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Tampa Bay restaurant and bar openings: Nikkei, Tiki Tavern

Water Oak has also launched, bringing a steak and seafood joint to Safety Harbor.
The passion fruit sashimi salmon at Peruvian Japanese fusion restaurant Nikkei, part of the Tampa Premium Outlets in Lutz. [MEAGHAN HABUDA  |  Times]
The passion fruit sashimi salmon at Peruvian Japanese fusion restaurant Nikkei, part of the Tampa Premium Outlets in Lutz. [MEAGHAN HABUDA | Times]
Published Jan. 8



An interesting mashup drives Nikkei. Part of the Tampa Premium Outlets near Converse and Under Armour, the restaurant churns out Japanese and Peruvian fusion fare from an outdoor kiosk with glass windows that allow you to watch the staff prepare your order. Items like the olive octopus special roll with asparagus, cucumber, avocado and Peruvian olive mayo and the passion fruit sashimi salmon with mango pico de gallo and crispy wonton strings accompany classics like ceviche, yucca fries and gyoza. Eat at the Nikkei counter or one of its few tables. 2300 Grand Cypress Drive, Lutz. (785) 498-5028.

The Tiki Tavern

Safety Harbor has welcomed the Tiki Tavern, a sports bar with patio seating and a beachy attitude. Craft cocktails and a menu of small plates, flatbreads, salads, burgers and wraps, wings and tacos are the main draw, as are several HD TV screens. According to the website, signature options on the food side include the Hattrick Trip Dip, showcasing artichoke, spinach, smoked Gouda beer cheese and buffalo chicken, and the Bolt, pulled green chili pork, pepper jack and whiskey barbecue sauce on chicken breast or a burger. Live music is also a regular feature. 201 Main St., Suite 101, Safety Harbor. (727) 843-8454.

Water Oak

Neighbors with the Tiki Tavern, this newly opened, indoor-outdoor joint focuses on steak and seafood. Water Oak does coconut green curry mussels, seared ribeye carpaccio and broiled jalapenos, among other starters, that unite with bigger bites such as New York strip, pasta and grain dishes and crab-crusted grouper. Four kinds of “sticky rice buns,” served with pickled vegetables, cucumber and Sriracha aioli, complete the lineup, alongside soups, salads, sliders and raw bar offerings. Pair it all with beer, specialty cocktails or wine. 201 Main St., Suite 100, Safety Harbor. (727) 286-6919.


Pair O’ Dice Brewing Co.

On Dec. 27, wife-and-husband founders Julia and Ken Rosenthal took to Facebook to announce the closure of Pair O’ Dice Brewing Co. The Clearwater brewery opened in 2013 and celebrated its sixth anniversary a few months ago. The last day for its taproom at 4400 118th Ave. N was Dec. 29. “What we built nearly 7 years ago now was a dream based on the breweries we fell in love with in California. It was perfect for distribution, which was our focus, and served well as a tap room for the first few years. In 2016 all that changed. Breweries became bars and the rate of brewery openings in Tampa Bay became greater than the rate of consumer adoption of craft beer. Our location became a huge hindrance at that point and, as agile as we tried to be, that was the one thing we could not change. ... Today we must admit that we have run out of resources and it’s time to move on,” their Facebook post read. Pair O’ Dice has won six Best Florida Beer Championship medals since its inception. The brewery was known for hoppy IPAs and using Florida ingredients in beers such as Lucky Lucy Strawberry Blonde and Clearwater Honey Cream. The Rosenthals’ post went on to say they’re “looking forward to a less stressful life” and to thank patrons for their support: “We enjoyed being a part of your lives and we hope to be able to continue that on the other side of the bar.”


Dwntn Social

A “coming soon” banner for this newcomer has appeared near the University of Tampa on the former Blue Moon Trading Company space. It says Dwntwn Social will offer coffee, smoothies, tea, acai bowls and more. 1000 W Kennedy Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa.


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  4. Kumquats in Dade City. [Times (2002)]
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  5. Beverage manager for the Tampa Yacht and Country Club, Kasia Nowakowska prepares a Milk Punch cocktail, the club's signature drink for Gasparilla. Milk Punch contains brandy, simple syrup, heavy cream, milk and is garnished with nutmeg. Nowakowska says the club will make more than 120 gallons of Milk Punch for the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates on Jan. 25 -- and most of it will be consumed by noon prior to the invasion. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
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  10. Kumquats that are yet to be harvested in the groves at Kumquat Growers, Inc. in Dade City. The local agriculture business provides fruit for the annual Kumquat Festival to be held Jan. 25 in downtown Dade City. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
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