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Birria tacos arrive in Tampa at Jimmy's Tacos Ybor City

Birria. Oh sweet birria. The tacos from Jalisco have arrived in Tampa at Jimmy’s Tacos. These tacos have taken San Francisco by storm with the Quesabirria, a cheesy birria taco creation. These tacos have legs on social media.

Birria taco at Jimmy's Tacos.

What is birria? It is essentially a stew usually made with goat meat but sometimes made with chicken or beef. It essentially means savory and boy is it savory. The stew makes for a great dip or flavor enhancer. Birria tacos are soaked in the sauce and loaded with the meat. Jimmy’s Tacos serves a pretty tasty one. Quesabirria is still in the works though.

Jimmy’s Tacos opened recently across from El Puerto in Ybor City in a part of Ybor City that was left for dead after the 2008 financial crisis, but has been getting steam lately with a new brewery BarrieHaus, a new cafe called Ybor Beverage Co., and a number of other small businesses that previously would not have crossed so far off 7th or 8th Avenue.

Jimmy’s Tacos is one of the closes things I have experienced to Mexican food from California in Florida. There are taquerias now all over Tampa, but most of them are just average to me, nothing like what I’m used to or expect in Mexican food.

Carne Asada burrito at Jimmy's Tacos

When you taste the carne asada at Jimmy’s Tacos, it has that zest, that spice that you rarely ever taste in so-called carne asada at other restaurants in Tampa, but I know this flavor too well from spending time on Mission Street in San Francisco. All the tacos I have tasted thus far have been delicious and the burrito is actually excellent as well. Well-balanced, not too much rice and plenty of meat.

You’ll spend about $3 per taco but guacamole is included, their burrito will run you about $10 so I would budget about $10-12 for a visit. Their horchata is actually pretty flavorful.

It almost seems too good to be true to have something like Jimmy’s Tacos in Tampa. All I can hope is that they’ll succeed and maintain the commitment to true flavors and food. The owners are originally from Los Angeles and have experience in restaurants there.

I highly recommend Jimmy’s Tacos.

Jimmy’s Tacos. 1604 N 17th St, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 242-0242.

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Articles Food Events

Guide: Valentine's Day 2020 in Tampa Bay

Looking for Valentine’s Day 2020 plans in Tampa Bay? Here are some suggestions:

