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Restaurant News

  1. Ybor City's Gaspar's Grotto will be featured on TV next week

    Food & Dining

    One of Ybor City's more colorful watering holes is getting its close-up. Andrew and David Fung, the brothers behind FYI network's series What the Fung, headed over to Gaspar's Grotto in January to investigate the signature conch fritters served with tequila chili jam sauce. The setup: The comedian brothers get …

    Gaspar's Grotto on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City in 2011. [Times files (2011)]
  2. Reviews of vegan restaurants Taste of Eden, Loving Hut, Vida de Cafe

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Remember when veganism was a punch line for joke-telling carnivores? These days it is estimated that 33 percent of the population eats mostly vegetables, 5 percent is strictly vegetarian and 2.5 percent is vegan. Still a fairly small percentage, but folks who eschew all animal products are growing …

    Dishes at Loving Hut in Tampa include a fruit cup, summer rolls, spicy wings, raw sushi, black patty with organic soup, udon noodles and portobello bun.
  3. Dining out? You have lots of vegan restaurant options these days

    Food & Dining

    Ten years ago, being vegan in the Tampa Bay area meant knowing how to cook at home. We weren't completely devoid of dining options, but eating out usually meant going to the same half-dozen restaurants every night.

    Vegans will find plenty of choices at Meze 119, a restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg that focuses on Middle Eastern fare.
  4. Tampa-style ramen gets a celebrity preview in New York City

    Food & Dining

    NEW YORK — Gwyneth Paltrow likes Tampa-style ramen.

    Ichicoro, a restaurant scheduled to open in Seminole Heights at the end of June, and its spicy Tampa-style ramen got a preview at Ramen Lab, a test kitchen in New York, last week. 
  5. Local whiz's FusionPrep app helps restaurant kitchens nationwide

    Food & Dining

    Chon Nguyen, 32, was a veteran entrepreneur back in high school, fixing folks' printers and connecting peers' PlayStations. After graduation he founded three Tampa-based companies: Digital Aspire, AVIT and 212 Digital, the last of which developed an app called Fusionprep that now powers approximately 300 professional …

    Chon Nguyen’s 212 Digital developed the app that’s used in about 300 professional kitchens nationwide.
  6. Review: Food quality high, prices low at Clearwater's Volcano Japanese Cuisine

    Food & Dining

    CLEARWATER

    Ordinarily, a volcano roll is true to its name, more eruption than sushi, packed with too many ingredients and squiggled and swirled with glops of sauces. It's the acme of the more-is-more aesthetic in which American sushi bars often specialize. So when I swung by on a reader's recommendation to check …

    The Sashimi Deluxe at Volcano Japanese Cuisine in Clearwater is presented artfully. It features tuna, salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, white tuna, octopus and mackerel.
  7. Souzou, an upscale Asian fusion concept, will join foodie scene in St. Petersburg in June

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — Despite a densely populated restaurant landscape, downtown St. Petersburg in recent years played second fiddle to South Tampa, which welcomed a more notable array of high-end "destination restaurants."

    Construction continues Thursday on Souzou, an Asian fusion restaurant, at 435 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg. The 180-seat restaurant is scheduled to open June 22.
  8. Rowdies Den a welcome addition to the soccer hangout scene

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — Are you ready for some football? Nope, not NFL — I'm talking NASL. That's the North American Soccer League, of course. The team currently holding the No. 2 ranking in the NASL is our very own Tampa Bay Rowdies.

    Drink options at Rowdies Den include, from left, a Kick in the Glass draft beer, a World Cup Margarita and a Rowdies Mule.
  9. Yummy House owner to open a fast-casual noodle concept

    Food & Dining

    John Zhao, 35, says he's been in the restaurant business for 24 years. Not legally he hasn't, but he started working at a tender age in restaurant kitchens in Belize, going on to debut Yummy House on Waters Avenue in Tampa in 2008 at the age of 28. Despite no reservations, no booze and a decidedly bare-bones interior, …

    John Zhao, left, with executive chef Tommy Tang, will open a noodle house. 
  10. Beards are big — and in restaurants, so are beard hairnets

    Food & Dining

    It's like kudzu, a kind of facial hair mission creep. Big beards are booming.

    “I’ve been shaping and forming it so it’s thick and full,” Jason Schwartzwalder of Pietopia in St. Petersburg said of his beard. He buys his own beard nets.
  11. Restaurant review: Chief's Creole Cafe full of homey food, hospitality

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Good manners can be taught. But graciousness? That stuff is tucked somewhere along long strings of DNA nucleotides. Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy drip with it. Visit their 6-month-old Chief's Creole Cafe and they greet you warmly, slide into easy conversation, make you feel special and expertly attend …

    Gumbo, jambalaya and shrimp and grits are among the hearty dishes at Chief’s Creole Cafe in St. Petersburg.
  12. Chefs, students join to make dinner for Ryan Wells Foundation

    Food & Dining

    CLEARWATER BEACH — This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Ryan Wells Foundation's Evening with the Chefs. In a decade the foundation has awarded 75 high school students $514,000 in scholarship money and donated $283,000 to the culinary programs of Dixie Hollins High, Northeast High, Osceola High, Pinellas …

    Ryan Michael Wells was a Palm Harbor Eagle Scout who died at age 18 in 2005.
  13. Locale Market's Rajat Parr nabs second James Beard award

    Food & Dining

    Despite a dramatic uptick in notable new restaurants, the Tampa Bay area was once again shut out of what has come to be known as the Academy Awards of food. On Monday night at a ceremony presented by TV host, author and chef Alton Brown at Lyric Opera of Chicago, winners of the 2015 James Beard awards were announced. It …

  14. Restaurant review: Tampa's Blind Goat a hip sip spot for the in-the-know

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA

    During Prohibition, rough, working-class speakeasies were sometimes referred to as Blind Pigs or Blind Tigers (not sure which was the tougher kind of establishment, but I'm going tiger). The operator of the saloon would levy a cover charge for showing customers an animal attraction and then serve …

    The focus at the Blind Goat thus far is more liquid than solid. With happy hour specials every day ($4 goblets of local beer, $3 premium well drinks, $15 all-you-can-drink wine, etc.), this is a boon to South Tampa’s very thirsty.
  15. Review: Pom Pom's in St. Pete has promise but needs to refine recipes

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Pom Moongauklang is a sandwich virtuoso in Orlando. Her Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria has been a longtime hipster destination, her nearby Tako Cheena just as packed, both of them known for their gutsy, often wacky juxtapositions of East-West ingredients. For almost a year there was word that …

    A veggie sandwich with tomato, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, red onions, advocado, cream cheese and Thousand Island dressing is one of the selections available at Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria.