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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.

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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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Articles Food Events

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/

 

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Articles Hotels News

NEWS: Marriott’s Moxy Hotel coming to Tampa Heights District

The first hotel is coming to Tampa Heights with The Moxy Hotel, a project from Marriott International. The hotel will feature 153 rooms and occupy 7 floors inside a new 25-story tower.

Construction will begin in 2020 with expected completion and opening by 2022. It will be located between West Oak Avenue, West 7th Avenue, North Highlands, and North Tampa Street.

The hotel will occupy the first seven floors of the tower and the remaining floors will be developed as a multi-family residential apartment community and will include its own lobby, separate from the Moxy Hotel lobby.

The Moxy Hotel will have a smart interface that allows users to seamlessly check-in, park, and lock their room doors using their mobile devices.

Planned amenities include a club room, fitness center, co-working spaces, event spaces and retail space. An art program called “Moxy Blank Canvas” will be a part of the hotel, that “connects emerging artists to their hotels to literally make their mark on the spaces”.

“Over the past few years, I’ve been watching the evolution of the up and coming Tampa Heights District as it becomes a trendy place to work, live and play”, said Tim Sponsler, Vice President Marriott Lodging Development for Florida.

“The development of Armature Works it a great example of the edgy vibe of the neighborhood and their development of the Moxy Hotel will have synergy with the overall vibrant lifestyle experience of The Heights District.”

The Moxy Hotel is part of a larger plan for The Heights District, a 50-acre mixed-use urban district located along the Hillsborough River.

More information is available at theheightstampa.com.

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Articles Events Food Events

NEWS: Taste of Latino coming Sunday October 20th to Ybor City

The first annual Taste of Latino is coming Sunday, October 20th to Centennial Park in Ybor City from 11AM-6PM. The event is organized by Latin Times Media, creators of the Cuban Sandwich Festival and is presented by Ford.

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Food will be featured from around Latin America with countries such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Peru, Venezuela, and more represented. Award-winning chefs will be present at the event.

Live music and dance performances will occur around the event from Revelacion Salsera, Cukiara, Salsa Aerobics, XTreme Dance, and more. Be sure to bring cash for all the vendors who will be selling food from around the world.

Competitors will compete for who makes the best flan, paella, arroz con pollo, arepas, ceviche, and more.

The event is fitting Ybor City, which was once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World”, and home to numerous immigrants from Latin America. Over 950 historic buildings fill Ybor City and are the foundation of where the Cuban Sandwich was created long ago in Tampa.

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VIP  tickets to the event are available and start at $20. VIP guests can taste contest entries from competitors for the best latino food, complimentary refreshments, and hangout with VIPs, celebrities, and media.

Event Name: Taste of Latino

Venue: Centennial Park

Date & Time: Sunday, October 20th, 2019, 11AM-6PM

Address: 1800 E. 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Cost: FREE General Admission, VIP starting at $20

Buy VIP tickets: http://bit.ly/2BapTX2

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/405448503389654/

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Articles Dining Guide Reviews

Dining Guide: Great local restaurants to eat at in Brandon

Full disclosure: I have performed sponsored work for Kiwami Ramen Sushi. These opinions on this list are strictly my own and do not represent any sponsors or paid work.

Brandon has been transforming over the years from a quiet suburban town to a busy place with tons of apartment complexes and subdivisions rising around the area. There is now a Top Golf, Dave and Buster’s, and the Westfield Brandon Towncenter has exploded with traffic. People are moving south to Riverview and East to Valrico. The new Riverview GDX and Xscape Riverview theaters further prove the population growth of this area.

Many people complain that there are not local options in Brandon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll find a wide-variety of food from a variety of cuisines around the area, if you know where to look. Most places will run you around $10-20 per person for a meal. The options continue to grow, here is a list of some of my recommendations.

Allegria Italiana: Your old school Italian eatery with white table covers and a romantic vibe, Allegria Italiana has a great variety of gourmet Italian food that is better than many places around the bay. The servers have been friendly on my visits and prices are about what you would expect for this kind of concept. Everything from the appetizers and pasta to dessert is great. $$ 518 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 651-1166 allegriaitaliana.com

La Cubanita: Great Cuban sandwiches and steak sandwiches. You can’t really go wrong with their cafe con leche and a sandwich. They also have great deals on platters of food and have specials daily. There are many places around Brandon with sandwiches and coffee, but this is one of the best. They serve La Segunda bread which is of course the best. $ 723 W. Lumsden Rd., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 661-2253. 