  • Valentine’s Day Friday Flight: Tampa International Airport is having a free concert at the airport for Valentine’s Day on February 14th with The DeLeon Band in the Main Terminal Space from 4:30PM to 6:30PM. The airport gates are available for dining as well for those who enjoy a travel backdrop with their new TPA All-Access Program: tpaallaccess.com 4100 George J. Bean Pkwy, Tampa, FL 33607.
  • Anti-Valentine’s Day Cocktail Release Party: Head on over to URBAN Brew and BBQ in St. Petersburg for an Anti-Valentine’s Day event on February 14th from 5PM to 10PM. Four Roses will headline the event with two featured cocktails. 2601 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713.
  • Valentine’s Day Speed Friend-ing: The Lowry Parcade in Seminole Heights is hosting a speed friend-ing event on February 14th from 7:30PM to 10:30PM where the object is to get to know new people instead of just dating and it’s absolutely free. Match with anyone at the event and Lowry Parcade will provide you with tokens to play some games together. 1213 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33604.
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck Pop-up: The popular Sanrio character from Japan comes to WestShore Plaza on Saturday, February 15th from 10AM to 8PM. Snacks and merchandise are available. Great to pencil into your weekend plans. 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, FL 33609.
  • D&B Family Valentine’s Day Party: Dave & Buster’s in Brandon has a special promotion for Valentine’s Day from 6PM to 9PM. A special buffet for $21.56 with appetizers, desserts, and soft drinks with an option to upgrade to a $20 power card and unlimited game play for $10 more. There will be a live DJ, games, and prizes. Tickets available on Eventbrite. 10209 Estuary Lakes Dr., Tampa, FL 33619.
  • Punk Rock Valentine – Prom Night with The Ramones: The Independent Bar and Cafe in Seminole Heights is having a special throwback party on Valentine’s Day from 8PM to Midnight. It will celebrate the looks, hairstyles and music of the 1980’s with a special concert. They will have a prom photobooth, name the prom king and queen (for the best dressed), and have spiked punch (of course!). 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603.
  • Valentine’s Day Party: Byblos Tampa on Macdill is throwing a party on Saturday, February 15th in honor of Valentine’s Day. The event will feature singer Mohanad, DJ Khalil, and Belly Dancer Gypsi. Tickets are $60 and will include cold and hot lebanese meza, soft drinks, main grill course, and a welcoming champagne toast. Reservation can be made at 727-687-2466. 2832 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33629.
  • Love’s Revenge – Haunted Trail: Head over to Plant City for a spooky haunted trail this Valentine’s Day weekend from 7PM to 11PM at Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online. 2837 South Frontage Road, Plant City, FL 33566.
  • Shuffletine’s Day: Shuffle in Tampa Heights will have a special celebration on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, from 4PM to Midnight. For $30 you can play Shuffleboard, drink a bottle of champagne, eat a heart-shaped pretzel, and enjoy a dessert. You will also be entered into a contest to win a $50 gift card. 2612 N Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602
  • “Love Reimagined” Dining Pop-Up: Rooster & The Till and Ichicoro have joined forces for a special dining pop-up event. If you’re willing to spend, it could be a great time. Tickets start at $160. 1910 North Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33602.
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Articles Restaurant News

NEWS: New World Brewery re-opens in Tampa February 12th 2020

New World Brewery, a popular live-music spot with great craft beer and food that first opening in 1994 and closed in Ybor City a few years ago, is re-opening on February 12th, 2020 at 6PM with a new location near Sulphur Springs at 810 East Skagway Tampa, Florida 33604.

They will kick off their opening party with all-you-can-eat pizza and two drafts of beer for $35. Tickets are required to attend.

Tickets can be purchased at newworldtampa.com/store.

Here is a look at their menu via their website:

You can visit New World Brewery online at newworldtampa.com.

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Articles Events Restaurant News

Florida State Fair 2020: New food to try this year

The Florida State Fair 2020 is in full swing now until Monday, February 17th. There are plenty of new foods that people can try as usual. Here are some of the new featured items this year:

Peanut Butter Ramen Burger at the Florida State Fair.

Peanut Butter Ramen Burger: As if ramen burger wasn’t enough of a stretch, Carousel Foods has added a peanut butter Asian vinaigrette to their burger.

The Smores Doughnut at Florida State Fair in Tampa, Florida.

The Smores Doughnut: Peachey’s Baking Co. is the best food every year at the Florida State Fair and a must-try. They have now added an Amish doughnut filled with marshmallow creme, topped with a melted dutch chocolate drizzle and a torched marshmallow

Cheeseburger On-A-Stick at Florida State Fair

Cheeseburger On-A-Stick: It’s a fair tradition to throw something on a stick. Something unconventional. This year  DeAnna’s Diner has deep-fried an Angus burger patty inside a secret batter with cheddar cheese drizzled on top.

Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Bites: Funnel cakes and sriracha? Only the fair would make this combination happen. Find this combo at Out of this World Funnel Cakes.

Piña Colada Candy Apple at Florida State Fair.

Piña Colada Candy Apple: Are you even in Florida if you don’t enjoy a Piña Colada every once in awhile? The Apple Cart is serving up candy apples flavored with Piña Colada flavoring. Coconut topping can be added.

This year the Florida State Fair is having a Fair Foodie Crawl for the first time for $25 on February 13th after 5PM.

Participants will choose samples from a menu of vendors, sampling everything from savory to sweet foods. At the end, participants can vote on their favorites and crown the top vendor of the entire Fair Foodie Crawl. Registration is available online.

