LOVE STUNT: SUSHI ROLLS
If you dropped the ball Wednesday and did bubkes for your sweetie, here's a tip: Through Sunday at Kelp in South Tampa, couples can dive into a reservations-only chef-led art of sushi rolling class that comes with bottomless sake cocktails. Guests enjoy a signature appetizer, then prepare four of their own sushi rolls (including the most popular Bronze Pebble and Rose Cave rolls, and then two rolls selected by the guests), paired with bottomless sake cocktails and a dessert, for $100 per couple. Classes begin at 7 p.m. and run approximately two hours. Kelp opened in 2014 and has been a go-to spot for sushi rolls, bowls, bento boxes and small plates. 3401 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa. (813) 831-2222.
POPUP: SEMinole HEIGHTS BRUNCH
Benjamin Pomales, right, has been a chef at Rooster & the Till for a while, but is going rogue with fellow Rooster employee Antonio Santiago and hosting a second popup brunch on Feb. 25 at retail store Urban Bungalow, right next door to Rooster in Seminole Heights.
"Our first one had much success and we've learned from it," Pomales says. "Other cities have a thriving popup scene that showcases younger generations flexing their (muscles with) small, often one-time menus. With everything happening in Tampa foodwise right now, this could just be another outlet for the community to push each other to keep pushing."
Brunch runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a la carte items like morcilla (that's blood sausage) poutine, vanilla bean pear parfait with cured citrus and cocoa drop donuts with Frangelico ganache. 6500 N Florida Ave., Tampa. (813) 335-2878.
ON THE PROWL: BLIND TIGER
Roberto Torres and crew started the Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters in November 2014 in Ybor City and he's just opened his fourth location at 934 S Howard Ave. in Tampa. The second location opened in Seminole Heights in 2015 and a third in the Tampa Bay Times Building in Tampa in 2017.
What has resonated with people is the coffee, roasted in house and sourced from Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Sumatra. The company also sources closer to home: loose leaf tea from TeBella Tea Co., kombucha from Mother Kombucha. But they are doing something new at the S Howard location.
"We wanted to elevate our offerings at our newest location," Torres says. "So we decided to do food. We hired 22-year-old chef Reilly Bierhaus, from Bloomington, Ind. He attended Tante Marie Culinary Academy in London. He graduated with a Cordon Bleu diploma and after graduation went to work at Duck & Waffle in the United Kingdom. He came back to the U.S. and wanted to find a challenge."
That challenge is cool spins on traditional cafe fare: Bierhaus is making gluten-free muffins and vegan cookies and there are signature breakfast sandwiches, acai bowls, quinoa salad and celebrations of indigenous Tampa foods like guava and cheese pastries.
"In short, this store is our poem to Tampa," Torres says. "We wanted the space to be inviting and a place where people can hang out outside of home or work."
Hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. blindtigercafe.com
EL JEFE: TACO BUS CHALLENGE
Competitive eaters from Tampa Bay and across Florida can take on the 2018 El Jefe Burrito Eating Championship to earn the title and a hefty cash prize. The competition awards the fastest contestants who can scarf down a 2.5-pound El Jefe Burrito from Taco Bus. The grand prize offers up a limited-edition, WWE-style championship belt, a $2,500 cash prize and bragging rights for the year.
Until March 31, participants can enter to qualify for the competition by visiting any Taco Bus location and purchasing an El Jefe burrito. If a participant can successfully eat it in less than 6 minutes, they can obtain an El Jefe qualifier certificate from a Taco Bus employee. Using the code on the form, entrants can enter at taco-bus.com/el-jefe for a chance to be selected as a finalist.
Finalists will be notified on April 2 via email, and selected finalists will eat the El Jefe at the 2018 El Jefe Burrito Eating Championship on April 5 at a Taco Bus location to be determined, and the public is invited to witness the spectacle. Second prize winner gets $1,000 cash; third place gets $500; and attendees may grab some cool Taco Bus swag and other goodies, such as shirts, cups, key chains and other freebies.