Dining Guide: Valentine’s Day 2019 in Tampa

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Looking for a special place to spend Valentine’s Day 2019 in Tampa? I have you covered.

Here are some options for ways to spend a meal or some time with someone special. Make sure you make your reservations early as Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days in the restaurant industry.

  • Rooster & The Till: One of Tampa’s hottest restaurants in Seminole Heights is offering a 4-course prix fixe meal for $60 per person with an optional wine pairing for $30 per person. Space is limited and reservations must be made by phone (813) 374-8940 6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604
  • Noble Rice: One of the best sushi restaurants located in South Tampa is offering a Valentine’s Day Omakase dinner starting at 5:30PM on February 14th. Tickets are $165 per person and are very-limited (already 50% sold!) to keep a romantic atmosphere. Omakase will feature 14 bites including toro, otoro, A5 wagyu beef, uni, and their top of the line seasonal fish with dessert included. Add a sake & champagne pairing for $65 per person. Book your reservation on Tock. 807 W. Platt St., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Coppertail Brewing Co.: Take your special someone out to a Valentine’s Night Market at Coppertail Brewing in Ybor City. The event will run from 6PM-10PM and feature 60+ makers in the backlot. Sip some local craft beer while you stroll through the market. Check out more info at the new Coppertail Market website: www.coppertailnightmarket.com 2601 E. 2nd Ave., Tampa, FL 33605
  • Yacht StarShip Cruises: Escape to a cruise on the bay with Yacht StarShip for Valentine’s Day with your significant other. Lunch and dinner cruises are available and start at $49.95. Tickets include food, live entertainment, roses, champagne, and more. Check out their website for all the options available.
  • Ybor City Wine Bar: This local wine bar in Centro Ybor is offering a Valentines Themed Wine Society event on February 13th from 7PM to 10PM. Guests will enjoy a wine tasting paired with chocolate and include Zin-Phomaniac Zinfandel and Chocolate Shop Red Blend among other surprises. Contact Ybor City Wine Bar at (813) 999-4966. 1600 E. 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
  • Shrimp Boat: One of the best hidden secrets in Bloomingdale is offering Lobster and Prime Rib as a special on Valentine’s Day. Of course their shrimp dishes are all incredible as well. If you’re looking for a great meal at a casual restaurant in the Brandon/Valrico area, check out Shrimp Boat. (813) 571-5858 1020 Bloomingdale Ave, Valrico, FL 33596
  • Haven Tampa: Treat your Valentine to a special curated 5-course Chef’s tasting menu at $75 per person and add a wine or whiskey pairing for $45 per person. Available Valentine’s Day only. Reservations available on OpenTable. 2208 W. Morrison Ave., Tampa, FL 33606
  • Terra Gaucha: This Brazilian Churrascaria is one of the best I’ve had and they offering a special offer to those who dine there on Valentine’s Day. A pass to return for a complimentary meal in the future. Come hungry because the meat flows non-stop at this steakhouse. Reservations available on OpenTable. 1108 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33629
  • Rusty Pelican: This waterfront dining destination on the Courtney Campbell Causeway is offering two options on Valentine’s Day: a V-Day gala or a romantic 3-course sit-down dinner menu. Reservations for dinner are available on OpenTable. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607

Did I miss something? Feel free to e-mail me at carloseats[at]gmail[dot]com with any options I may have missed.

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Dining Guide: 10 restaurants to enjoy a Cuban Sandwich in Tampa

Tampa founded the Cuban Sandwich in the 1800s and is home to the annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival. it would be a mistake to visit Tampa without grabbing one. There are dozens of options on where to eat and each place and many options are great.

