Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food now serving up tasty southern eats

Most people have heard of Al’s Finger Licking Good BBQ in Ybor City, but a few months ago they opened Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food while I was out of town and the buzz has been muted since then. The online footprint of the new spot is not too big and Google seems to confuse the listings, but if you make the trip along 7th Avenue to 23rd Street there is a surprise waiting for you with great food.

Swee Tea from Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

From fried chicken and baked chicken to pork chops, turkey wings, fried green tomatoes, and boiled peanuts with neckbones, Al’s Soul Food is offering eats you won’t find easily find around Tampa Bay. I was personally happy to enjoy a great sweet tea with my food after spending far too much time out of the south.

Collard Greens from Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Mac and Cheese from Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Fried Chicken at Al's Finger Lickin' Good SOul Food

I ordered a quarter of fried chicken during my visit (all white for a $0.99 upcharge) which came with two sides and cornbread. I went with mac and cheese (+$0.99) and collard greens as my sides of choice.

You can also find black-eyed peas, fried okra, green beans and potatoes, potato salad, french fries, white and yellow rice on the menu. Fridays also have an offering of cole slaw and grits. Daily specials are offered on the menu from Wednesday to Sunday and they have lunch specials as well.

Soul food isn’t my specialty since it is so uncommon here, but what I do know is good food and that is exactly what I enjoyed at Al’s Soul Food. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the attention to detail was exact. The collard greens were flavorful and the mac and cheese was unlike a mac and cheese I have enjoyed anywhere else and completely satisfying. Not super cheesy, but just enough.

Corn Bread at Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Menu at Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

The best part was that this all tasted like home-cooking, it wasn’t overly greasy or acid-inducing. The corn bread was absolutely delicious and a perfect started to the meal. I enjoyed every last lick of my fried chicken down to the last piece of fried goodness. I was in a happy place, I looked around at the somewhat empty dining room during my visit and thought to myself how has nobody reviewed this place? There are still two major publications left in town.

Then I remembered I am a writer and I can do that myself. So here’s my thoughts: Get in your car and drive to Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. Places like this deserve all our love and cash. Tell a friend. For as much as this town claims to love chicken, here is a spot doing it right.

Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Restaurant Name: Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food

Neighborhood: Ybor City

Cuisine: Soul Food

Address: 2302 E 7th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605

Phone Number: (813) 405-8920

Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 11:30AM-6PM, Friday/Saturday 11:30AM-8PM, Sunday 12PM-6PM, CLOSED Monday and Tuesday

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Florida Brewers Conference coming to Orlando in August, tickets now available

The 3rd Annual Florida Brewers Conference is coming to Orlando this August at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. The event is organized by The Florida Brewer’s Guild, a non-profit trade association committed to preserved the rights and interests of all craft brewers throughout the state. The target audience is brewers, brewery owners, and industry workers.

Over 1,373,558 barrels of craft beer are produced every year in Florida. Florida craft beer is ranked 5th in economic impact in the state and at least 285 breweries operate in Florida (2018 Brewers Association data).

The conference aims to “provide brewery personnel and industry trades with a high-quality educational experience, plus an opportunity to network and share delicious Florida craft beers during the two-day trade show”.

Some highlights include:

  • Insights from Brewers Diversity Ambassador Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham
  • Florida specific educational workshops from industry experts
  • Discussions with regulators, including representatives from Florida AB&T
  • Networking with over 300 FL craft beer industry members
  • Commemorative tasting glass
  • Beer receptions, luncheon & trade expo

Sensory training will be available as an additional component to the conference and cover a variety of aromas found in beer. Organizers are expecting at least 500 guests.

Renaissance Orlando is located directly across the street from SeaWorld and close to Disney World, Universal Studios, and Discovery Cove. Sponsorship packages are now available for those interested.

Hotel accommodations are available to those attending the conference at just $149 a night, including the resort fee and self-parking.

Tickets to the Florida Brewers Conference are now available and start at $185 for Florida Brewers Guild members.

Event name: Florida Brewers Conference

Venue: Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

Date & Time: Monday, August 5th, 2019 to Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Ages: 21+

Buy tickets: http://fbgcon2019.eventbrite.com/

Website: http://www.floridabrewersguild.org/florida-brewers-conference

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/453368742076200/

NEWS: HART bus driver fatally stabbed this past weekend in Tampa

HART bus driver, Thomas Dunn, was fatally stabbed by a passenger this past weekend in Tampa on Nebraska Avenue. The passenger involved in the incident has been charged with one count of murder.

