New Years Eve at MFA – 1st Annual Party

Interested in ringing in the new year and supporting the arts? The Museum of Fine Arts or MFA in St. Petersburg is having its 1st Annual New Year’s Eve Party going into 2019. Tickets cost $175 to party or $350 to enjoy dinner and party per person and are now available.

Buy tickets: http://bit.ly/2SlkeEh

Dinner will run from 7:30PM to 9:30PM and includes valet parking, an open bar, a special dinner, as as well as piano bar and cabaret performance by Paul Wilborn and Blue Roses and access to special exhibitions.


The New Year’s Eve party begins at 9:30PM and will run until 1AM and includes valet parking, an open bar, artisan desserts from Artistic Whisk, savory light bites, dancing to music provided by Inpulse Entertainment, a midnight champagne toast, special exhibitions, and a view of First Night of St. Pete fireworks downtown.

The theme is “Mid-Century Magic” inspired by winter exhibitions at the MFA. Dress to impress.

More information: http://mfastpete.org/event/nyemfa-mid-century-magic/

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New Years Eve Gala 2019 at Armature Works

New Year's Eve Armature Works Tampa

Want to spend New Year’s Eve 2019 at one of the hottest new spots in town? Armature Works is throwing an all-inclusive New Year’s Eve Gala with Big City Events and tickets are now on-sale starting at $205 per person (excludes taxes and fees). Reserved table options are also available.

Buy tickets: http://bit.ly/2RkNbmD

Tickets include a top shelf open bar (liquor, beer, wine, and champagne all night long), live music, DJ entertainment, and a selection of hor d’oeuvres. The event will run from 9PM on New Years’ Eve to 1AM.

Prices will increase until the day of the event although tickets are limited so it is recommended that you get your ticket early.

Armature Works New Year's Eve Gala 2019

Guests will enjoy fireworks waterfront at midnight from the outside lawn at Armature Works with the Downtown Tampa skyline in the backdrop.

For more information visit http://nyeaw.com

Christmas Day Champagne Buffet at Rusty Pelican Tampa

Nothing gets the holidays flowing like champagne. Rusty Pelican Restaurant located at 2425 North Rocky Point Drive in Tampa has a special Christmas Day Champagne Buffet for guests this year.

The 2018 Christmas buffet will run from 10AM-4PM and cost $75 for adults and $35 for children ages 5 to 12.

Rusty Pelican Christmas Day. Enjoy a champagne buffet with amazing views and Christmas Day surprises.

Offerings on the menu include Prime Rib, Holiday Ham, Crab Legs, Festive Sides, Decadent Desserts, Bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Mary Bar, and more as well as a festive photo booth.

Reservations can be made online at OpenTable and an advance deposit is required. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance.

Happy eating!

Christmas Day Holiday Meal at Castile Restaurant

Is there anything more Florida than Christmas Day at the beach? Celebrate XMAS 2018 with a holiday meal at Castile Restaurant located inside Hotel Zamora on St. Pete Beach at 3701 Gulf Boulevard. Castile will be offering a 4-course meal from 11:30AM to 8:30PM.

Reservations are encouraged.

Adults can enjoy the meal for $70 or spend $90 to include a wine tasting. Children ages 12 and under will cost $25. Bring your santa paws to their outdoor seating options. No need to leave your fido at home.

Some items on the menu: Grilled Octopus, Burrata & Tomato Salad, Pork Ossobuco, Seared Filet, Wild Mushromo with Black Truffle, and Maple Mascarpone Cheesecake with Candied Vanilla Walnuts. Just reading out the menu is making me hungry.

Call (727) 456-8660 to make your reservations. You can also make reservations at OpenTable.

Tampa listed number 11 place to visit in 2019 by Food and Wine

Downtown Tampa Skyline

Popular food magazine Food & Wine put Tampa, Florida on its list of top food destinations to visit in 2019 at number 11 out of 33 in a major win for the Lightning capital. Tampa beat out San Diego, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Portland in the list…to name a few.

The excitement over our new food halls at Armature Works and Sparkman Wharf seems to have much to do with all the press as well as Rooster and The Till. One interesting inclusion on the listing is King State Coffee which has yet to open its doors (although many local shops sell their coffee).

Check out my list of coffee shops to visit in Tampa

Photo via Reddit User u/thetampa2

Hopefully this attention on Tampa means that people will take a deep-dive into the local food scene we have here as well. Time to get writing.