Here are some recommendations on 10 places to enjoy a Cuban Sandwich in Tampa:

No. 1 – The Floridian – Cubans don’t get much better than The Floridian. This is a classic, no frills, Tampa restaurant (originally from Treasure Island across the bay which is not affiliated) that has excited my taste buds over and over again. The way they press the bread hits the palate just right. The Floridian has won the International Cuban Sandwich Festival 3 times which is the maximum you can win. The award is well-deserved and The Floridian is well worth your time, plus the prices are great. 4534 West Kennedy Street Tampa, Florida. (813) 287-6622 www.tampasbestcuban.com

No. 2 – Palm Avenue Sandwich Shop – This is a dive in Ybor City that I have frequented many times with my Mom. They say mother knows best and Palm Avenue Sandwich Shop is truly a wonderful place to enjoy an authentic and flavorful Cuban Sandwich or any sandwich really (dear lord the steak). The deviled crabs are a nod to Tampa’s past and the Cafe con Leche is excellent. Finding parking can be a little difficult and you should certainly bring cash, but it is worth the effort. 2002 North Nebraska Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 223-5157

No. 3 – La Segunda – The shop that supplies Cuban bread to most restaurants throughout Tampa also opened a swanky new dine-in restaurant this past year and it deserves a look. La Segunda has been making Cuban bread since 1915 and lasted four generations as a family-business. Take an entire hand-made and freshly-baked Cuban bread loaf with you and enjoy some great eats. 4015 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida, 33609. (813) 540-9119 http://www.lasegundabakery.com

No. 4 – Bearss Sandwiches – This is an old-school sandwich shop near Carrollwood that makes a ton of great things, but their Cubans are also incredible. The staff does have attitude by design, so be prepared for that and make sure you know your order before you get to the register. They stay busy because of their quality and history, but there are many people in Tampa who have yet to enjoy a sandwich at Bearss. 14022 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 961-9486.

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Tampa claims being the origin of the Cuban

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No. 5 – Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine – During the great food truck battles of the early 2010s, Faedo’s constantly reigned supreme knocking out hundreds if not thousands of Cubans throughout the Tampa Bay area and now the owners have settled down into a restaurant. Their Cubans are absolutely loaded with ingredients and buttered on-top, they are quite tasty and many of the inspiration that the Faedo couple draws on comes from growing up in Tampa and being influenced by the immigrant foundations of the City of Tampa. Michelle Faedo’s is also a champion of the International Cuban Sandwich Festival and has won the maximum number of awards available for a business to compete. 1218 Ray Charles Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 284-6106

No. 6- Riverview Fresh Market – Living in the Tampa suburbia of Riverview for years caused me to go looking for a quality Cuban and Riverview Fresh Market, known before as Bori-Mex, serves excellent sandwiches and has a mean Cuban. It may not be superior to some of the titans of Tampa Bay, but for a neighborhood shop and bodega it does pretty well at satisfying all my taste buds and making me happy. 9613 US-301, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 374-2353

No. 7 – Columbia Cafe – Although Columbia is not my favorite place to get a Cuban, they have been serving one for longer than anyone else in Tampa Bay and opened with the Cuban on their menu in 1905. The views on the Tampa Riverwalk and a Cuban Sandwich in hand with freshly baked La Segunda Cuban bread and a glass of sangria is an ideal day for me in Tampa. 801 Old Water Street #1905, Tampa, FL 33602.
(813) 229-5511.

No. 8 – Cafe Hey – This was one of the first restaurants to be established in what is now known to most people as Tampa Heights. When the area was just developing I was regularly making trips to Cafe Hey for a quality Cuban Sandwich and it did not disappoint. 1540 North Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 221-5150

No. 9 – Bodega – Many people swear by Bodega and the upstart founded in 2013 has managed to successfully appear in both Tampa and St. Petersburg in just a few years. The owners call it “Latin street food” and their flavor profile is more of an interpretation rather than rooted in history like most Tampa Cuban powerhouses. The lines don’t stop forming and for a town where people bounce from one place to next easily, Bodega has become a household name. 5901 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 533-3333 http://www.eatatbodega.com

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Cuban flavor central!

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No. 10 – Don Pan Bakery – If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a correlation between bakeries and great Cubans and Don Pan is no exception. Their Cuban Sandwich is solid and a contender for the area. Don Pan was rapidly expanding around Tampa for some time, but seems to have scaled back and is focusing more now on operations. 202 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33609. 813-350-0500

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

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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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

Carlos Eats Orlando Guide – Where to Eat, Drink, and Play

So you’ve made it to Orlando, Florida? Home of big household names such as Disney and Universal Studios. Orlando has a pretty great and growing food scene as well as a growing craft beer market. Here are my recommendations on where to go when in the town of Mickey Mouse.