Kiwami Ramen and Sushi: Newcomer serving quality, gourmet ramen and sushi. The perfect marriage no matter what your mood is. Prices are fair and far less than the options in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Lunch specials on weekdays and happy hour deals make Kiwami and even better choice. The rolls are different from you’ll find in most places in Tampa. 10262 Causeway Blvd., Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 393-0683. kiwamiramensushi.com

Ploy Thai: Ploy Thai has been serving Thai food for over a decade on State Road 60. The restaurant has changed and evolved over the year from more of a sushi concept and then back into a more Thai-focused restaurant. The menu is large and they have transitioned more into a finer dining concept. $$ 1941 W. Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 684-5007.

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Sushi Kampai: If you like some simple rolls or great deals, Sushi Kampai is for you. The rolls are affordable and they also have lunch combos and bento boxes. You’ll find some Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food options on the menu as well. Service can be slow when they get busy so plan ahead. They also offer delivery and take-out if you’re feeling lazy. $ 10312 Bloomingdale Ave. #111, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 620-3717.

Taste of Berlin: This German eatery is owned by some German expats and has a great schnitzel. Most items on the menu are made from scratch down to the sauces. The German beer selection isn’t quite as expansive as Mr. Dunderbak’s in Tampa, but there are some decent options on the menu for those looking to wash down their food. The owners regularly host events here especially for Oktoberfest. $$ 526 Oakfield Dr, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 685-9392.

LC’s Cafe and Supper Club: LC’s Cafe is a nice little spot for a lite breakfast or brunch. They have some Cuban food options and also some breakfast options. It isn’t anything fancy, but the decor feels like home and it is a great place to go and catch up with someone. It is a family-owned small business. $$ 1602 Oakfield Dr #103, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 526-9395.

Shrimp Boat: If you love seafood, you will love Shrimp Boat. This busy local restaurant on Bloomingdale serves quality seafood dishes and even their regular American dishes scream quality. It gets very busy, but there is usually some space in the bar area. They have happy hour deals and specials regularly and you also cannot go wrong with their soups. $$ 1020 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, FL 33596. (813) 571-5858. shrimpboatgrille.com

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Green Island Frozen Yogurt & Tea Bar: Green Island has been around for over a decade if I’m not mistaken. They were one of the first boba shops and frozen yogurt shops to open in Tampa Bay. It’s a nice option if you’re on State Road 60 and heading to the nearby M.D. Oriental Market. Their bubble tea isn’t my favorite, but their Thai tea is pretty good and so is the coconut smoothie or watermelon smoothie (when available). $ 10047 E. Adamo Dr, Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 374-9006. 

Smokin Pig BBQ: Smokin Pig serves some great barbeque options and has plenty of space inside for those who want to dine-in. They have family deals as well as specials and combos. My favorite thing here is their Mac and Cheese, it is incredibly cheesy and delicious. Their brisket tastes great and I like their corn bread. $$ 3834 US-301, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 512-2500 smokinpig.com

Chicago’s Best Burgers: If you want some truly amazing burgers do not miss Chicago’s Best. They maintain a low profile online, but they serve one of the best burgers I have enjoyed in Tampa Bay. You’ll spend a little more than some other shops, but the taste is well worth it. I highly recommend it. $$ 1925 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 654-3232.

 

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Articles cocktails Events

Margarita Wars coming July 26th to TPepin Hospitality Centre in Tampa

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Creative Loafing Tampa. I have partnered with them for their upcoming Margarita Wars and have received tickets in exchange for my post about their upcoming event and cross-promotions. Opinions are my own and do not reflect Creative Loafing or affiliates.

Ready to sip some margaritas? Creative Loafing is back with their annual Margarita Wars on Friday, July 26th at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa from 7PM to 10PM. More than 15 of Tampa Bay’s mixologists will duke it out for who makes the best margs in town. All guests will enjoy unlimited samples of margaritas as well as food samples, entertainment, and voting in the Best Margarita competition.

Tickets are now on-sale. Prices will rise at the door if available on the event date. VIP includes an extra hour of admission as well as a VIP-area, swag, one beer, a $25 voucher to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, and more. It’s a great way to beat the rush and start the party early.

Use discount code CARLOSEATS to get $5 off your ticket until June 30th.

Event name: Margarita Wars

Venue: TPepin’s Hospitality Centre

Date & Time: Friday, July 26th, 7PM to 10PM, VIP starts at 6PM

Address: 4121 North 50th Street Tampa, Florida

Ages: 21+

Cost: $45+

Buy tickets: http://tampabayeventtickets.com/events/93473861/margarita-wars-2019

Website: http://margaritawarstampabay.com

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Articles Events

Meet the Chefs 2019: Meet and Mingle with Tampa Bay Chefs

Creative Loafing‘s annual food event, Meet The Chefs, is approaching quickly at The Vault in Downtown Tampa and will occur on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 from 7PM-10PM. VIP is already sold out and GA is selling quickly as well.

