Helen Freund - Food and Dining Critic

Food and Dining 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. Willa's, a new neighborhood restaurant in North Hyde Park, is one of Tampa's hottest new restaurants to open this year.
  2. Red Tide fish kills have been heavy near the St. Pete Pier, where restaurants like Doc Ford's are faced with customers increasingly weary about waterfront dining.
  3. A seafood case filled with grouper, snapper and tile fish at Wild Seafood at Johns Pass Boardwalk in Madeira Beach. Most of the local fish sold in restaurants and seafood markets is fished far offshore and safe to eat despite the ongoing Red Tide, experts say.
  4. A Jungle Prada burger is served at Kuba Cocina in St. Pete Beach, one of several hot new restaurant openings this year.
  5. Slow-cooked oxtail with rice and peas and sweet plantains is served at Irie Mon Jamaican Grill, one of several restaurants at 22 South, the new food hall inside the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg.
  6. El pan cubano recién horneado llegará a St. Pete este otoño cuando la icónica panadería La Segunda abra en 4th Street N.
  7. Armature Works bakery Bake'n Babes is featuring a Stanley Cup Works shake to celebrate the Tampa Bay Lightning during the boat parade on Monday.
  8. Fresh-baked Cuban bread is coming to St. Petersburg this fall when iconic Tampa Bay bakery La Segunda opens on 4th Street N.
  9. St. Petersburg Puerto Rican restaurant WEPA has closed permanently.
  10. John Pack, 52, fishes from the Dunedin Causeway following Tropical Storm Elsa Wednesday.
  11. People wait in line outside of Coney Island Sandwich Shop, while (center) Alan Rosetti sits and talks with owner Hank Barlas during the 90th anniversary celebration on Saturday November 19, 2016. The restaurant has been closed since March, but Barlas — now 85 — says he still hopes to reopen his iconic St. Petersburg restaurant.
  12. Octopus has surged in popularity in recent years and can now be found on menus all over the Tampa Bay area, including a version shown above, served at Fado, a new Portuguese restaurant in St. Petersburg.
  13. Naked Farmer, a Tampa Bay-based fast-casual restaurant, has plans to expand across the state with up to 20 locations planned within the next three to four years.
  14. Mee ae Wolney poses in front of her restaurant Anju in St. Petersburg where Korean-fried chicken wings are the speciality. Wolney said the price for chicken — and chicken wings in particular — has more than doubled since last year, forcing her to raise some of her prices at the restaurant. It's a familiar conundrum many restaurant owners are facing right now: raise their costs for customers or sweat the margin crunch.
  15. Paulina Gervasi runs the popular popup Le Clementine Bakeshop and will be selling her fresh-baked croissants at Pete’s Bagels when it opens next month in St. Petersburg's Grand Central District.
  16. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the grand opening of Shake Shack at Midtown Tampa on Monday, June 7, 2021.
  17. Melody Maria launched Wine on Wheels in late 2018. The base of the business is a 1962 Airstream trailer.
  18. Fado, a new restaurant in St. Petersburg, serves traditional Portuguese fare like this polvo a lagareiro, a broiled octopus dish served with olive oil-drizzled vegetables and potatoes.
  19. Kuba Cocina, from chef Felicia Lacalle, is now open in St. Pete Beach.
  20. Il Ritorno's David Benstock beat Bobby Flay on the celebrity chef's culinary competition show Thursday evening.
  21. The new Cru Cellars opened last week in the Westshore Marina District in Tampa. Billed as a "wine restaurant," Cru Westshore Marina is currently serving coffee and pastries in the morning and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays, with eventual plans to add brunch and lunch.
  22. Elijah and Ashley Durham run the Tarpon Springs food truck SOL Burger. They are suing the city over what they say is an unconstitutional ban prohibiting them from operating in some busy downtown areas.
  23. Jessica Glockson, 31, delivers beers to customers at The Galley in St. Petersburg on Saturday, May 15. The downtown St. Petersburg bar and restaurant is one of several businesses in the Tampa Bay area to drop their mask requirements for employees and customers following last week's announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.