Anise Global Gastrobar in Downtown Tampa permanently closing September 14th

Anise Global Gastrobar announced via Facebook today that the Downtown Tampa cocktail bar will permanently close its doors on Saturday, September 14th, 2019.

The bar was one of the first craft cocktail bars to enter the Downtown Tampa corridor and a success story showing that a food truck can expand into a brick and mortar business.

Many of the minds behind the business have gone to other projects across the bay such as Station House, Renzo’s, and other spots. Anise has been a great spot to enjoy craft cocktails with a focus on supporting the local bartenders in town over the years.

It’s certainly a loss for the Downtown Tampa area, especially when Downtown Tampa is about to explode with growth.

You can continue to enjoy the food from Anise at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa Heights. Thank you to Anise for all the great evenings in Downtown Tampa.

Anise Global Gastrobar closing down Facebook post

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NAAAP hosting one year anniversary rooftop party July 18th in Downtown Tampa

The National Association of Asian American Professionals Tampa Bay (NAAAP) is celebrating their first anniversary on Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at Hampton + Home2 by Hilton Downtown Tampa from 6:30PM to 8:30PM. The event is being coined Rooftop Celebr*asian and is free to attend. Food will be provided by event sponsors including Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, Rice N Roll, Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi, On-A-Roll Sushi, and Tsunami Sarasota.

Participants are encouraged to bring their networking cards and enjoy food, drinks, and raffle prizes.

The mission NAAAP is “to collaborate with its communities to promote career advancement, engage in community service, assist in employment opportunities, enhance public awareness of our voice, and support businesses as it gives back to NAAAP members”.

Event name: Rooftop Celebr*asian

Venue: Hampton + Home2 by Hilton Downtown Tampa

Address: 1155 E. Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL 33602

Date & Time: Thursday, July 18th, 2019, 6:30PM-8:30PM

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/387080268822366/

Get tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/rooftop-celebrasian-tickets-63526009003

NEWS: Hidden Star Tiki Bar opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa

Hidden Star Tiki Bar is opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa inside Anise Global Gastrobar. Anise has been serving high-quality cocktails as well as gastronomical food fare with an Asian twist in Tampa for years and is the creation of Xuan Pham Hurt.

This is her fourth creation in Tampa following her North Star Eatery at Hall on Franklin and her Stinky Bunz food truck that started it all.

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When asked what inspired this tiki bar to be created, Hurt told me, “It never fails that whenever I travel to different cities, I always seek out their best tiki bars. We felt that the residents and visitors of Downtown Tampa would appreciate their very own tiny oasis in the middle of the city. Tasty tropical beverages with whimsical garnishes can make any day feel like a vacation. We are fortunate to have the space to provide an intimate setting for the creation of innovative and playful cocktails made with our highest standards”.

Hurt will work with Sean O’Connor, who she describes as a local tiki trademan, Christina Gilson, Anise Beverage Director, Justin Gray, United States Bartenders Guild Veteran, and the rest of the Anise bar team to develop the cocktail menu. They want to provide modern rifts on classic favorites that Hurt feels will exceed everyone’s expectations.

Hidden Star will only be open Friday and Saturday nights from 7PM to 2AM. Guests will check-in at the Anise host stand and will be escorted to the hidden entrance once seats become available.

Due to the limited space, reservations will not be taken nor will estimated wait times given. Random chances for expedited entry will be announced via email newsletters and social media pages.

Hidden Star guests can expect an original menu of 7 to 8 elevated tiki cocktails and a few bar snack that they can enjoy in an intimate setting while surrounded by other enthusiasts. Beer, wine, mixed drinks, and a full dining menu will continue to only be offered in the main dining room at Anise.

Service is expected to start on the weekend of June 28th.

Find more information and sign-up for updates at aniseglobal.com.

Restaurant News: Sparkman Wharf now open

Image via Strategic Property Partners

Sparkman Wharf is now open in the latest Water Street Tampa completion.  I had the pleasure of going to a blogger preview this Tuesday of the new food destination. 

After visiting I can say it is more of an outdoor food hall with multiple vendors selling different kinds of food and drinks. 

Continue reading “Restaurant News: Sparkman Wharf now open”

Restaurant News: Sparkman Wharf opening November 30th in Downtown Tampa

Image via Strategic Property Partners

The highly anticipated Sparkman Wharf is opening on Friday, November 30th, 2018 where Channelside once stood.

