Where to celebrate 4th of July 2018 in Tampa Bay

4th of July brings lots of excitment and American pride. Fireworks and partying are at the top of the agenda as well.

Wondering where to go and get your dose of red, white, and blue? I have you covered.

Here are some places throwing events for 4th of July this Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 in Tampa Bay:

  • Aloft Hotel: Every Wednesday is Wine Down Wednesdays at Aloft Tampa Downtown and this 4th of July is no different. The event will feature $20 regular admission and $10 reduced entry with RSVP. Guests will enjoy bottomless wine, champagne, craft beer, and appetizers from 5PM-9PM and drink specials afterwards. Fireworks begins at 9PM. 100 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 898-8000
  • American Social: Celebrate Independence Day at American Social with food, drinks, music, and fireworks. The waterfront access of American Social makes this a great spot to view fireworks. Drink specials include $4 Tito’s Vodka and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey as well as $3 Bud Light/Budweiser all day. 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. Suite 107, Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 605-3333
  • American Victory Museum & Ship: Celebrate Independence Day at this 4th of July Family Funfest from 6:30PM-9:30PM. There will be music, games, food, beer, wine, contests, and giveaways. American Victory Museum provides a voyage to American Maritime History. Tickets range from $7-$13705 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602
  • Astro Skate of Brandon: This local Brandon skating rink will offer $5 admission on 4th of July from 1PM-6PM (skate rentals extra). FREE all-you-can-eat hot dogs from 1PM-2PM and a singing contetst for “God Bless America” with a $25 cash prize. 750 W Robertson St, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 681-3635 
  • George M. Steinbrenner Field: There is no sport more American than baseball and the Tampa Tarpons have a game scheduled against the Clearwater Threshers at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Doors open at 5PM with the game kicking off at 6:30PM. Tickets range from $5-$8 and there will be specials including $3 16 oz. Budweiser / Bud Light drafts and $5 for 6 chicken wings. FREE Admission for current and former EMT Specialists, Firefighters, Police, and Military Personnel. 1 Steinbrenner Dr., Tampa, FL 33614
  • Hollander Hotel Downtown St. Petersburg: Feel like getting wet? Hollander Hotel will have a pool party on 4th of July with DJ Dutch from 1PM-5PM. No cover. 421 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 873-7900
  • Museum of the Fine Arts, St. Petersburg: The MFA Cafe has a special buffet planned for 4th of July at 6:30PM. On the menu: Brown sugar and chipotle rubbed beef brisket, Carolina hickory smoked chicken quarters, BBQ pulled pork sliders, Sweet cole slaw, Grilled bbq gulf shrimp salad sliders, Charred corn aioli, Grilled corn on the cob with cilantro-lime butter, Build your own red, white and blue cupcake bar, and more. Enjoy fireworks after the feast. $46 for adults and $23 for children. Limited-seating. Call (727) 822-1032 for reservations. 255 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
  • The Sail: Channelside’s usual 4th of July festivities are on hold this year as construction continues on the plaza. The Sail located a few miles down the Tampa Riverwalk will have food trucks for 4th of July and a front-view of Downtown Tampa fireworks. Catch Casablanca Fusion, Sugar Shack Tampa, and Sexton’s Pizza from 11AM-9PM and The Bacon Boss, The Melt Machine, and Just Smokin BBQ from 5PM-11PM serving some street eats. There will be live music and drinks at the bar. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 274-7778
  • Shephard’s Beach Resort: Shephard’s Beach Resort on Clearwater Beach has as weekly Wednesday night club party called NEON BEACH at their Wave Nightclub. The event will offer $2 drinks all night long starting at 9PM right after the fireworks go off on the beach. Guests must be 18 years or older to enter. There will be a relaxed dress code. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, FL 33767 (727) 442-5107
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Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender Competition 2018 Miami

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender (MIB) Cocktail Competition at Racket in Wynwood.

Bartenders showcased their talents and the winners move on to London (the home of Bombay Sapphire) for the finals and the chance to win $10,000, a digital feature in GQ, and other Conde Nast digital properties.

Cocktail competitions are awesome because you get to see bartenders push themselves to the limit. Bartenders have that same creativity that chefs show in the kitchen and the same passion too. The United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) helps to promote that and USBG Miami helped to partner with this event.

Bartenders are judged on flavor, appearance, bartender presentation, and imagination. The key to these competitions is to make something new, while also staying true to the spirit that you’re competing with. Due to these requirements, the people’s choice award will often not be the same as the one the judges choose.

