Bento Cafe opening in Downtown St. Petersburg

Popular Asian eatery, Bento Cafe, is planning to open their first Tampa Bay location in Downtown St. Petersburg in the Spring of 2018. According to St. Pete Rising the location will feature 80 seats along with outdoor sidewalk tables.

It makes sense considering how much Downtown St. Petersburg has grown over the years, but it is definitely a little disappointing to all the USF – Tampa students that have waited years for a location after frequenting locations at the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and even University of North Florida. Apparently Bento is also looking for 2 locations in Tampa.

Bento Cafe has been hinting at a Tampa Bay location for over 2 years on Facebook and seems to be expanding rapidly across the state over the next year or so. Hopefully in the future Bento will look at the USF area as a potential future investment area.

Bento is known for their fast-casual Asian environment with inspirations from Japanese, Thai, Korean, and other Asian cuisines. 

Their sushi rolls are quite popular and their sashimi rice bowls are a personal favorite as well as their Spicy Cream Chicken. In addition, Bento also sells bubble tea and other popular Asian drinks.

Visit Bento online at http://www.bentocafesushi.com/

Advertisements

CL Meet the Brewers Beer Festival – 2/23

Local newspaper Creative Loafing will celebrate the opening of Tampa Bay Beer Week with an intimate craft beer festival called Meet the Brewers on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017. 20 of Tampa Bay’s brewers will be on-site serving craft beer samples from 7PM to 10PM.

The event will be held at Morean Arts Center for Clay at 420 22nd Street South St. Petersburg.

Guests will be able to mingle with the brewers and enjoy 40+ brewery samples.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Current Initiatives. Current is committed to educating others on current social initiatives and mobilizing them to bring about change.

Participating breweries:

Tickets start at $35 and are on-sale now.VIP comes with an hour of early entry and VIP food offerings from The Mill.

Get tickets: http://www.cltampa.xorbia.com/brewers

pexels-photo-199294

The event is sponsored by HofbräuhausFlorida Brewers GuildWhole Foods Market, Ducky’s Sports LoungeFlorida Print SolutionsRoundhouse Creative, & Lyft!

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/927629810672458/

CL HighBall Cocktail Competition 2017 – 1/26

Local newspaper Creative Loafing will host a cocktail competition called HighBall 2017 on Thursday, January 26th, 2017 from 7PM to 10PM at Kozuba & Sons Distillery (a truly beautiful facility) in St. Petersburg.

The event will showcase local bartenders, distillers, and craft cocktail culture. Guests will enjoy more than 15 craft cocktail samples at the event. A portion of proceeds to benefit Current Initiatives and their projects, such as the Laundry Project, Hope For Homes, and Affordable Christmas.

General Admission Tickets cost $25 in advance and $40 at the door. VIP tickets cost $50 in advance and $80 at the door (if tickets are still available).

VIP guests will receive an hour of early entrance to the event, as well as a private VIP-area with exclusive food/drink perks. All participants will be able to vote for the “Tampa Bay’s Best Cocktail” contest.

15896100_10154827592923563_2323426003044898310_o

Buy tickets: http://www.cltampa.xorbia.com/highball

Sponsors and partners include Kozuba & Sons Distillery, Siesta Key RumTamiami Gin, & Ox and Fields Restaurant + Bar.

Participating bars:

St. Pete Beer & Bacon Fest – 1/21

Craft beer and bacon fans can rejoice on January 21st from 12PM-6PM at the St. Pete Beer & Bacon Fest in Vinoy Park.

15384374_1571850969508546_6175118121992810387_o

General Admission is available to guests ages 11 and older for $15 pre-sale and $20 on the day of the event and does not cover beer or food costs.

Beer Sampling Admission for ages 21+ is $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event and includes unlimited beer samples from 2PM-6PM, but does not include food.

Sonny’s BBQ VIP Admission for ages 21+ is $75 for pre-sale with limited tickets available and includes a variety of features including Sonny’s BBQ appetizers and unlimited beer sampling with limited small batch beers in VIP tent.

Buy tickets: http://stpetebeerandbacon.com/tickets.html

Children ages 10 and under are FREE.

This food and beer festival will showcase over 80 beers from local craft breweries and samplings of bacon dishes from local chefs and restaurants. Some things on the menus include bacon sirloin meatballs with smoked porter BBQ sauce, bacon beer cheese mac, house duck bacon, BBQ bacon waffle burgers, and more.