This is part of the Water Street Tampa project that aims to rebuild and rethink Downtown Tampa, adding much needed green space and a focus on Tampa’s waterfront views.

Several restaurateurs have signed on to the project including Ichicoro owner Noel Cruz, Chef BT Nguyen of Restaurant BT, Chef Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster & the Till, and more.

One might even think of it as an outdoor food hall complete with an upcoming outdoor beer garden called Fermented Reality Beer Garden.

Whatever Pops sells quality grilled cheese sandwiches

I haven’t had a chance to stop in at Whatever Pops in Seminole Heights yet.

However – I just tried their grilled cheese for the first time today at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa located at 600 North Ashley Drive, which is running for the next 7 weeks and features ice skating, vendors, and food from vendors like Whatever Pops.

The grilled cheese I had was phenomenal. Excellent mix of cheeses and sourdough bread. Gooey and yet crispy at the same time. Every last bite. Maybe one of the better grilled cheese sandwiches I have enjoyed in Tampa. Serving at $6 is a reasonable price for a specialized market as well.

The order came out quickly as well.

The only thing I was sad about was that they ran out of tomato soup. That will most certainly be a reason to return in the near future though.

The attendant at the stand told me sales in Seminole Heights are down 40% ever since the Seminole Heights Serial Killer made the news. People from all over town are coming over to try and support, but she said regardless sales are still down and fall during the night at levels that are hurting business.

Please keep the local Seminole Heights businesses in mind if you’re trying to pick a place to eat or shop at. Maybe consider ordering some catering or delivery from them if you’re not able to stop by.

Seminole Heights is one of the reasons our local food scene in Tampa has grown over the years and it would be a shame if those businesses were to close because of something completely beyond their control.

Visit Whatever Pops in Seminole Heights at 5127 North Florida Avenue Tampa, FL 33603. Reach them at (813) 559-7677.

Franklin Manor celebrates first anniversary this week

Franklin Manor will celebrate its first anniversary this week with a number of events starting on Wednesday, September 20th through Sunday, September 24th.

During the last year, Franklin Manor has been a major hotspot for people heading to Downtown Tampa to party and to brunch. The area around it is set to grow quite rapidly with a new condominium finishing work in the near future and a number of other projects in development.

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Here is what Franklin Manor has planned for the week:

  • Wednesday, September 204pm to 1am – Hospitality Night Launch w/ Special Guest Jonas Blue: Franklin Manor kicks-off its one-year anniversary week and new Hospitality Night with special guest, British DJ Jonas Blue.  The night will also debut a special $8.00 hospitality food menu, and 50% discounts on select drinks for all guests who work in the hospitality industry. Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Thursday, September 214pm to 1am – Throwback Thursday Night: Franklin Manor’s weekly Throwback Thursday night will feature complimentary Stoli vodka cocktails and Corona beers, as well as complimentary sliders for all guests from 8pm to 9pm.  DJ Jaime Ferreira will spin the iconic hits and classics from the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s.  Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Friday, September 224pm to 3am – Special Guest DJ Irie: Popular Miami music artist and icon DJ Irie returns for a special DJ set.  Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Saturday, September 234pm to 3am – Special Guest DJ Jason Smith: The “celebrities’ choice DJ” Jason Smith will headline the patio stage.  Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Sunday, September 2411am to 6pm – Happy Bday Frose’ Day: A birthday party commemorating Tampa’s original Frose’, a delicious frozen rose’ wine cocktail will coincide with Franklin Manor’s weekly brunch.  Guests who wear the color pink will be treated to complimentary Frose’ samples and dessert.  DJ Jaime Ferreira and Goofy White Kid with 93.3 FLZ will provide the sounds for the celebration.

For more information, contact Franklin Manor at (813) 487-9990 or stop by at 912 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602.

Caffeine Roasters now open on Kennedy in South Tampa

Caffeine Roasters has moved into where Drama Burger once stood at 2420 West Kennedy Boulevard and is now open. Caffeine is also located in Downtown Tampa minutes from Franklin Manor at 212 East Cass Street. I am a fan of the Downtown location and also really enjoy the new space as well.

The expansion mirrors an expansion happening with many of the new coffee shop brands taking on Buddy Brew Coffee and Kahwa locally.

The menu is the same at both locations and the space has lots of seating from couches to tables and plugs and Wi-Fi available. The only downside of the new location on Kennedy is lack of parking – the place has only been open for a few weeks and parking already sucks.

On the positive side, they have a drive-thru so you can take your coffee with you if you can’t find parking.