Last night’s winner for people’s choice was Evan Lewis from Taquerias el Mexicano in Miami. His cocktail is called “Queen’s Bouget” and incorporates Bombay Sapphire Gin, Blueberry “Gin-ager”, Lemon Aquafaba, Blueberry Cardamom syrup, Sparkling Elderflower Liqueur, topped with a Floral Candy Orchid. This drink made gin truly fun to drink.

The winners of the Southeast judging contest who will move on to London are:

  • Derek Stilmann from Beaker + Gray in Miami. His drink is called “Who I Am” and incorporates elements of his life into each ingredient. The cocktail has Bombay Sapphire Gin, Spiced Milk Syrup, Lustau Cream Sherry, Gunpowder Tea, Orange Liqueur, Absinthe Salt, and Rose Mist.
  • Cody Henson from El Coyote Charleston with “Ceylon Fix”. This drink includes Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon Juice, Pineapple Syrup, and Doctor Possner’s New Star Soda.

https://twitter.com/carloseats/status/1012472994583797760

Guide: 10 Places to Eat and Drink in Seminole Heights

Did you hear that Tampa is now ranked one of the most hipster cities in the United States?

If we’re talking hipsters, Seminole Heights has taken the mantle from Ybor City in the past few years as restaurants, bars, breweries, and cafes have popped up all over this small town that supports local busines.

Here are 10 places to eat and drink in Seminole Heights when you visit:

1. Brew Bus Brewing / Florida Ave. Brewing: Brew Bus has quickly grown to be one of the most successful businesses in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. The owners have Exectuive Chef Max Sherard making gourmet food in the kitchen and plenty of beers rolling out of the brewery all the time. They also recently added craft cocktails to the menu. You can jump on the Brew Bus here and ride all around town to some of Seminole Heights less parking friendly businesses. It’s a good hub to the neighborhood. 4101 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 990-7310  

2. Angry Chair Brewing Co.: One of the most popular local breweries in town. Parking is a conondrum, but you did jump on the Brew Bus like I told you above right? Angry Chair has craft beer fans lining up hours before release parties and most people in town will tell you it has grown to be one of their favorite local breweries. 6401 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 238-1122 

3. Chop Chop Shop: No one can deny that what is cooking in this kitchen is delicious. The cuisine is a mixture of Japanese and Korean inspiration and whatever the chef is cooking up in the kitchen. No complaints from hungry fans who happily call in orders and show up to eat whenever they get a chance. 6605 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 770-7306 

4. The Independent Bar & Cafe: I hope you’re noticing a theme that Seminole Heights is a bit of a watering hole. The Independen has long been a local stronghold in the neighborhood where you’ll see local business owners and residents grabbing a beer and having a blast. 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 341-4883 

5. The Refinery: Always give credit where credit is due. The Refinery was one of the first restaurants to take a risk inside Seminole Heights and helped to form the foundation of the restaurants all over Florida Avenue now. It’s unfortunate that the original location is now closed as I was a fan, but you can find them a few blocks away now in the former Fodder & Shine spot. The burger is my go-to. 5910 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 234-3710 

6. Revolution Ice Cream: After making a name for themselves in Brandon, Revolution Ice Cream brought their delicious desserts to Seminole Heights and saved many people a trip on I-4 or I-75 and that’s truly a miracle. Their ice cream incorporates many local businesses into their flavors and they are constantly changing and evolving. 6701 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 513-5053 

7. Rooster & The Till: If you want a truly gourmet experience, Rooster & The Till is arguably one of the best restaurants in Tampa offering that. Be prepared to spend some money, but you’ll want lick your plate as you taste their creations. 6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 374-8940 

8. Lowry Parcade: We nerds needed a spot to join together and Lowry Parade has provided done just that. Where else can you catch a rock band playing Mega Man on a speedrun, sip a local craft beer, and hit an arcade or pinball machine. I hope Lowry Parcade grows and expands so they can increase their selection and add some more fighting games and retro throwbacks, that’s my dream personally. 1213 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33604  (813) 915-9180

9. The Mermaid Tavern: This dive bar is much more of the core, original feeling that Seminole Heights was founded on. This is a great spot to catch up with friends or unwind. DJs spinning regularly. 6719 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 238-5618 

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10. Spaddy’s Coffee Co.: Every neighborhood needs local coffee and Tampa wouldn’t be a hipster town without our coffee scene. Spaddy serves local roasts from Zeal Coffee Roasters and offers a wide menu of choices. His truck is open early and has really grown into the neighborhood. One of the great things about Seminole Heights is the local feel of it and Spaddy embodies that feeling all the way. 5206 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (954) 829-2111 

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DEAL ALERT: Norwegian Airlines offering direct flights from Tampa to London

Have you always dreamt of visting Europe? How about visiting the Tower of London or Big Ben?

