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Tampa Bay restaurant and bar openings: Tampa bakery Sweet Buns, Clearwater’s Tea Lounge

Tampa has also scored Old School Bar & Grill and another Tampa Pizza Company.
Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe has premiered in Tampa with savory and sweet Asian goodies. [MEAGHAN HABUDA  |  Times]
Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe has premiered in Tampa with savory and sweet Asian goodies. [MEAGHAN HABUDA | Times]
Published Nov. 19
Updated Nov. 19


Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe

Indulge your cravings for sweet and savory Asian goodies at Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe, located between Japanese eatery Ichiban and Chicken Salad Chick near the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus. The bakeshop with lots of cafe seating debuted earlier this month. According to its website, Sweet Buns has a flagship location in Gainesville and is owned and managed by the company behind Yummy House. There are a couple of routes you can take here: Pick up prepacked treats from the shelves or refrigerated cooler, or grab a plastic tray, line it with wax paper and choose pastries and breads from the two rows of bakery cases. Offerings include taro cookies; the almond cheese bun filled with sliced almonds, cheese and sweet butter spread; matcha mousse; the Nestle Roll filled with pork floss, hard-boiled egg and sliced ham; and milk tarts. Once you’re happy with your haul, check out at the counter, where coffee, tea and more grub (think noodle soups and rice combos) are available for purchase. 2788 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 898-8080.

Tea Lounge

This newly opened gathering place focuses on milk and fruit teas, which you can add boba to, and a Vietnamese dessert called che. Decide between more than 10 types of che, including the house special featuring pandan jelly, red tapioca, lotus seed, taro, coconut, mung bean, white Jell-O, boba and coconut milk. In addition to the added bonus of coffee and smoothies, bites such as wings and seafood pancakes are served. Tea Lounge shares its simple yet cozy digs with Ice Cream Bar, a newbie doing scoops of select ice cream flavors. 14100 U.S. 19 N, Suite 106, Clearwater. (727) 953-3439.

Tampa Pizza Company

Tampa Pizza Company took over the former space of South Tampa tequila and taco joint Guac with health-minded pizzeria classics. Launched on Nov. 4, the restaurant’s third outpost — its biggest yet — offers appetizers, salads, wings and sandwiches and wraps that cater to all dietary persuasions. But the main draw is personal, large and extra-large pies, among them inventive specialties like Bollywood (infused masala marinara, feta, marinated chicken, spinach, chili flakes) and a build-your-own option. Another highlight is the full bar pouring drafts, house cocktails and wines. Tampa Pizza Company, founded by restaurateurs Dave Burton and Ralph Santell, also operates in Westchase and downtown Tampa. 4110 Henderson Blvd., Tampa. (813) 443-1822.

Old School Bar & Grill

All blue and pink with indoor-outdoor appeal, Old School Bar & Grill has replaced the Bungalow along a busy South Tampa road. The menu lists much of the casual fare you probably like to munch on while drinking: items like Cuban egg rolls, a wagyu beef corn dog, the Fridays-only lobster roll, a signature double cheeseburger that’s veganizable and fried avocado tacos. There are usual suspects and local craft beers on tap, plus liquor and wine, to enjoy alongside the throwback soundtrack — Pat Benatar’s Treat Me Right and Peter Piper by Run-DMC were heard on a recent visit. You might even decide to make Old School your go-to spot to watch a game, as plenty of flat-screen TVs accompany its decor of license plates, records and other vintage memorabilia (ahem, Troll dolls). 2202 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.


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