NEWS: Mi Viejo Latin Cafe & Catering now open in Apollo Beach

Restaurants are opening in droves right now across Tampa Bay. Down in Apollo Beach, Mi Viejo Latin Cafe & Catering opened their doors to the public today. The owners, Roger and Veronica Lima, originally were a part of Liborio’s Cafe, which is a popular Latin cafeteria in the Brandon area.

Photos via Facebook.

Mi Viejo offers a number of Cuban dishes including Palomilla Steak, Milanesa, Churrasco, Cuban Sandwiches, Media Noches, Ropa Vieja, and more with most menu items under $10. There are deviled crabs and empanadas for-sale as well as Tamal Cubanos. Breakfast is available. Coffee fans can find some Cafe con Leche and Cuban espresso for-sale, while sweet lovers can enjoy flan, arroz con leche, dulce de leche, and tres leches. You’ll even find churros at this new spot.

Mi Viejo is located at 6002 N. U.S. Highway 41, Apollo Beach, Florida. The Apollo Beach and Southshore area are rapidly expanding with new restaurants and breweries popping up regularly time as more homes are built in the Big Bend area and homes and subdivisions continue to expand south of Riverview.

Current hours at Mi Viejo are Monday to Friday from 6:30AM to 8PM and Saturdays from 7AM to 8PM. They are closed on Sundays.

Restaurant Name: Mi Viejo Latin Cafe & Catering

Neighborhood: Apollo Beach, Southshore

Address: 6002 North US Highway 41 Apollo Beach, Florida 33572

Phone Number: (813) 803-8223

Menu: http://www.miviejolatincafe.com/menu

Website: http://www.miviejolatincafe.com/

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NEWS: Kiwami Sushi and Ramen opening Saturday, April 6th in Brandon

Brandon’s first official ramen shop is opening this week on Saturday, April 6th at 12PM. Kiwami Sushi and Ramen will offer a special introductory 20% off promotion from April 6th to April 20th.

The new shop will be located at 10262 Causeway Blvd. Tampa, Florida 33619, just minutes from the Westfield Brandon Towncenter and the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway Faulkenburg exit.

The owner’s background is from Orenchi Ramen, which is a popular ramen chain in California. Kiwami will be serving shoyu and tonkotsu ramen for lunch as well as dan dan noodle soup for vegetarians. The menu will expand at dinner to include spicy miso ramen, kimchi ramen, and more.

Prices will start at around $11 and lunch specials will be available.

The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays.

They are still hiring staff including sushi chefs, line cooks, servers, and hosts. Interesting parties can apply in person at the restaurant or call (813) 393-0683.

Find out more at kiwamiramensushi.com.

Dining Guide: 3 vegan eats that don’t break the bank in Tampa Bay

This post comes from Deborah Bostock-Kelley. Deborah is a food writer and is going to highlight some great vegan and gluten-free eats for us. I am asked all the time about vegan food, but it isn’t my specialty so I am very excited to have her writing for us.

It’s hard enough to find restaurants when you are following a gluten-free lifestyle, but throw meat, dairy and egg-free into the mix and you would think your eating-out meal options would be limited to salad, salad and, yes, more salad.

For most chain restaurants, that option is sadly true, but surprisingly in Tampa Bay, individually-owned gems are making healthy living – vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – more mainstream, affordable, and available to an appreciative public.

With the help of the Now Find Me Gluten-Free, Happy Cow, and Vanilla Bean Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant-finder apps, my husband and I have been able to navigate this lifestyle to find several delicious options on the weekends through restaurants that can accommodate.

3 vegan eats to start your trip around Tampa Bay

Here are the first three restaurants to dip your toe into the animal-products-free lifestyle:

1. Thai Legacy

Photos via @michaelsalamey

First and foremost, the family-owned Thai Legacy, is hands-down the best Thai Restaurant for vegan options. Open for just two years in February, from the complimentary puffed shrimp toast with chili dipping sauce to an every-visit order of the huge bowl of lemony Tom Yum Soup, (family-sized because we love the leftovers) to the Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles or scratch-made red and green curries ranging from mild to I-can’t-feel-my-face hot, the separate Vegan menu offers nearly 30 different options – appetizers, soups, fried rice, noodles, curries, specialty meals and desserts.