Disney Springs

  • Eat
    • Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’: Three words – Buttermilk Fried Chicken. It is not cheap, but it is delicious. Splurge here and you will not regret it. The sides are great as well. If you love moonshine the restaurant also has a large list of them available for sampling and enjoying.
    • Morimoto Asia: No expense was spared in the creation of this restaurant. It is beautiful inside and out. The menu changes pretty regularly, but you really can’t go wrong with Morimoto’s Signature Peking Duck. The cocktail selection is also great and incorporates some interesting mixtures from soft drinks in Japan as well tea cocktails. Come ready to spend money and enjoy.
  • Drink
    • Wine Bar George: Master Sommelier George Miliotes opened his first wine bar at Disney Springs. It features over 135 wines by the glass, bottle, and ounce. The servers are just as passionate about wine as George himself. The food selection is great and the wine selection is vast with many countries, styles, and price points represented, some that George personally prefers that might be difficult to find elsewhere. I recommend coming here for a glass or two or three.
    • STK: The rooftop bar at STK is what lands it on this list. There is this tower with a fire pit inside that is just really the perfect backdrop to sip a glass of wine and to look over Disney Springs from the sunset into the evening.

Downtown Orlando

  • Drink
    • Aku Aku: Sweet little tiki dive in Downtown Orlando. Prices are pretty fair even if the menu is a little limited, don’t be afraid to ask the bartenders to make you a cocktail and they will try their best accommodate. It does get pretty busy so get there early if you want a seat or come earlier in the week.
    • The Woods: This has been one of my choice spots to go drink for some years. Many of the bartenders are affiliated with the bartender’s guild in Tampa and the drinks here are always made well and are nice and strong. They have a large liquor selection and their craft beer list isn’t half bad either.

Dr. Phillips

  • Drink
    • Pharmacy: I’m a fan of speakeasy concepts. This one eluded me for nearly 30 minutes on my first visit while I searched for the front door. Once you find your way inside (hint there is a button) you will be impressed with the drink selection and food. Pharmacy is really a great spot and probably one of the best speakeasy concepts I have seen in Florida. 8060 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819. (407) 985-2972. http://thepharmacyorlando.com/

East Orlando

  • Eat
    • Izziban Sushi & Korean BBQ: People like to talk smack about Izziban, but if you ask me Izziban has one of the best deals I have ever seen. All you can eat Korean BBQ, appetizers, and sushi for under $22. I absolutely love sliced pork belly so this is a goldmine for me. Most Korean restaurants in Florida will charge you over $20 for one entry. The tip is included for AYCE but the service is almost always great. This is a quality business and I always have to stop by here when I’m in town. I just wish they would hurry up and open one up in my hometown in Tampa. 5310 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32807. (407) 270-8811. http://izzibanrestaurant.com/

International Drive

  • Eat
    • Boi Brazil Churrascaria: I wandered into one here one day on a trip to Orlando and was not disappointed with the meat cuts or price. Come hungry because the meat just keeps coming and coming at you. 5668 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819. (407) 354-0260. http://www.boibrazil.com/
    • Cafe Tu Tu Tango: This spot is filled with art and culture – even if its a touristy spot it is good and very close to several hotels on I-Drive if you’re staying around this area.
  • Do
    • Player 1 Video Game Bar: If you want a blast to the past take a visit to this video game arcade bar. They have dozens of old school arcade machines as well as an extensive beer list. Quite a few emulator consoles will also let you take your pick of video games long past their time including classic SEGA and Nintendo games.  8562 Palm Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32836. (407) 504-7521. https://player1orlando.com/

Oak Ridge

  • Do
    • KTV Karaoke Orlando: I am a fan of private karaoke rooms. This korean bar and karaoke facility (called a noraebang) has hundreds of songs available to sing and rooms available to rent for an hourly fee. The service has been attentive I have made there. Try to come in a larger group if you want to save money because the rates aren’t that cheap. 7130 S. Orange Blossom Trail #200 Orlando, Fl 32809. http://www.ktvorlando.com/
    • Millenia Mall: This is a pretty huge upscale mall in Orlando and was one of the top places you could find designer brands until Disney Springs stepped up their shops. You’ll find all your big name brands and also quite a number of places to eat around here. If you want to get some shopping done indoors and avoid the weather outside, its a good pick. 4200 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32839. http://www.mallatmillenia.com/