According to Fox 13 News this incident “comes roughly 5 months after Dunn spoke at a December 3rd  meeting where he raised concern about the safety of bus drivers after he says a woman who was a passenger assaulted him by spitting in his face and trying to break his arm”.

The CEO of HART, Ben Limmer, released a statement:

“We are devastated by the tragic events that took place today involving our HART bus operator. We are working with the Tampa Police Department as they conduct their investigation into this horrific matter,”

“We offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the bus operator, as well as to all of our HART colleagues.”

Local transit advocate and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe responded as well to the incident:

Ōra King TYEE Salmon Dinner this Friday at TBBC Westchase

Tampa Bay Brewing Co. (TBBC) is hosting an Ōra King TYEE Salmon Dinner this Friday, May 17th, 2019 at TBBC Westchase.

This high-quality salmon is normally reserved for James Beard Award and Michelin Star restaurants only. TBBC is the first brewery in the country, and the first restaurant in Tampa to offer the salmon on its menu according to the owners of TBBC.

Dinner preparations will include a TYEE salmon tartare, TYEE salmon sous-vide, and a smoked TYEE salmon cheese-cake. Guests will also be treated to a series of specialty beers, brewed specifically to pair with each dish, including a kiwi-infused lager, smoked lager with lime zest, vanilla mango berliner, and a vanilla stout.

About the fish: “The TYEE salmon was first discovered in the Campbell River of British Columbia in 1924, the Ōra King TYEE has a longer life-cycle and grows to more than double the size of an Ōra King salmon. The Ōra King TYEE is cultivated and harvested in New Zealand with only 2 scheduled to be harvested in the month of May. Because of their longer-life cycle, Ōra King TYEE have a more developed flavor and oil profile.

The flesh is refined with dramatic white marbling and the natural oil content in the belly is notably high, drawing comparisons to Bluefin tuna. The people that have experience this fish have remarked on its delicate flavor and clean, herbaceous palate. They, also, describe the texture as having a distinctive ‘bite’ without losing the inherent creaminess.”

Tickets are extremely limited to the dinner and have mostly sold out already.

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Venue: TBBC Westchase

Date & Time: Friday, May 17th 2019, 7PM to 11PM

Address: 13937 Monroes Business Park, Tampa, FL 33635

Cost: $100 per person

Ages: 21+ and older

Buy tickets: tbbc_tyee.eventbrite.com

Food Tech: Introducing Table Dot. Home Chefs on Demand

Have you ever wanted to have a chef cook in your home for you and some guests but not been sure how to go about it? Hiring a private in-home chef can be a stressful affair, from trying to negotiate the cost per head, to sourcing ingredients, annoying callbacks, and trying to find someone who is available during your preferred time period. A new food start-up based in Tampa called Table Dot hopes to change that.

Table Dot’s mission is to provide quality, in-home chefs available on-demand to hungry customers. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two, a family gathering, or a reunion with old friends, Table Dot hopes to simplify the process of connecting with a in-home chef and provide food tech solutions that will make it easier to book a party at your home.

Founder, Katherine Allen, has created a platform that allows customers to mix courses and options and get an upfront cost, avoiding any surprises along the way. The entire process is handled by Table Dot including shopping, food prep, and cleanup.

The goal is to provide access to chefs in a responsible way, enabling cooks a simple solution and diners a hassle-free method to connect with private in-home chefs. The cost will vary according to the menu items sought, but could be as low as $12 a head according to Allen.

The start-up is seeking chefs and cooks to join their program. Table Dot hopes to build a large community of cooks and chefs and to empower line cooks and other chefs who have aspirations to cook on a different scale to join their cause. Allen herself has a background in providing in-home chef experiences and was inspired by her own experiences and difficulties to create Table Dot.

There are plans for an iOS and Android app in-development for Table Dot and Allen hopes to have a system that will be as easy as taking out your phone and planning your next gathering or meal at home in the future. Table Dot sounds like a promising and innovative product that could be very successful with the right combination of chefs and tech.

To find out more about Table Dot, visit them online at tabledot.com.

3rd Annual Kentucky Derby Formal this Saturday at Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails

The 3rd Annual Kentucky Derby Formal is upon us this Saturday May 4th from 4PM-8PM at Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails (1111 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33705). FREE admission. Live music will be provided by Boxcar Hollow. $6 mint juleps will be available as a special deal with Old Forester. $4 Peronis. Enjoy a raw bar with Modern Brine.

