Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dining Planner: PhilFest celebrates Filipino food, Kenwood's Pinot in the Park

Get colorful: PhilFest

There will be streams of colorful banners, young Filipino women in flowing dresses and lots of traditional food to celebrate PhilFest on the grounds at the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center this weekend. The annual event offers an impressive glimpse of the Philippines, with dance, song, food, cultural exhibits, fashion shows and colorful parades and processions. Admission is $5 advance, $7 day of at the Philippine Cultural Enrichment Complex, 14301 Nine Eagles Drive, Tampa. It runs 4-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. (813) 925-1232.

SIPPY CUP: Pinot in the Park

Top area chefs prepare a baked salmon dinner paired with fine selections of pinot noir to benefit the Historic Kenwood Neighborhood Association. $75. Seminole Park, 2900 Third Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 7 p.m. Saturday. (727) 542-5333.

On our list

For our entire restaurant databse, click here.

Most entrees less than $10

Burger 21

Cuisine: American casual, Burgers, Sandwiches.

This upscale burger joint has a chef-driven menu and stylish look that looks to be the start of a small empire. The burgers come on tasty brioche buns with toppings in inventive combinations. And the burgers aren't just beef: In particular, try the shrimp po' boy version, with a hot chili slaw. There are shakes and floats to complete the retro experience. There are even condiments created specifically for sweet potato fries. Lunch and dinner, seven days a week. 9664 W Linebaugh Ave., Tampa. (813) 475-5921.

La V

Cuisine: Vegetarian, Vietnamese.

V is for Vietnamese, the stylish cafe proffering an expanded menu of the noodles, soups and banh mi sandwiches that made the lovely Thuy Le's 34th Street N spot a foodie destination. Le herself is a smiling presence in the dining room, where high ceilings and high spirits can make things noisy. With 60 varieties of smoothies and boba teas (those teas with the fat straws and balls of tapioca bobbing at the bottom) and fairly portable, herb-bright vermicelli bowls topped with lemongrass chicken, La V has had victory as a top takeout lunch spot for downtown workers. Prices are mostly under $10. 441 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 820-3500.

Pinky's Eatery

Cuisine: Breakfast or brunch, Sandwiches.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee (self-serve in mix-and-match mugs) and eavesdrop. South Tampa families, lovers in next-day, omelet-eating languor, UT academics — it feels like a hip, big-city breakfast oldtimer. It's frenetic and the wait can be a while, servers with their game-day faces whisking around plates of oatmeal pancakes and cafe con leches (exceptionally rich). The core of the menu is the frittata, an open-faced omelet studded with an array of meats, veggies and herbs. 3203 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa. (813) 831-9339.

Ricky P's Orleans Bistro

Cuisine: Breakfast or brunch, Cajun/Creole, Casual Dining, Soul food.

One foot in front of the other, that's how Rick Parsons has built his business. He started with a stall at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg — jambalaya and other NoLa lovelies — then leased a small space vacated by In Your Belly Deli on Fourth Street N. The menu expanded to include deli sandwiches, po'boys, drippy cochon de lait sandwiches and muffaletta. Then he added a second, equally humble location inside Bob Lee's Tire & Mobil Co. and most recently the old Savannah's location on Central Avenue. The 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. 1113 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 821-4061.

Most entrees $10 to $20

Cello's Charhouse

Cuisine: Steak house.

Susan Cello and Ellen Young's restaurant has been an ill-kept Safety Harbor secret since 1998. The building itself is certainly loud enough, its exterior given over to a faux-cubist mural featuring a cello, wine, bread and two ladies with crazy grapefruit bosoms. Then inside? It's like a rec room heavily garnished with Rosie the Riveter posters and other World War II memorabilia, the ceiling a neck-kink hazard of photo collages. There is no liquor license, so bring your own and Ellen will open it for you while walking you through the brief menu. In short, pick a protein, all of it purchased fresh that morning at the store and minimally messed with (not even salt and pepper) before being thrown on the grill and accompanied by a choice of sauce. With it comes a lot. Meals begin with a plate of toasted, seasoned flatbread triangles and a bowl of beer cheese soup topped with buttered popcorn, then a house salad and entree accompaniments like a duo of fresh cheese ravioli and a whole grilled carrot. 143 Seventh Ave. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 723-0909.

Ciccio's California Cuisine

Cuisine: California, Vegetarian.

Upper West Side roots, pump-you-up health trends and culinary imagination make the menu mostly Italian, with wild swings from crispy risotto cakes to Atkins-friendlier lettuce wraps. It's part of a restaurant group that includes the Lodge, The Lime and Daily Eats. 190 37th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 898-8226.

Edison food+drink lab

Cuisine: New American.

What has kept Jeannie Pierola's place lively since the start is exacting execution of exciting ideas. That might be a recent bone marrow and grilled bread appetizer with wild mushroom marmalade and fines herbes salad, or liquid nitrogen milkshakes, or glazed baby root vegetables in cardamom "soil" (in hip New York restaurants, "soils" are the new "foams"). Pierola and her team seem perennially brainstorming, tinkering with faddish techniques and trendy ingredients in an ever-changing menu. But it's never precious: It's a rollicking, comfortable place at jeans-and-T-shirts prices. 912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 254-7111.

Guppy's On the Beach

Cuisine: American upscale, Seafood upscale.

Fresh finfish, Caribbean fire, Southwestern flair and healthful ingredients make fun fusion in Margaritaville-by-the-Sea. Fresh fish gets uptown treatment with everything from papaya and sugarcane rum salsa and brandy sauces to potato crust. Trimmings are packed with fruits, herbs and grains. 1701 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach. (727) 593-2032.

Jackie's Bistro

Cuisine: Bistro, Breakfast or brunch, Mediterranean, New American.

Chef Jackie likes to please, with a little bit of sweetness and big-hearted portions, but always with an eye to what's healthy. She's big into dishes that go light on carbs and gluten but focus in on gutsy veggies and fresh gulf fish. She respects her classical roots (steak Diane, an escargot napoleon) but delights in comfort foods as well (fried green tomato BLT, shrimp and grits). Although this comfy, neighborhood, seafood-heavy, mid-priced New American concept feels intimate and welcoming, the restaurant is fairly large with a big, canopied sidewalk space and two main dining rooms, one tending to be given over to larger parties. Servers are personable and know the menu cold, and the wine list is moderately priced; with recently added "Martuni Lounge "serving natural vodkas. 338 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. (727) 320-6358.

Most entrees $20 or more

Texas de Brazil Brazilian Steakhouse

Cuisine: Latin American, Steak house.

The number of varieties of meat on sticks that will come to your plate — via a sword-like skewer — will be in the double digits. Try as many as you deem responsible, but don't miss a visit to the salad area, with a magazine-like spread of vegetables and imported meats and cheeses. Want to impress someone with a parade of protein? This is the place. Dinner only, seven days a week. 4112 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa. (813) 871-1400.

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