Coppertail Stein & Vine Kitchen now open

Coppertail Brewing had the Grand Opening for Stein and Vine Kitchen (S &V Kitchen) last week at the brewery in Ybor City. The pub fare from S & V Kitchen will be available to guests daily from 11AM to 11PM when they visit the brewery.

Coppertail Brewing is located at 2601 East 2nd Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 just outside Ybor City near IKEA.

Menu items are identical to what you’ll find at the Stein & Vine location in Brandon and includes the “Juicy Lacey” Cheeseburger, Pig Wings, and Tator Tots…to name a few. Food is also available for take-out with a special Monday special that includes a growler on the Coppertail Facebook page.

You can find the full menu for S & V Kitchen on Coppertail’s website at: http://coppertailbrewing.com/the-food-1/

Coppertail Brewing was founded in 2014 by Kent Bailey and Casey Hughes. The idea was to bring more hop-forward and Belgian influenced beer to the market. All their beer is brewed and bottled in Tampa for Florida distribution. Coppertail beer is available at tap rooms and restaurants, Total Wine, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Publix, and at the brewery.

Stein and Vine was founded in 2012 by Ty and Lacey Mathis. The owners live within walking distance of their restaurant and pub and are friends with the owners of Coppertail Brewing.

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Festa Italiana 20th anniversary this weekend!

Festa Italiana will celebrate their 20th anniversary this weekend in Ybor City.

The opening event, Wines of Italy, has already taken plan and the weekend will bring plenty of delicious feasts and events on Saturday with the main event happening Sunday, April 9th, at Centennial Park from 11AM to 6:30PM.

Over 35 of Tampa Bay’s top restaurants will participate in the festival. Italian singer, Zucchero, will headline the cultural food and wine festival on Sunday. Proceeds will benefit the Italian Club Restoration Fund.

The Italian Club was founded in 1894 that was created to unite the Italian community in Tampa to overcome social and economic challenges when they first arrived in the area. The mission of the group is to preserve and honor the culture, traditions, and heritage of the Italian community and maintain the historical facility as a memorial to the working class immigrants.

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Tickets can be purchased online via Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/festa-italiana-the-main-event-20th-anniversary-feat-zucchero-tickets-29982099266

Children ages 12 and under are FREE to the main event. Centennial Park is located at 1800 East 8th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605.

Gaspar’s Grotto in Ybor City now serving weekday breakfast

Local Ybor City pirate-themed restaurant, Gaspar’s Grotto, is now selling breakfast daily with an expanded menu on Saturday and brunch buffet on Sundays.

The weekday breakfast menu is available from 7AM-10:30AM and has items ranging from $4.95 to $8.95 with most items at around $5.95. Items on the menu include 3 Egg Cheese Omelet, Two Eggs Your Way, Cuban French Toast, Breakfast Skillet, Biscuits and Gravy, and more.

I visited yesterday and had a late breakfast with Ybor City Geeky Gal and Chef Mark Hook.

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One of the first dishes I tried was the biscuits and gravy. Everything is prepared fresh in-house and it really shows. The biscuits were soft and delicious and the gravy was incredible – definitely one of the best gravy toppings I have ever had in Tampa Bay. Even the side of potatoes was delicious – normally something that isn’t even worth mentioning on breakfast dishes.

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The bacon was notable for having a peppery flavoring to it and was perfectly crunchy. Many of the breakfast items come with bacon, but if you want more you can get 2 strips for $2.

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You can also take a more traditional route with simple eggs made you way with sides and Cuban toast from La Segunda Bakery. The great thing about Ybor City being the heart of historical Tampa is great Cuban bread is always nearby.

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I also checked out their Gaspar’s Specialty Bloody Mary of the Day at Gaspar’s Grotto – it’s loaded with all kinds of toppings including cheese, meats, sausage, ribs, and more. It could very well be a meal on its own.

All of the breakfast items were delicious and fresh and the price was right – easily beating out many breakfast chains and competing with the pricing of diners. The best part is you can enjoy your breakfast outside on the outside decks of Gaspar’s Grotto and there is plenty of free 2-hour parking available in the morning hours in Ybor City.

Breakfast is also available for take-out – you can call ahead to 813-248-5900 and pick-up your breakfast to take to work or whatever engagement you may have.

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Finally, I couldn’t leave without trying the Cuban Sandwich at Gaspar’s Grotto with the 6th Annual National Cuban Sandwich Festival approaching. The Cuban here was excellent – the bread toasted perfectly and the pickle having just the right crunch. The Cuban sticks to traditional with the exception of a mayo-mustard mix. Plantain chips on the side were also excellent. I love plantain chips and these did not disappoint.