The staff is very friendly and happy to explain the types of coffee they provide and the background of what they are doing – that was also noticeable when I visited the Downtown Tampa location in the past as well.

Last but most certainly not least, their coffee tastes great – I had an El Salvador roast during my visit and fully enjoyed it without hardly any sweeteners or add-ons. Check out Caffeine Roasters!

Restaurant Name: Caffeine Roasters

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Address: 2420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609

Phone Number: (813) 644-7245

Website: http://www.caffeineusa.com/

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

Twitter: @CaffeineTampa

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/caffeineroasterstampa/

Oishi Sushi & Thai Thani Shutting Doors July 31st (Channelside)

Oishi Sushi and Thai Thani located in Channelside announced today that they will be closing their business for good on July 31st, 2017 after 13 years of business due to the Channelside demolition occurring in the plaza as the next phase of Jeff Vinik’s plans for Downtown Tampa begin.

They invited their loyal customers to visit them over at Asiatic Street Food + Noodle Bar in Ybor City and to come visit them in Channelside in these finals weeks of operation.

Surviving 13 years in Channelside is certainly an accomplishment for the Oishi Sushi and Thai Thani owners that experienced many challenges from the 2008 Financial Crisis and the boom and slowdown of Channelside District over the years including the closure of the Channelside Cinemas theatre.

Channelside suffered many hardships for local businesses that operated in the plaza over the last decade and went from a busy nightlife and restaurant to scene to an empty part of town – especially as the Tampa Port Authority battled over plans to change the Channelside Plaza.

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Hopefully the owners will open another sushi and Thai restaurant in the future and bring their recipes to the food scene again.

Oishi launches early bird sushi happy hour (Channelside)

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Oishi Sushi located in Channelside. I was invited to taste the sushi in exchange for writing up a post about their new sushi happy hour and for my opinion on their sushi. Any opinions written are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the sponsor.

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Oishi Ultimate Japanese Cuisine located in Channelside has launched an early bird sushi happy hour for hungry fans to enjoy sushi at more than reasonable pricing. The special is every day from 4PM-7PM except during special events.

Enjoy Gyoza, Shumai, and Karage (Japanese Fried Chicken) for just $4 during happy hour. Sushi rolls are $5 or $6 and include favorites such as the Rainbow Roll, Volcano Roll, Hi-5, Rock Lava, and more.

Hibachi is also discounted during the early bird special to $12-$14.

It had been some time since I visited Oishi (or Channelside) and was really impressed with how good everything tasted.

Oishi seems less busy now that the Tampa Riverwalk has taken much of the thunder of Channelside, but the product still tastes fresh and approachable.

I remember a similar thing happening in the past with Qachbal’s Chocolatier downstairs. The shut down of the movie theater in Channelside really hurt the local businesses there.

Love boat sushi from Oishi

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During my visit I tried the Double O Roll, Fire Fighter Roll, Hurricane Roll, and Sex on the Moon.

I normally wouldn’t order sauce on my sushi and keep my rolls fairly simple, but these rolls had balance and you could taste each part well. The caviar and roe on top of the rolls was a nice touch.

My favorite roll I tried was the Hurricane Roll ($11.50) which is spicy octopus, conch, avocado, and fish egg inside a roll topped with white and red tuna, onions with spicy mayo, and eel sauce on the side. I am not normally a fan of octopus – but I gobbled it up.

Another favorite was the Sex on the Moon ($12.95) which has cream cheese, asparagus, avocado, eel, shrimp tempura, smelt roe with tuna, tempura flakes, eel sauce, spicy mayo, caviar, scallion, and sesame. Cream cheese and asparagus in my sushi rolls are not my thing normally, but I was impressed at the flavor combination. I recommend it.

If it was up to me, I would have some live music and try to have more events and promotions to bring people back to Channelside – the plaza is still great for having events – it has to compete more now that the Riverwalk is busy with tourists and locals though.

I hope local businesses like Oishi pull through – if you haven’t been in awhile I recommend heading back for a taste – the happy hour is more than fair.

See full happy hour menu:

early-Bird-Menu

BONUS: Since Oishi is located next to Thai Thani – they also have delicious Thai Tea 🙂

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Restaurant Name: Oishi Ultimate Japanese Cuisine

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi

Neighborhood: Downtown Tampa, Channelside

Address: 615 Channelside Dr. Tampa, FL 33602

Phone: (813) 228-9202

Website: http://oishitampa.com