Our favorite, Veggie Pad Thai, is incredibly flavorful stir-fried rice noodles with diced tofu, sweet radish, beansprouts, and crushed peanuts. It’s cooked in a mouth-watering, homemade, vegan Pad Thai sauce. Owner Preeda Saeiab always make you feel welcome and her chef, son Perry makes sure you leave with your belly full and taste buds happy. 120 North Parsons Avenue Brandon, FL 33510. (813) 685-8005. thailegacyrestaurant.com

2. Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a staple to the vegan community on the USF college side of town. Every menu item is affordable as the founder wants healthy vegan food accessible for everyone. We visit for their monthly buffet (usually the first Saturday of the month) featuring soups, salads, summer rolls, spring rolls, pasta dishes, sandwiches, veggie dishes and desserts that are always changing.

The restaurant features appetizers, salads, vegan chick’n wings, shrimpless shrimp and fishless fish, as well salads, burrito wraps, sandwiches with staples like French fries and vegan mozzarella sticks. While my husband gravitates to the sandwiches and wraps, as the soy substitute is not gluten-free, I enjoy the spring rolls and creamy potato kale soup with vegan cream cheese or the delectable Beyond Meat Burger without the bun. The large menu can please even the most finnicky of palettes. 1905 East Fletcher Avenue Tampa, Florida. (813) 977-7888. lovinghut.us/tampa/

3. Rawk Star Café

At Rawk Star Café it may seem odd that a restaurant would not have an oven, but it makes sense when you realize everything you eat there is raw. If you are what you eat, you are super healthy raw vegetables masquerading as burgers, pizza, spaghetti, and chili and you taste incredible.

Peanut, wheat/gluten, and soy-free, Rawk Star Café serves only organic, raw, and living vegan cuisine. From powerhouse smoothies, Mother Kombucha on tap, Bulletproof Coffee, eggless egg salad, collard leaf wraps, and salads to Rawghetti, a Raw Burger, Raw Pizza, a Raw Chili plate, and many types of raw desserts and sweets, there is something to tempt even the strongest meat-atarian.

My absolute favorite, the Raw Chili plate, is loaded with fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, carrots, celery, shiitake mushroom, red bell pepper, and jalapeno and cayenne for heat. It’s served over a bed of thinly chopped zucchini, and then topped with a macadamia nut “sour cream,” fresh tomatoes, and house-blended Prama Sprinkle. Despite normal, non-supersized portions, you do not leave Rawk Star Café still feeling hungry. The high nutrient food leaves you feeling full longer. 4011 Tampa Road Oldsmar, FL. (813) 855-0007 rawkstarcafe.com

Next time, we’ll visit Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, Ray’s Vegan Soul, and Halelife Bakery.

About Deborah: Deborah Bostock-Kelley is a busy restaurant reviewer, Broadway World theatre critic, playwright, producer, director, actress, children and young adult author, reporter for Groove Magazine, Seedling Magazine UK and Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles Magazine, and owner of The WriteOne Creative Services, a graphic design, web design, and copywriting company. As the philanthropic side of her company, she founded Life Amplified variety showcase in 2013 to give back to her community and was recognized in February 2016 as Bay News 9’s Every Day Hero and in May 2014 as FoxTV’s Hometown Hero. Life Amplified CONNECTIONS Broadway Tunes for Project No Labels is at Stageworks in June 2019 is her 13th showcase. Winning a 2017 Theatre Tampa Bay Jeff Norton Dream Grant, in January 2018 she wrote and produced the 2018 Broadway World award-winning (Best Actor & Best Actress) production, A Necessary Conversation (with Peter Nason) about bullying/gun violence/mental health with a community talkback at the Straz with proceeds going to Moms Demand Action, Tampa Chapter. The show has been expanded and she is directing later in 2019. Her one act plays have been performed in competition at Carrollwood Players, Tarpon Arts and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival. She also runs a blog about her gluten-free and vegan journey. www.dkvk.fun.

Restaurant News: Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ now open in Brandon

Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ is now open in Brandon. It’s been open for a few weeks now. I stopped by today for a bite.

The restaurant is in the old S Bar location next to Burlington Coat Factory on Adamo Dr. (State Road 60).

The inside has been changed dramatically and it now has a blue lounge feel in the Korean BBQ grilling area and the bar area of S Bar was changed into a dining room and bar for general Korean dining. The facility lost plenty of its charm in the transition, but there is certainly plenty of room inside.

I visited the other Sa Ri One BBQ in Hillsborough a few weeks ago out of pure curiosity for this new location and was not impressed with what I found there. The side dishes were bland, my server was inattentive, and the Korean BBQ meat was not very good and expensive (~$30 vs. ~$20) compared to competitors in Orlando like Izziban and Korea House.