General Admission includes small plates by each chef and more as well as an opportunity to meet them at the event (hence the name). The event is for ages 21 years and older and is rain or shine.

Some items on the menu include Gnocchi alla Vaccinara, Tete de Moine Rosette with lavender honey, Scallop Crudo with meyer lemon and dried herbs, Burnt End Arepas, Southern Lump Crab Cakes, Beef Tartare, and more.

Tickets are $55 in advance and will increase at the door. This event does sell out though so make sure you buy your tickets early if you want to attend.

Participating restaurants:

Event Name: Meet The Chefs 2019

Venue: The Vault

Date & Time: Wednesday, June 12th, 2019, 7PM-10PM

Address: 611 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602

Ages: 21+

Buy tickets: https://tampabayeventtickets.com/events/93356217/meet-the-chefs-2019

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Articles Food Adventures Food Events

Foodie Photoshoot / St. Pete Lunchpool Takeover Recap

I joined forces with a new food startup called Lunchpool on Sunday, May 19th for a Foodie Photoshoot / St. Pete Lunchpool Takeover. The idea was to eat our way through a section of Downtown St. Petersburg and connect people over food while trying some new places or outposts of businesses I have seen around Tampa.

Food has always been a passion of mine and a huge part of my life and this was another new avenue where food can make a difference.

The event was sponsored by Carlos Eats and also Rising Tide Innovation Center, a cowork space located in Downtown St. Pete that works to connect like-minded collaborators.

We made several stops throughout the day at popular restaurants, cafes, and shops in Downtown St. Pete. Some of them I was familiar with, but many of them I had never heard of as a citizen of Tampa across the bridge.

What I found is that there are plenty of awesome spots just waiting for people from Tampa to try. We cross the bridge for Rays games, Rowdies games, concerts at Jannus, and for First Friday. These are spots we should know and so I want to share them with you.

Stop No. 1: Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails

I love coffee and Intermezzo has to have one of the most beautiful shops I have seen in the Tampa Bay area. The espresso pours are excellent, the staff is friendly, and it is conveniently located next to plenty of restaurants on Central Avenue.

During this visit with Lunchpool I also tried the matcha for the first time through a friend and it was obvious that Intermezzo does its best to provide a quality product to all its customers. They have cocktails for those looking for a chill venue in the evenings after a long day working on your laptop.

1111 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. (727) 873-6664. http://intermezzo.co/

Stop No. 2: Ford’s Garage:

Ford’s Garage has exploded in growth as a franchise in recent years. I still remember the first location in Brandon and how crazy packed it gets compared to its predecessor. Ford’s Garage has a wide-variety of burgers on the menu and an option to build your own as well.

We mainly shared appetizers and one thing that was surprising was how good the wings were. If you love craft beer, Ford’s Garage also has a very expansive beer menu with tons of local options which is how it should be everywhere in this town.

200 1st Ave S., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 295-3673. http://www.fordsgarageusa.com/locations/st-pete/

Stop No. 3: Pacific Counter

Poke has been absolutely on-fire in Tampa and across the bridge it is also taking hold of St. Petersburg. What I really like about Pacific Counter is the different options for their poke bowls and sushi burritos, but also the atmosphere which has a surfer ambiance.

So many places across the bridge fail to make an ambiance that is enjoyable and I notice St. Pete is especially good at this. During a second recent visit on another food tour I had the noodles and salmon and it was excellent. Also: try the Dole whip ice cream. It’s excellent and perfectly refreshing in this horribly hot weather.

660 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 440-7008. http://pacificcounter.com/

Stop No. 4: Fabrica Pizza

This spot originally from across the bridge in Channelside has long been a favorite of mine and is on my Top 7 Pizza List. The owners hail from Italy and they do everything they can to put a quality experience into their product.

I love almost all their pies, but my sinful favorite is their Nutella Pizza which is something you have to treat yourself to after a long week of work! Their wines are actually also imported from their own vineyard in Italy if I’m not mistaken. The Downtown St. Pete location is just as beautiful inside as the Tampa spot.

101 7th St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 290-9643 http://www.fabricapizza.com

Stop No. 5: The Hyppo / Swah-Rey

Dessert was a fun-filled affair with Lunchpool. From the torch-roasted cakes at Swah-Rey to snapping photos of popsicles at The Hyppo, we were having a blast. I actually needed a coffee to keep myself going so I grabbed an espresso shot at Swah-Rey and it was quite enjoyable. The staff was super friendly as well.

Swah-Rey 625: 625 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 767-0527.

The Hyppo: 627 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 498-6536. http://www.thehyppo.com/

Stop No. 6: The Canopy at Birchwood  

After a long day of walking, making new friends, and seeing so many things that St. Pete had to offer, we ended up at The Canopy at Birchwood, a rooftop bar in Downtown St. Pete that overlooks The Vinoy and the upcoming St. Pete Pier. The views from The Canopy are great and our server was a delight. The Canopy is the perfect way to end any day in Downtown St. Pete and it is probably one of my favorite places in the neighborhood.

340 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 896-1080. http://www.thebirchwood.com/thecanopy

It was a great day in Downtown St. Pete and I had a blast with the Lunchpool crew. Lunchpool is working to change the world through food. You can find out more about them at letslunchpool.com.

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Articles Restaurant News startups

Food Tech: Introducing Table Dot. Home Chefs on Demand

Have you ever wanted to have a chef cook in your home for you and some guests but not been sure how to go about it? Hiring a private in-home chef can be a stressful affair, from trying to negotiate the cost per head, to sourcing ingredients, annoying callbacks, and trying to find someone who is available during your preferred time period. A new food start-up based in Tampa called Table Dot hopes to change that.

Table Dot’s mission is to provide quality, in-home chefs available on-demand to hungry customers. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two, a family gathering, or a reunion with old friends, Table Dot hopes to simplify the process of connecting with a in-home chef and provide food tech solutions that will make it easier to book a party at your home.

Founder, Katherine Allen, has created a platform that allows customers to mix courses and options and get an upfront cost, avoiding any surprises along the way. The entire process is handled by Table Dot including shopping, food prep, and cleanup.

The goal is to provide access to chefs in a responsible way, enabling cooks a simple solution and diners a hassle-free method to connect with private in-home chefs. The cost will vary according to the menu items sought, but could be as low as $12 a head according to Allen.

The start-up is seeking chefs and cooks to join their program. Table Dot hopes to build a large community of cooks and chefs and to empower line cooks and other chefs who have aspirations to cook on a different scale to join their cause. Allen herself has a background in providing in-home chef experiences and was inspired by her own experiences and difficulties to create Table Dot.

There are plans for an iOS and Android app in-development for Table Dot and Allen hopes to have a system that will be as easy as taking out your phone and planning your next gathering or meal at home in the future. Table Dot sounds like a promising and innovative product that could be very successful with the right combination of chefs and tech.

To find out more about Table Dot, visit them online at tabledot.com.

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Articles Dining Guide Events

GUIDE: Where to celebrate Easter 2019 in Tampa Bay

Looking for something to do for Easter Sunday 2019 in Tampa Bay? Numerous hotels, restaurants, and bars are having events with buffets. Most have options for kids as well.

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Here are some options:

  • Shepard’s OCEAN FLAME: This Clearwater Beach spot is serving your favorites from 10AM-9PM and offering brunch items until 2:30pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach 33767. (727) 442-5107. http://bit.ly/shepoceanflame
  • Bizou Brasserie: Bizou’s Easter brunch buffet in Downtown Tampa will be served from 10AM to 3PM. Buffet prices are inclusive of all non-alcoholic beverages. Bloody Marys and Mimosas will be offered for $6 each (after 11AM) during brunch. Buffet is $45+ for adults and kids over age 12, $22+ for ages 5-12 years old, and FREE for kids ages 4 and under. Reservations are highly recommended, as preferred dining times fill up quickly. 601 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 227-9555. https://www.opentable.com/bizou-brasserie.
  • GameTime: Head over to Ybor City for Easter brunch with Sonic the Hedgehog, everyone’s favorite mascot. Take a picture and enjoy a delicious buffet on Easter Sunday, April 21st from 10AM to 3PM. Enjoy food and entertainment for all ages. Only $16.99 per adult, and $9.99 per child under 12 years old. 1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 241-9675.
  • Rusty Pelican: Enjoy a waterfront Easter Sunday Champagne Buffet from 9:30AM to 4PM. Tickets are $75 for adults and $35 for children ages 5 to 12. On the menu: Applewood Smoked Prime Rib, Pesto Crusted Leg of Lamb, Honey Glazed Salmon, Crab Legs, Raw Bar, Decadent Desserts, Bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Mary Bar, Photo Booth, and more. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 281-1943. http://bit.ly/2UdieSI
  • FarmTable Cucina: Enjoy a special Easter brunch for $89 per person from 11AM to 3PM, which includes bottomless mimosas. On the menu: Seafood Bar, Bowtie Pasta, Potato Salad, Roasted Beet Salad, Caprese, Panzanella, Breakfast Pastries, Breads, Desserts, and more. 179 2nd Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 523-6297. http://farmtablecucina.com/reservation/
  • Sirata Beach Resort: Head to the beach for an annual Easter Buffet Brunch. Enjoy fun, food, and festivities for the entire family. $49.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids. and $39.95 for Seniors. Add an unlimited Bloody Mary & Mimosa Bar for just $20. 5300 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 363-5100. http://bit.ly/SirataEasterBrunch