Norwegian Airlines could make that a reality with their NEW direct flights on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets from Tampa to London that begins service on October 31st, 2018. Norwegian is the world’s sixth largest low-cost airline and carried around 33 million passengers in 2017.

Chief Commerical Officer Thomas Ramdahl shares, “We are excited to introduce another U.S. destination to our network. Tampa Bay will be a very popular destination amongst European traveler. Similarly, Europe is in high demand among Tampa Bay and Florida resident. With our growing commitment to Florida, we’re also increasing our Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to London services for the winter season due to the great demand.”

Direct flights are now available and one-way airfares go for as low as $214. You could travel roundtrip for less than $500 with tax from Tampa. Visit London has a guide for travelers with what’s happening month by month.

Book now: http://www.norwegian.com/us/

Here are some London-related travel articles for extended reading:

Sabor A Cuba – Excellent Cafe con Leche and Cubans

I visited Miami a few weeks ago and have been craving a Cafe con Leche since then. I asked around and tried some recommendations such as La Segunda and Bodega, but neither of them had that bold coffee that I grew to like during my trip in Miami.

During my visit last weekend to Dunedin for ice cream my sister’s husband suggested Sabor A Cuba.

Sabor A Cuba is a little house on the north side of Downtown Dunedin that sells Cuban cigars, coffee, and sandwiches. The owners give you that mom and pop vibe. No pretentiousness. I knew I was going to need to have a coffee the minute we stepped inside.

The Cafe Con Leche? Excellent. Bold coffee flavors going down my throat. I had a nice rush of energy right afterwards and the Cuban Sandwich? I LOVED it. This isn’t a Tampa Cuban Sandwich, but Miami style (no salami folks). I understand that some people in Tampa will not appreciate that, but I am a man that enjoys the variety in life.

What makes a good Cuban Sandwich to me? It’s not a specific thing inside the sandwich, but the combination of everything together. When you take a bite there should be crunch and as the ingredients move around in your mouth, you should feel some happiness and pleasure on your taste buds. This Cuban did that.

The sandwich will run you $8, but it’s a purchase I would make in the future again.

If you haven’t stopped by Sabor A Cuba, I recommend giving them some love. They regularly have live music outside and this is the real deal.

Restaurant: Sabor A Cuba

Cuisine: Coffee, Sandwiches

Neighborhood: Dunedin

Address: 828 Highland Ave., Dunedin, FL 34698

Phone: (727) 238-5368

Cost: $

Website: http://www.saboracubainc.com

Ice & Cream Creamery – delicious scoops in Dunedin

Yesterday I visited an ice cream shop with my family in Dunedin that was truly phenomenal called Ice & Cream Creamery. They have a few locations on Clearwater Beach and Madeira Beach for those of you hitting the sand this summer.

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The shop is beautiful on the inside and feels like a blast to the past. The shop features 36 premium flavors from sherberts and sugar-free ice creams to candy-filled sweet spots. Some of the flavors include watermelon sorbet, pistachio, sugar free mint chip, key lime sherbet, and butterscotch bomb.

According to their signage they are committed to fresh and local ingredients and are a big community player with a focus on the local arts.  We were promptly greeted upon entering and proceeded to enter the line and make our move for ice cream.

My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough. I wasn’t in the mood for a scoop so I asked for a root beer float and it was excellent.

They stacked the cup all the way with ice cream and gave me the whole can of soda to take with me. You could really taste the quality in the ice cream, it was very creamy and also the cookie dough and chocolate chips were plentiful and tasty.

I would really recommend giving this place a try if you find yourself in Dunedin or their sister store on Clearwater Beach.

Milkshakes are hand-spun so that might be a future option for me if I’m in the area.

We caught the sunset at the Dunedin Pier nearby afterwards and it was a beautiful evening.

Restaurant Name: Ice & Cream Creamery

Neighborhood: Dunedin

Address: 200 Main St. #109, Dunedin, FL 34698

Phone Number: (727) 223-8742

Cost: $

Website: http://www.iceandcream.com

Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse serves excellent meat

Full disclosure: I was invited to Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse for a complimentary tasting in exchange for my opinion. Any opinions displayed here are my own and do not represent Terra Gaucha. 