Winter Park

  • Eat
    • Domu: Domu has a very contemporary feel to it and delivers a solid ramen menu with prices that easily destroy any business in my hometown of Tampa. The other must-try thing on this menu is the KFC “Korean Fried Chicken” which is excellent. It isn’t traditional, but it is delicious. East End Market, 3201 Corrine Dr Suite 100, Orlando, FL 32803. (407) 960-1228. http://www.domufl.com/
    • Foxtail Coffee Co.: My favorite coffee shop in Orlando. This shop is beautiful and has a coffee is roasted on-site. They also have plenty of pastries, food, beer, and wine. The shop is filled with seats and plugs for device charging. The Wi-Fi here is great too. 1286 N Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. (407) 951-7931. https://www.foxtailcoffee.com/
    • Gideon’s Bakehouse: This small bakery inside East End Market is almost worth a drive to Orlando by itself. They have some of the most delicious cookies I have ever tried. You must make an effort to come here, but beware that they sometimes are sold out of their supply completely. http://www.gideonsbakehouse.com/
    • Krungthep Tea Time: One of those places easily made famous across I-4 thanks to Instagram. Krungthep has a famous pink drink which is a Thai street drink. I hear their sandwiches are also delicious, but haven’t had a chance to try them myself yet. Don’t forget to get a photo on their couch. 1051 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. (407) 733-3561. http://www.krungthepteatime.com/
  • Do
    • East End Market: One of the first food halls in Florida. East End Market was once a church and now is a facility that hosts a variety of vendors from various concepts – most of them involving food. There is even a bar there if you want to have a drink and Domu is located right next door.

West Orlando

  • Eat
    • Inay’s Kitchen Filipino Cuisine: Quality Filipino food is hard to come by, but Inay’s delivers that homemade touch and the food is great. Prices are reasonable too. They also have karaoke for those of you into that. 1097 S Clarke Rd, Ocoee, FL 34761. (407) 601-2126.
    • Junior Colombian Burger: This guide is mostly free from chains, but Orlando is one of the only places in the world with a Junior Colombian Burger and I personally love it. It’s true that their beef is frozen, but the burgers are the perfect composition of flavors and I love their sauces (the pineapple sauce is amazing) and the potato chips on top in genius. I feel like this concept would be so successful in my hometown – I always get a craving for it when I’m in Orlando and end up making a trip. They have a few locations around Orlando – I feel like this one is really convenient for people traveling on I-4. Best thing is they are open until at least 3AM everyday. 5389 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819. (407) 355-3506. http://www.juniorcb.com

Surrounding cities:

Kissimmee

  • Eat
    • Kissimmee Bakery & Latin Food: Puerto Rico meets El Salvador at this restaurant which has amazing pupusas. Best you might find outside of San Francisco and California. We always try and grab a bag to take home when we visit family in Orlando.

Food Trucks:

  • Korean BBQ Taco Box: This food truck sells excellent Korean food and is regularly out on the road around Orlando. They have traditional as well as fusion food. I highly recommend Korean BBQ Taco Box at least once on a visit to Orlando. I love their food. They post their schedule on Facebook and Twitter, but you might want to give them a call too if you want to order ahead. (407) 453-2250. http://www.facebook.com/KBBQBox/

Tampa Bay Guide: Where to Eat, Drink, and Play

Wondering where to go in Tampa Bay? I have you covered. This guide is meant to be a way for you to navigate Tampa Bay and find great places to eat, drink, and play.

Tampa is filled with plenty of different types of businesses – but many of them are hard to find without someone telling you first.

The guide will be separated by neighborhood for travel purposes. Tampa Bay consists of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and sometimes Sarasota is thrown in. I’ll leave Sarasota for another guide. Each major city is about 30-45 minutes away from the other depending on traffic so plan accordingly.

I live in Tampa so the majority of my recommendations will be based there. I will expand the list as I try new places. Also – the list is a work in progress.

