The signature restaurant at Hotel Alba, the newly debuted hotel in Tampa's West Shore Business District, stays true to its roots with innovative dishes and drinks inspired by Florida culinary traditions and flavors. Hotel guests and the public can order breakfast, lunch and dinner in an open-air setting. And yes, there's a Cuban sandwich on the menu. "Tampa is a hip, cultural hub for amazing food and authentic culture, and we're thrilled to bring the Hotel Alba concept into that mix," said general manager Donovan Stephens in a statement. "What we have here is truly one of a kind." Hotel Alba, which also features local coffee, tea and light grub at the to-go lobby cafe Buffalo Bayou, is the first Tapestry Collection hotel in the state. 5303 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 289-1950. tapestrycollection3.hilton.com.
A late-night kava bar took over the downtown Tampa space formerly home to quaint java joint Indigo. Kava is a drink made with the root of a plant from the South Pacific. With four additional locations in southwest Florida, Kava Culture serves as a chill gathering place for pours of organic kava, kratom, coffee and tea, as well as live music. 514 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 999-1179. kavaculture.com.
Wall St. Pizza
Wall St. Pizza has opened, too, boasting its use of New York water — much like that other downtown Tampa pizza purveyor, Eddie and Sam's. Expect the usual pizzeria staples, including pies, stuffed rolls, garlic knots and wings. 513 E Jackson St., Tampa. (813) 402-2433. wallstpizzatampa.com.
The Outpost on Gandy
This relaxed hangout celebrated its grand opening in April where SandBar and Grill previously operated. Daily beverage specials, live music and a kitchen that churns out eats well into the evening are big draws. The patio shaded by a tiki hut isn't half bad, either. 10056 Gandy Blvd. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 201-8535. outpostongandy.com.
For Cinco de Mayo, Screaming Jalapeno gave diners a sneak-peek taste of signature items like Straight Outta the Harbor (a taco with your choice of pollo or barbacoa, plus pico, queso fresco, sliced avocado and crema) at Bar Fly, its older sibling in Safety Harbor. Now they can experience the real deal, as the Tex-Mex spot premiered Thursday with a focus on tacos, beer and burritos. There isn't a phone number listed on the Screaming Jalapeno Facebook page, or a menu, but like many new restaurants, the mystique only adds to its appeal. 100 Main St., Suite 109, Safety Harbor.
Babbaluci Cucina Italiana and Lounge
Upscale Italian cuisine is what you get at this hip eatery with an upstairs bar and lounge. Opened last month, Babbaluci showcases an array of dishes — among them osso buco, tagliatelle Bolognese and chicken francese — to pair with crowd-pleasing wines by the glass or bottle. You might even fancy a stop during happy hour for $6 martinis and $6 vino, alongside house specialties: $6 red or white sangria, $6 blood orange margaritas and $5 Peroni or Moretti. 3671 S West Shore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 284-0037. babbalucitampa.com.
Pizzitalia's New York Pizzeria
Want some more Italian and pizza in your life? Check out Pizzitalia's New York Pizzeria, a destination for thin-crust and deep-dish Sicilian pies coexisting with classic Italian dishes such as pasta and seafood. 6742 Memorial Highway, Tampa. (813) 290-0595.
Owner and chef Donald Kirkpatrick has brought speedy, health-minded nosh to the bottom of Clearwater Tower. Expect casual options like bowls and burgers from Kirkpatrick, who scored his first executive chef position with fine-dining Tarpon Springs favorite Currents at age 25. The Breakroom is open for breakfast and lunch. 33 N Garden Ave., Suite 140, Clearwater. (727) 953-7614. thebreakroom33.com.
Formally launched last week, Zorba is a Mediterranean restaurant offering everything from kibbe and lamb chops to shawarma platters and tabbouleh. 11009 N 56th St., Temple Terrace. (813) 983-1000.
This slick, sophisticated hangout's Wesley Chapel location has shuttered at 2001 Piazza Ave. Part of the Shops at Wiregrass, Primebar opened in late 2009 with something-for-everyone drinking fare. Greg Lenners, general manager of the Shops at Wiregrass, said he couldn't address specifics of the closure but that a cycle in leasing is de rigueur for shopping centers. "It is simply a fact of life in our business that businesses open and close," Lenners told the Times via email. "We anticipate leasing this particular space very soon as we have been in active conversations with numerous brands that have expressed interest in the Shops at Wiregrass."
One St. Petersburg restaurants
According to the flashy signage, a couple of new dining spots are planned for the ground floor of the high-rise condo tower One St. Petersburg (100 First Ave. N). Burgerim, the Israeli gourmet mini-burger franchise specializing in 2.8-ounce patties dressed with "premium" toppings, is one restaurant in the making, while the other is Social Roost, a kitchen and bar with a name and logo that references, of course, chicken. One St. Petersburg is the tallest residential building on Florida's west coast.