Brazilian Steakhouse concepts have had mixed success in Tampa Bay. Boizao disappeared one day without an explanation. Texas de Brazil has managed to be successful elsewhere on Boy Scout Boulevard. Now, Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse is open on South Dale Mabry in a former GrillSmith location.

My experience at Texas de Brazil when I’ve visited was nothing to write home about. The meat is plentiful, but extremely salty and sometimes completely dry. I’m happy to report that is not the case at Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse. I visited for a tasting this week and was impressed with what I found.

I brought along a friend who lived in Brazil for a year as my point of reference and she agreed that this is perhaps one of the most authentic experiences she has had since she left Brazil.

Our favorite meat cut during our visit was the Picanha or beef sirloin-cap. It was so juicy and flavorful. The perfect taste in your mouth.

The close second was the Linguiça or pork sausage. This is usually not my favorite dish, but I enjoyed it quite a bit at Terra Gaucha. I was a big fan of the Cordeiro or lamb, but lamb is certainly one of those things that isn’t for everyone.

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Like most Brazilian steakhouse concepts servers come around and cut meat tableside. You use something called a “brasa card” to indicate if you want food or not. Red means stop and green means go. The servers constantly flood the floor with food and you can get full just watching them cut the meat.

The buffet bar or salad bar as some might call it has numerous options for diners including bacon, prosciutto, cheeses, soups, and more. Personally I try to focus on the meat when I go to Brazilian steakhouses so I can get the best bang for my buck, but I know that will vary for some people. I can report that the bacon was delicious.

Terra Gaucha is doing many things right. The cuts of meat were all great quality, flavored just right, not too salty. The service staffed was prompt and attentive, I observed the other tables and watched the servers regularly checking on customers around me.

The cocktail menu was great and I loved my Caipirinha which is Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaça, sugar and lime. Good cachaça is a little difficult to come by in Tampa and I was delighted to find that the cocktail at Terra Gaucha was up to par. The rest of the cocktail menu looked good and the wine list was extensive.

It’s easy to get stuffed beyond control at these kinds of all-you-can-eat spots, but we paced ourselves and I felt just right at the end of the meal.

For dessert I had the Papaya Creme dish which is a throwback to the 90s in Brazil. The classic dessert was refreshing after a meal filled with meat and tasted almost like yogurt, which reminded me of the little yogurt drinks I have when I finish chowing down on some Korean BBQ.

My friend ordered a Creme Brulee and enjoyed her dessert. It was light and airy. Not super sugary, but just enough for my palate.

Bossanova music was playing in the background on the speakers and I liked that.

One thing that could be improved at Terra Gaucha is the decor of the restaurant and ambiance in the dining room. Brazilian steakhouses are not cheap affairs and will easily run you $50 per person at dinner and the dining room inside Terra Gaucha didn’t match that kind of spending level.

The restaurant was mostly casual, which can be a plus for people who like that, but I think people dining in this area expect a little more. Decor is not a hard thing to improve though, the entrance is beautiful (as pictured above and below) and the bar is also nicely setup. Perhaps some lighting changes and something around the tables would change the vibe some.

I think adding some live music on the weekends would be a plus, maybe some Samba music or Bossanova cover artists.

Terra Gaucha has excellent food and I would really like to go here in the future for a meal again. I think its a great place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or have a business meeting and that the food is truly unique in this area.

The bar has a daily happy hour on weekdays with $5 Caipirinha cocktails so I know I will be returning for that no matter what.

Restaurant name: Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse

Cuisine: Brazilian Steakhouse

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Address: 1108 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33629

Phone Number: (813) 999-4332

Price: $$$

Website: http://www.terragaucha.net

Guide: Where to watch the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Tampa Bay

