1. Food

Tampa Bay restaurant and bar openings: The Big Catch starts luring St. Petersburg, Wesley Chapel welcomes Rice n Beans

Started as a tiny restaurant in Lutz, Rice n Beans recently reopened in larger digs as the latest addition to the Wesley Chapel dining scene. [MEAGHAN HABUDA   |   Times]
Started as a tiny restaurant in Lutz, Rice n Beans recently reopened in larger digs as the latest addition to the Wesley Chapel dining scene. [MEAGHAN HABUDA | Times]
Published Jul. 15, 2019


The Big Catch at Salt Creek

After quietly debuting at Harborage Marina earlier this month, the Big Catch at Salt Creek celebrated its official launch on July 11. Pipo's and Callaloo partner Mario Farias, Munch's owner Larry Munch and veteran restaurant operator Jon LaBudde are behind the colorful indoor-outdoor hangout on the water with more than 160 seats and an "old St. Pete vibe." They have breathed fresh life into the longtime home of Fish Tales, offering gulf seafood and signature cocktails. Highlights of the Big Catch at Salt Creek, named for LaBudde's late nightclub, include two redesigned bars, plus wooden picnic table tops painted by local artists. 1500 Second St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 289-8080.

Rice n Beans

Reopening day had been a moving target for Rice n Beans, which started as a tiny restaurant in Lutz three years ago. But not anymore. Now part of the Wesley Chapel community, the uber-popular purveyor of Puerto Rican cuisine recently began a new chapter in larger digs. The restaurant was at a two-hour wait around 7:30 p.m. July 11, a testament to how many diners were jonesing for its menu built upon classics like pernil (roasted pork seasoned with house garlic rub), bistec empanado (breaded steak), mofongo, alcapurrias (fritters stuffed with crab or beef) and chillo frito entero (pan-fried whole red snapper). Veg-heads will be happy to see the vegetarian jibarito sandwich, too, a breadless combination of fried plantains, caramelized onions, romaine, red leaf lettuce, red cabbage, tomato, cucumber, carrots and avocado. Pair the grub with nonalcoholic tropical frappes or Coco Rico, among other drinks. 27405 Wesley Chapel Blvd., Wesley Chapel. (813) 803-7974.

Unrefined Brewing

This brewery took over the old Saint Somewhere Brewing Company tasting room. Seasonality drives the small-batch sweet stouts and kettle sours that Unrefined Brewing produces, according to a note on its website from co-owner and head brewer Gordon Scott. "With our dedication towards utilizing natural ingredients and the natural seasonality of these ingredients, our separate batches will not be exactly the same, they will be influenced by the time of year. ... We believe that this variety is a good thing, and the variations will often be indistinguishable to most," the note reads. A rotating selection of guest taps accompanies house beers such as Soulless Ginger (sour with nectaries and raspberries) and Syzmoreos (stout with cocoa, marshmallows and Oreos), which can be enjoyed on the patio out front. Unrefined Brewing operates 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, plus 4 to 10 p.m. the first Friday of every month. 312 E Tarpon Ave., Tarpon Springs.


Inside the Box

Last month, in case you missed it, the social enterprise brainchild of Metropolitan Ministries said goodbye to its spot in Heights Public Market at Armature Works, 1910 N Ola Ave. in Tampa Heights. "We were fortunate to have had a one year lease ... which was actually FREE! Armature Works went above and beyond extending that to a year and a half," reads a June 18 announcement posted to the Inside the Box Facebook page. Since the closure, Inside the Box's former stall at the ever-changing food hall has been boarded up, concealing the changes to come from passersby. But banners for the next tenants have also appeared: There's one for Cress, touting the tagline "eat well | be well" (a forthcoming Cress location is also planned for St. Petersburg's Fourth Street N), and another for South Tampa favorite Pane Rustica, the restaurant and bakery that churns out one of the best burgers around.


The Tiki Tavern

Founder David LaGree's Tiki Tavern is taking shape at a new mixed-use development in downtown Safety Harbor. According to its Facebook page, this island sports bar will feature bites by executive chef David Glynn and booze, as well as local beer and a substantial wine selection. The Tiki Tavern, slated to premiere sometime over the summer, has been using social media to hype up the community for its arrival and attending annual events like the Harbor Sounds Fall Fest on Main since last year. 201 Main St., Suite 101, Safety Harbor.


  1. The food is art at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, including this cookie that looks like a painter's palette. [Walt Disney World]
    The 39-day celebration of art, entertainment and food kicked off Jan. 17.
  2. Clockwise from left: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apple, Candy Corn and Cheeseburger-On-A-Stick [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
    Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apples and more are coming to the Florida State Fair.
  3. The cans feature pups who are up for adoption at Shelter Manatee. [Motorworks Brewing]
    The beer, available for purchase in packs of four and cases of 24, will be available until they sell out, the brewery says.
  4. Kumquats in Dade City. [Times (2002)]
    Plus, St. Petersburg restaurant German Knodle made Yelp’s list of the top 100 places to eat.
  5. Beverage manager for the Tampa Yacht and Country Club, Kasia Nowakowska prepares a Milk Punch cocktail, the club's signature drink for Gasparilla. Milk Punch contains brandy, simple syrup, heavy cream, milk and is garnished with nutmeg. Nowakowska says the club will make more than 120 gallons of Milk Punch for the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates on Jan. 25 -- and most of it will be consumed by noon prior to the invasion. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    There’s a lot of history pouring into the glasses along the parade route for the brunch (and even breakfast) cocktails.
  6. Catrinas Tacos and Tequila brought its tacos back to Tampa in a new location on Jan. 17. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2012)]
    Plus, the chains Shake Shack and Huey Magoo’s are coming to town.
  7. German beer accompanies a serving of currywurst and schnitzel topped with mushrooms and garlic fries at German Knödle, 951 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    Nutella-stuffed potato dumplings and rave reviews put German Knodle on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list.
  8. Turkey Meatballs with hummus and an herby salad [MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    It comes together so fast for a weeknight dinner.
  9. St. Peterburg's iconic restaurant the Belmark was known as an inexpensive spot to grab a meal. [Times (1982)]
    Expect an updated take on classic diner fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  10. Kumquats that are yet to be harvested in the groves at Kumquat Growers, Inc. in Dade City. The local agriculture business provides fruit for the annual Kumquat Festival to be held Jan. 25 in downtown Dade City. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    After years of crop decline, there will be more fresh fruit at this year’s annual Kumquat Festival.