Tampa

  • Apollo Beach
    • Circle’s Waterfront Dining
    • Marian’s Sub Shop
  •  Brandon/Riverview
    • Allegria Italiana
    • Bullfrog Creek Brewing Company
    • Chicago’s Best Burger
    • First Choice BBQ
    • La Villa River Hills.
    • Leaven Brewing Company
    • Revolution Ice Cream
    • Sarge’s Smokehouse BBQ (Food Truck)
  • Carrollwood
    • Bearss Sandwich Shop
    • Simply Pho & Grill
  • Downtown Tampa
    • Eat
      • Caffeine Roasters
      • Columbia Cafe
      • Eddie & Sam’s NY Style Pizza
      • Toma Spain Bar
    • Drink
      • Anise Global Gastrobar
      • Franklin Manor
      • Hotel Bar
      • The Gin Joint
    • Do
      • Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
      • Pirate Water Taxi
      • Tampa Bay History Center
      • Tampa Museum of Art
      • Tampa Theatre
  • Gandy
    • 81 Bay Brewing Co.
  • New Tampa
    • Cafe Ole
    • Ciccio Cali
    • Full Circle Pizza
    • Oakley’s Grille
  • North Hyde Park
    • The Lab Coffee: The best coffee shop in Tampa based on sheer quality. The Lab is home to Zeal Coffee Roasters. Getting a pour over here will make my day. I drive over 30 minutes regularly to get here. They are still very mom + pop so don’t expect a big and beautiful cafe, but it is definitely an incredible coffee dive.
    • Raw Smoothie Co.
  • Seminole Heights
    • Brew Bus Brewing: Checking out Tampa’s craft beer scene? Brew Bus is a hub where you can hop on and off to different breweries around the central part of Tampa and down to Ybor. There is much more here though. Brew Bus makes their own beers and also owns Florida Ave. Brewing and makes a number of sour beers under that brand. They also have their own chef cooking up some great food as well. Biggest attraction is the ample parking which is almost unheard of in Seminole Heights.
    • The Independent: One of the most popular hipster bars in Seminole Heights. You’ll find an extensive beer list here and plenty of locals hanging around The Independent.
    • The Refinery: The original Refinery is gone, but if you still want some of their delicious food you’ll have to trek over to where Fodder & Shine once stood and The Refinery now stands. The Refinery originally built themselves on offering quality food to the masses. It became a hard to sustain mission and things have changed a bit, but one thing has always been good: their burgers.
    • Revolution Ice Cream
    • Spaddy’s Coffee Co.: Spaddy’s was the first one to bring real coffee down to Seminole Heights and actually bring Starbucks some competition. His food truck initially had a small piece of land and has expanded and grown as he built the area around him. Always having a great taste for coffee has been a major part of this business. Definitely a local, neighborhood coffee stop. It’s outdoors so weather should play a factor on if you stop by or not.
    • Sulphur Springs Sandwich Shop: Hanging off the edge of Seminole Heights heading towards USF is the Sulphur Springs Sandwich Shop. This is a classic sandwich shop that has become scarce in the era of Subway, Jimmy John’s, and Publix – but this shop carries with it quality deli cuts and plenty of creativity and local love.
  • South Tampa
    • Bella’s Italian Cafe
    • The Blind Tiger Cafe – SOHO
    • Caffeine Roasters
    • Ciro’s Speakeasy & Supper Club: Quite a number of transformations have happened at Ciro’s over the years, but one thing that has always been true is their commitment to quality cocktails. This is a great place to take a date or to have an elegant night out with friends. The drinks are on the pricey side, but the atmosphere definitely makes this a must-visit if you like taking a trip back in time.
    • Cru Cellars
    • Datz
    • Japanese Kitchen Dosunco
    • Noble Rice
    • Oxford Exchange
    • Restaurant BT
    • Roux Tampa
    • Sushi Ninja
  • Tampa Heights
    • Armature Works
    • Foundation Coffee Co.
    • Hidden Springs Ale Works
  • Town N’ Country
    • Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken
    • Filipiana Philippine Cafe
    • Saigon Deli
    • Thinh An Kitchen & Tofu
    • Tostones Inc.
  • University
    • Felicitous
    • Kaleisia Tea Lounge
    • Mel’s Hot Dogs
    • Mr. Dunderbak’s
    • Prost
    • U Poke Spot
    • Wood Fired Pizza
  • West Tampa
    • Petit Piquant
    • Pupuseria Centroamericana
    • West Tampa Sandwich Shop
  • WestShore
    • Cigar City Brewing
    • Frankie’s Lobstah Trap
    • The Floridian
  • Ybor City
    • Eat
      • Al’s Finger Licking Good BBQ
      • Bernini
      • The Bunker
      • Due Amici
      • El Puerto Restaurant & Grill
      • James Joyce Irish Pub
    • Drink
      • The Brass Tap
      • The Bricks of Ybor
      • Cigar City Cider & Meadery
      • Coppertail Brewing Company
      • TBBC

