In Tampa Heights, M.Bird just became the latest addition to Armature Works. The popular mixed-use building opened its second-floor rooftop bar and lounge to the public on Tuesday night, following a preview for press and a lively bunch of social media influencers.
M.Bird — all greenery, pops of color and natural wood located at 1903 Market St. — is the sophisticated, mod-deco brainchild of a few people. According to Armature Works co-owner Taryn Bruck, the restaurant company behind Steelbach and local eateries like Boca and Ciro's Speakeasy & Supper Club joined forces with Ichicoro chef and partner Noel Cruz to launch the new rooftop as a joint effort.
Cruz described their collaboration as "worlds colliding in the best way."
The team tapped a New York design firm called Dutch East, which also dreamed up the look of St. Petersburg's Ichicoro Ane, to make M.Bird feel like a different world compared to the rest of Armature Works, including the Heights Public Market food hall on the first level.
"We always knew we wanted to do a rooftop bar because that is one thing that was really missing in Tampa. We don't have a lot of those," Bruck said. "There are a few that are doing great, but we just wanted to be able to add to that."
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Tropical craft cocktails drive the menu of M.Bird. Playfully named options include I Left My Wallet at La Segunda (Smith & Cross rum, Gosling's black rum, guava-coconut cream, pineapple, lemon, orgeat) and Afterthot (Reyka vodka, Montenegro, Aperol, lemon, kiwi compound, prosecco), plus punch-style "social intoxicants" that accommodate three to six patrons.
"We wanted to take the inspiration of a classic tiki bar, remove all the kitschiness of it and show the fresh ingredients," said beverage director Jay Wells. "These are great cocktails that are spirit-forward, but still refreshing and fun."
The rooftop carries a wide variety of rums from Central America and beyond, too, alongside other sugarcane-based spirits fit for sipping. There's even VIP bottle service. Fancy.
As for the food, executive chef Jessica Frazier's shareable small plates with Caribbean and continental flair emphasize seasonality. During the preview, guests sampled dishes such as vaca frita tostones, panzanella, warm marinated olives, steak tartare and jerk chicken egg rolls.
"So, you know, if you have four or five people sitting there, you can order four or five things and be able to eat it all," Bruck said.
Wells added: "We were going for kind of high-brow bar food."
Guests looking to admire the sunset or Tampa skyline won't be disappointed. The roughly 200 seats at M.Bird, which will use part of its 6,000 square feet to host live DJs, offer stunning views of both.
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Bruck said the Stone's Throw waterfront pavilion, underway closer the Hillsborough River, will house the next Armature Works restaurant. What is essentially an elevated seafood shack plans to focus on clear spirits — vodka, gin and tequila — and drafts of classic American lagers, in addition to grub like east and west coast oysters.
An opening date for that restaurant hasn't been finalized, but Bruck said she, Wells and the rest of the gang are happy about the debut of M.Bird.
"Come have fun with us," Wells said.
Contact Meaghan Habuda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @meghabuda.
If you go
Nestled on the west side of Armature Works atop Oak & Ola, M.Bird operates 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and noon to midnight Sunday. Take the stairs or elevator to get there.
Reservations for six or more guests are required, while bar seating is first come, first served. Large groups and private events can also rent out sections of the rooftop (or the whole thing) as needed.