NEWS: Recess Pizza grand opening set for June 22nd in Downtown Orlando

The culinary team behind Orlando Meats is having their grand opening for their latest concept, Recess Pizza, on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019.

The team took over the culinary kitchen at Orange County Brewers back in May just two blocks south of the Orange County Courthouse on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street in Downtown Orlando.

Culinary Director Eliot Hillis and Head Chef Seth Parker have developed an alkaline dough for their pizza crust that is being paired with their high-quality cuts from Orlando Meats and cooked in a wood-fire oven.

Some pizzas menu options include:

  • Kya: pork belly, halloumi, chimichurri, crema
  • Tammi: pulled pork, slaw, cheddar, spicy white stuff
  • Beverly: spicy pork, broccolini, ricotta, mozzarella, pomodoro
  • Steph: ham and cheddar, blue cheese, garlic puree
  • & more

The menu will offer more than pizza with hot sandwiches and salads available. Brunch will be available on the menu and launch during the opening. Online ordering will be available on Slice and delivery on Uber Eats and Grubhub.

Limited-edition pizzas will be available for the opening as well as beer specials at the brewery. A raffle will be held at the opening with an array of local partners. The event will be held during regular business hours from 11:30AM to 11PM.

Find out more at recesspizza.com.

Recess Pizza. 131 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801. (321) 204-9616.

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Margarita Wars coming July 26th to TPepin Hospitality Centre in Tampa

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Creative Loafing Tampa. I have partnered with them for their upcoming Margarita Wars and have received tickets in exchange for my post about their upcoming event and cross-promotions. Opinions are my own and do not reflect Creative Loafing or affiliates.

Ready to sip some margaritas? Creative Loafing is back with their annual Margarita Wars on Friday, July 26th at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa from 7PM to 10PM. More than 15 of Tampa Bay’s mixologists will duke it out for who makes the best margs in town. All guests will enjoy unlimited samples of margaritas as well as food samples, entertainment, and voting in the Best Margarita competition.

Tickets are now on-sale. Prices will rise at the door if available on the event date. VIP includes an extra hour of admission as well as a VIP-area, swag, one beer, a $25 voucher to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, and more. It’s a great way to beat the rush and start the party early.

Event name: Margarita Wars

Venue: TPepin’s Hospitality Centre

Date & Time: Friday, July 26th, 7PM to 10PM, VIP starts at 6PM

Address: 4121 North 50th Street Tampa, Florida

Ages: 21+

Cost: $45+

Buy tickets: http://tampabayeventtickets.com/events/93473861/margarita-wars-2019

Website: http://margaritawarstampabay.com

NEWS: Zentu Cafe vegan mobile kitchen is now permanently closed

Local vegan spot and mobile kitchen Zentu Cafe announced it’s permanent closure today on Instagram in a loss for local vegans. It was located inside Blue Torch Cigars and Winery at 5908 N. Armenia Ave. in Tampa. The cafe opened in February 2019 and their mission was “to switch up what Tampa is used to where vegan food is bland, overly healthy, or super bad for you.”

The statement reads, “It is with infinite sadness that we must announce the closure of Zentu Cafe. It’s been a good run, educational and we loved being part of this amazing community here in Tampa. We especially thank Blue Torch Cigar for hosting us and letting us try to grow. Enjoy this amazing upswing in vegan opportunities and we look forward to trying other restaurants soon”!

The project was a partnership between Benny Blanchard of The Human’s Mechanic in Seminole Heights and Tim Fedorko of Farmacy Vegan Kitchen & Bakery.

 

NEWS: Hidden Star Tiki Bar opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa

Hidden Star Tiki Bar is opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa inside Anise Global Gastrobar. Anise has been serving high-quality cocktails as well as gastronomical food fare with an Asian twist in Tampa for years and is the creation of Xuan Pham Hurt.

This is her fourth creation in Tampa following her North Star Eatery at Hall on Franklin and her Stinky Bunz food truck that started it all.

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When asked what inspired this tiki bar to be created, Hurt told me, “It never fails that whenever I travel to different cities, I always seek out their best tiki bars. We felt that the residents and visitors of Downtown Tampa would appreciate their very own tiny oasis in the middle of the city. Tasty tropical beverages with whimsical garnishes can make any day feel like a vacation. We are fortunate to have the space to provide an intimate setting for the creation of innovative and playful cocktails made with our highest standards”.

Hurt will work with Sean O’Connor, who she describes as a local tiki trademan, Christina Gilson, Anise Beverage Director, Justin Gray, United States Bartenders Guild Veteran, and the rest of the Anise bar team to develop the cocktail menu. They want to provide modern rifts on classic favorites that Hurt feels will exceed everyone’s expectations.

Hidden Star will only be open Friday and Saturday nights from 7PM to 2AM. Guests will check-in at the Anise host stand and will be escorted to the hidden entrance once seats become available.

