning in the beef that made it taste so good – but this burger was not your average burger and it seems like that applies across the entire menu at Gyro Zone.

It’s hard to open a great, local business and restaurant in Tampa Bay and all the right elements are at Gyro Zone. All that is left is for people to go and experience it for themselves. Don’t just take my word for it. Go try it yourself. The prices are fair and the food is excellent.

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Restaurant Name: Gyro Zone

Address: 2709 University Square Dr. Tampa, FL 33612

Phone Number: (813) 284-0777

Website: http://www.gyrozonetampa.com/

Menu: http://www.gyrozonetampa.com/menu.html

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Gyro-Zone-166848396852439/