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Guide: Valentine’s Day 2020 in Tampa Bay

Looking for Valentine’s Day 2020 plans in Tampa Bay? Here are some suggestions:

  • Valentine’s Day Friday Flight: Tampa International Airport is having a free concert at the airport for Valentine’s Day on February 14th with The DeLeon Band in the Main Terminal Space from 4:30PM to 6:30PM. The airport gates are available for dining as well for those who enjoy a travel backdrop with their new TPA All-Access Program: tpaallaccess.com 4100 George J. Bean Pkwy, Tampa, FL 33607.
  • Anti-Valentine’s Day Cocktail Release Party: Head on over to URBAN Brew and BBQ in St. Petersburg for an Anti-Valentine’s Day event on February 14th from 5PM to 10PM. Four Roses will headline the event with two featured cocktails. 2601 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713.
  • Valentine’s Day Speed Friend-ing: The Lowry Parcade in Seminole Heights is hosting a speed friend-ing event on February 14th from 7:30PM to 10:30PM where the object is to get to know new people instead of just dating and it’s absolutely free. Match with anyone at the event and Lowry Parcade will provide you with tokens to play some games together. 1213 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33604.
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck Pop-up: The popular Sanrio character from Japan comes to WestShore Plaza on Saturday, February 15th from 10AM to 8PM. Snacks and merchandise are available. Great to pencil into your weekend plans. 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, FL 33609.
  • D&B Family Valentine’s Day Party: Dave & Buster’s in Brandon has a special promotion for Valentine’s Day from 6PM to 9PM. A special buffet for $21.56 with appetizers, desserts, and soft drinks with an option to upgrade to a $20 power card and unlimited game play for $10 more. There will be a live DJ, games, and prizes. Tickets available on Eventbrite. 10209 Estuary Lakes Dr., Tampa, FL 33619.
  • Punk Rock Valentine – Prom Night with The Ramones: The Independent Bar and Cafe in Seminole Heights is having a special throwback party on Valentine’s Day from 8PM to Midnight. It will celebrate the looks, hairstyles and music of the 1980’s with a special concert. They will have a prom photobooth, name the prom king and queen (for the best dressed), and have spiked punch (of course!). 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603.
  • Valentine’s Day Party: Byblos Tampa on Macdill is throwing a party on Saturday, February 15th in honor of Valentine’s Day. The event will feature singer Mohanad, DJ Khalil, and Belly Dancer Gypsi. Tickets are $60 and will include cold and hot lebanese meza, soft drinks, main grill course, and a welcoming champagne toast. Reservation can be made at 727-687-2466. 2832 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33629.
  • Love’s Revenge – Haunted Trail: Head over to Plant City for a spooky haunted trail this Valentine’s Day weekend from 7PM to 11PM at Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online. 2837 South Frontage Road, Plant City, FL 33566.
  • Shuffletine’s Day: Shuffle in Tampa Heights will have a special celebration on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, from 4PM to Midnight. For $30 you can play Shuffleboard, drink a bottle of champagne, eat a heart-shaped pretzel, and enjoy a dessert. You will also be entered into a contest to win a $50 gift card. 2612 N Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602
  • “Love Reimagined” Dining Pop-Up: Rooster & The Till and Ichicoro have joined forces for a special dining pop-up event. If you’re willing to spend, it could be a great time. Tickets start at $160. 1910 North Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33602.
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NEWS: Jollibee opening first Tampa Bay location on Friday January 17th

A Filipino favorite, Jollibee, is opening its doors on Friday, January 17th at 4057 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park, Florida. The location will be the 40th location to open for the franchise which is currently experiencing high growth and expansion across the country. The chain plans to open 150 stores in the United States by 2023. It is the first location in Tampa Bay.

The opening time for opening day is from 9AM to 10PM.

“We cannot wait to welcome Jollibee fans who have long waited for their turn to finally have Jollibee in their area, in addition to welcoming new foodies intrigued by our unique menu, which we fondly describe as a joyous mash-up of Western comfort food and Asian flavors,” said Beth Dela Cruz, President of Jollibee Foods Corporation North America, Philippine Brands Group.

Photo credit: Jollibee

Popular items at Jollibee include the Chickenjoy, Jolly Spaghetti made with signature sweet-style sauce loaded with chunky slices of savory ham and hotdog, and Peach Mango Pie, made with real Philippine mangoes enclosed in a light, crispy crust.