There will be awards for:

  • Best Derby Hat
  • Best Derby Outfit (Men)
  • Best Derby Outfit (Women)
  • Best Derby Dog

Thank you for your service Bob Buckhorn, Tampa’s Foodie Mayor

Today is Election Day in the City of Tampa for a new Mayor. Perfect day to reflect. I went to the Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta few weeks ago in Lykes Gaslight Park. The food trucks were all arranged around with the block as they are every month and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was spending his last time as the current Mayor there.

Bob Buckhorn was a big supporter of food trucks in a time period where most municipalities were firmly against local food trucks and had passed some of the most restrictive laws in the nation.

Some reporters at Tampa Bay Times were still writing falsehoods in 2011 about roach coaches in the 1970s, but Buckhorn knew better and proved it with inspections at every rally to show our food trucks are some of the cleanest businesses in town.

Tampa led the way nationwide in cities that supported food trucks and was rewarded with tourism and local business growth. It has been proven that food trucks help people get their dreams off the ground, and several local businesses in town are testaments of that.

I helped in 2013 to throw the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally EVER at the Florida State Fairgrounds and Bob Buckhorn was a huge supporter of the entire process.

The City of Tampa supported the initiative and helped to the support that helped make the event a success that drew over 30,000 people to the venue and was arguably one of the most successful days in food truck history here in Tampa. I will never forget the support he provided to the event and to the movement in general and I doubt most food truck owners will ever forget that day as well.

He said at the time, “I want to be known as the foodie capital and the king of the food truck movement.”

I literally rode on top of a double-decker food truck (Tropiccool) from ENCORE Tampa! Downtown onto Interstate-4 into the highway and rode in a parade of over 75 food trucks to the Florida State Fairgrounds. Helicopters following behind. It was a moment I may never forget in my life. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was there to kick off that magical moment with all the media of Tampa.

People can have their political disagreements with Bob Buckhorn, but one thing I think everyone can agree with is that Tampa has been lucky to have a mayor who legitimately cares about Tampa and has done everything in his power to make Tampa a better place to live.

From finishing up the Tampa Riverwalk, to being at every restaurant and business Grand Opening imaginable and supporting the Cuban Sandwich Festival to the opening at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Bob Buckhorn has been there for this town in many ways. It is obvious that this man loves Tampa and I’m thankful for that. Thank you for your service to our growing City of Tampa.

Hopefully the next mayor will care about Tampa the same way, no matter who they are.

Jeff Houck says it well here:

Chicago Paulie’s serves the best hot dog in Tampa

Several people have told me to try Chicago Paulie’s for the last few years. I made a mental note, but did not stop by until today. The restaurant stand is located in a gas station parking lot with a humble table and umbrella nearby in the corner of North Hyde Park (NoHo). This isn’t fancy eats, but an excellent culinary destination that most people will drive right past as they jump on Interstate 275 on Howard Avenue. Don’t be that person.

Chicago Hot Dog from Chicago Paulie's in Tampa

I ordered a Chicago hot dog and some fries. The hot dog was cooked to perfection. The toppings superb. No ketchup (of course), but a healthy amount of mustard. It was hot out. Summer is already starting to take over Florida and I really cannot think of a better thing to enjoy in the summer than a hot dog and maybe some beer. Fries were a nice add-on.

Chicago Paulie’s may be one of Tampa’s best kept secrets although people who love food know about it and they have won Best of the Bay from CL in the past. I thought about Taco Bus and California Tacos before Guy Fieri. Tampa has some good eats if you’re willing to go off the beaten path and many of them are undiscovered and hardly talked about. Chicago Paulie’s is one of those places that would immediately jump to the Food Network just for great eats.

My last visit to Portillo’s by USF was truly disappointing with a sad hot dog, mediocre toppings, a bad bun, and stale fries that would probably upset Mr. Portillo himself, but Chicago Paulie’s…now that is a good hot dog. Simple. I inhaled my food.

 

Chicago Paulie's storefront

The prices aren’t overly cheap or expensive, but just right. Chicago Paulie’s holds a 5-star rating on Yelp with 129 reviews in an era where people will 1-star you just for not having the right kind of ketchup or signage. Most of the customers seem to be natives from Chicago who know their food, and Mr. Paulie himself is a transplant from Chicago.

Chicago Paulie’s is open from Monday to Friday from 11AM-6PM and Saturday from 11AM-2PM. Closed Sundays. I have heard they do sometimes close so you may want to call ahead if possible.  I highly recommend Chicago Paulie’s. It is the best hot dog I have enjoyed in Tampa.

