When it comes to cultural diversity, Tampa might be compared to a bounteous buffet of culinary delights. On Sunday the public can discover their inner foodie by embarking on a journey at the Taste of South Tampa in Hyde Park Village. Now in its third year, the event, which has raised more than $25,000 for local charities, returns with 40 local restaurants to sample from, appearances by local sports teams, musical entertainment by Rhythm Method and family-friendly fun zones. "We have already exceeded our expectations of advance ticket sales," said event chairwoman Lee Kercher. "Everything has just been phenomenal." The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. and tickets range from $20 to $40. For further information or to purchase tickets, call 637-0156 or visit tasteofsouthtampa.com. — Jonathan Milton
Channelside: Goodbye, Slyders; hello, smokers
The White Castle burgers are out, and the cigars and coffee are in. The Pirate's Cove Bodega, a market and eatery at Channelside, has been taken over by a company that is busy opening cigar bars around Tampa. Acme Sports and Entertainment bought the assets of Pirate's Cove, which had struggled since opening last May. This the 2,500-square-foot store reopened as Casa Havana, one of the chain of cigar and coffee bars. The other locations are in Ybor City, on Kennedy Boulevard, on Bay to Bay Boulevard and in Madeira Beach. "We do everything that Starbucks Coffee does, but we do it in a smoke-friendly environment," said Mike Muzio, the company's executive vice president for public relations. "The last safe haven for smokers is a cigar bar."
— Sharon Ginn
New Vietnamese cuisine option in downtown Tampa
People have been popping their heads into Xuan (Sing) Hurt and Lynn Pham's new Bamboozle Caf? at 516 N. Tampa St., wondering when it might open. The "Vietnamese fusion" eatery opened its doors this week for lunch service, but will soon serve breakfast and, possibly by the end of the year, dinner. Signature dishes include pho, which features rice noodles, steak, sprouts and beef broth. Hurt expects the rice noodle salads to be popular; customers can choose to add chicken, pork, steak, shrimp or tofu. Hours for now are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, but Hurt said Bamboozle should be open for breakfast at 6 a.m. within a few weeks. Pastries will include beignets; Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk will be the signature drink. Bamboozle also is expected to offer beer and wine in the coming months. — Sharon Ginn
Mexican ice cream arrives in Clearwater
When he was 14 and living in Mexico City, Victor Calva Vega churned ice cream made with rose petals, avocado and tequila. Now, at 26, he owns his own ice cream shop in Clearwatere. It's called La Feria de la Nieve Ice Cream, one of few Hispanic ice cream parlors in the area. Vega makes 15 flavors of ice cream from scratch, including cheese, butter pecan, pine nut and pistachio. His handmade fruit bars come in 34 flavors, including mango with chili, pineapple with chili, chamoy, coconut, papaya, apple and cantaloupe. It's open seven days a week. The hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends. Prices range from $1 to $3. — Eileen Schulte