Monday, December 11, 2017
Restaurant News

Dining planner: Head into Mardi Gras with these Tampa Bay Cajun favorites

Let the good times roll: Mardi Gras

To mark the last party before Lent, there's a big parade and street party on Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, in Dunedin's Pioneer Park at Main Street and Douglas Avenue starting at 4 p.m. And the Mardi Gras concert series at Universal Orlando gets under way Saturday with a concert by country hottie Hunter Hayes plus Big Easy bands and a parade. But who are we kidding? What we really love about Mardi Gras is the food. The sweet fried beignets that make doughnuts feel inadequate. The spicy jambalaya, shrimp creole and crawfish boils. We want it all, and the Tampa Bay area can laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) with the best of them at these popular Cajun cookeries. Here are some we can suggest:

Ricky P's Orleans Bistro

1113 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 821-4061

Rick Parsons started with a stall at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg — jambalaya and other NoLa lovelies — and now his space is spectacular: high, pressed-tin ceilings in a two-floor room, warm ochre walls, cozy booths and a new covered patio area in which live music can be heard on the weekends. And the menu is hearty portions of etouffee, jambalaya and the like.

Ricky P's will hold a weekend-long Mardi Gras party featuring live music, a crawfish boil, a costumed Second Line Parade, plenty of beads, beignets and king cake. The bistro kicks things off with a Louisiana crawfish boil and live music with Brian L. on Friday. Saturday brings a Second Line Parade through the Grand Central District at 4 p.m. and a party tent in the parking lot. A Mardi Gras costume contest takes place and the TBone Hamilton Band performs at 6 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's Jazz Brunch has live music and free beignets, and Fat Tuesday features drink and food specials all day and free king cake with purchase, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. rickyps.com.

Roux

4205 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 443-5255

No special Mardi Gras parties here, but the Creole/Cajun-inspired Roux from Suzanne and Roger Perry (Datz, Dough) is a gleaming space with a tight, one-page menu that splits between straight-up New Orleans standards and some more whimsical interpolations of the glories of the Big Easy. In that latter category, dishes like quail and waffles charm: Two moist, crisp-skinned birds recline against fluffy sweet-but-not-too-sweet sweet potato waffles, spicy praline pecans and a puddle of Barq's root beer reduction. And in the former there are two textbook gumbos that should silence any authenticity grumblers. rouxtampa.com.

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou

8101 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park; (727) 546-6732

This Cajun-Zydeco restaurant and bar has an outdoor deck overlooking Cross Bayou. Plus you'll find a 25- by 42-foot cypress dance floor, perfect for two-stepping to the live music that's often scheduled there. And the food? Let's just say that if you love crawfish, you'll love this place. The cafe cooks all of its food from scratch, including its whiskey bread pudding. If you can't get to New Orleans, this is a great substitute for some Cajun flavor. cajuncafeonthebayou.com.

Other Cajun or Creole restaurants or bars

Tace New Orleans Cuisine & Jazz, 14380 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 964-8223. tacelounge.com.

Chief's Creole Cafe, 901 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg; (727) 498-8979. chiefscreolecafe.com.

The Big Easy Bar & Grill, 1704 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City; (813) 248-3444. A crawfish boil will be held Saturday by chef "Big Baby" Jules beginning at 2 p.m.; zydeco band starts at 4.

Comments
Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

TAMPAMaybe it’s the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-...
Published: 12/11/17
Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

TAMPA Just a block away from CW’s Gin Joint, the folks at Urban Juice Co. have retooled, taking the historic Franklin building, one of the city’s oldest, erected in 1895, and re-envisioning it in September as 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market, a "...
Published: 12/11/17
Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

REOPENING: BYBLOSYou know that hour before people show up for a dinner party where you think, "Holy smokes, I’ll never be ready in time. What was I thinking?" Nearly every restaurant opening, or reopening, is like that. I scooted by Byblos, a long-st...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

Florida Trend’s annual Golden Spoon awards were announced last week, honoring Florida’s best restaurants. Although Florida Trend serves the state’s business community, the Golden Spoons are a valuable consumer tool. Because Florida restaurants seldom...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17
Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Dunkin’ Donuts is giving thanks to Floridians with a free small iced coffee on Monday.The #CupOfThanksFlorida promotion is aimed at thanking customers for weathering Hurricane Irma as some locations had to close or change their hours, according to br...
Published: 12/04/17
Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

CLEARWATERAll three of the Clear Sky restaurants read like the work of someone who’s been paying attention to what folks want.Co-owner Dan Shouvlin has got the proper curriculum vitae (a background in TGI Friday’s, Chi Chi’s, Olive Garden and then a ...
Published: 11/30/17
Updated: 12/04/17
This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: GUPPY’STwenty-five years for a restaurant is a stupendous achievement in an industry with a two-thirds failure rate. So let’s bake a cake for Guppy’s on the Beach, or at least go there and eat cake. It opened its doors at 1701 Gulf Bl...
Published: 11/29/17
Lolita's Wine Market in St. Pete is tasty, but good luck deciphering your bill

Lolita's Wine Market in St. Pete is tasty, but good luck deciphering your bill

So much charm packed into so little space. Lolita’s Wine Market is the latest in a string of endearing cheese-and-charcuterie-centric restaurants to open in St. Petersburg. It’s a tiny, adorable thing. There are grape-purple flower boxes...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/27/17
Dining news: More poke coming, Frogman Feast raises money for SEALs and Gold Star families

Dining news: More poke coming, Frogman Feast raises money for SEALs and Gold Star families

FUNDRAISER: FROGMAN FEASTLast year, the first celebrity chef charity event called Frogman Feast raised more than $12,000 for Navy SEALs and their Gold Star families. Ken Bowen is spearheading the effort again this year from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at 3 Da...
Updated one month ago
No Thanksgiving plan? Head to one of these Tampa Bay restaurants for traditional feasts and more

No Thanksgiving plan? Head to one of these Tampa Bay restaurants for traditional feasts and more

You realize Thanksgiving is just a week away, right? No pressure. If you don’t have a holiday game plan for Nov. 23, let’s do this thing. There are still a bunch of options, many traditional Thanksgiving repasts and some a little less conventional. C...
Updated one month ago