The FIFA World Cup 2018 has started in Moscow. Looking for a bar to go watch the games in Tampa Bay?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Mr. Dunderbak’s: World Cup Headquarters for Germany fans. Dunderbak has long been the haven for fans to embrace camaraderie. They now make their own beer in addition to having a massive menu and great beer list with both craft beer and plenty of imports with over 500 bottles and 65 worldwide beers on draft. Happy Hour pricing will be available during all games. 14929 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33613 (813) 977-4104
  • Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine: This local Mexican restaurant near Carrollwood and New Tampa  is offering breakfast during the World Cup for fans as well as lunch and happy hour on margaritas, beer, and wine. 2808 E. Bearss Ave, Tampa, FL 33613  (813) 898-2860
  • GameTime: Ybor’s arcade bar is having drink specials and food specials during matches of the World Cup. 1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605 (813) 241-9675
  • Hofbrauhaus St. Pete: This massive German pub will really get you in the mood during the World Cup. It’s a branch of a historic Munich brewery. If you’re in Downtown St. Pete, it’s worth a look. 123 4th St. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 898-3333
  • Independent Bar and Cafe: Independent Bar is probably the most popular bar in Seminole Heights and a great way to kick it with the locals during the games. 5016 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 341-4883
  • James Joyce Irish Pub: All FIFA World Cup games are being shown on the big screen at this Irish pub in Ybor City on 8th. They have great happy hour deals and also one of the best burgers in town. You’re welcome. 1724 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605 (813) 247-1896
  • London Heights British Pub: This beautiful British pub will be showing all the world cup games for fans and is just on the edge of Seminole Heights. Enjoy $4 Carlsberg, $4 Kombacher, 20 wings + a pitcher of Coors Light for $25. 7701 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 231-7200
  • LPCX Cafe & Bakery: Colombia fans can check out this cafe (La Pequena Colombia Express) and bakery that is hosting watch parties for all the FIFA World Cup games. The full menu is available during the games on top of an espresso bar, baked goods, beer, and wine. Tickets for parties are available and include an all-you-can-eat buffet (normally $25 but $18 during 8AM games) and are limited, reservations are only required during Colombia games due to space limitations. The buffet includes coffee and select drinks. Their outside deck is first-come, first-serve and open to walk-ins with appetizer-like foods and drinks for purchase. 6204 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 870-6717
  • Nazca Bar & Grill: Most people are probably unaware that Tampa has a Peruvian sports bar, but Nazca is just that and open late. I stopped by to watch a game and had a blast. The televisions are in Spanish – I know some people are searching for bars with that. 5915 Memorial Highway Tampa, FL 33615. (813) 252-6025
  • Pisco Restaurant & Bar: This Peruvian and Chinese fusion restaurant is offering drink specials on beer buckets and appetizers during the FIFA World Cup. The also have daily breakfast and lunch combos. Space is limited so come early. 7507 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 305-7910
  • Prost Bar + Kitchen: This German-style modern pub near USF on Bearss will fully embrace the World Cup. They have deals almost everyday of the week as well. 2802 E Bearss Ave, Tampa, FL 33613 (813) 466-5249
  • Restaurant Old Castle: This German old-world-style tavern will have all FIFA World Cup games playing for those looking for a bar on the south side of town and of course bratwurst and German specialities. 3830 Sun City Center Blvd #107, Ruskin, FL 33573 (813) 633-3331
  • Spain Restaurant & Toma Bar: All World Cup games will be shown at Spain Restaurant & Toma Bar in Downtown Tampa. $3 Estrella Draft Beers will be available as well as giveaways and raffles. 513 N. Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 223-2831
  • Three Birds Tavern: This European pub has been a gathering spot for football fans for decades. They will be open early for all World Cup games including the 8AM games. It is pet-friendly as well. 1492 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 895-2049
  • Zydeco Brew Werks: Located in the heart of Ybor near plenty of city and street parking and with plenty of televisions. Zydeco has ample seating, they have craft beer and food. What’s not to like about this? 1902 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605 (813) 252-4541

The Rez Grill Hard Rock Tampa happy hour impresses

Full disclosure: I was invited to The Rez Grill for a tasting of their happy hour menu. Any opinions displayed are my own and do not represent Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Last week I went out to The Rez Grill for a happy hour tasting (called “Social Hour) at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. Guests can enjoy food and cocktails for just $7 from 3PM-6PM from Wednesday-Saturday.

During my visit I tried to stick to things I didn’t try during my last tasting. I do recommend the Benton’s Ham based on my last visit.

My favorite thing I tried was the banh mi! It was incredibly delicious and totally a great deal. We liked it so much that we ordered it twice. This banh mi is gourmet, the bread perfection, and the chef makes the Pâté from scratch and it shows. Also the pork…so good!

The second thing I would recommend is the Smoked Fish Dip. The fish itself depends on the day you visit, but I had Rainbow Trout in my dip and it was truly delectable down to every last taste.

The chopped salad is what you would expect from at traditional restaurant, it had some remnants of a 1905 salad to it. Not a bad option when you’re sipping on some of their sangria.