St. Petersburg

  • Downtown St. Pete
    • Cassis Bakery
    • Cycle Brewing
    • FarmTable Cucina
    • Ichicoro ANE
    • The Lemongrass Sushi Thai Tapas
    • Mandarin Hyde
    • Overflow Brewing Company
  • Madeira Beach
    • Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Clearwater

  • Clearwater Beach
    • Badfins Food + Brew: If you’re looking for a casual spot that has a great craft beer list and American/Mexican-inspired food than Badfins will have you covered. I wondered into here one day and was impressed with their offerings and prices were beyond reasonable for the area at $10 or less.
    • Caretta on the Gulf: Most of the spots on Clearwater Beach are touristy and Caretta on the Gulf is no exception being located inside the Sandpearl Resort. Despite being a tourist spot though I will say that their food is delicious, though pricey. You really can’t beat their patio view of the ocean and pool deck. They also have a great brunch buffet if you’re in town during the weekend.
  • Downtown Clearwater
    • La Fondita de Leo: Being from Puerto Rico, my family is really picky about where will eat Puerto Rican food. La Fondita makes the list and has authentic food. The prices are reasonable too.
  • Largo
    • Arkane Aleworks: 2018 winner at the Best Florida Beer Brewers Ball. Arkane Aleworks is haven for people who love sour beers. They have a wide-variety of options on their tap list and are constantly coming out with new creations. This is my favorite brewery in Tampa Bay.
  • Oldsmar
    • Faceless Samurai: Quality sushi in Tampa is hard to find. Faceless Samurai has great sushi and sashimi cuts. They have great lunch specials and dinner is still not too expensive either. Their shop is very quaint and the sushi chefs are friendly and remind me of a small shop in Asia.
  • Dunedin
    • Dunedin Brewery
  • Palm Harbor
    • Bunga Raya Malaysian Cuisine & Sushi Bar
    • Coolside Gelato Bar
    • Fireside Pizza Cafe
  • Safety Harbor
    • The Sandwich on Main

Food Trucks:

  • Craving Donuts
  • Empamama’s
  • I Wanna Wok
  • Soul Food Street Kitchen
  • The Twisted Iron
  • Vanchetta Food Truck
  • Wakamole Truly Mexican

Carlos Eats San Francisco Guide – Where to eat, drink, and play

Visiting San Francisco? I was born there and have a history with the city. I’ve been visiting frequently since 2014 and have noticed a major shift in the city as Silicon Valley has pushed into the Bay Area.

There are great quality food destinations to visit, but it takes more work than before to find quality businesses so I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.

Hopefully this guide helps you when you are in San Francisco. I separated the businesses by neighborhood because San Francisco is really broken up by neighborhoods and there is an obvious change between each one.

I believe San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities on Earth and I hope you enjoy it.

  • Bernal Heights
    • Barebottle Brewing Co.
    • Bolompie Cafe No 3
    • Mitchell’s Ice Cream
  • Castro
    • I’a Poke’
    • Kitchen Story
  •  Chinatown
    • Boba Guys
  • Dogpatch
    • Harmonic Brewing
    • Triple Voodoo Brewery
  • Excelsior
    • Los Planes de Renderos Pupuseria
  • Financial District (FiDi)
    • 111 Minna
    • Cafe Madeleine
    • Tropisueno SF
    • Workshop Cafe
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
    • Alioto’s:
    • Surisan
  • Hayes Valley
    • Smuggler’s Cove
    • Whitechapel
  • Inner Sunset
    • Japanese Tea Garden
    • The Taco Shop at Underdog’s
  • Japantown
    • Kuchi Tsuru
  • Marina
    • The Brick Yard
  • Mission District
    • El Farolito
  • Outer Richmond
    • Ton Kiang
  • Russian Hill
    • Buster’s Cheesesteak
  • SoMa
    • Trademark & Copyright

Pop-Ups:

  • Eats By E

Food Trucks:

  • Senor Sisig

Suburbs & Surrounding Cities:

  • Daly City
    • Fil-Am Cuisine 2
  • Napa Valley
    • Back Room Wines
  • Oakland
    • Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town
  • San Mateo
    • Nini’s

Top 7 Local Pizza Spots in Tampa

Pizza is one of those things that depends on preference. Do you like a cheesy pizza or a saucy pizza? Lots of toppings or just plain cheese? Does pineapple belong on pizza? (the answer is YES) –  I keep things simple normally, but it varies depending on my mood.