Restaurant Name: Chicago Paulie’s

Cuisine: American

Neighborhood: North Hyde Park

Address: 1301 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33607

Cost: $

Phone Number: (813) 494-4275

Website: http://www.chicagopaulies.com/

GUIDE: Where to celebrate Easter 2019 in Tampa Bay

Looking for something to do for Easter Sunday 2019 in Tampa Bay? Numerous hotels, restaurants, and bars are having events with buffets. Most have options for kids as well.

easter1

Here are some options:

  • Shepard’s OCEAN FLAME: This Clearwater Beach spot is serving your favorites from 10AM-9PM and offering brunch items until 2:30pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach 33767. (727) 442-5107. http://bit.ly/shepoceanflame
  • Bizou Brasserie: Bizou’s Easter brunch buffet in Downtown Tampa will be served from 10AM to 3PM. Buffet prices are inclusive of all non-alcoholic beverages. Bloody Marys and Mimosas will be offered for $6 each (after 11AM) during brunch. Buffet is $45+ for adults and kids over age 12, $22+ for ages 5-12 years old, and FREE for kids ages 4 and under. Reservations are highly recommended, as preferred dining times fill up quickly. 601 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 227-9555. https://www.opentable.com/bizou-brasserie.
  • GameTime: Head over to Ybor City for Easter brunch with Sonic the Hedgehog, everyone’s favorite mascot. Take a picture and enjoy a delicious buffet on Easter Sunday, April 21st from 10AM to 3PM. Enjoy food and entertainment for all ages. Only $16.99 per adult, and $9.99 per child under 12 years old. 1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 241-9675.
  • Rusty Pelican: Enjoy a waterfront Easter Sunday Champagne Buffet from 9:30AM to 4PM. Tickets are $75 for adults and $35 for children ages 5 to 12. On the menu: Applewood Smoked Prime Rib, Pesto Crusted Leg of Lamb, Honey Glazed Salmon, Crab Legs, Raw Bar, Decadent Desserts, Bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Mary Bar, Photo Booth, and more. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 281-1943. http://bit.ly/2UdieSI
  • FarmTable Cucina: Enjoy a special Easter brunch for $89 per person from 11AM to 3PM, which includes bottomless mimosas. On the menu: Seafood Bar, Bowtie Pasta, Potato Salad, Roasted Beet Salad, Caprese, Panzanella, Breakfast Pastries, Breads, Desserts, and more. 179 2nd Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 523-6297. http://farmtablecucina.com/reservation/
  • Sirata Beach Resort: Head to the beach for an annual Easter Buffet Brunch. Enjoy fun, food, and festivities for the entire family. $49.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids. and $39.95 for Seniors. Add an unlimited Bloody Mary & Mimosa Bar for just $20. 5300 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 363-5100. http://bit.ly/SirataEasterBrunch

NEWS: Spaddy’s Coffee Co. owner and restaurant sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement

Update: Both parties have come to an agreement and Florida Avenue Eats has rebranded as Florida Eats.

There has been talk in town for some time in Tampa about a new restaurant coming to Seminole Heights called Florida Avenue Eats. The restaurant is owned by Greg Spadaccini of Spaddy’s Coffee Co., a popular coffee truck in the area. The restaurant was recently sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Ave. Brewing, just 4 days after their grand opening.

Spadaccini has made a GoFundMe to help with legal funds. The statement on the GoFundMe reads:

“My name is Greg Spadaccini and I need your help to raise funds for legal representation. I am the owner and operator of Spaddy’s Coffee Co. in Seminole Heights and in April of 2019 I decided to launch Florida Avenue Eats. It’s a fast casual restaurant serving bowls, wraps, and salads. 4 days after our grand opening, I was served at 6:30am with a summons to appear in civil federal court from Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Avenue Brewing.  Florida Avenue is a public road, one of Tampa’s longest stretching business roads, and the road we operate business on.

Adding the name “Florida Avenue” to the name of a business is not in any way unique and should not prohibit business owners like myself from operating under that naming convention.

Not only are they taking legal action against my business Florida Avenue Eats, but they have decided sue me personally.

With a newborn at home and incurring the recent expenses of a new restaurant buildout, I simply do not have the funds to personally protect myself and my family legally.

I am asking my community for support to help facilitate funds for legal representation. Anything counts, I will be forever grateful for your support.

Best wishes,
Greg “Spaddy” Spadaccini”

GoFundMe link: http://www.gofundme.com/f/legal-aid-for-spaddy

Some comments for local businesses:

The owner of Brew Bus Brewing and Florida Ave. Brewing has released a statement: