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. Chad Noce stands outside the Don Cesar Hotel, where he used to work. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  2. Ke'Lana Brown stands outside 7th + Grove in Ybor City. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  3. Jessica Williams outside Sea Worthy Fish + Bar in Tierra Verde. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
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  5. Matt Villeneuve, 43, stands outside of Bern's Steak House in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  6. Vickie Moran sits outside at Green Bench Brewing Co. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  7. Michael Wojtowicz sits at Fermented Biergarten in Tampa's Sparkman Wharf. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  8. Abby McAuley, 10, continues the practice of drawing inspirational quotes using chalk on her driveway on May 19, 2020, in Spring Hill. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  9. Benjamin Nichols, owner of de Bine Brewing Company, marks a line on the floor for social distancing on May 18 as he prepares to reopen. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  10. A collage of photos of Tampa Bay restaurant and bar workers who lost their jobs during the statewide shutdown. Clockwise from top left: Ke’Lana Brown, Michael Wojtowicz, Chad Noce, Matt Villeneuve, Vickie Moran, Jessica Williams [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  11. Cafe Ponte, Chris and Michelle Ponte's celebrated Clearwater restaurant, has closed for good. [Times (2019)]
  12. A masked server takes care of diners outside of Parkshore Grill, Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, Monday, May 4, 2020. The business had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The business reopened Monday.  [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  13. Dawn Sousa, 48, and her 13-year-old daughter, Makenna, visit the The Florida Aquarium on Mother's Day.  The Tampa aquarium is among the first aquariums to reopen in the country following widespread shutdowns caused by COVID-19. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
  14. Jake Zunac works the lunch shift at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on Monday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  15. Naomi Mack, 33, a server at Daily Eats delivers menus to patrons Monday, May 4, 2020 in Tampa. Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered that restaurants can open at 25 percent capacity starting Monday. [CHRIS URSO      |  Times]
  16. Gertrude "Gert" Laxer and her husband, Bern, at their wedding in 1950. [Courtesy of the Laxer family]
  17. Manager Caitlin Blalock at the Maple Street Biscuit Company. Blalock said the restaurant will resume sitting diners inside at limited capacity starting next week, and employees will be wearing gloves and masks. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  18. Bartender Tate Turner fills a "pandemic crowler" with craft beer at St. Pete Brewing Co. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
  19. Gertrude "Gert" Laxer has died. She and her husband Bern opened Bern's Steak House. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  20. Brew D Licious owner Brigitte Whitaker chats with a customer in 2014. Whitaker closed her Central Avenue business permanently this month. [Tampa Bay Times]
  21. Gator's Dockside in Tampa announced on social media it has closed. [Courtesy of Facebook]
  22. Rob Reinsmith gives his 5-year-old son Jackson the first taste of the chicken he fried up for a kid-friendly gumbo while cooking at home for his family in St. Petersburg this month. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  23. The team behind Rooster and the Till have launched NMM-N-OUT Burger, a casual burger concept at their Seminole Heights spot Nebraska Mini-Mart. [Courtesy of Skyler June]
  24. Braford cows graze in a beef cattle pasture at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, Fla. [TYLER JONES  |  Photo courtesy UF/IFAS]