Tampa is overrun with corporate pizza chains and plenty of below mediocre strip mall pizza spots, but there are some quality local spots out there as well and they need some love.

Here are my Top 7 Local Pizza Spots in Tampa. Your top choices may vary and that’s okay.

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Chicago Style Deep Dish. 👅

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7. Full Circle Pizza Grill: This pizza spot in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa area is not easily accessible to most of Tampa, but trust me the Chicago pie is worth a look if you are in the area. The portion is simply huge so make sure you bring some friends and call ahead to see if they are serving Chicago pizza, because some days it is unavailable. It’s a more affordable option to a Cappy’s Pizza in my opinion. 19651 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33647. (813) 994-3700. http://www.fullcirclepizza-grill.com/

6. New York, New York Pizza: Many drunk nights in Ybor City end at New York, New York Pizza. They’ve expanded their reach over the years, but kept the quality pizza there. I would consider their pizza to be up to my standards for a good pizza, tasty cheese and toppings. Most of my visits are reserved for times out in Ybor at night though and nowadays in SoHo as well where they opened another location. 533 S Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 253-3929. http://places.singleplatform.com/new-york-new-york-pizza-11/menu?ref=google

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There is a pizza god.

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5. Wood Fired Pizza Wine Bar: This is that gourmet pizza place that you take someone to on a date or that you go to with a really good friend or a group gathering and it does get busy. Wood Fired Pizza is a full-service restaurant and has a nice beer selection as well as a tasty butter beer I have enjoyed in the past. The owner is very passionate about pizza and it shows. The prices are on the higher end and will run you around $15-$20 for a pie, but you get your value for sure.  2822 E. Bearss Ave., Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 341-2900.  http://woodfiredpizzatampa.com/

4. Cappy’s Pizza: A bit of a Tampa institution. Cappy’s has branches all over the Tampa Bay area. My personal favorite location is their New Tampa location. I feel like the service there has always been stellar and it is never overcrowded. Plus they take card and I’m pretty sure the Seminole Heights location is cash-only. I don’t carry cash in 2017. Cappy’s has a solid NY-pizza, but it is more popular for it’s deep-dish Chicago pizzas. Come hungry. 16019 Tampa Palms Blvd. W, Tampa, FL 33647. (813) 512-8947. http://www.cappyspizzaonline.com/

3. Fabrica Pizza: This Channelside pizza restaurant is like no other in town. The owners roots are in Italy and they are doing their best to provide a quality and authentic Neapolitan pizza. Everything is delicious. The wine is great and so are the meatballs. It is probably one of the best pizza spots in town if we are talking ambiance and located blocks away from the Tampa Riverwalk. Oh and the nutella pizza? To. Die. For. 142 S. Meridian Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 605-0764. http://www.fabricapizza.com/

2. Sally O’Neals Pizza Hotline: Many of the restaurants who have survived the many changes on SoHo serve some of the best food in town. Sally O’Neals have been around for over 30 years and this quality pizza is a must for anyone wanting to try the best in town. I first tried their pizza at Taste the Best of Tampa Bay at the Straz Center where a mob of people kept chowing down on their excellent pie. From the first bite, Sally O’Neals changed my opinion about pizza in Tampa.  The quality is there. 1319 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 251-0220. http://sallyonealspizza.com

1. Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza: There is no denying the magic of Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza in Downtown Tampa, which has served the area since 1998. The options are numerous and I have never felt disappointed with an experience there. I like pizza by the slice and Eddie & Sam’s serves excellent slices that will brighten even the worst of days. It is the best pizza available in Tampa in value, quality, and it may not be fancy, but who needs fancy when the pizza is going to blow your taste buds away. I’ll be at a quality, local, dive any day over a fancy restaurant. Go to Eddie & Sam’s if you haven’t. We need more like it.  203 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 229-8500. http://www.eddieandsamspizza.com/

Guide: Top 8 Local Bars in Tampa

Drinking in Tampa is a mixed bag. Lots of bars close early and many overcharge for drinks that contain almost no alcohol or have downright terrible service. City officials and bar owners are also regularly working against each other. There was even an incident in 2013 where the city once tried to change the closing hours for bars to midnight?!

At the same time, Tampa is home to one of the largest United States Bartenders Guild chapters in the country and holds an excellent Repeal Party in December every year. Tampa has a booming craft beer industry and plenty of wine dives around town as well as liquor distilleries on the horizon.

Ybor City and South Tampa have been had their moments in the sunshine for nightlife and over time both have waned as Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and Downtown Tampa become the center of town. Only time will tell.

Here are my Top 8 Bars in Tampa. This is a personal list and you may not agree with my choices and that is okay.

#8 – Ybor City Wine Bar

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#winetasting #ybor 🍷

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Ybor City Wine Bar is a great place to catch up with a friend or go on a date. The shop is quaint and all the bartenders I have encountered there have been friendly. You can sit inside or outside depending on the type of night you are looking for – both are enjoyable. The owner holds a wine class every Wednesday and has also expanded over into Seminole Heights. The wine selection is solid and I have enjoyed a few great evenings there.

1600 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 999-4966. http://www.yborcitywinebar.com/

 

#7 – First Chance, Last Chance Bar

Want a hipster dive bar? First Chance, Last Chance Bar in Ybor City is exactly that. If you’re spending $10 or less be sure to bring cash. Lots of shot specials and plenty of spirits. A nice outdoor courtyard with a DJ spinning regularly as well. Drinks prices are nice and cheap and the happy hour is great.

1707 N 16th St, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 248-5555. https://www.firstchancelastchance.com/

#6 – Mr. Dunderbaks

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My kind of pub!

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You like craft beer? What about German beer and food? Oktoberfest? Mr. Dunderbaks has an impressive beer list and now has installed their own brewery into the mix. Stepping into the restaurant makes you feel like you departed Tampa into a German pub. The best place to be during the World Cup. The food is pretty good too.

14929 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 977-4104. http://dunderbaks.ieasysite.com/

#5 –  C. 1949

Seminole Heights is the mecca of hipster bars and C. 1949 provides a huge list of craft beer to visitors for great prices  – many of them recently released. Events are held regularly including Taco Tuesday and a Monday night farmer’s market. The interior is modern and cool and the outside deck is perfect for autumn or winter weather. Live music is regularly put on as well.

6905 N Orleans Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 990-8883. http://c1949.com/

#4 – Lowry Parcade

Finally a place for nerds. Lowry Parcade fuses craft beer enthusiasts with video game nerds into one building. The outcome is a great local neighborhood bar in Seminole Heights that allows both crowds to indulge in their passions. We need more of this in Tampa.

1213 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 915-9180. http://lowryparcade.com/

#3 – Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club

When you’re talking high-quality cocktails, Ciro’s delivers an experience you will not forget. They regularly host cocktail dinners and any night there is an experience that will take you back to the 1920s. The drinks are delicious although quite pricey. It’s a perfect place to celebrate a special night with friends or a date.

2109 Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 251-0022. http://www.cirostampa.com/

#2 – Hotel Bar

Refined cocktails from hotels around the world. Hotel Bar has an elegant interior and the staff is excellent every time I visit. I only wish Hotel Bar had a larger location, but maybe that is one of the things to appreciate about it as well. Drink prices are what you would expect from a place called Hotel Bar. Not overly expensive and not cheap.

200 N. Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 533-2650. http://hotelbartampa.com/

#1 – Anise Global Gastrobar

The best in town. Anise Gastrobar has consistently remained the best place to drink in Tampa since it opened a few years back. The cocktail menu is constantly evolving with the building – they regularly hold events and interact with the industry around them. The space inside is beautiful and it is right across the street from Curtis Hixon Park. The prices have always been fair and the happy hour is excellent. Anise is the best place to drink in Tampa – hands down.

777 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 225-4272. https://www.aniseglobal.com/


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