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. Smoked fish dip is served with toasted bread, lemon and hot sauce at the new and revived Corner Club at 1502 E Sligh Ave. in Tampa. The beloved Seminole Heights dive bar closed down last year and has reopened under new ownership.
  2. Lingr, the highly anticipated new restaurant from chef Jeffrey Jew, will open for breakfast and lunch in mid-May at 400 Sixth St. S in St. Petersburg.
  3. St. Petersburg vegan restaurant Lucy's will not reopen, the owner said Monday. The restaurant, which opened at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last year, has been closed since March.
  4. Cabbage and chive dumplings are served at CORE, a vegan bistro and market in Safety Harbor.
  5. Tampaville Hot Chick'n burgers are served at 3 Dot Dash in Seminole Heights in Tampa. The restaurant, which specializes in vegan comfort food like chicken sandwiches and burgers, is helping to redefine the vegan scene in Tampa Bay.
  6. Sauvignon Wine Locker & American Trattoria will open in April in the 200 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
  7. St. Petersburg's Sophia's Cucina + Enoteca has closed.
  8. Willa's, a new neighborhood restaurant, is now open in Tampa's North Hyde Park. In the coming weeks, the owners will open Willa's Provision, a neighboring 12-seat cafe.
  9. A Saturn, a gin-based tiki cocktail, will be served at the new Burnt Ends Tiki Bar, a new tiki concept from the team behind Dr. BBQ in St. Petersburg's EDGE District. It opens March 20.
  10. Jessica Chiarito, 40, left, has a beer with her boyfriend Shaine Mathis, 29, while decked out in their St. Patrick’s Day outfits outside at Four Green Fields at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.  A year ago, Florida bars were shut down on St. Patrick's Day. This year, Tampa Bay Irish pubs are making up for lost time with block parties and all-day St. Paddy's Day events.
  11. Ferdian Jap, owner of Zukku Sushi, poses for a portrait at the restaurant's Armature Works location in Tampa. Jap recently announced a vaccination policy for his employees where workers who offer proof of getting the vaccine will receive eight hours of paid time off.
  12. Prohibition Kitchen and Tap, a new Southern-inspired gastropub, opened Tuesday at 1600 Main St. in Dunedin.
  13. Caddy's new Madeira Beach location opens March 10 at 14080 Gulf Boulevard.
  14. The Nest, a new cocktail lounge from the owners of Caracara, will open in Dunedin this month.
  15. Downtown takeout restaurant Nojaks has temporarily closed. The owners will open Supernatural Food & Wine, a sandwich and natural wine shop, later this month.
  16. The Brussels Sprout Melt at Pickford's Counter in Tampa features Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and a choice of Swiss or vegan cheese on toasted bread.
  17. Tara Simmons, a fine wine manager for Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits of Florida, poses for a portrait at Cru Cellars in Tampa. Simmons lost her sense of smell and taste after testing positive for COVID-19 in January. It's now been more than two months and her smell and taste still haven't fully returned. Like others in the food and wine industry who depend on using these senses, the loss has been "devastating," Simmons said.
  18. The event space and restaurant Iberian Rooster in downtown St. Petersburg will close at the end of the month.
  19. An architectural rendering for the second location of William Dean Chocolates, which will open later this year at Midtown Tampa.
  20. Chettinad chicken is served with fresh shredded coconut and aromatic spices along with basmati rice and garlic naan at Discovery Indian Cuisine in Palm Harbor.
  21. At Casa Santo Stefano in Ybor City guests can choose to dine in or opt for a Valentine's Day dinner to-go.
  22. Two Dads, a new restaurant in Gulfport, specializes in comfort food to-go.
  23. Similar to a large cinnamon bun, this king cake recipe from New Orleans chef Kelly Fields is easy to make and a delicious way to celebrate Mardi Gras at home.