1. Food

What's happening in food: Cuban Sandwich Festival, Mini Doughnut Factory closes in St. Petersburg

People gather at Centennial Park in Tampa for the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival. [Times (2015)]
People gather at Centennial Park in Tampa for the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival. [Times (2015)]
Published Apr. 1, 2019

TAMPA TREASURE: Cuban Sandwich Festival

This two-day celebration now in its eighth year pays homage to Tampa's most iconic handheld. In Ybor City, look for local and international vendors, beer, wine, live performances and lots of Cuban sandwiches. Things get started Saturday with a sandwich showdown for kids at Centro Asturiano de Tampa (1913 N Nebraska Ave.). Plus, organizers will attempt to build the largest Cubano in the world; their goal is 175 feet. On Sunday, nearly 25 competitors gather at Centennial Park (1800 E Eighth Ave.) to see who can whip up the best take on the sandwich. VIP tickets are available. 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free (food/drink additional).

READ MORE: Seven quintessential Cuban sandwiches in the Tampa Bay area

RAVE REVIEW: Thanks, Forbes

It seems the culinary magic we've got going on in Tampa Bay can't stay out of the national spotlight. And who's complaining? Forbes recently praised half a dozen places to eat and drink around St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach. In a recent article titled "Forget Miami: This Year, Discover St. Pete On Florida's Under-the-Radar West Coast," the business magazine gave a shout-out to the Reading Room, Cassis, Il Ritorno, Ché, Level 11 and Craft Kafé. A solid selection, indeed.

BITTERSWEET: Mini Doughnut Factory No. 2 closes

In other food news, Mini Doughnut Factory, whose future has been the subject of an ongoing legal battle, said goodbye to one of its two locations. The popular bakery known for bite-sized cake doughnuts announced Sunday that the outpost on St. Petersburg's Fourth Street is permanently closed. A phone call to Mini Doughnut Factory St. Pete, established in 2017, forwards to a voicemail message saying, in part: "Unfortunately, this location is no longer open for business as of March 25, 2019. We apologize for any inconvenience and will miss all of our friends in St. Pete." The bakery's flagship South Tampa location remains open.

ESPRESSO YOURSELF: Shufflin' Into the Market

Big Storm Brewing Co. is scheduled to welcome a project more than a year in the making, Big Storm Coffee Co., with a community launch party. Hosted at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, Shufflin' Into the Market invites java junkies to get a free taste of the Clearwater-based brewery's new coffee company at 1 p.m. Sunday. Those who can't hit up the party should visit the Big Storm taprooms in Clearwater and Odessa for 12-ounce bags of freshly roasted coffee, espresso drinks or original and nitro cold brews in 16-ounce cans. "We take great pride in roasting our own coffee beans," said Big Storm owner L.J. Govoni in a statement, "and we apply the same attention to quality, taste and customer satisfaction that have become the hallmark of our other brews." 559 Mirror Lake Drive N.

ALE YEAH: Brews With Attitude

The ninth annual Brews With Attitude features a sampling of 200-plus craft beers and ciders from more than 50 breweries, as well as food trucks, live music and hand-rolled cigars. 6 p.m. Tuesday. TPepin's Hospitality Centre, 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. $35-$45. (813) 367-0040.

CHARDON-HEEEY: The Rating Game

This seated wine seminar highlights vino that has earned an A (90 or better) rating from media outlets and critics. Bottles of highly ranked wines are also on sale. Call for reservations, which are appreciated. 7 p.m. Friday. Vintage Wine Cellars, 3629 Henderson Blvd., Tampa. $30. (813) 879-2931.


  1. Columbus, Ohio-based Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams plans to open two locations in Tampa this summer.
  2. New Orleans-based Dat Dog offers exotic sausages like alligator, duck and crawfish, along with multiple vegan options and more than 30 toppings. The chain is seeking franchisees to bring a location to Tampa Bay.
  3. The Cheesecake Factory will bring an iconic selection of more than 50 cheesecakes and desserts to Clearwater mall Westfield Countryside this year.
  4. The Shamrock Shake returns to stores nationwide today for the first time since 2017 as McDonald’s celebrates the 50th anniversary of the mint-flavored treat.
  5. Expect to see lots of traditional Mardi Gras masks like this during the annual Mardi Gras parade in downtown Dunedin on Feb. 22.
  6. After nearly four decades of operating a restaurant on Fourth Avenue in Ybor City, Cephas Gilbert has a new location. He now runs a juice hut inside Tequilas Ybor in Tampa.
  7. The Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival, which will return to Temple B'nai Israel in Clearwater on Sunday, has featured desserts like mini linzer tarts in the past.
  8. Plant City's Fancy Farms off County Line Road will host its annual U-pick event on Feb. 22.
  9. Blue crab chilau at West Ybor Barterhouse.
  10. Johnson Barbeque's brisket berry tacos, served as part of Florida Strawberry Restaurant Month this year.
  11. Meatballs with fennel and lentils
  12. Strawberry chocolate tea cakes