Live music will also play throughout the day.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pet Pal Animal Shelter. The Pet Pal Animal Shelter is a non-profit organization helping stray animals get adopted and medical attention.

15895541_1610406062319703_66508174539332459_o

15896306_1605606622799647_7446176738606573807_o

15698191_1597428570284119_4560955507538275804_n

15774911_386081368405133_972595171494177800_o.jpg

Restaurant/Food Vendor Participants (prices will range from $2-$4):

  • Sonny’s BBQ
  • Nico’s Kitchen
  • Craving Donuts
  • Carmel Kitchen
  • Vanchetta Rolling Rotisserie
  • Jolly Porker
  • Sweet Life Cupcakes
  • The Twisted Iron
  • BCA BBQ
  • Taste Time To Love Us
  • I Wanna Wok
  • Prime 19
  • Healthy Heritage Grass Fed Beef
  • Jimmy’s Slider Truck

Menus: http://stpetebeerandbacon.com/food.html

Event Schedule: http://stpetebeerandbacon.com/schedule.html

Brewery list:

  • Big Top Brewing Co.
  • Big Storm Brewing Co.
  • Bold City Brewery
  • Coppertail Brewing Co.
  • Darwin Brewing Co.
  • De Bine Brewing Co.
  • Kona Brewing Co.
  • Florida Avenue Brewing Co.
  • Hidden Springs Ale Works
  • Motorworks Brewing Co.
  • Mad Beach Craft Brewing Co.
  • Magic Hat Brewing Co.
  • Pair O’ Dice Brewing Co.
  • Rapp Brewing Co.
  • Sea Dog Brewing Co.
  • Shipyard Brewing Co.
  • Southern Tier Brewing Co.
  • SweetWater Brewing Co.
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Co.
  • Silverking Brewing Co.
  • 3 Daughters Brewing Co.

Interested in volunteering? Check out this link: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054cadad2fa0fc1-stpete

Burger Bash in Da Burg Food Truck Rally – 1/20

The Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association will host a food truck rally on Friday, January 20th, 2017 from 6PM-9PM called Burger Bash in Da Burg at Port St. Pete’s Marine Discovery Center.

Over 10 food trucks will be at the food event and specialty burgers will be sold to hungry attendees. Beer, wine, and sangria will be available for purchase.

The event will have FREE admission and parking. Inside and outside waterfront seating will be provided and the movie Good Burger will play at the event starting at 7PM.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Participating food trucks:

Interested vendors should inquire at http://www.gulftobayfta.org/contact-us

Event name: Burger Bash in Da Burg

Venue: Port St. Pete

Address: 250 8th Ave SE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Date & Time: Friday, January 20th, 2017, 6PM-9PM

Cost: FREE to attend and park

Age: All ages welcome

St. Petersburg restaurant features Trump Tower Burger

Boulevard Burgers & Tap House located in St. Petersburg (not in Russia but Florida) will honor President-Elect Donald Trump with a “Trump Tower Burger” special for the month of January. Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration will occur on Friday, January 20, 2017.

Trump Tower Burger

According to a press release, the burger will embrace the traits of Mr. Trump and “his empire” with features that embody him including: “double patties for “Trump Tower” sky-high height, onion straws that embody Trump’s famous blonde locks, and good ol’ American cheese”.

Donald Trump is a well-documented fast food junkie, often frequenting fast food chains instead of local shops during the campaign trail and has been recorded stating he eats fast food because “at least you know what they are putting in it”.

Like many Americans, Donald Trump is considered overweight and has slightly high cholesterol, according to Bloomberg Politics. Trump’s fast food habit led Esquire to state “large obnoxious man enjoys large obnoxious meals”.

The restaurant claims they want to “Make American Cheese Great Again” as well – whatever that means. Boulevard Burgers & Tap House was opened in 2014 on Gulf Boulevard across from St. Pete Beach and features burgers, craft beer, fresh seafood, and live entertainment on weekends.

Boulevard owner, Marco, has establishments throughout New York and St. Petersburg’s Fortunato’s On Central and the Local 662. The management recently acquired De’Lites Ice Cream next to Boulevard Burgers with a new concept planned for Fall 2017.

Boulevard Burgers & Tap House. 5905 Gulf Boulevard, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 201-4906. blvdburgers.com

New Year’s Eve 2017 – Gatsby Gala @ Mastry’s Brewing Co.