I still wanted to see how this location was though.

Today – I decided to stick to the basics and order a soup from the menu. I had the Galbi Tang for $14.95. Galbi Tang is a beef short rib soup and perfect for this kind of rainy weather. My server Jinah was very friendly and she kept up on the refills for the ban chan and was a complete 180 from my experience at the other location.

The ban chan (side dishes) also tasted really great today. The kimchi was great and so was the fish cake and other various side dishes. I’m not sure if we can attribute my last experience to management or that this location is new, but Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ was great today in Brandon and I would recommend checking it out.

Jinah was a great server – she even caught my debit card when I almost left it at the restaurant and returned it to me before I left.

Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ has weekday lunch specials and is open 7 days a week.

Sushi was not available today as their sushi chef was apparently not in – not sure when that is going to be available either.

Restaurant Name: Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ

Cuisine: Korean, Korean BBQ, Japanese

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 1025 W. Brandon Blvd. Brandon, Florida 33511

Phone Number: (813) 548-0024

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarionesushiandkoreanbbq

Leaven Brewing Co. opening March 30th in Riverview

Riverview’s first brewery, Leaven Brewing Co., will have its Grand Opening on Friday, March 30th, 2018. The project has been years in the making and represents the next step for the Brandon/Riverview area.

Participants can enjoy a ribbon cutting from 5PM-6PM and local food trucks from 6PM-9PM. CLE Eats, Up North Doggs, and The Revolution Ice Cream Co. will be serving up the good eats. Live music can be enjoyed starting at 7:30PM by BABYL.

The owners have vigilantly updated their Instagram and social media channels to keep the community updated as they prepared for their journey and it is finally going to pay off with the opening.

Their history with craft beer goes back to Fort Myers Brewing Co. where head brewer and owner KJ Lynch had his start. KJ was originally a photographer for a media event and then started volunteering at the brewery until he was eventually hired full-time and worked his way up to head brewer.

He then started working at Brew Hub in Lakeland where he brewed for 17 different breweries and brewed up to 98,000 barrels of beer in his final year working there before KJ and his wife Jillian decided to open their own brewery: Leaven Brewing Co. in Riverview.

The two are big craft beer supporters and were married at Coppertail Brewing Co. in Ybor City.

Riverview reminds the couple of suburban Fort Myers and helped them to decide on their location with some luck from a friend.

They plan to book live music on the weekends and have plenty of fun planned for the residents of Riverview and visitors coming in for some local craft beer.

The craft brewery will be located at 11238 Boyette Road Riverview, FL 33569 just off US 301.

Don’t miss it.

Event name: Grand Opening / Ribbon Cutting

Neighborhood: Riverview

Venue: Leaven Brewing Co.

Address: 11238 Boyette Rd., Riverview, FL 33569

Date & Time: Friday, March 30th, 2018, 5PM-10PM

Phone Number: (813) 677-7023

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1309507465821876/

 

CL Meet the Brewers this Saturday, February 17th!

The annual Creative Loafing Meet the Brewers craft beer event is this Saturday, February 17th at Brandon Harley-Davidson (9841 East Adamo Drive, Tampa, FL 33619) from 1PM to 4PM.

GA Tickets cost $30 in advance and $40 at the door. General Admission includes unlimited beer while you mix and mingle with local brewers. A portion of proceeds will benefit Ybor City Museum Society.

VIP costs $75 in advance and $85 at the door and includes an hour of early admission to the event and food provided by Mini Doughnut Factory, The Mill Brandon, beer from Slim Pickens Cider & Mead, and more.

Buy tickets: http://www.xorbia.com/e/cltampa/brewers/

The event is sponsored by Brandon Harley-DavidsonSmashburgerMini Doughnut FactoryFlorida Brewers GuildTampa Bay Beer WeekTampa Bay Brew Tours by Thirsty PelicanYbor City Museum SocietyThe Mill BrandonRoundhouse CreativeLyft, and UNATION.