Find more information on the Florida State Fair at floridastatefair.com.

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Articles News Restaurant News

NEWS: Blind Tiger Cafe coming to Westfield Brandon Mall

Continuing its expansion, Blind Tiger Cafe is taking over a Starbucks location at the Westfield Brandon Mall across from the Apple Store. The busy mall in a densely populated area makes an interesting move for Blind Tiger who recently acquired another Starbucks location in the WestShore Plaza in Tampa and opened a number of new cafes recently in Downtown Tampa.

The listing for the new location is already active on the Westfield Brandon website, but says “coming soon” for now. I recently said that I would like to see more independent coffee shops in the Brandon area so it is definitely exciting to have a new coffee shop in town.

The projected opening date for the location is May 15th according to Blind Tiger Cafe Owner Roberto Torres.

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Articles

#LunchBreak with lunchpool Founder and CEO Alexander Abell

I joined the Founder and CEO of lunchpool, Alexander Abell, this week for a conversation about my history in food and advice for food influencers or best practices for those looking to grow as an influencer and how to get your start as a blogger or someone in writing.

I shared experiences about my journey and also upcoming events with the Tampa Bay Foodies Club.

Check out the chat in this video:

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Articles

Is Grubhub scamming your restaurant business?

Grubhub, a popular mobile ordering and delivery platform worth at least 5 billion dollars, is in hot water (again) after it was discovered that Grubhub is allegedly listing restaurants on the platform without their permission and offering delivery from Ghost Kitchens that don’t even represent the companies on their website.

Pim Techamuanvivit, owner of Kin Khao in San Francisco, wrote in a Twitter thread this past weekend, that her restaurant has been added to Grubhub and Seamless without her permission or any kind of agreement. She does not offer delivery or take-out, yet orders were fulfilled by another business posing as Kin Khao.

It isn’t the first time something like this happens or accusations are made. It was discovered last year that Grubhub was taking control of business listings through a partnership with platforms like Yelp and putting fake phone numbers on listings.

These numbers led to a Grubhub controlled number that then generated orders and charged restaurants for sending customers that were simply trying to order from the restaurant. Restaurants were shocked when they discovered they were paying Grubhub for a service they never agreed to.

Grubhub went as far as generating fake domains that seemed to be the official website of restaurants with menus that led to Grubhub for business orders. Over 23,000 domains were discovered by journalists at New Food Economy. In a normal world, there would be consequences for these actions.

Grubhub was basically forced by New York City to start changing the policy after threats were made and a class-action lawsuit was started against them by restaurateurs they charged for these “services” that is now asking for 5 million dollars.

Yet this continues:

Of course, this isn’t limited to just New York City or San Francisco. Once this story made its way around the internet business owners in other cities also began also crying foul. The story made it over to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and it seems this may be deeply run into the food ecosystem.

Which begs the question, is Grubhub scamming your restaurant business? Is Seamless? It’s probably best to look up your own listings to make sure.

Rumors are swirling online that Grubhub is for-sale. Whether that explains this rampant behavior against restaurants or not, one thing is clear: restaurant owners have a right to control of their businesses and this is wrong plain and simple.

Restaurants have a failure rate of 60% in their first year and 80% in their first five years. Foot traffic is falling and costs are going up. Isn’t it hard enough without someone taking control of your restaurant listings, phone number, and website presence?

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Articles Interviews

Interview: Executive Chef Lee Aquino of Birch & Vine at The Birchwood St. Pete

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Executive Chef Lee Aquino of Birch & Vine at The Birchwood in Downtown St. Pete recently for an interview. Aquino is originally from Amelia Island. The restaurant and hotel owner, Chuck Prather, is also making moves to soon expand into the new St. Pete Pier that is opening in 2020.

Photo via Birchwood

Here is the interview:

Q: What’s new on the menu at Birch & Vine?