Christmas Eve / Christmas Dinner at Epicurean Hotel Tampa

Epicurean Hotel Christmas Dinner in Tampa

Looking for a meal this Christmas Eve and Christmas 2018 in Tampa?

Check out Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa for a special three-course meal offering from 5PM-10PM on Christmas Eve and 11AM-10PM on Christmas Day. Reservations are suggested.

Dining options start at $48 depending on your main entree choice.

Offerings include a Black Pepper Bucatini, Duck Confit, Filet Mignon, Buttermilk Panna Cotta, and more. View the full menu: http://epicureanhotel.com/events/christmas-eve-dinner/

Make a reservation at (813) 999-8726 or online at OpenTable.

Epicurean Hotel is a food-focused hotel that hails from the same owners as Bern’s Steak House, located across the street, in a collaboration with Mainsail Lodging & Development.

The hotel has numerous offerings for guests and visitors include Elevage Restaurant, EDGE Rooftop Bar, Epicurean Theatre, and more.

Tampa, Florida – Neighborhood Guide

So you want to move to Tampa, but the neighborhoods aren’t easily defined online?

Here is my guide and interpretation of the neighborhoods in Tampa. I have also included the average rent prices of a 2-bedroom apartment as of January 2018.

yborman-1

Ybor City: One of the most historical parts of town. Ybor City was where the cigar factories once operated and a home to many Spanish, Italian, and Cuban settlers in Tampa. More recently, Ybor City is known as an art and an LGBTQ district with plenty of businesses catering specifically to that.

Some historical buildings including the The Cuban Club and The Italian Club which served as a gateway for immigrants in the 1900s.

You’ll find lots of great, local restaurants and dive bars. The area has received quite an amount of bad press for shootings and crimes over the years…however, I have been going there for over 10 years at night and been fine. The police are active in the area (you’ll notice). There is a great Saturday Morning Market every week. Due to the areas Cuban roots, you’ll find the Cuban Sandwich almost everywhere in Ybor City which claims they came up with it first (Miami disagrees). Most people get their bread from La Segunda Bakery which has been around for what seems like forever. Also look out for the National Cuban Sandwich Festival and Festival Italiana every year usually around March/April.

downtowntampaview

Downtown Tampa: The blossoming part of Tampa thanks to tons of investment by Mr. Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Amalie Arena (also Downtown) and his investors. Downtown Tampa has long been a workplace for Tampa’s corporate since at least the 90s, but with lots of investment from the City of Tampa it is also developing as a hub with restaurant, bars, events, and the Tampa Riverwalk: a miles-long waterfront path that connects South Tampa and Downtown.

The Curtis Hixon Park here is the main attraction to outside residents and is next to the Tampa Museum of Art and a few other museums. Festivals and concerts are regularly held at the park. Most people in Downtown Tampa live in condo buildings and they can get quite pricey. The University of South Florida (USF) is opening its Medical School in Downtown in 2019. Don’t miss the historic Tampa Theatre, a beautiful building and great place to watch indie films.

You’ll also find The Florida Aquarium here and a new waterfront outdoor food space called Sparkman Wharf.

South Tampa: South Tampa is one of the largest parts of Tampa and filled with expensive real estate and fancy restaurants – most of it is residential. It is also home to SoHo or South Howard which is a small street filled with bars that attract college students from nearby University of Tampa and party animals from Thursday to Saturday night.

For a more relaxed experience visit Hyde Park Village in Old Hyde Park which has some great shops, restaurants, bars, and a CineBistro movie theater. Bayshore Boulevard showcases Tampa Bay and is where the annual Gasparilla pirate festival happens annually in January. Think Mardi Gras with Pirates. Parking in South Tampa is troublesome for even residents with few driveways. There are plenty of condos and luxury homes here.

Westshore: The affluent part of West Tampa connects to the Tampa International Airport and the International Plaza & Bay Street mall. You’ll find high-end restaurants here such as Capital Grille, Fleming’s, Eddie V’s, Texas de Brazil, Ocean Prime, and various others. Corporate office buildings are spread just minutes from the airport. The International Plaza has high-end designer brands and there is also a large number of car dealerships and a good amount of strip clubs near here on Dale Mabry Highway. Some popular ones are Mon’s Venus, 2001 Odyssey, and Scores Gentleman’s Club. Popular craft brewery Cigar City Brewing is also found here and offers tours Wednesday through Sunday for $8. Dale Mabry connects you between North and South Tampa. You can easily head towards St. Petersburg or Clearwater as well via the nearby highways. Columbus and Kennedy will connect you to West Tampa and Downtown. You’ll also find the Westshore Plaza here which has an AMC Theatre and several shops though it is smaller than other malls in Tampa.