Brewery list:

  • 3 Daughters Brewing
  • 7venth Sun Brewing Co.
  • 81Bay Brewing Co.
  • Big Storm Brewing Co.
  • Big Top Brewing Co.
  • Cigar City Brewing
  • Cigar City Cider & Mead
  • Crooked Thumb Brewery
  • Darwin Brewing Co.
  • Dissent Craft Brewing Co.
  • Dunedin Brewery
  • Escape Brewing Co.
  • Flying Boat Brewing Co.
  • Hidden Springs Ale Works
  • JDub’s Brewing Co.
  • Marker 48 Brewing
  • Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.
  • Sea Dog Brewery
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Co.
  • Tampa Beer Works
  • The Wild Rover Brewery
  • Ulele Spring Brewery

Check out the beer list here: https://www.cltampa.com/brewers

Beef O’ Brady’s launches new menu items and deals

Full disclosure: I was invited to Beef O’ Brady’s to taste their new menu and check out the new deals they have available in exchange for my opinion. Opinions are my own and do not represent Beef O’ Brady’s.

I recently visited the original Beef O’ Brady’s location (founded in 1985) in Brandon to check out their new menu and deals. I have lived in Brandon since 2005 and was not aware that the restaurant chain originated in my own backyard or of their location on Kings and Oakfield. The founder, Jim Mellody, who passed in 2002, continues to have this location run by family heirs.

The original location is exactly what you would expect from a classic sports bar and is a reminder of the dominance this concept carried in the late 90s and early 2000s era with wood decor and dim lighting. The entrance is reminiscent of a time long gone for Americans as fast-casual chains have taken a bite out of the restaurant industry and the 2008 Financial Crisis ate many of the prominent American chains.

This was especially true in Brandon which suffered greatly when the housing market collapsed as a suburban neighborhood. Times have changed though and Brandon is growing faster than ever with new apartment complexes and home communities appearing year-round.

Many of the additions to the menu at Beef O’ Brady’s are following current food trends such as healthier menu items at arguably affordable prices. The prices are much cheaper than similar American concepts such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, and the like.

Boom Boom Shrimp

I first tried their Boom Boom Shrimp which looks pretty much like Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill. This appetizer has appeared on menus in numerous restaurants in the last few years as Bonefish has sought to push it into the limelight. The dish doesn’t match the flavor or taste of the obvious dish it resembles but isn’t half bad either.  I wouldn’t mind sharing this with a few people as an appetizer occasionally.

Chicken Fajitas

One of the better deals I saw that is new to the menu is Fajitas on Thursdays for $9.99. Some chains have driven the price of these menu items up to $15-$20 that historically was always a draw for more budget-conscious, middle-class families. Beef O’ Brady’s gives a nod back to that trend with this and the quality is arguably the same or better when compared to those other chains. The regular price of this dish is also great at around $12.

The wings on the menu have also managed to weather a hike in chicken wing prices that have hindered profits at other sports pubs such as Buffalo Wild Wings. Beef O’ Brady’s continues to offer specials for wings on Wednesday and the traditional wings are meaty. I tried the Nashville Hot Dry Rub flavor which is far superior to the spicier rubs at Buffalo Wild Wings that hardly stick to the meat.

Another dish I was tried was the Five Cheese Cheeseburger. It resembles a Frisco Melt and is quite filling.  The topping is a mozzarella stick. As a fan of burgers in general, I found the burger was good, but missing a sauce to help with all the meat and bread happening. During my days at USF I was frequently grabbing a burger from Beef O Brady’s in between classes and they have always been above-average for the price-point and concept. Curly fries are always great  as well, though this time I went traditional (still good).

From the healthy options or “lighter side”, I tried a chicken salad with quinoa. I was a little surprised to see this on the menu but see it as a nod to the changing habits of Americans and probably an attempt to lead to a compromise in couples and families trying to find a place that caters to different food habits and tastes. The grilled chicken tastes good and the prices are around $10 which again is not too bad for a healthier dish.

Overall, these new menu items suggest Beef O’ Brady’s is making a serious effort to diversify the menu and add more options than traditional pub fare and that makes sense considering the price of wings these days and the way the average diners tastes have diversified.

These options and prices could mostly stand up by themselves (especially the fajitas) for the restaurant sphere they are in. I recommend it to people wanting traditional American food on a budget.

Portillo’s rolls out delivery in-app on Thursday in Tampa/Brandon

Portillo’s Hot Dogs will roll out delivery in-app on Thursday, November 2nd for Tampa and Brandon. Customers will be able to use the website and Portillo’s app to order delivery to their doors within a 30 minute radius of Portillo’s locations. The app will allow customers to customize delivery orders to their preference.

In addition, the delivery on the app will offer Portillo’s fast packs which are great for quick catering for groups. Types of snack packs include hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, salads, and more.

There is a $15 order minimum for deliveries.