A: Birch & Vine is updating all facets of our menu. We’re updating the face of the building and our scratch kitchen with fun, awesome, but also approachable food. Our style is French rustic with an American twist.

Our diners are a variety of people: hotel guests, passerby customers, and people who see our menu in the front of the building on the first floor.

On our top floor at The Canopy, it’s a little different. We have retired folks and a variety of young people as well. Our menu is mainly bar food and we are looking to update the flatware and menu items. Lighter and fresh vibes. Food that is easy to eat.

No caviar here.

Q: What trends do you see coming in 2020?

A: Towers. I’m sure you’ve seen them in old school tea parties.

Smaller portions with more variety and more choices. Multiple appetizers and hors d’oeuvres with in-between price points.

Q: Do you think plant-based meat will join the menu in 2020?

A: We are not using plant-based meat at Birch & Vine. My main concern is cross-contamination issues, which has been a concern as some of the big concepts and chains that have deployed it.

We try to be as conscious as possible about our imprint at Birch & Vine.

Seasonality is a thing in Florida, even though there’s one season things don’t grow the whole year. If a party orders a fig salad – it can be a tough thing to find when a farm runs out of it. Sourcing can be difficult and we try our best to get ahead of it.

We never want to mislead the clients. Be honest.

Q: What’s your history and background?

A: I have been at Birch & Vine for 2 years as Executive Chef. I started at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club as an Executive Sous Chef for 6 years in the past. I bought a house in Downtown St. Pete and made it my home and that led me here.

Q: Where do you like to eat on your day off?

A: Somewhere I haven’t been. I like to be provoked and taste the town. I have no favorites though (laughs).


The Birchwood is located at 340 Beach Drive Northeast in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The hotel features Birch & Vine restaurant, an 18-room boutique hotel on the second and third floor, conference, event, and entertainment space in The Grand Ballroom on the fourth floor and a rooftop lounge, The Canopy.

It is a Spanish Mission-style building originally built in 1922 and underwent historically correct renovations in 2013. It is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. 

Visit them online at thebirchwood.com.

Birch & Vine. 340 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 896-1080.

Categories
Articles News Restaurant News

NEWS: Graze 1910 opening 2nd South Tampa location

The popular Armature Works food hall stand, Graze 1910, is opening their second location in South Tampa at 2217 South Dale Mabry Highway in the Palma Ceia neighborhood this February. This location will serve breakfast all day as well as lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends.

Menu items will include egg dishes, artisan burgers, chicken and waffles, tartines, greens and grains, and vegan options.

Graze tartine bread sandwiches.

“After two years of success with Graze 1910 at Armature Works, we decided it was time to extend the brand, expand the menu and attract more families and locals,” says Raymond Menendez, owner of Graze.

“Graze is community-minded and the spot you’ll come to time and time again not only for our reliably, quality food, but our laid-back setting and welcoming atmosphere.”

Raymond Menendez has 30 years of restaurant experience and was previously with Hooters in Clearwater and a Managing Partner with Ciccio Restaurant Group in Tampa.

Lawrence “Bubba” Durley, Graze 1910’s head chef, previously with Oxford Exchange and Café Dufrain, will oversee both Graze kitchen locations and continue to be their creative menu advisor.

Visit Graze 1910 online for information at graze1910.com.

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Articles News

RIP Lucky's Market in Florida

Where else can you drink a craft beer at an affordable price and shop around a grocery store sometimes with live music? Lucky’s Market was an absolutely treasure that I enjoyed shopping at whenever I was in Orlando or Pinellas County.

It was announced today that Lucky’s Market is closing all but one of their stores in Florida. 32 stores total will be closing after Kroger divested their assets from the chain in December. I was hopeful that I would eventually be able to enjoy one in the comfort my own neighborhood. It’s sad news.

Lucky’s Market closings will cost Florida 2,500 employees, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Planned stores in Brandon and Clearwater will now be scrapped.

Here’s how the internet reacted: