1. Food

Tampa Bay restaurant and bar openings: Dive into Mr. and Mrs. Crab in Brandon, Big Ray's Fish Camp on the Riverwalk

Taking over the old Square 1 Burgers and Bar space, Mr. and Mrs. Crab formally launched in Brandon on July 28. [Photo by Chris Fasick]
Published Aug. 12


Mr. and Mrs. Crab

This growing casual seafood restaurant celebrated its grand opening in Brandon last month where Square 1 Burgers and Bar previously operated. Mr. and Mrs. Crab fuses Szechuan and Cajun flavors into everything from red shrimp and lobster to crawfish and blue crab in a nautical setting. Here, building a seafood combination with your desired spice level and signature sauce is the best way to get messy. Your order is then weighed and served in plastic steam bags with corn and potato — eat-with-your-hands style. According to the restaurant's website, gloves and bibs are provided upon request. Other dishes include hush puppies and chicken wings, plus baskets of oysters, catfish and various fried delights. Operating locally in Pinellas Park and Bradenton with an additional location in Cape Coral, Mr. and Mrs. Crab aims to expand to 1251 E Fowler Ave. and 4426 W Gandy Blvd. in Tampa, plus Sunset Point 19 in Clearwater. Weingarten Realty announced in a news release last week that the restaurant has leased 6,000 square feet at the shopping center, where it's expected to join tenants like Sprouts Farmers Market in the first quarter of 2020. 2042 Badlands Drive, Brandon. (813) 654-8999.

Big Ray's Fish Camp

The second Big Ray's Fish Camp made a splash next to the Tampa Convention Center on Friday. Launched by chef-owner Raymond "Nick" Cruz in 2015, this beloved Ballast Point seafood shack known for making a mean grouper sandwich has brought its no-frills fare to the Riverwalk, hanging out with 360-degree bar the Sail and extra seating and shade at the new Sail Plaza. Lobster corn dogs, conch fritters, grouper nuggets and shrimp po' boys are highlights. As for the Sail Plaza grand opening on Aug. 22, look forward to drink specials, live music and yard games. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa.

Cousins Maine Lobster

Earlier this month, franchise owners Ricardo and Heidi Varona introduced the region to the west coast of Florida's first Cousins Maine Lobster restaurant. You might recognize the food truck-turned-fast-casual chain from its appearance on hit ABC show Shark Tank in 2012, when cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac made a deal with series star Barbara Corcoran. Now, according to a news release, Cousins Maine Lobster is one of the five most successful Shark Tank ventures to date. Featuring mobile kitchens (the Sunshine State has three) and brick-and-mortar restaurants across the United States and Taiwan, the chain specializes in a menu that embraces the taste of New England. Tail and tots, rolls, grilled cheese and tacos are a few dishes showcasing wild-caught, sustainably harvested Maine lobster. 309 Coronado Drive, Suite B, Clearwater Beach. (727) 275-2345.

Mr. Penguin

Mr. Penguin recently started fulfilling New Tampa cravings for frozen desserts with a second shop. The outpost slings gelati and soft-serve ice cream, along with Italian ice in flavors that include salted caramel, lemon, root beer, cherry and cookie butter. Sugar- and dairy-free options complete the crowd-pleasing array. Hyde Park houses the flagship Mr. Penguin, which opened in 2014 and makes Italian ice and ice cream daily for the New Tampa shop. 18089 Highwoods Preserve Parkway, Tampa. (813) 252-7625.

RELATED STORY: Mr. Penguin opens New Tampa location

Four Stacks Brewing Company

Apollo Beach's first craft brewery, established in 2014, has expanded to the Riverview 14 retail center. Neighbors with Features Gastropub inside the GDX theater and a Zaxby's, Four Stacks Brewing Company pours house favorites like classic American blonde ale Lou Dog and the chocolate coffee porter at this second location that's just as cozy as the original. There's also local and regional guest taps, wine and cider. Live music takes over the brewery every Friday, and Zaxby's and Features Gastropub even provide free delivery to patrons in need of some grub. 10656 E Bay Road, Gibsonton.

Plaza Mexico

This stylish Mexican restaurant matches lunch and dinner go-tos such as tortas, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and tacos with an extensive selection of chicken, seafood, steak and vegetarian dishes. Three Amigos (carnitas cooked in green sauce, chile relleno and steak cooked in red sauce served with beans, rice and tortillas) and sincronizada (a grilled tortilla sandwich stuffed with chicken, cheese, onions, chopped avocado and sliced jalapeno and served with rice) are among the Plaza Mexico specialties. You can sip signature and customizable margaritas, too. 38361 County Road 54 E, Zephyrhills. (813) 355-3627.


Cajun Cafe on the Bayou

After 23 years at 8101 Park Blvd. N, Cajun Cafe on the Bayou will offer its last pints and Louisiana eats there on Sunday. The popular indoor-outdoor Pinellas Park restaurant, whose charming waterfront digs along Cross Bayou hosted many epic craft beer festivals and other annual celebrations, announced the closure through Facebook last month. "After 23 years on the bayou, we are leaving not by choice and through no fault of our own," reads the July 12 post on Cajun Cafe on the Bayou's page. "Even though our new place will have many advantages, it's hard for us to leave this beautiful old fishing camp by the water. Circumstances beyond our control are leaving us without the choice to stay." The good news is that the restaurant will remain in the area, with plans to reopen at 8260 66th St. N in September. (727) 546-6732.


The Liquid Garage Co.

This brewery and taproom hopes to premiere with craft beer and soda and a menu of low-sulphite wines from Clearwater winery Aspirations in the fall. According to the Liquid Garage Co. website, head brewer Jeffery Ashline has spent years studying zymology and developing his own recipes, and will carry something for everyone, appealing to both traditional and modern tastes. Brews featured on the site include the juicy Citranormous IPA and Time of the Saison, a cucumber watermelon saison. 1306 Seven Springs Blvd., New Port Richey. (727) 228-0615.

Karma Juice Bar and Eatery

Karma Juice Bar and Eatery signage has arrived in a third Pinellas County locale: downtown Safety Harbor. The speedy joint, which focuses on acai bowls, cold-pressed juice, smoothies and other bites, will introduce its health-minded goodness to the new mixed-use development where Tiki Tavern is also coming along. In 2015, downtown St. Petersburg scored the first Karma Juice Bar and Eatery (which experienced a fire July 4 and is temporarily closed for renovations), then Clearwater nabbed the second in 2017. 201 Main St., Safety Harbor.


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