Gaspar's Grotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gaspar’s Grotto. 1805 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 248-5900. http://gasparsgrotto.com/

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

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

Snobachi Grand Opening NYE 2017

Thai Rolled Ice Cream is taking Tampa by storm at the moment (just head over to IceSmile and try to wait in line for 2 hours) and newcomer Snobachi Handcrafted Ice Cream is leading the movement over into Ybor City at 2206 East 7th Avenue next to Shrimp and Co.

This shop offers ice cream and frozen yogurt bases with over 25 flavors and is owned by military veterans of the United States Air Force and Army.

Snobachi also offers what they call Dragon Breath: a combination of liquid nitrogen and dippers such as brownie bites, popcorn, and marshmallows. When you eat the dippers – your breath will release a smoke from the nitrogen chill.

Check out the menu: http://www.snobachi.com/portfolio.html

Snobachi’s Grand Opening will be held this New Year’s Eve 2017 starting at 2:30PM and runs all day long until 2AM. The first 50 customers will get 50% off their SnoRolls. Social media check-ins and shares will also unlock discounts for customers.

Some photos of Snobachi Handcrafted Ice Cream via Facebook:

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For more information contact Snobachi at (813) 284-6071

Snobachi

Facebook RSVPhttp://www.facebook.com/events/238138119943072/

Ybor City’s 1st Cookoff for Kids this Sunday

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Junior Chef’s of America. Junior Chef’s of America was created by Ybor City Food Tours, Inc. with the mission of finding a creative way to teach children how to have fun cooking healthier meals. Children learn math, science, English, and reading through cooking classes.

This Sunday, September 4th, 2016 head out for Ybor City’s 1st Cookoff for Kids from 10AM-5PM in Centennial Park located at 1800 E. 8th Avenue. The Cookoff will occur from 2PM-4PM with children ages 4-17 participating.

The event is FREE to the public and will feature live music and food vendors, including kid-friendly vendors that will be perfect for families. An all-kids rock band will be present as well as children motivational speakers.

The competition dish this year will be the Cuban Sandwich. Ybor City is known for hosting the annual National Cuban Sandwich Festival each year in the spring. The festival draws thousands of people every year and showcases traditional and creative Cuban sandwiches. Tampa is so well known for Cuban sandwiches that a restaurant opened in Seoul, South Korea called Tampa Sandwich Bar featuring our signature Cuban Sandwich.

Celebrity judges for the cookoff including Victor Padilla, owner of Cuban Sandwich Festival, Chef Gaston of Gaston Culinary,  Ilya Goldberg, Ybor City Campus President. The MC  for the event is Cloe Cabrera of Cabrera Communications. I will also be participating as a judge at the event!

There will be a fundraiser event tonight at Gaspar’s Grotto for Junior Chefs of America from 7-11PM including an open bar from 7-8PM – info: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/labor-day-weekend-party-tickets-27273215923?aff=es2

Check out their Daytime TV segment: http://wfla.com/2016/08/30/young-chef-cook-off/

See you at the Cookoff for Kids this Labor Day Weekend in Ybor City!

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Event name: Ybor City’s 1st Cookoff for Kids

Venue: Centennial Park

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

Date & Time: Sunday, September 4th, 2016, 10AM-5PM

Cost: FREE to attend

Website: http://www.juniorchefsofamerica.org/

Valentines Day Dining in Tampa Bay

It would seem that almost every restaurant in Tampa Bay is having some kind of Valentines Day special for the big day of love. Here is a listing of some of the specials I have noticed, for the late-minute diner like myself. Even if you don’t have a Valentine – you might want to have a bite on some of these deals.

Bernini: This delicious Italian restaurant in Ybor City is offering 1/2 price pastas and entrees all week long until 7PM. $2 Finlandia Martinis. (813) 248-0099

BurgerMonger: Famous for its delicious Akaushi Kobe Beef – BurgerMonger will be giving away chocolate-covered strawberries to couples (while supplies last) on Valentines Day. They say the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – and a BurgerMonger burger sure does please my stomach! (813) 968-6860

Cafe Kili: Dixie Blue will play an eclectic mix of country, early rock and roll, and cajun songs for visitors starting at 7PM. Special drinks will be on the menu including the Red Velvet Frappe and Raspberry White Mocha.  (813) 988-2879

Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant: The usual $4 tapas menu will be in effect Tuesday at Ceviche, in addition to two lovers specials: Mixed Grill and Mixed Fish specials for $39. First-come, first-serve basis. Numerous locations around Tampa Bay and Orlando.

