Armature Works celebrates one year anniversary of success in Tampa

It has been exactly one year since Armature Works opened its doors to the City of Tampa in Tampa Heights.

The historic building and food hall changed the city for the better and gave many restaurateurs and food brands and opportunity to shine on Tampa’s waterfront just outside of Downtown Tampa.

The venue has also served as a coworking space, event space, wedding venue, and more.

One of the owners and operators of Armature Works, Taryn Bruck, reflected on the past and future of the facility:

“We have learned a lot over the past 365 days and look forward to making your experience at Armature Works better than the last. Our success is attributed to our incredible vendors, hard-working team, and most of all our loyal AW fans! We can’t wait to show what we have in store for 2019!”

Photo credit: Zach Gresham of Adventure Marketing

I talked to a few of the businesses inside the Heights Public Market. Heights Public Market, HPM for short, is the food hall portion of Armature Works. The hall has thousands of customers walk through every week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I spoke with Stephanie Swanz, owner of Empamamas, and she told me:

“This past year has been one of the most rewarding times of my life and I am forever grateful to Chas, Taryn, Adam, and Frank for the opportunity and believing in Empamamas. Not only has Armature Works become one of the most desirable places to visit in Tampa, but it has completely changed the landscape of the neighborhood and I’m so excited to see their future projects unfold over the next few months”.

Graze 1910 has served over 90,000 eggs to hungry diners in the Heights Public Market according to owners, Ray and Lauren Menendez. If you haven’t enjoyed a mimosa and avocado toast with an egg for breakfast, you should. I did for Valentine’s Day 2018.

Clifford Barsi, Vice-President of Social Enterprises and Food Services at Metroplitan Ministries, reflecting on the past year:

“Metropolitan Ministries is very thankful for the opportunity to expand our Social Enterprise concept, ‘Inside the Box Cafe‘, through the generosity of Armature Works owners/developers: Chas Bruck and Adam Harden. They have given us a platform for our Culinary Program to get exposure for our students and to gain foodie acclaim for our in-house brined, cured, roasted, and smoked meats. That’s Good Food, Doing Good with the help from Good People! #Training+Jobs+Hunger Relief = Good Food Doing Good!”

Felicia “Phe” Lacalle , owner of Hemingway’s, told me this:

My experience at Armature Works has been nothing less than extraordinary, to be in such a spectacular place and to open a modern Cuban restaurant that instills nostalgia in such a beautiful city with amazing history is a blessing! We couldn’t have done it without the support of Armature Works, our amazing guests, and my fabulous staff.

Jen Bingham, owner of Cru Cellars, shared this:

“It’s been an amazing year at Armature Works, and we are so proud to be part of the wonderful space they’ve created here! For Cru, it’s been a great opportunity to engage with guests about wine – helping them to find that perfect glass of wine to enjoy, while also introducing them to new things. The Show & Tell space has been a hit for our Cru U wine classes and walk-around tastings”

Here are some upcoming events at Armature Works:

  • Saturday, February 9th from 9AM-1PM – Heights Morning Market: Shop around for locally sourced and grown produce, meats, seafood, artisanal food items, packaged jams, sauces, and more on the Armature Works lawn.
  • Saturday, February 9th from 2PM-4PM: Chinese New Year: Armature Works will celebrate Chinese New Year. It is the Year of the Pig! Watch live performances and enjoy some great from Asian vendors inside the Heights Public Market.
  • Wednesday, February 13th from 5:30PM-9:30PM – Heights Night Market: Live-music and local vendors will rock the night away in front of the Hillsborough River. This event occurs every 2nd Wednesday of the month.
  • Thursday, February 14th from 7PM-9PM – Valentine’s Movies on the Lawn – Hitch: Looking for something low-key on Valentine’s Day. Celebrate the day outside at Armature Works with a free public screening of Hitch. Don’t forget your lawn chair or blanket. Popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase as well as food from the 14 vendors inside Heights Public Market. First-come, first-serve. Arriving early is recommended.
  • Wednesday, February 20th from 6:30PM-9:30PM – Sushi Battle Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay’s hottest sushi competition is back and this year it’s at Armature Works. Restaurants will compete for who makes the best sushi, while attendees will feast on all the sushi they can eat. 21+ event. Tickets are now on-sale.
  • Saturday, February 23rd from 3PM-8PM – One Year Birthday Bash: Armature Works will celebrate its one year anniversary as Tampa’s largest food hall and historic venue.

Check out the full event calendar at: http://armatureworks.com/calendar/

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WTR Pool & Grill launches new Florida-inspired menu for 2019

WTR Pool & Grill located at 7700 West Courtney Campbell Causeway inside the Godfrey Hotel in Tampa has launched a new dining menu for 2019 that is now available to the public.

Menu prices start at $7.99 for starters and move up to $36 for a special prix-fixe menu.

Matthew McCahill, Food & Beverage Director at Oxford Hotels and Resorts in Chicago, has worked with WTR Pool & Grill Executive Chef, Joe Garcia, to curate this menu that is inspired by Florida and meant to appeal to large audience throughout Tampa Bay.

Chef Joe Garcia has over 20 years of experience in the food industry and previously worked for Grille 116. He is originally from Dallas, Texas.

New menu items include a Maple Chicken and Waffle cone, Florida Bayou popcorn, Strawberry Shortcake French Toast, Beignet Donut Burger, and a Titan Power Bowl.

The Florida Bayou popcorn features buttermilk battered gator tail with creole remoulade. The dish mixes Chef Joe Garcia’s New Orleans background the popular Florida gator.

Some menu items I want to try in the future are the Walkerswood Shrimp & Grits and the Miso Glazed Scallops. Both look incredible and from the ingredient list seem like they would complement my taste buds.

The prix-fixe menu has several options including Apple Panzanella Salad, Pepper Crusted New York Steak Strip with truffle shallot demi, Seafood pasta made with fresh diver scallops, and more.

SF Restaurant Week 2019 starts January 23rd – 100+ restaurants participating

SF Restaurant Week starts Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 until January 31st in San Francisco and is presented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Participating restaurants will offer special prix-fixe menus during this time.

Lunch (2 courses) will cost $15 or $25. Dinner (3 or more courses) will cost $40 or $65.

It’s a great time to get out there and try a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try and get a feel for the restaurant at an affordable price. Over 100+ restaurants will be participating in SF Restaurant Week in 2019.

Some restaurant participating include Barbara Pinseria & Cocktail Bar, flour + water, Nami Gaji, PABU Izakaya, Sushi Ran, and more.

Diners who visit at least 4 restaurant can submit entries with proof to the official Facebook event page for a chance to win up to $1,200 in dining gift certificates to different restaurants.

SF Restaurant Week hashtag is #SFRW

The official hashtag for SF Restaurant Week is #SFRW – Follow SF Restaurant Week on Instagram @eatdrinksf and on Twitter @eatdrinksf

You can check out all the restaurants on the list and even a map at www.sfrestaurantweek.com/restaurants/

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.

News: Petit Piquant now closed. New concept in the works.

Scoop: Petit Piquant located near North Hyde Park is now permanently closed. The French-inspired bakery served a wide range of pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. I was personally a big fan of their Kouign-Amann pastries.

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Coming soon, Tampa! 🌮🌮🌮

A post shared by Xilo Street Mexican (@xilostreetmexican) on

Rumor Mill: The owners Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera are pursuing a new business venture called Xilo Mexican Steet Food. The concept was first used a pop-up at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa Heights.

More details as I get them!

Check out Xilo Street Mexican on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xilostreetmexican/

Check out Xilo Street Mexican on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/xilostreetmexican/

 

Shula Burger now open in SoHo District

Full disclosure: I was invited to Shula Burger to try their food for my opinion and to do a story about their opening which I wanted to publish. The opinions mentioned are my own based on my visit and do not represent Shula Burger.

Shula Burger is now open in the SoHo District in South Tampa at 500 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606. The Fort Lauderdale-based gourmet burger concept is part of the same family as Shula’s Steak House and similar Shula brands. Named after Don Shula, an NFL legend and Hall of Fame Coach who won back to back Superbowls in 1972 and 1973 with the Miami Dolphins.

Shula Burger

Shula’s Signature Burger is made from premium black angus beef, short rib, and brisket. The burgers are fresh and never frozen. Bread buns comes from Tom Cat Bakery, one of the original artisan bread bakeries in New York City. Tampa Owner and Operator, Zydrunas “Z” Rackauskas, seeks to bring something different to the South Tampa area that provides quality food and customer service to a busy and active area.

Another important factor for Z is turnaround time. New technology allows Shula to provide burgers made in less than 5 minutes to customers making it a good option if you’re in rush for lunch.

Those looking for something besides a burger can check out the Goodseed Organic Veggie Burger and Marinated Chicken Sandwich as alternatives.

I found the “Perfect Burger” to be more filling than I originally anticipated. It has a clean taste and pretty solid flavoring. This burger features two patties with Shula’s Special Sauce, cheese, pickles, tomato, and lettuce on a bun. The onion rings were flavorful and I think they were the kind of big onion rings I’d want to dip in some mayo in the future. The strawberry milkshake was a guilty pleasure. I still need to try the french fries in the future and other menu items.

Some toppings I am interested in checking out include their Korean barbeque sauce, Sriracha mayo, fried jalapenos, and tomato-bacon marmalade.

The new location is planning a Grand Opening on March 7th with the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Don Shula will be in attendance. The new location hopes to have beer and wine for sale in the next two months. Customers can enjoy nearly daily discounts leading into the opening day.

First-Responders and Military-personnel can enjoy 15% off with uniform or ID.

Shula Burger is open from 11AM to 11PM from Sunday to Wednesday and 11AM to 4AM from Thursday to Saturday making it an option for those hitting the bars and nightlife in South Tampa.

Restaurant Name: Shula Burger

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Cuisine: Burgers, American

Cost: $

Address: 500 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606

Phone Number: (813) 867-8230

Website: http://www.shulaburger.com

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

Rocco’s Tacos Grand Opening Sunday, February 11th

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar will have its Grand Opening on Sunday, February 11th, 2018 at International Plaza & Bay Street starting at 7PM. Guests will be joined by Co-Owner, Rocco Mangel and Big Time Restaurant Group.

Guests can enjoy Rocco’s signature chips, guacamole and salsa complimentary, as well as live entertainment and a cash bar during the event.

When party goers hear the buzzword “Tequila!” echo through the restaurant, Rocco will take his spot on top of the bar with a bottle of tequila in hand, ready to pour complimentary shots for guests.

Rocco Mangel is the restaurateur behind Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar and has 7 restaurants in Florida and 1 in Brooklyn, New York. He is a New York native who began his start as as a busboy for Big City Tavern, another venture of Big Time Restaurant Group.

His first location in Florida was in West Palm Beach with co-ownership from Big Time Restaurant Group back in 2008. The brand plans another expansion to Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International Airport this year. Additionally, you can find his “Rocco’s Spice” in the spice aisle of all Publix Super Markets.

Guests should regularly expect upbeat music, a spirited happy hour, Taco & Tequila Tuesday, and Bottomless Brunch on the weekend at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar.

Over 300 varieties of tequila will be on the menu and can be enjoyed alone or mixed in their signature margaritas.

Dinner service in Tampa begins Monday, February 12th and lunch service will begin on Monday, February 19th.

Empamamas now open at Armature Works

Local food truck Empamamas has joined the vendor list at Armature Works for the Heights Public Market today. Several empanadas have appeared on the soft opening menu and it will expand with some time.

This is a huge deal for local food trucks and shows their gourmet power, especially after Surf & Turf is already doing great inside Armature Works. Today I had the signature dish, Tampa Girl Empamama, which is pretty much like a Cuban sandwich inside an empanada.

Here’s hoping to see more from them soon!

Ocean Prime unveils new terrace, dining room

This is a sponsored post for Ocean Prime. I was invited to visit the restaurant for a dinner tasting to experience the new terrace and dining room and to check out additions to the menu and share my opinions with my readers. Opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Ocean Prime.

Ocean Prime recently finished a re-design to their terrace and dining room.

I visited the restaurant on Monday to experience and see it for myself. It is quite beautiful and features outdoor seating that can sit up to 80 guests with lakefront views. New high-top tables have also been added by the outside bar. The design is modern. Private dining is available in the terrace. The interior added improved woodwork and new seating, light fixtures, and fresh paint.

Dining at Ocean Prime has been a pleasure since they first opened and this visit was also enjoyable. Our waiter Brian Atwood was excellent and very helpful when going over the wine menu.

He recommended a Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from 2014 which seems to be an exceptional year for California wines. The wine was excellent with our meal. It’s always helpful to have a waiter that understand good wine.

We started our meal with the Prime Roll ($18) which features Tempura Shrimp, Cream Cheese, Scallions, and Beef Carpaccio. Ocean Prime is a restaurant you wouldn’t expect great sushi at, but it truly delivers on sushi just like it delivers on steak and seafood. I voted for Ocean Prime in the 2015 Sushi Battle as a Judge and would gladly vote for them again after enjoying this roll.

I will normally shy away from cream cheese in my sushi rolls, I feel like it detracts from the main ingredient – but they perfectly matched the flavors here. The prices of the sushi rolls are not much more expensive than you’re mid-tier restaurants, but with much better quality.

The Teriyaki Salmon ($37) at Ocean Prime is also excellent. Ocean Prime is a seafood restaurant, but even their Polynesian influences beat out some of the best known Polynesian restaurants in the business, even in the higher-end restaurant space. Attention to seafood quality and sauce are the key here. I recommend this dish for a lighter dinner.

Would it really be a tasting at a steak and seafood restaurant without a steak? This special is the 30-day dry aged ribeye steak (MKT) and it had incredible marbling and was packed with fatty pockets from the dry aging process. The black truffle with it was quite an addition. Truffle always has a strong flavor so you might want to keep it to the side.

The Jalapeno Au Gratin ($12) is a perfect side. Utterly cheesy on top with plenty of potato inside. Initially you might think you can order another side, but I guarantee this dish is quite filling.

The food and drinks at Ocean Prime perfectly match the restaurant and the new upgrades to the terrace and interior only complete a great experience. Ocean Prime can fit both a personal and business atmosphere and I am consistently impressed with their dedication to quality.

I’ll be back soon.

Ocean Prime Tampa serves lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Dinner is served from 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, dinner hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. 

The lounge is open daily, and happy hour is offered Mondays through Fridays from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays from noon – 4 p.m. For more information, visit the website or call 813-490-5288.

To host your next gathering at Ocean Prime Tampa, contact event sales manager Jo Truett at PrivateDiningTampa@cameronmitchell.com or call 813-490-5288.