Due to the limited space, reservations will not be taken nor will estimated wait times given. Random chances for expedited entry will be announced via email newsletters and social media pages.

Hidden Star guests can expect an original menu of 7 to 8 elevated tiki cocktails and a few bar snack that they can enjoy in an intimate setting while surrounded by other enthusiasts. Beer, wine, mixed drinks, and a full dining menu will continue to only be offered in the main dining room at Anise.

Service is expected to start on the weekend of June 28th.

Find more information and sign-up for updates at aniseglobal.com.

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

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.

NEWS: King State grand opening in Tampa Heights set for June 21st

Update: It looks like King State is no longer having a Grand Opening on Friday, but instead a Friends and Family night.

The highly anticipated King State will finally open their doors next week and have their Grand Opening on Friday, June 21st in Tampa Heights according a report from local newspaper Creative Loafing.

Their cafe will be located at 520 E. Floribraska Avenue, minutes from Lee’s Grocery and Shuffle. The location has been in the works since at least 2016.

The cafe will feature craft beer, wine, and bites as well as their popular coffee roasts. The owners were early proponents of the third wave coffee scene in Tampa which has exploded over the last few years and landed Tampa on many lists for best coffee towns.

The owners were quoted by the Tampa Bay Times in 2015 saying, “If you have two roasters, then four roasters open up next year, and then those four roasters talk to friends, and eight roasters open the next year. All of a sudden, five or 10 years from now, there’s going to be a third-wave coffee shop in every neighborhood.”

The new King State cafe is a major development for the Tampa Heights neighborhood which was bolstered in recent years by food halls such as The Hall on Franklin and Armature Works.

Early investments by Ulele and Foundation Coffee have brought many business interests into the area. The loyal social media following of King State is sure to bring many people into the neighborhood.

With Bay Cannon Brewing coming soon to North Hyde Park, it seems like Tampa is heading into a major next phase of development.

Meet the Chefs 2019: Meet and Mingle with Tampa Bay Chefs

Creative Loafing‘s annual food event, Meet The Chefs, is approaching quickly at The Vault in Downtown Tampa and will occur on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 from 7PM-10PM. VIP is already sold out and GA is selling quickly as well.

General Admission includes small plates by each chef and more as well as an opportunity to meet them at the event (hence the name). The event is for ages 21 years and older and is rain or shine.

Some items on the menu include Gnocchi alla Vaccinara, Tete de Moine Rosette with lavender honey, Scallop Crudo with meyer lemon and dried herbs, Burnt End Arepas, Southern Lump Crab Cakes, Beef Tartare, and more.

Tickets are $55 in advance and will increase at the door. This event does sell out though so make sure you buy your tickets early if you want to attend.

Participating restaurants:

Event Name: Meet The Chefs 2019

Venue: The Vault

Date & Time: Wednesday, June 12th, 2019, 7PM-10PM

Address: 611 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602

Ages: 21+

Buy tickets: https://tampabayeventtickets.com/events/93356217/meet-the-chefs-2019

Maroon 5 and Adam Levine to headline Hard Rock Hollywood opening October 25

South Florida has plenty to look forward to this fall with Maroon 5 and Adam Levine coming down to headline the opening of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on October 25th. Tickets are now available.

The 35-story building has been a huge development with over $1.5 billion spent for the “world’s first-ever guitar hotel”. New additions to the casino include a new spa, 13.5 acres of recreational waterscape, top-of-the-line meeting and convention space, a state-of-the-art entertainment venue, retail shops, and more.

Find out more information at www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com/the-new-hard-rock.htm

Foodie Photoshoot / St. Pete Lunchpool Takeover Recap

Lunchpool + Carlos Eats Foodie Tour Downtown St. Pete

I joined forces with a new food startup called Lunchpool on Sunday, May 19th for a Foodie Photoshoot / St. Pete Lunchpool Takeover. The idea was to eat our way through a section of Downtown St. Petersburg and connect people over food while trying some new places or outposts of businesses I have seen around Tampa.

Food has always been a passion of mine and a huge part of my life and this was another new avenue where food can make a difference.

The event was sponsored by Carlos Eats and also Rising Tide Innovation Center, a cowork space located in Downtown St. Pete that works to connect like-minded collaborators.

We made several stops throughout the day at popular restaurants, cafes, and shops in Downtown St. Pete. Some of them I was familiar with, but many of them I had never heard of as a citizen of Tampa across the bridge.

What I found is that there are plenty of awesome spots just waiting for people from Tampa to try. We cross the bridge for Rays games, Rowdies games, concerts at Jannus, and for First Friday. These are spots we should know and so I want to share them with you.

Stop No. 1: Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails

I love coffee and Intermezzo has to have one of the most beautiful shops I have seen in the Tampa Bay area. The espresso pours are excellent, the staff is friendly, and it is conveniently located next to plenty of restaurants on Central Avenue.

During this visit with Lunchpool I also tried the matcha for the first time through a friend and it was obvious that Intermezzo does its best to provide a quality product to all its customers. They have cocktails for those looking for a chill venue in the evenings after a long day working on your laptop.

1111 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. (727) 873-6664. http://intermezzo.co/

Stop No. 2: Ford’s Garage:

Ford’s Garage has exploded in growth as a franchise in recent years. I still remember the first location in Brandon and how crazy packed it gets compared to its predecessor. Ford’s Garage has a wide-variety of burgers on the menu and an option to build your own as well.

We mainly shared appetizers and one thing that was surprising was how good the wings were. If you love craft beer, Ford’s Garage also has a very expansive beer menu with tons of local options which is how it should be everywhere in this town.

200 1st Ave S., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 295-3673. http://www.fordsgarageusa.com/locations/st-pete/

Stop No. 3: Pacific Counter

Poke has been absolutely on-fire in Tampa and across the bridge it is also taking hold of St. Petersburg. What I really like about Pacific Counter is the different options for their poke bowls and sushi burritos, but also the atmosphere which has a surfer ambiance.

So many places across the bridge fail to make an ambiance that is enjoyable and I notice St. Pete is especially good at this. During a second recent visit on another food tour I had the noodles and salmon and it was excellent. Also: try the Dole whip ice cream. It’s excellent and perfectly refreshing in this horribly hot weather.

660 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 440-7008. http://pacificcounter.com/

Stop No. 4: Fabrica Pizza

This spot originally from across the bridge in Channelside has long been a favorite of mine and is on my Top 7 Pizza List. The owners hail from Italy and they do everything they can to put a quality experience into their product.

I love almost all their pies, but my sinful favorite is their Nutella Pizza which is something you have to treat yourself to after a long week of work! Their wines are actually also imported from their own vineyard in Italy if I’m not mistaken. The Downtown St. Pete location is just as beautiful inside as the Tampa spot.

101 7th St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 290-9643 http://www.fabricapizza.com

Stop No. 5: The Hyppo / Swah-Rey

Dessert was a fun-filled affair with Lunchpool. From the torch-roasted cakes at Swah-Rey to snapping photos of popsicles at The Hyppo, we were having a blast. I actually needed a coffee to keep myself going so I grabbed an espresso shot at Swah-Rey and it was quite enjoyable. The staff was super friendly as well.

Swah-Rey 625: 625 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 767-0527.

The Hyppo: 627 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 498-6536. http://www.thehyppo.com/

Stop No. 6: The Canopy at Birchwood  

After a long day of walking, making new friends, and seeing so many things that St. Pete had to offer, we ended up at The Canopy at Birchwood, a rooftop bar in Downtown St. Pete that overlooks The Vinoy and the upcoming St. Pete Pier. The views from The Canopy are great and our server was a delight. The Canopy is the perfect way to end any day in Downtown St. Pete and it is probably one of my favorite places in the neighborhood.

340 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 896-1080. http://www.thebirchwood.com/thecanopy

It was a great day in Downtown St. Pete and I had a blast with the Lunchpool crew. Lunchpool is working to change the world through food. You can find out more about them at letslunchpool.com.

15th Annual Wheels of Success fundraiser happening May 31st in Tampa

The 15th Annual Wheels of Success Road Trip fundraiser is happening Friday, May 31st, 2019 at Bryan Glazer Family JCC. Tickets cost $85 per person and are now available. The event’s “Mistress of Ceremony” will be Deiah Riley from ABC Action News. The goal of the event is to provide 16 more cars to keep working families working. Lunch will be served to guests.

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Wheels of Success was founded in 2003 to help families obtain or continue working by providing them with reliable transportation through access to car repairs, vehicle replacements, licensing services,car payments, and more in the Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Low-income workers spend nearly 40% of their income on transportation in the Tampa Bay area versus 24.6% for the average citizen.

The bus system in these counties have suffered devastating budget cuts in recent years and does not run in many areas throughout the counties where people work including on the weekends when many working class people are working. Wheels of Success aims to attack these issues head on.

Clients of the non-profit “pay it forward” by paying for services and goods based on their ability to pay and by contributing time back working at Wheels of Success.

Wheels of Success helps their clients in their daily lives so they can arrive at work on-time, take their children to school, shop for groceries, and participate in community activities.

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Tickets can be purchased online at wheelsofsuccess.org.

The event is sponsored by GTE Financial, Metropolitan Ministries, ABC Action News, Tampa Bay Times, TECO, AAA, Doubletake Marketing & PR, and more.

Follow Wheels of Success online:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wheelsofsuccess/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wheelsofsuccess

Instagram: http://twitter.com/wheelsofsuccess

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Event Name: 15th Annual Wheels of Success Road Trip Fundraiser

Venue: Bryan Glazer Family JCC

Date & Time: Friday, May 31st, 2019, 11AM-1:15PM

Address: 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606

Cost: $85 per person

Website: http://www.wheelsofsuccess.org/