Portillo’s first launched their app last August in an effort to help people place takeout orders for drive-thru or in-store pickup. This addition of delivery expands the app for customers.

Use promo code BEEF for a limited time to get $5 OFF your first order from Portillo’s.

Download Portillo’s app for iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/portillos/id1122104646?mt=8

Download Portillo’s app for Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.olo.portillos&hl=en

Dave & Buster’s Tampa opens Monday October 30th to the public

Rumored for years, Dave & Buster’s is finally opening its doors to the public on Monday, October 30th, 2017. It is the 102nd location for the franchise which was founded in 1982 in Dallas, Texas.

The new building is located at 10209 Estuary Lakes Drive Tampa, FL 33619. The location is next to Bass Pro Shops and right at the tip of Brandon. It is easily accessible from I-75 and also the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and located of Faulkeburg Road.  It will be open Sunday to Thursday from 11AM to Midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 2AM.

Coming in at 40,000 Square Feet – the building has a modern sports bar, dining area, and game room that will attract people of all ages. Parking is easily available in the parking lot right out front and there will be a number of deals available to customers.

More than 230 jobs are being created as a result of Dave & Buster’s entering the area and they are still hiring.

Dave & Buster’s Deals

Happy Hour is available Monday to Friday from 4:30PM-7PM Sunday to Thursday from 10PM-close.

Happy Hour includes:

  • 1/2 price cocktails
  • $2.50 domestic pints
  • $1 off 22 oz. drafts
  • $1 off glasses of wine
  • $3 off bottles of wine

2 for Tuesdays:

  • $2 tacos
  • $2 select beers
  • 2 FREE plays with $10 power card purchase/re-charge (all day)

1/2 price Wednesdays:

  • 1/2 off games all day

Football Game Day Specials (10/30/17-2/4/18 on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays):

  • $3.50 22 oz. select draft beers
  • $5 game day appetizers

Ricopan Bakery: delicious, affordable, local eats

Looking for a quick spot for lunch today we decided to hit up Ricopan Bakery. Most restaurants seem to be closed on Sundays in the area, but Ricopan is open 7 days a week.

We found their online profiles, but weren’t aware that they sold sandwiches and arepas until we arrived.  It looks like they might have a sister store in Kissimmee.

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Everything there was affordable and roughly $7 or less. The menu included Cubans, Medianoches, Steak subs, and more. Apparently they also have tamales on the weekends and other goodies.

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The place has a mom and pop vibe to it and is located right by the popular Liborio’s Latin Cafe on Causeway just off 78th Street in Brandon. The two attendants at the front were friendly, though a little shy.

ricopan3

We ordered two cafe con leches, a steak sandwich, breakfast arepa with eggs and chorizo, and two guava cheese pastries. The cafe con leche was good, but not the best. Many of the locals stopping in went for Postobon which is to be expected at a Colombian spot. They also had Malta, coconut juice, freshly squeezed OJ, and natural juices as well.

Another thing I noticed on the back of the menu was Colombian burgers, salchipapas, and various other Colombian fast-food being sold at Ricopan which I would be interested in trying in the future.

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The Colombian empanadas were also quickly being purchased by their customers that I observed.

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The food was excellent. I had the breakfast arepa with cheese on top. Eggs and Chorizo on the side. It was excellent.

Probably one of the best arepas I’ve had in awhile. I definitely would go back to try their chicken or beef arepas in the future. Price was fair too. Scrambled eggs had plenty of ingredients including tomatoes and bellpeppers and tasted homemade. The chorizo was good, but I could barely touch it before I was full.

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The steak sandwich we ordered was also excellent. The bread was perfect, the steak was nice and juicy on the inside, it wasn’t tough or dry like you’ll have in some palomilla steaks when you go to latin cafes and order a sandwich. They put the shredded potato sticks on top. It was also a big portion for just $7.

I’d definitely come back to get the Cuban which I noticed was $4.99.

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The two guava pastries we had were tasty and they put a good amount of guava on them. I think next time I would try the croissant instead just because I prefer the softer bread texture. All their pastries looked delicious though and were fairly priced.

I’m glad that we went and tried Ricopan Bakery today and will be back in the future and recommend you give it a look if you’re in Brandon sometime as well!

Restaurant name: Ricopan Bakery

Neighborhood: Brandon, Palm River

Cuisine: Colombian, Bakery, Sandwiches, Arepas

Address: 8216 Causeway Blvd, Tampa, FL 33619

Phone Number: (813) 846-4970