Tampa is home to one of the largest Filipino communities with its Bayanihan Center and annual PhilFest celebration that draws thousands for a celebration of Filipino food and culture every April.

There are some perks for those who choose to line-up early for the opening:

  • The first 50 customers in line to spend $25 or more will get FREE Chickenjoy for a year.*
  • The first 50 with the best #ItsOurTurn signs will get a Jollibee in Barong Funko Pop.
  • The first 300 on day 1 (plus the first 100 on days 2 and 3) will get a free drawstring bag with a minimum $25 purchase.
    *One 6-piece bucket of Chickenjoy per month for a period of one year

RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/624411688336179/

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NEWS: Ding Tea Tampa Grand Opening set for January 24th

Bubble tea fans have plenty to be excited about. Ding Tea Tampa on Waters has a new opening date of Friday, January 24th, 2020. The location is located next to where the old Yummy House and Got Tea locations were.

The delay was explained to be connected to the health department (Ding Tea was originally set to open on November 3rd).

It will be located at 2202 West Waters Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33604.

Ding Tea is a chain from Taiwan that has over 350 locations in Asia and has been rapidly expanding across the United States. There was a location that opened in between this time period by USF Tampa’s Uptown at 1518 East Fowler Avenue Suite B. One of the latest businesses to open in that area.

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/630796504330616/

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NEWS: Tampa chefs VS. Bobby Flay airing December 26th on Food Network

Tampa chefs, Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro will take their talent to the masses in America on Thursday, December 26th when they compete on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”. The chefs currently own Xilo Mexican at The Hall on Franklin and focus on serving fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine. I stopped by last weekend to sit down with Chef Castro and discuss how they got here and where they are going.

Chef Rivera and Castro are best known for their past project called Piquant, a popular French bakery concept that was located first in Hyde Park Village and then West Tampa. The project was supplying the Tampa Bay area with fresh breads and pastries and certainly a local pioneer in that space where French bakeries are far and few between.

Their Kouign-Amann was a personal favorite and when I went west to San Francisco, I was amazed and how the ideas that Rivera and Castro brought to Tampa Bay area are so huge out there and still mostly unknown out here. Piquant went through various cycles, but was ultimately closed much to my dismay.

When Chef Rivera and Chef Castro opened Xilo at Hall on Franklin, I wasn’t sure what inspired the move to Mexican cuisine. Castro explained to me that the idea to make Mexican food came from their unique past. Castro was trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City and he volunteered at a church where he was trained on Mexican sauces and cuisine.

Rivera previously worked for a corporation that regularly flew her around Mexico and exposed her to many of the regional cuisines of the area. When deciding on a concept, Mexican came to them as something both different for the area and something that they could both uniquely bring to the table.

Slowly the chefs have added items to the menu that are representative of their love for Mexican cuisine including brunch options such as chilaquiles. They are one of the only vendors that are open during breakfast at the food hall.

When the chefs entered Hall on Franklin they also took control of the Kofe Tampa shop and have slowly moved into coffee as a business, with prior experience selling their own proprietary roasted blend at their bakery. Soon they will move toward plans to provide their coffee on a bigger scale with a more wholesale focus.

Their coffee can best be described as a truly Latin roast with bold espresso flavors.

The future may hold more restaurant locations in the Tampa Bay area, although the chefs are still considering potential locations across the state of Florida. They are well-traveled and have received much of their inspiration from past culinary projects and mentors. Hopefully their love for baking will also be a part of these next moves.

One thing that is clear is that both these chefs are passionate about food and are passionate about baking. Their debut on the Food Network is a great win for Tampa and also for themselves. Latinx representation is still lacking on Food Network and in the food industry in general.

Let’s hope they can beat Bobby Flay. Catch Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro on Food Network at 10:30PM EST on Thursday, December 26th. Free tickets are available to their watch party on Eventbrite that will run from 8:30PM to 11:30PM at Hall on Franklin.

Xilo Mexican. The Hall on Franklin. 1701 N Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602.

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NEWS: 10th Annual Shopapalooza coming November 30th and December 1st to St. Pete

More than 225 local businesses are taking over Vinoy Park in Downtown St. Petersburg for LocalShops1’s 10th Annual Shopapalooza Festival on Saturday, November 30th and Sunday, December 1st. The family-friendly event features local art, local music, and the local vibe that makes St. Pete what it is.

Admission is free and open to the public. Guests who register before will be entered in a chance to win a $500 shopping spree. The event will benefit Chart 411 and Earth Day St. Pete.

“Shopapalooza Festival celebrates and spotlights the great independent businesses that make Tampa Bay such an amazing place. It gives consumers the opportunity to kick off the holiday shopping season by shopping locally!” says Ester Venouziou, LocalShops1 founder.

Venouziou has made it a mission to support local businesses for over a decade.

Kids being entertained at Shopapalooza.
Vendors at Shopapalooza

Vendor options include gourmet food products, home decor, handcrafted jewelry, clothing and accessories, health and beauty products, fair trade goods, vintage finds, pet treats and toys, books, candles and much more.

Food vendor at Shopapalooza.

The events will have “food hall” that features the following options in one spot:

  • Amy’s Spot
  • Buddy Brew Coffee
  • Callaloo
  • Churrolicious
  • Hot Pursuit Catering BBQ
  • Main Street Boys Empanadas
  • Mookie’s Kettle Korn
  • Pipo’s Cuban Cafe
  • Pop Goes the Waffle
  • Softee the King
  • Tasty Dogz
  • The Best Thai Food
  • The Fishin Chicken
  • The Tea Jug

Food options around the event include:

  • Emmy & J Roasted Nuts
  • Gateau OChocolat
  • iPop Gourmet Popcorn
  • JB’s Sweet Addiction
  • Lynn’s Ice Cream & Belgian Waffles
  • Melonhead Melonade
  • Skoops Italian Ice
  • Sunny Culture
  • Sweet Life Cupcakes
  • The Tea Jug (2nd location)
  • You Are the Hamster

The event is sponsored by the City of St. Petersburg. It’s sure to be a great time so make sure to go out and shop local.

For more information visit Shopapalooza online at shopapaloozafestival.com.

Event Name: 10th Annual Shoapalooza

Neighborhood: Downtown St. Petersburg

Venue: Vinoy Park

Address: 701 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Date & Time: Saturday, November 30th, 10AM-5PM, Sunday, December 1st, 10AM-5PM

Cost: Free to attend, Register early for a chance to win a $500 shopping spree

Registration: http://www.shopapaloozafestival.com/win-500.html

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What’s happening this weekend in Tampa Bay? 11/1-11/3

Some cooler weather is finally upon us and festivals are everywhere. What’s happening this weekend in Tampa Bay?

  • Savor St. Pete: Clearwater Beach Uncorked has moved to Downtown St. Pete and is serving up food and drinks including wine, liquor, and beer on Saturday, November 2nd and Sunday, November 3rd. Tickets start at $75 for General Admission. 21+. 400 Bayshore Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
  • SouthShore Seafood & Arts Festival: Enjoy seafood, music, crafts, and more at a waterfront park in Ruskin this weekend. Over 15,000 people are expected to attend. Tickets start at $5. Family and pet-friendly. 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin, FL 33570.
  • Tampa Riverwalk Food + Art Festival: Downtown Tampa is having a food and art festival at Tampa Waterworks Park next to Ulele and Armature Works on Saturday, November 2nd from 10AM-7PM. 70+ vendors are expected to attend. Food trucks and live music will be present. 1710 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602.
  • Day of the Dead Block Party: The Dog Bar St. Pete is having a Día de los Muertos party on Saturday, November 2nd, from 11AM-6PM. The block party will have face painting by Nicole Desiree Hays of Body Wars, Nueva Cantina’s food truck, chihuahua races, DJ Shannon C, street vendors, a costume contest, raffle prizes, and more. 2300 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.

Did I miss something? Reach out.

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NEWS: SouthShore Seafood and Arts Festival coming November 2nd and 3rd

The SouthShore Seafood and Arts festival is coming this November 2nd and 3rd to E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. Over 15,000 people attended the festival in 2018. Organizers are offering a group rate of $3 for 20 admission tickets. The festival is kid and pet-friendly (pets must be on leashes).

There will be a wide-variety of seafood available at the festival including stone crabs and a variety of other seafood dishes from the Gulf and beyond.

The event is organized by the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.

Photo via SouthShore Seafood & Arts Fesitval

There will be boats and RVs, arts and crafts, educational displays, commercial exhibits, and tons of interactive kids entertainment for families to enjoy. Over 150 vendors will be present at the event.

Food trucks and vendors attending include:

Event Name: SouthShore Seafood and Arts Festival

Date & Time: Saturday, November 2nd, 10AM-5PM, Sunday, November 3rd, 10AM-5PM

Venue: E.G. Simmons Park

Address: 2401 19th Avenue, N.W., Ruskin, FL 33570

Cost: $5 adults, Kids 12 & under FREE, Active Military FREE with ID, $2 parking per car to enter park, parking is free afterwards.

Website: https://www.ruskinseafoodfestival.org/

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/516486122476272/

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NEWS: Mata’s Philippine Cuisine opens Friday, October 25th in Tampa

After a long dry spell of Filipino food, it looks like Tampa is finally going to get some new eats with Mata’s Philippine Cuisine opening this week near Town N’ Country.

Mata’s is launching their first restaurant on Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 4350 West Waters Ave #102 just a few minutes away from Saigon Deli and Filipiniana Philippine Café.

For those of us who aren’t Filipino, it can be struggle to find places to enjoy the cuisine in the Tampa Bay area.

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The restaurant will sell a number of well-known Filipino dishes and has experience engaging with the public at the annual PhilFest in Tampa as a food vendor.

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Mata’s at PhilFest.

October happens to Filipino Heritage Month so the timing could be favorable for the restaurateurs.

I actually interviewed Mata’s during a series of videos I shot at PhilFest 2016. Watch it below:

On the food menu:

  • Pork Sisig
  • Lechon Kawali
  • Dinuguan
  • BBQ Pork Skewers
  • BBQ Chicken Skewers
  • Pinakbet
  • Fried Bangus
  • Pancit
  • Lumpia
  • Tortang Talong

Desserts:

  • Bibingka
  • Puto
  • Turon
  • Boba (Multiple Flavors)
  • Halo-Halo

Specialty drinks:

  • Sago
  • Melón
  • Calamansi
  • Tamarind

RSVP to the Grand Opening on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/1304957019674155

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NEWS: Ding Tea boba shop coming to Tampa

Update: Ding Tea has postponed their grand opening until further notice.

A new boba shop called Ding Tea is coming to Tampa. Ding Tea is a chain from Taiwan that has over 350 locations in Asia and has been rapidly expanding across the United States.

The menu features fresh tea, milk teas, coffee, lattes, and smoothies. A variety of Asian snacks will be sold such as popcorn chicken, Vietnamese egg rolls, durian crepes, Vietnamese spring rolls, fish balls, and more.

These food items have been a staple of most of the bubble tea shops in town such as Kung Fu Tea and Quickly.

They are known for their Tiger Milk Tea, which is a lactose-free milk with stripes of brown sugar syrup along the sides of the cup to give it a tiger stripe appearance.

Some other interesting choices on the menu are Kumquat Lemonade, Red Bean Matcha, and Cream Mousse Taro.

The new location will be located at 2202 West Waters Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604 where Got Tea and Yummy House were previously located before a fire destroyed the buildings in 2017.

Ding Tea Tampa will be open daily from 10AM-9PM, 7 days a week. The only other Ding Tea location in Tampa Bay is currently at 6248 66th Street North in Pinellas Park.

Their Grand Opening is set for Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 from 10AM-9PM. They will offer buy one, get one 50% off on all drinks and have dragon/lion dancing for guests to enjoy.

Menu:

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NEWS: Dunedin Stone Crab Festival this weekend

The annual Dunedin Stone Crab Festival is this weekend at Edgewater Park. The food festival is free to attend. 20 vendors will serve up stone crab dishes and a variety of seafood for attendees.

Proceeds will benefit Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP), whose mission is “to  break the cycle of homelessness for any individual or family who comes to us for assistance.” Find out more about HEP at hepempowers.org.

The event is organized by Olde Bay Café & Dunedin Fish Market.

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Offerings will include:

  • local stone crabs (Florida caviar)
  • fish tacos
  • burgers and hotdogs
  • ceviche
  • crepes
  • blue crabs
  • Maine lobster
  • shrimp
  • Mexican food
  • Thai and Vietnamese cuisine
  • BBQ

Arts and craft vendors will be around the event and there will be live music for attendees to enjoy. All ages are invited to attend and the event is pet-friendly as well.

Make sure to bring cash or you can use the ATM at the event (for a fee).

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Event Name: Dunedin Stone Crab Festival

Venue: Edgewater Park

Address: 51 Main Street, Dunedin, FL 34698

Date & Time: Friday, October 18th, 5PM-10PM, Saturday, October 19th, 12PM-10PM

Cost: Free to attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1000507790338829/