DOWNTOWN — Felicia Lacalle says cuban cooking is in her blood as she traditionally learned from her mother growing up.
Since then she has perfected her craft finding ways to recreate classic dishes with a modern twist and now she aims to change the Cuban food scene in Tampa at her new restaurant Hemingway's, which recently opened at Armature Works.
Lacalle, often referred to as Chef "Phe," says the Cuban food scene is not what it used to be and it's been her goal to bring it back with her "soul food" spin on traditional Cuban classics.
She adds her own special sauce to the traditional Cuban sandwich or the "Hemingway Cuban," which comes with house-roasted pork, salami, jamon serrano, swiss cheese, and house-made pickles on Segunda bakery Cuban bread. She also has other unique offerings like guava and cream cheese empanadas, or the tostones rellenos stuffed with melted muenster cheese, red wine sofrito, braised ropa vieja and a spicy saffron aioli.
"I wanted somewhere that was modern and hip but yet serves food that gave you that feeling of eating at your grandma's house," Lacalle said.
"You taste something that reminds you of your mom's cooking — a soulful experience."
Hemingway's sets itself apart by not only modernizing traditional Cuban food, but going back to the basics and preparing everything from its desserts, dishes, vinaigrettes, sofritos and aiolis the old-fashioned way — fresh from scratch.
"As chefs we want to get so creative that we tend to lose the core and the foundation of what cooking was built on and that was being simplistic in your ingredients and making everything fresh," Lacalle said.
Diners can build their own Cuban bowl and other popular dishes include the chicharrones, Cuban coleslaw, the Ultimate Steak sandwich "El Ultimo," and the Cuban Salchipapa with yucca fries, shredded pork, melted cheese, chopped avocado, crispy onions, aioli duo and fresh chopped cilantro.
Hemingway's also offers wine and beer including their own brand, the Hemingway Blonde Ale which is its top-seller, and they host happy hour from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday offering 30 percent off sangrias.
Hemingway's operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m on Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and is located in the Heights Public Market within Armature Works at 1910 Ola Ave.
Hemingway's hopes to expand and open locations in St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and eventually venture off outside of Florida.
For more information visit hemingwaystpa.com or call (813) 435-6482.
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