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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. Since last March, St. Petersburg's Bandit Coffee Co. has stayed closed to walk-in traffic. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the owners of the popular cafe decided to reinvent their business model, pivoting instead to an online ordering system with contactless payment and pickup.
  2. Noel Cruz will open Gangchu in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood by the end of January. The restaurant is one of six new concepts the local chef and restaurateur has planned for 2021.
  3. The lobster caprese at Paul's Landing in St. Petersburg is one of our food critic's best bites for January.
  4. The Seahorse Restaurant in Pass-a-Grille, pictured here in 2013, has reopened.
  5. Clockwise from bottom, Demetrius Fletcher, 15, along with his sister Ka'Mya Fletcher, 16, mother, Crystal Norals, 34, sister Rosie Montgomery, 6, and cat King pose for a photo Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 at their home in New Port Richey.
  6. St. Petersburg restaurant Ceviche will close its current location at the end of service on Jan. 9. The Spanish tapas restaurant and bar will relocate to the space occupied by The Moon Under Water at 332 Beach Dr. NE in March.
  7. 7th + Grove South, from the owners of Ybor City restaurant 7th + Grove, will open at Tampa's Sparkman Wharf in January.
  8. Raw oysters and a charcuterie board are served at The Urban Stillhouse in St. Petersburg, one of 25 notable newcomers to the Tampa Bay restaurant scene in 2020.
  9. Frenched lamb chops are served at Donovan's Modern American Meatery, now open inside Riverview's Winthrop Town Centre.
  10. Two Graces, a new and mostly outdoor restaurant, will open in the former Reading Room space in St. Petersburg in early 2021.
  11. South Tampa's Boca has permanently closed. Earlier this year, the restaurant's owners closed the Riverview location inside the Winthrop Town Centre, too.
  12. Iconic Tampa Irish tavern Four Green Fields will close its original location on Platt Street on Dec. 12.
  13. Southern Ybor City restaurant 7th and Grove is one of 37 Tampa Bay restaurants included in the Road to Gameday Restaurant Week, which kicks off Dec. 4 and seeks to highlight diverse and minority-owned restaurants in the area.
  14. Our foodie gift guide for shopping local this holiday season includes gift boxes sold at Gracie Pasta & Provisions, with locations in Pass-a-Grille and St. Petersburg.
  15. Dec. 2, 2020• Bars & Breweries
    Tampa's new signature cocktail is a boozy spin on cafe con leche.
  16. The Crumb Factory, a new bakery specializing in artisan-style breads, will open early next year in St. Petersburg.
  17. Julie Beach of St. Petersburg holds a framed photograph of her niece, Julianna Raymond, holding a photo of her mother, Amanda Raymond. Beach lost her sister to suicide in 2016. She took over the care of Amanda's children, Julianna, 19, and Carlton, 12, while pursuing a post-graduate degree in Florida studies.
  18. Buddy Brew Coffee is opening a new location in St. Petersburg on 4th Street North.
  19. The Southern Bird sandwich is served at Nash's Hot Chicken in St. Petersburg. The food truck will close at the end of this month and move into a nearby brick-and-mortar location in the EDGE District.
  20. Casarecce Bolognese is served on the dinner menu at Casa Santo Stefano, Richard Gonzmart's new Sicilian restaurant in Ybor City.
  21. Deviled Pig in Tampa is selling whole smoked turkeys for takeout this Thanksgiving.
  22. The Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg is returning Nov. 14, the first time the event has been held since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. New guidelines include mandatory masks for all vendors and market patrons.
  23. The Mama Olivia pizza at Jack Pallino's in Dunedin is topped with soppressatta, braised fennel and olives.