Thursday, December 14, 2017
Restaurant News

Dining Planner: Where to eat around St. Pete Pride, dining out to help Orlando

Dine Out: For Orlando

To help victims and their families in the aftermath of the shooting in Orlando, Florida's hospitality industry lends its support by hosting a statewide event June 30. Led by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association with Visit Florida, Dine Out for Orlando United will be a day for Florida restaurants and their guests to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the tragedy.

Guests across the state are encouraged to dine at participating restaurants and/or choose to make a direct donation. Employees can work a shift, choose to volunteer their time or donate a portion of tips. Businesses can join the list of participants and help promote, organize and donate.

For Tampa Bay diners, just eat at participating restaurants.

Here's how Tampa Bay restaurants can get involved:

• Donate a portion of total sales

• Collect donations received from guests and staff

• Donate a portion of total profits

• Make a donation for every sale of a specific item

• Identify a set donation amount

All proceeds raised will be donated to the OneOrlando Fund, designed to provide a way to respond to the needs of the local community, now and in the future. For restaurants interested in participating, contact Dan Murphy at [email protected] For more information and a list of participating restaurants, frla.org/dine-out-orlando.

St. Pete Pride: Provisions

This weekend's St. Pete Pride parade route runs along Central Avenue from 30th to 22nd Street. My prediction: Maybe before or maybe after, you're going to get hungry. Here are my picks for post-Pride comestibles along the route.

Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria

Pom Moongauklang is a sandwich virtuoso in Orlando. Her second location opened in St. Pete not long ago, capitalizing on the flagship's reputation for culinary chutzpah in sandwich form. Take the Mama Ling Ling's Thanksgiving, a turkey-mashed potato-stuffing-etc. concoction given sass by a ginger cranberry chutney, and jaw-droppers like the Spicy Elvis with bacon, banana, peanut butter and cayenne-fueled jelly. Then add in a menu of hot and iced, black and herbal, milk and green teas. (2950 Central Ave., (727) 873-6992)

Engine Rose

It's more outdoors than in. There is a tiny indoor dining room (mostly what you walk through to get to the restrooms), a shiny silver Airstream that houses the kitchen, a lovely covered bar with a phalanx of flat-screen televisions above it, and then a bunch of umbrella-covered tables on an outdoor deck surrounded by wooden planters bristling with native Florida plants. Take a seat out there and start ordering: Definitely going to want the tater tots and the fried green beans, but really, you're here for the burgers. It's Angus beef, not overworked or super tight and with a nice coarse-ish grind so there's some meaty tooth resistance to the chew. (2901 Central Ave.; (727) 498-8951)

Casita Taqueria

The charming space in lively Grand Central has a lovely front porch studded with picnic tables. The menu is anchored by nine kinds of fillings for tacos, which can also form the protein action in a sandwich (torta), rice bowl or salad. Order at the counter and grab a seat; your paper bag of chips and plastic ramekins of salsa and guac will find you, along with your plastic tray crowded with taco baskets. Three tacos is a hefty meal, the barbacoa, camarones and pollo verde making a nice juxtaposition of flavors. (2663 Central Ave.; (727) 498-8749)

Urban Comfort

Andy Salyards is a busy man. He's got Urban Brew and BBQ down the way, Urban Provisions nearby and Urban Creamery closer to downtown. This one is set in a 1950s-era gas station and marries comfort food and housemade craft beer. The coin of the realm here is very solid fried chicken, chicken pot pies (there's a veg version, too), and quite excellent fried green tomatoes. Oh, and there's shuffleboard, four courts funded by a Kickstarter campaign. (2601 Central Ave.; (727) 623-9823)

Queens Head

I've been a fan of Darren Conner and Paul Smith's adorable, quirky Kenwood original since it debuted. The bathrooms are lavishly collaged with bawdy British tabloid clippings (wow, that's a lot of sturdy brassieres), and the decor features ornate wallpaper, a twinkly jamboree of chandeliers and sconces, and deep slate-colored paint that I wish I were bold enough to copycat. Top offering may still be the hot, crispy, salted chickpeas dusted with smoky pimenton, but there's also a mighty fine burger accessorized with truffle fries, as well as British pub staples like shepherd's pie and chicken curry. (2501 Central Ave.; (727) 498-8584)

     
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