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Helen Freund - Times Food Critic

Times Food Critic

I write about food and restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. When I’m not writing about food or restaurants I’m probably talking about food or restaurants, or, you know, actually eating food at restaurants. I was never a picky eater, and never had a chance to be: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, saying ‘no’ to things like geoduck sashimi or fiddlehead fern pesto just wasn’t cool. Instead, I tried everything, and have ever since. I studied journalism at the University of Washington and cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I most recently was the restaurant critic and dining editor of Gambit Weekly in New Orleans - another place where people love to eat and drink. When I’m not eating, I’m probably scuba diving and tagging along with spearfishers, hoping they’ll spear some dinner for me.

  1. Tequila-based cocktails at Red Mesa Cantina, the downtown offshoot at Red Mesa, which just got its own liquor license.
    For more than 20 years, Red Mesa’s original Fourth Street location just served beer and wine — even in the margaritas.
  2. The Lucky Dill in Palm Harbor is the last remaining restaurant with the brand's name.
    The Palm Harbor original remains the only Lucky Dill Deli run by the Mitow family.
  3. Roast pork and yellow rice at La Teresita.
    Here are some of our favorite bites around Tampa Bay this month.
  4. Various tacos at Shaker & Peel: From bottom, clockwise: Tampa Hot Chicken, Flower Power and the Angry Pig.
    This new spot peddles in tacos, but don’t go in expecting al pastor. | Restaurant review
  5. People wander around the Tampa Heights Market at Armature Works at lunchtime on February 22, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The 22,000-square-foot market features 14 vendors, including second locations for longtime restauranteurs and several new concepts.
    A craft brewery boom and influx of fast-casual concepts and food halls have altered the Tampa Bay dining landscape
  6. Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg has an assortment of local seafood as well as fish from around the world.
    Recipes and tips for making your own seven-course fish meal.
  7. Rocca’s mozzarella cart is a showstopper. Chef Bryce Bonsack got the idea while working at a restaurant in Brooklyn. Rebecca Miles creates a dish on the mozzarella cart on Thursday, December 12, 2019.
    Tableside mozzarella, fresh ingredients and elevated Italian classics make for culinary splendor. | Restaurant review
  8. The gingerbread latte at Intermezzo Coffee.
    From a Thai temple to a French bistro, here are some of our favorite bites this month.
  9. Lingr on 6th St., coming to St. Petersburg in spring 2020, marks the first solo culinary project for local chef and 'Top Chef' alum Jeffrey Jew.
    The former Stillwaters Tavern and BellaBrava chef will launch his first solo project in 2020.
  10. Arugula with proscuitto and burrata is on the menu at Soul Sicilian Fusion located in downtown  Clearwater, Florida on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.
    The downtown Clearwater restaurant hews closely to simple Italian classics. | Restaurant review