Want to take it back to the 1920s for NYE 2017? Mastry’s Brewing Co. located at 7701 Blind Pass Road on St. Pete Beach will be hosting a Gatsby-themed New Year’s Eve party for craft beer fans this NYE from 7PM-1AM. Mastry’s Brewing Co. opened their doors earlier this year in October 2016.

15380676_566719646860957_6595311614702515543_n

The event will feature a new beer release, food truck, DJ, and photobooth. Limited-edition souvenir glasses will be able for $15 each to the first 100 guests to arrive. Purchase a glass and enjoy 1/2 off drafts all night long. Pre-Sales will be available over the phone or in the tasting room.

There will be no cover charge to attend this event. 21+ only.

Chalk Board Mobile Event Service will be serving food at the party. Here is the menu:

15723630_573285072871081_3984200962232010688_o

Sushi Battle Tampa Bay 2016 Recap

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Big City Events. I have been compensated for my time and writing and am involved in the event discussed in this post. I helped to promote the event and was a Judge during the event for the restaurants. These opinions posted in this blog are my own and do not represent the views of Big City Events or the participating restaurants.

Last night was the 2nd Annual Sushi Battle Tampa Bay presented by Sapporo at the St. Pete Coliseum located on 4th Avenue North in Downtown St. Petersburg. Restaurants participated in a competition for who has the Best Sushi in Tampa Bay with a category decided by the audience and one decided by judges. Sake distillers hosted a special tasting upstairs and group sake bombs were enjoyed downstairs. The event was organized by Big City Events.

Have you been to our sake tasting? Well don't miss out.@ the #TampaBay #SushiBattle! #CarlosEats #foodies #sushi #food #events

A post shared by Big City Events (@bigcityeventsfl) on

 

Participating restaurants included Ocean Prime, YO! Sushi, Pisces Sushi and Global Bistro, iThai Sushi, Kona GrillYume Sushi Restaurant, Wabi Sabi Fusion Cafe, and Ciccio/Water. Restaurants provided sushi samples to guests while they enjoyed Japanese cultural performances from Tampa Taiko, a live DJ set from DJ Fresh, sumo wrestling, and other festivities.

Sushi by the boat load@ the #TampaBay #SushiBattle! #CarlosEats #foodies #sushi #food #events

A post shared by Big City Events (@bigcityeventsfl) on

 

Each restaurant brought something different to the table and the event definitely evolved from the year before with a larger venue and and a more controlled audience. Most of the restaurants also did good planning and many of them were still serving sushi samples well into the final parts of the event. The categories for judging the sushi were presentation, creativity, and taste for event judges. In addition, there was a people’s choice award.

 

I was torn between Ocean Prime and Wabi Sabi Asian Fusion as my two favorite sushi spots as a judge at the event. Ocean Prime has such delicious sushi rolls, the quality was really there – but the creativity was a little bit mixed for me. They went with a more traditional kind of sushi roll at least as far as the design goes. Wabi Sabi Asian Fusion provided 5 different types of sushi to people at their booth and each one showcased creative sushi chef talent that I really enjoyed. I want to definitely take a trip to Palm Harbor sometime to visit Wabi Sabi in the near future.

 

Another top choice for me at the event was Pisces Sushi and Global Bistro, they brought a truly delicious sushi roll to the event. It was somewhere between the delicious taste of Ocean Prime and the creativity of Wabi Sabi for me. Pisces ended up winning the judges category of the competition.

I was actually unaware that Ocean Prime served sushi prior to being involved in this event. Regardless of my top choices – all the restaurants did a good job and provided more than your California Roll to the event – many restaurants provided multiple options which was great for the consumer and there was variety in the types of fish presented.

 

Tampa Taiko stole the show again and provided excellent Japanese taiko drumming performances throughout the event. I’ve been working with Tampa Taiko on events since I was part of the Japanese Club at USF back in 2009 and they have always been a supportive community member that puts everything they have into their work.

The Japanese Club participated in the event again and tabled with the help of the Japanese-America Society of Tampa Bay and shared a booth with the Foodies Club that helped spread the event on social media using the hashtag #SushiBattle on Twitter and Instagram.

The judges are coming in. Who will win this year #TampaBay #SushiBattle! #CarlosEats #foodies #sushi #food #events

A post shared by Big City Events (@bigcityeventsfl) on

 

Overall, the Sushi Battle Tampa Bay improved from last year and in my opinion it was a fun night filled with a variety of food, drinks, and entertainment. I’m looking forward to seeing where the event goes in the future and am thankful to everyone who helped make it a success for a second year in a row. It can only go up from here.