Datz: Special cocktails, entrees, and desserts will be sold for V-Day. Some examples are pink polka dot pancakes and cherry martinis. (813) 831-7000

Fly Bar & Restaurant: Open 4PM-3AM. Patio dining and rooftop deck in Downtown Tampa. Live jazz music from 8-11PM and dinner. (813) 275-5000

Origami Sushi (Hillsborough): Free dessert on Valentines Day. Happy Hour 3-7PM with $1 sushi rolls. All beverages reduced price. (813) 878-2145

Pelagia Trattoria: This hidden Italian restaurant in the International Plaza will have a special Valentines Day menu available fro 5:30-10PM. Some things on the menu include lobster bisque, veal osso buco, and Godiva chocolate cake. (813) 313-3235

The Rack: Valentines Day blues troubling you? The Rack will have happy hour all night long on Valentines Day, in addition to their regular Tuesday specials. (813) 250-1595

The Refinery: Special Valentines Day menu available at this hot spot Tampa restaurant. The steak tartare sure caught my eye. Make sure to call ahead – they may already be filled to max capacity. (813) 237-2000

Senor Taco: Lots of buzz online for this Pinellas Park Mexican restaurant lately. Taco Tuesday brings tacos to the amazing price of $1. (727) 289-7080

Soobak: This excellent Davis Island Asian restaurant is offering a 5-course Valentines Day dinner which includes salad, appetizer, sushi, choice of meat, and dessert for $35 per person (+tax). Be sure to call ahead as space is limited. (813) 258-3377.

SoHo Sushi North: USF-area SoHo Sushi will feature a $55 (+tax) special for couples featuring 2 soups, 2 salads, 2 drinks, 2 sushi rolls, and dessert. (813) 977-8744

Spain Restaurant & Toma Bar: Offering a 4-course pre-fix menu for $45 per person (+tax) includes 1 alcoholic beverage, appetizer, salad , entree, and dessert. Live romantic music from 6-9PM. Regular menu also available. (813) 223-2831

Wimauma: The current talk of Tampa Bay. Special Valentines Day menu available for $40 per person (+tax).  (813) 793-1687

Mema’s Alaskan Tacos closing shop, last day to visit October 14th

Mema’s Alaskan Tacos, a popular taco eatery in Ybor City that opened shop in 2004, is closing down and having their closing bash Friday, October 14th, at 4:00PM. There will be a limited menu with tacos, nachos, burritos, and beer. They will stay open until they run out of food and beer. Restaurateur Sean Godin’s grandmother, Mema, learned how to make their tacos in Alaska during the 1950s.

Mema’s Facebook page reads:

“To all of our loyal customers.I want to thank you for the good times. Our closing is an unfortunate result of many things, most of all the deadstill economy and rising prices. Rather than sacrifice quality and service, the decision was to close the doors. So, thank you Tampa, for everything.”

I personally was only able to visit Mema’s Alaskan Tacos once during my many years of living in Tampa, but the experience was a positive one. I still remember the great taste of their chorizo taco and the refried beans. For many years I remember reading the raving reviews online (over 100 on Yelp) and always being curious about the late-night taco shop in Ybor City. Mema’s Alaskan Tacos will be missed and I am sad I will not be able to have their tacos one last time  before they close shop.

5th Annual Ybor Aficionado Days Stop 2: Bernini

I have always been curious about the food at Bernini in Ybor City. The restaurant is named after Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, of the late renaissance period (1598-1680) and founder of the Baroque art style. The exterior of the restaurant is beautiful in design and certainly makes me think Italy. During the Chevy Tapas Trail I was able to try two things from their menu. The item listed on the menu was “Sliced garlic marinated duck breast with chianti fig compote on a toasted crostini”. The duck was great, but what stole my attention was the crab and red pepper puffs with roasted corn mousseline that Bernini decided to add-on. Bernini was one of the first restaurants to open their doors and it was much appreciated as several restaurants on Chevy Tapas Trail were behind schedule and in a 3-hour trail you need all the time you can get. The attendants at the stand were helpful and explained the tapas to me. I left impressed.

The excellent cream puffs.

My plate with the duck tapa.

Bernini on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Bernini

Cuisine: Italian

Neighborhood: Ybor City

Address: 1702 E 7th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605

Phone Number: (813) 248-0099

Website: http://www.berniniofybor.com/

Go back to Yboy Aficionado Days Stop 1: Dog Bollock’s Pub

El Puerto Argentinean Grill

El Puerto Argentinean Grill may be the first Argentinean restaurant I have dined at in my life and I was completely impressed with the food at this hidden gem in Ybor City. The restaurant is found on 5th Avenue near a cigar shop and various housing, nestled away behind the 7th Avenue strip. My family was originally out to have some Japanese cuisine, but after a mention of El Puerto as we drove on Adamo past Ybor, my family immediately made a detour.

The restaurant has a modest look, clearly a hole-in-the-wall with one dining room and a bar. Two main entrances. The smell outside the restaurant was fantastic and when we entered the restaurant, the pleasant aromas only became greater. We sat ourselves and within about ten minutes our waitress arrived at our table. Like many hole-in-the-wall restaurants the service at El Puerto could have been better. Many have noted the servers don’t seem primarily happy to be working and as long as my food comes out hot and flavorful without any rudeness, I can live with that. The wait time on the food is lengthy as well, don’t come in if you aren’t willing to wait more than an hour to receive your food.

The waitress understood English, but it was clear Spanish was her preference. I had an Inca Kola and the waitress was quick to bring our drinks. She dropped off some bread and then the wait began. We had plenty of time to talk about anything and everything, each time the waitress came in with a huge plate of meat we became more excited for what was to come. El Puerto gives you a bang for your buck, the dinner entrees range from $10-$20, but can feed 2-3 people.

I was particularly hungry and ordered their $2 Empanada Argentina (Argentine-style beef turnover in a fluffy pastry shell) in addition to the $12 Lomo Saltado (strips of skirt steak sautéed with red onions, served with French fries and white rice) as my main course. The waitress brought us some bread and butter to start our meal.

The bread was soft and the warm. The pieces were large enough to help hold over the wait.

The Argentinean empanada arrived. Different in appearance from the Puerto Rican empanadas I am used to. The shell was soft instead of crunchy. The meat inside was seasoned well and full of flavor, it did not need cheese or any additions. The empanada also came out hot, clearly fresh. It did not take long for this empanada to disappear from my plate.

About an hour later the Lomo Saltado arrived.

The steak came out sizzling hot. The rice warm and soft. There was so much steak that I had a whole portion to take home after eating. The red onions on top were juicy and crunchy, only adding to the steak. The steak needed no sauce, it was perfect just the way it was made. It has been quite a long time since I had a steak this tender that was cooked all the way. The steak just melted in my mouth, there was no need to cut it down into tiny pieces. The French fries were fantastic, and I would go as far as to say this Lomo Saltado was the best I have ever had.

The silence at the table spoke for the excellence of the food. The wait was worth it. I haven’t eaten that much in a long time and I credit the excellent flavors of El Puerto Argentinean Grill. There were many things I saw on the menu that interested me for future visits. My parents rave that El Puerto has the best chicken they have ever had. The Chicharron de Calamar, Baby Churrasco, and Peruvian pastas were just a few of the entrees I contemplated having during my visit. El Puerto also has a lunch menu with a modified menu and sandwiches/burgers that I would like to try as well. I am sure I will be back.

El Puerto Argentinean Grill on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: El Puerto Argentinean Grill

Cuisine: Spanish, Argentinean, Peruvian, Seafood

Neighborhood: Ybor City

Address: 1623 E 5th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605

Phone Number: (813) 248-8222

Website: http://www.elpuertoybor.com/

5th Annual Ybor Aficionado Days Stop 1: The Dog’s Bollocks Pub

Ybor Aficionado Days was the biggest restaurant tour I have been on to date. 17 restaurants in 3 hours. The tapas trail event was sponsored by Chevy who provided rides to each restaurant through Chevy vehicles. The drivers helped alleviate some of the distance between restaurants, but with the huge rush of people and the sometimes close distance between restaurant it was sometimes easier just to walk to each restaurant.

I documented each restaurant visit and will be positing each review individually. The first place we went to was The Dog’s Bollocks Pub.

The food was setup around the bar. The two employees at the bar were friendly with us and were happy to explain the tapas they were serving to us. I could see myself having a drink here and chatting with the employees.

The English Muffins at Dog Bullock’s were delicious. The muffins were soft and easy to chew. The beans and sauce were packed with flavor and the muffins had more flavor than they appeared to have. I was surprised there was such good food inside this small bar. I have probably passed the place tons of times when walking around Ybor City and never thought that stopping inside would get me a tasty meal. The owner mentioned that these were just a few of many creations they had been creating for the pub.  The place had a clear European ambiance with flags everywhere and free pool tables, foosball, and darts…certainly a nice bar to hang out at during a night on 7th Avenue. The pub was empty since it was the middle of the day and I am curious to know what crowd spends their time in here.

It didn’t take long for us to finish our food and be on our way, but the food at The Dog’s Bollocks impressed us and was the beginning of a great food adventure on the Chevy Tapas Trail.

Venue Name: The Dog’s Bollocks Pub

Cuisine: Pub

Neighborhood: Ybor City

Address: 1704 E 7th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605

Phone Number: (813) 506-1889

Website: http://www.dogsbollocksybor.com/

Go on to Ybor Aficionado Days Stop 2: Bernini