West Tampa: An older part of Tampa that hasn’t quite kept the pace with the rest of the city, but is in the middle of re-development. You’ll find lots of great Cuban restaurants in this section of town as well as Vietnamese spots. Nearby attractions include the Raymond James Stadium (where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF Bulls play football), George M. Steinbrenner Field (where the Tampa Tarpons baseball team trains), and Downtown isn’t too far either. You’ll find some cheaper housing options here in some neighborhoods (depends on proximity to attractions).

Tampa Heights: You’ll find plenty of beautiful homes in this area that is about to boom thanks to the growth in Downtown Tampa. Tampa Heights is the home to two food halls and soon condos, hotels, and more. It is still in its infancy, but give it a few years to get some legs as it connects to the rest of town and this will be one of the busiest parts of town. Notable attractions include Armature Works, The Hall on Franklin, and Ulele.

Seminole Heights: This area is fairly new and connects North Tampa to Downtown Tampa. Previously it was quite poor and a staunch anti-corporate area of town. More recently there has been an influx of money and businesses into the area and it is growing thanks to some risky restaurateurs settling into the area. The bungalows are being restored much in the way South Tampa’s housing was transformed and the prices are on the rise. It has an indie and hipster feel to it. There is a lack of parking at the businesses and restaurants, but many are worth the hassle. The neighborhood is actually quite large and the area near Nebraska tends to be more sketchy and crime-prone compared to the area on Florida Avenue. Craft beer fans will find many places to love including Angry Chair Brewing, Brew Bus Brewing, and 7th Sun Brewing. There has also been movement in businesses on Sligh Avenue towards the Lowry Park Zoo.

North Tampa: This area of Tampa was once where most people settled down, but many people have left the area to suburbia and it shows. Areas such as Carrollwood, Temple Terrace, and the like have not aged too gracefully and are overrun with poverty mixed with expensive housing. One example is the University Mall next to the University of South Florida, which once was a mall that appealed to most of the middle class but has lost most of its support and tenants to neighboring and more affluent areas. There is an effort underway to restore this area of town by a group called Tampa Innovation. The areas largest university is located here with USF’s main campus and nearly 40,000 people coming into the area every day. Many are commuter students and go on their way after hours. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme park is a major attraction here along with their waterpark Adventure Island which is open seasonally.

New Tampa / Wesley Chapel: If you travel north from the University Area you’ll find yourself in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel. This area was nothing but trees a decade or two ago, but is now crawling with growth and traffic. Several affluent communities can be found here including Tampa Palms. The main reason someone might come into this area is to go to the Tampa Premium Outlets and Wiregrass Mall. Restaurants are quickly opening and some hotels are under-construction as well near these shopping destinations.

Westchase: Quite a large and affluent suburban space. Westchase sits on the Northwest side of town and is almost bordering on Oldsmar and Clearwater outside of Tampa. Westchase has a small neighborhood vibe and the shops and businesses reflect that. There isn’t too much happening there, but you can catch the annual PhilFest Filipino festival there.

Brandon: Technically Brandon is not Tampa, but it is also the suburbs of Tampa and many residents of Tampa end up here at some point anyway. Brandon has most everything that Tampa has minus the historical part and the great ethnic restaurants (although it is improving). Brandon is great because of its connection to I-4, Selmon Crosstown Expressway, and affordable home prices making it a great place to settle down. One not so great thing about Brandon is the traffic especially now that apartment complexes are being built left and right. Some attractions here include the Brandon Towncenter Mall, TopGolf, Dave & Buster’s, Bass Pro, among other things.

Riverview: Riverview is directly south of Brandon and where people have moved in mass in the last decade. Most homes are being built around Big Bend Road and U.S. Highway 301. Congestion is a major issue the farther south you go, but that hasn’t stopped families from moving to this area. Most residents have to drive to Brandon or Tampa to find things to do, but you’ll find some restaurants, breweries, and shops in the area that are chains.

The Godfrey Hotel Tampa upcoming Winterland + holiday events

Looking for some holiday cheer this December?

The Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas Tampa located at 7700 West Courtney Campbell Causeway has a number of upcoming events for the holidays that guests can enjoy.