Impressions: Buya Ramen Pre-Opening Night

I visited Buya Ramen last night as a guest for their pre-opening night where they gave a sneak peek of the menu as the servers and cooks prepared for their opening happening tomorrow August 10th. Please note that this experience was a preview for the restaurant and may not reflect the actual opening or dining experience.

The restaurant has plenty of seating with 104-seats and the decor of the restaurant has a swanky-upscale vibe with a touch of hipster that is at home with many of the options in the EDGE District and Downtown St. Petersburg. Plenty of natural light exists from the windows at the entrance and the dimmer lighting sets a more relaxing mood for the evening.

Food fight art @buyaramen #stpete #CarlosEats #foodies #local #shoplocal #ramen #instaburg #buyaramen

A post shared by Carlos Eats (@carloseats) on

 

I was a fan of the wall art that included what appeared to be a ramen battle ensuing between hungry and nude geishas. It caught my eye more than the rooster  wall painting.

Drinks could not go wrong with local mixologist Ryan Pines at the helm. Two drinks were served for tasting.

1) The Geisha: Reyka vodka, cocchi americano, thai basil, and peychaud’s bitters

2) Mr. Sulu: Knob Creek rye, buya vermouth, dolin dry, and bitterman’s chocolate mole bitters

I leaned on the rye heavily – both drinks were not for a light-weight drinker. The bar at Buya Ramen is beautiful and could easily be a popular place for drinks after work or on the weekends with some appetizers.

 

Speaking of the appetizers I really loved the Seaweed Salad that mixed in some delicious hijiki (which I normally detest at most restaurants in bentos) and the Pork Belly Bun was excellent and rivaled Tampa favorite Anise Gastrobar.

Back to the drinks – the wine selection was exquisite and really made me excited for what was to come. Restaurants who have a great wine program usually are in tune with their taste buds.

I was a fan of both the Giminez Riili ‘Buenos Hermanos’ Torrentes and the Clos de Chacras ‘Cavas de Crianza’ red blend. Both Argentina wines were easy to drink and wouldn’t detract from a meal and could easily be enjoyed on their own.

I tried all three of the ramens between different people’s bowls available for tasting: Crispy Duck, Wagyu Brisket Ramen, and Mushroom. The first two were tonkotsu (pork) ramen which is one of my favorite types and the last was shio (salt).

My favorite by far was the Wagyu Brisket Ramen – the flavor was rich and enjoyable. It was quite different from the shoyu (soy-sauce) based ramen at Japanese Kitchen Dosunco. If I could any of the 3 ramens I would choose the Wagyu Brisket.

One of the nice things about having new ramen shops in town is that chefs can display different ramen types. The lack of ramen shops in the past has made that difficult.

The shio ramen was my least favorite by far and tasted quite like a clear onion soup with mushrooms on-top. Normally I am actually a fan of this type of soup, but didn’t find it to be comparable to the tonkotsu broth. Still, it’s an option for many people who cannot or choose not to eat pork broths.

All the servers we encountered were friendly – especially considering the chaos of having over 100 guests around the restaurant sampling all kinds of food and drinking from the bar. Most servers seemed to have some experience and were often checking on all the guests despite the crowd.

The kitchen in the back seems to be small and considering the number of seats in the restaurant – hopefully the turnaround time for ramen after opening will be efficient and quick. 

 

Buya Ramen has plenty of potential. I could see it growing and helping to spread ramen culture across the bridge. Pretty much everything I tried was delicious and seemed to aim for a savory palate. I will return after they open and have some time to get settled to see how the full menu is and how the kitchen and service keeps up with demand.

Buya Ramen shop opening August 10th

Word on the street: St. Petersburg’s first full-on ramen shop and izakaya, Buya Ramen, is opening for business on Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 at 4PM. The shop is located at 911 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33705.

Reservations are now being accepted online through OpenTable: http://www.buyaramen.com/

The ramen and izakaya scene is certainly seeing an uptick in Tampa Bay. Ramen has been taken the U.S.A. by storm for years with Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC setting the stage for a ramen renaissance of sorts. The trend took some time to catch on in the Tampa Bay area but has proven to be successful with Ichicoro and Japanese Kitchen Dosunco leading the way to ramen-mania.

13698052_1229859837032851_8362114514441675371_o

Like BUYA RAMEN on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/buyaramen/

Follow BUYA RAMEN on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/buyaramen/

Tweet BUYA RAMEN @buyaramen

Photo credit: Buya Ramen on Facebook