Note: The sangria at The Rez Grill comes in a caprisun pouch and is called When We Were Young. It’s a novelty that is really catching on. The sangria was excellent and was clearly soaked in plenty of fruit. They thankfully put the straw in before I had the pouch, saving me the trouble of trying to put the straw into the pouch.

For cocktails I only tried the 1944 Mai Tai which packed a punch and was more than enough for me during the visit. I’d really like to try more of the drinks in the future and I’m actually going to return this week for happy hour again.

Free parking at Hard Rock Tampa and this menu certainly makes The Rez Grill and attractive happy hour spot that I highly recommend that you check out soon.

Join the Tampa Bay Foodies Club for a Meetup on Wednesday, 6/13: http://www.meetup.com/Tampa-Bay-Foodies-Club/events/251532483/

Bourdain.

I woke up yesterday to an e-mail in my inbox from Eater alerting me that Anthony Bourdain had passed. Not a great start to my day.

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True words. RIP Bourdain.

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The importance of Bourdain in the industry was so clear from the amount of love everyone showed him. He was one of the most famous and authentic food voices out there, never afraid to go against an industry filled with norms and filters.

The thing I’ll remember most about Bourdain was that he always stood up for what he believed was right and that is what I hope to embrace in my life going forward. The other thing Bourdain did well was shine a light on food cultures that we not covered enough and he tried to get down to the real story in his travels. He was loved worldwide.

I’ve filmed before for television and one of the most annoying parts of filming is how unnatural it all usually is. Usually all the people there have been prepped before you visit. The dishes made to perfection. The customers arranged to be supportive loyalists.

Bourdain’s style was to try and capture an authentic experience somewhere and that is different from your typical filtered television. He will be missed but hopefully we take piece of his spirit with us and try to absorb the world around us like he did so well.


After feeling bummed for most of the morning and afternoon, I found myself in Seminole Heights and ran into Chef Viet Vo (Chef V) of Mad Chef Tampa at Brew Bus Brewing.

I was there to check out the new cocktail menu and trying to simultaneously avoid Tampa’s daily soak bath storm and Friday I-275 traffic. We were both hoping to run into the Brew Bus Executive Chef Max Sherard, but missed him and decided why not go bar hopping for a bit and catch up.

I want to say that my first impression of the new cocktail menu at Brew Bus left me with high hopes and I plan to work my way through it little by little. I enjoy both the Brew Bus and Florida Ave. craft beers which have also been made into beer cocktails in addition to their normal cocktail list.

The bartender gave me a sample of a drink he is whipping up for CL’s Margarita Wars in a few weeks for some feedback as well. That will be exciting to see in person.

Side note: Creative Loafing is running a CL Deal for Margarita Wars right now that ends in 2 days at http://cldeals.com – 50% off admission. You can thank me later when we are sipping margaritas there.

We went from there to Rooster & The Till which seemed like an appropriate place to be on a day of sadness for the food world. Most chefs in town will say that is their favorite place in town and it is certainly one of the most forward-thinking places.

It was obvious that the place is special place for Chef V. We were both residents of Seminole Heights in the past. He ordered the Crispy Cobia Collar which was incredible. Traditionally Vietnamese and made with a twist at Rooster.

Can I also take a minute to talk about how much I love their painting of a rooster in there? In case you haven’t heard, there is a proposal to kick the roosters out of Ybor City happening right now in the city. The Ybor Chickens Society and Ybor Chamber of Commerce are both fighting it.

I stand with the roosters. We need to preserve the history and culture of Tampa and Ybor City as we grow it as much as possible.

Sign the petition to keep our chickens protected in Ybor City: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/keep-our-chickens-protected.html

Finally we ended our bar hop at The Refinery. I haven’t been to the new location since it moved into Fodder & Shine’s spot. I miss the rooftop and house-vibe of the original location. I have so many memories up there for my birthdays, new years, and also when they did those Pig Jams on Sundays with live bands. It was great.

I ordered my usual burger and so did Chef V. Solid after drinking food. The fries and ketchup always solid.

There was this Korean Cuban Melt (not sure of the actual menu item name) that they had in the last year or so of the old Refinery and it was killer. I am hoping they bring that back sometime.

Bulgogi and Cuban bread were just made for each other.

Once Chef V and I parted ways I headed over to St. Pete and spent the evening at Ichicoro Ane in Downtown St. Pete with some drinks and house music.

My day had turned around thanks to all the creators in Tampa Bay.