The main event is “Winterland” which will have a number of rotating events throughout December and a pop-up bar. The event is FREE on weekdays with the exception of private events and family-friendly until 10PM. Winterland is 21+ after 10PM. The event will operate 7 days a week.

 

Winterland is produced by Matthew McCahill, who leads the growing division of Food and Beverage as Corporate Food & Beverage Director at Oxford Hotels and Resorts. 

During McCahill’s 28-year career, he has worked alongside top chefs/restaurateurs including Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, and Nick Nicholas in fine dining restaurants and hotels from Las Vegas and Los Angeles to Chicago.

Christmas Caroloke will be available on Thursdays December 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. Sing your favorite Christmas songs at Winterland.

Families can enjoy photo ops and dinner with the Grinch: Saturdays on December 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 5PM to 9PM.

The dinner buffet will feature an special holiday menu along with cookie decorating for kids, hot chocolate and eggnog bar, a giant snowman, and FREE photo ops with the Grinch. Dinner is $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids ages 6 to 12. 50% off for first-responders. 

Here are some notable events to keep track of:

  • Wednesday, December 5th (6PM to 2AM) – Grand Opening of Godfrey Hotel & Cabana Winterland: Enjoy a FREE event featuring a lighting of Winterland ceremony at 6PM, tour of Winterland, and the Grinch’s Cave, a meet-and-greet with the Grinch, holiday-themed Instagram photo ops, 12 cocktails of Christmas, and an eggnog and chocolate bar for kids and adults.
  • Thursday, December 6th (4PM to 9PM) – Pets in Wonderland: Bring your pets to this FREE event and enjoy some special photo ops with Winterland festivities on this day.
  • Friday, December 14th (5PM to 9PM) – Ugly Sweaters & Toys for Kids: Come out to an ugly sweater party at The Godfrey benefiting families in need. Tickets are $10. Donate a used or new toy for a FREE cocktail.
  • Monday, December 24th (5PM to 9PM) – Christmas Eve Dinner with Mrs. Claus: Enjoy a holiday dinner on Christmas Eve featuring a ham carving station, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and more. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in the Winterland this day. Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids ages 6 to 12. 50% off for first-responders.
  • Tuesday, December 25th (11:30AM to 8PM) – Christmas Day Buffet: Celebrate Christmas Day with a holiday buffet. Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids ages 6 to 12. 50% off for first-responders.

For more information visit Winterland online at www.winterlandtampa.com

Social Hour at Council Oak Steaks & Seafood now available (Tampa)

Full disclosure: I was invited to Council Oak Steaks & Seafood for a media preview of their new Social Hour menu. I was offered a complimentary meal in exchange for my opinion about their menu. Opinions are my own and do not reflect Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino or any affiliates.

There are few restaurants in Tampa that offer Happy Hour deals on the weekends, but Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has a few offerings for those of us looking both on weekdays and weekends.

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood has joined the list of places to put on your happy hour radar with their new Social Hour that is now offered daily from 4PM-6PM. I recently tried a wide-range of menu items with other local bloggers and Instagram users and many of the dishes were great.

The Social Hour dishes are not available during regular dining hours are thought of as a unique draw for the juggernaut of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

My favorite is the Skuna Bay Salmon Tartare ($15). This dish has some excellent salmon paired with Citrus Crème Fraîche and has a really amazing flavor profile.

A close runner-up is the Fried Green Tomato Caprese Stack ($13) – which is a must-share dish. Truly excellent flavor profiles are found throughout and there is an obvious effort by the chef to make this menu different from your average happy hour re-hash menu.

If you’re craving some meat, I recommend the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers ($17) which really show you the attention and care to detail the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood has to their meat. The blended herb chimichurri is breathtakingly unique.

As far as cocktails are concerned my favorite drink on the menu is their Cucumber Gimlet ($10) made with Effen Cucumber Vodka, Elderflower, Pear Nectar, Lemon Juice, and Sparkling Wine.

The drink prices are fairly affordable for a casino and the food is made to be shared, but if you’re really hungry you might need to order a few appetizers to be truly satisfied or maybe just head on over for a true steak dinner. 

Social Hour is held in the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood Lounge which is open Sunday to Thursday from 4PM to 11PM and Friday & Saturday from 4PM to 1AM. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is located at 5223 Orient Road, Tampa, FL, 33610.

Check out the Social Hour menu here: http://www.seminolehardrocktampa.com/files/1634/Council-Oak-Social-Hour-Menu.pdf