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. State regulators have suspended the alcoholic beverage license for Tampa’s Pegasus Lounge after authorities say the nightclub violated Florida’s coronavirus closure order. [Courtesy of]
  2. The Hall at Midtown will open at Midtown Tampa in early 2021. [                                      |  Courtesy of the Vigor Group]
  3. A watermelon margarita is served at Tiki Docks, now open in St. Petersburg's Maximo Marina. [HELEN FREUND  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  4. People sit outside at Tampa's Meat Market, a restaurant at Hyde Park Village, on June 16. [IVY CEBALLO  |  Times]
  5. A customer enters the new Pickford's Counter in Tampa. The classic soda-shop restaurant was once Pickford's Sundries, where people went for pancakes, herbal medicine and perfumes. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  6. Italian dishes get a fast-casual spin at Oronzo Honest Italian, which opened in June in Tampa. [Photo courtesy of Jason Behnken]
  7. A trumpet mushroom gyro is served at Lucy's in St. Petersburg. The vegan restaurant opened in March in St. Pete's Grand Central District and shares a space with Valhalla Bakery. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  8. Gov. Ron DeSantis met with Zach and Christina Feinstein at their Dunedin restaurant The Black Pearl on Wednesday, July 29. [Courtesy of]
  9. Tuna tartare is served at Rome + Fig, a new restaurant opening in North Hyde Park this week. [Photo courtesy of Melissa Santell]
  10. Michelle Corvino, 30, prepares a plate at Bar@548 in St. Petersburg. A growing number of Tampa Bay area bars and breweries are reopening after applying for food service licenses. [JONAH HINEBAUGH  |  Times]
  11. An architectural rendering of Wild Child, a new restaurant opening in St. Pete's Grand Central District. [Courtesy of Rob Reinsmith]
  12. Yucatan Shrimp at Doc Ford's, at the St. Petersburg Pier District. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  13. Notes on the doors at Casa Tina Mexican restaurant informed people that the establishment had closed due to concern over the Coronavirus pandemic. Inside, the lights were out and the chairs were hung on the tables, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in Dunedin. The restaurant has since reopened for take out and dine in service. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  14. Stacey Green, 9, touches the sprinkles on her Belgian brownie flavored ice cream at Chill Bros Scoop Shop in Ybor City. [IVY CEBALLO  |  Times]
  15. Nocturnal Hospitality Group owners David Anderson and Lanfranco Pescante, right, at Mole y Abuela in March 2019 in Tampa. [Times (2019)]
  16. The inside dining area of Teak, which has a view of downtown St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  17. A look inside Saigon Blonde on Central, 265 Central Ave., on Friday, June 26, 2020 in St. Petersburg. Saigon Blonde will not be opening their doors for business later this afternoon to comply with the new regulations. Florida is suspending the drinking of alcohol at bars, according to a tweet from Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  18. The Greek Chick salad is pictured at Psomi, a new Greek restaurant in Tampa offering contactless curbside pickup as well as outdoor dining. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
  19. The Chattaway in St. Petersburg has temporarily closed after an employee at the restaurant tested positive for COVID-19. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  20. Italian restaurant Olivia in South Tampa has temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  21. Protestors lie on the ground Sunday evening on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg. [HELEN FREUND  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  22. The front entrance to Chief's Creole Cafe on 22nd Street South on June 9. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  23. The bar at Noble Crust in St. Petersburg, photographed in 2015. The restaurant has temporarily closed after an employee at the restaurant tested positive for COVID-19. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times (2015)]