COCKTAILS AND GASTRONOMY IN TAMPA

Although you may never of suspected it Tampa has a booming Gastronomy scene. In the last 10 years there has been a lot of development to revitalize downtown Tampa, especially along the Riverwalk, which made its premiere about 2 years ago. Now Tampa has seen a huge growth in their food and entertainment industry with new farm to table restaurants, cocktail bars and upscale dinning experiencing popping up everywhere. With all those options where would one start, you may ask…

1.     ANISE GLOBAL GASTROBAR - 777 N. Ashley Drive Tampa, FL

Anise is one of downtown Tampa’s trendiest cocktail bars and restaurants. What once started off as a food truck selling Asian-style stinky buns, Anise has become a young professional hotspot for lunch and after work drinks. With killer cocktails and an expanded menu (which still includes those delicious sticky buns they got their start with) the restaurant is always busy for weekend brunch, dinner and lunch during the week. The comfy lounge chairs outside on the patio also make Anise a great place for people-watching as the sun goes down and downtown’s lights along the Riverwalk come up.

2     FLY BAR & RESTAURANT - 202 N. Franklin St. Tampa, FL

This craft cocktail bar pioneered Tampa’s downtown bar scene.  10 years ago when there was nothing going on in downtown Tampa, Fly Bar was the first bar to open its doors and soon after became a legendary hot spot for craft cocktails and live music. What once was a destination bar is now see as the pioneer to Tampa’s downtown revitalization and started the boom of bars and restaurants opening up in the area. With a great global inspired Tapas menu and their rooftop patio/bar weekends at fly get packed with college students and young professionals often pouring out onto the sidewalk patio. Arrive before 9PM Thur – Sat to ensure you can get in without waiting in line.

3.     ULELE - 1810 N. Highland Avenue Tampa, FL

This once public water pump house, situated on the banks of the Hillsborough River and at the North end of the Riverwalk features a menu inspired by Tampa Bay’s early native and Spanish explorers. With seasonal seafood options and a large selection of offerings (including their very own award wining craft beer) Ulele is an absolute local favourite! The restaurant also features a great outdoor patio and beer garden making it a great place to enjoy the sunset or to grab a drink after you bike down the Riverwalk.

4.     HOTEL BAR – 200 N Tampa St Tampa, FL

Tampa’s newest cocktail bar is the sister bar to downtown’s legendary Fly Bar (remember #2?) When the owners opened Hotel Bar 2 months ago they were looking to reinvent hotel cocktails in a modern cocktail bar setting.  With a swanky atmosphere, cool music and late night bites (serving food until 2AM) Friday night at Hotel Bar is the place to be.

5.     OXFORD EXCHANGE - 420 West Kennedy Boulevard Tampa, FL

The Oxford Exchange offers one of the most historic settings in Tampa. Located near the University of Tampa this once upon a time horse stable was redeveloped into what is now the Oxford Exchanged. Inspired by the architecture of the building and English interior design the owners decided to use the space to combine a restaurant, coffee bar, bookstore and home décor shop. Now the Oxford Exchange is a popular place for locals and tourists to pass time drink coffee, eating in their courtyard and perusing through their masterfully selected boutique and bookstore features. Not to mention it’s a great place to snap some photographs!

6.   EDISON FOOD + DRINK LAB - 912 West Kennedy Blvd Tampa, FL

The Edison is one of the most innovative restaurants in Tampa. Chef Jeannie Pierola creates every dish with the intention to push the boundaries of what’s possible in a kitchen. With the help of liquid nitrogen and other unusual cooking techniques her dishes make this restaurant rise to the top when it comes to Tampa’s gastronomy scene. With strong cocktails, an excellent wine list and classic workingman's beer on tap it’s the perfect place to make yourself right at home.

7.     BERN’S STEAK HOUSE – 1208 S Howard Ave Tampa, FL

Bern’s Steak House is truly a Tampa staple. Known for having the largest private wine collection in the world, Bern’s draws every politician, well to do businessmen and movie star that passes through Tampa. Their reputation as the finest steak house in Tampa holds true and many locals will easily put this restaurant on their top 10 list. From their dry ages stakes to their dessert room Bern’s Steak House is a destination within itself and is always packed which is why I recommend making a reservation well in advance.

8.     FRANKLIN MANOR - 912 North Franklin Street Tampa, FL

Franklin Manor is downtown Tampa’s newest venue. With a large outdoor patio featuring a stage for nightly live performances Franklin Manors adds a whole new dimension to the food and entertainment in downtown Tampa. Often filled with young professionals Fraklin Manor is the place to see and be “scene”. Hand crafted cocktails, vibrant live music, delicious bar bites and Taco Tuesday specials (try the oyster taco – it is a delight!!!) this is a place you want to be on a night out.

9.     EDGE - 1207 S. Howard Ave Tampa, FL

The Edge cocktail bar located on the roof of the Epicurean Hotel is completely open to the public. With a view of Tampa’s posh Hyde Park neighbourhood the Edge cocktail bar tends to draw a more affluent crowd that has no qualms paying $11 for a drink. Offering small snacks and drinking accompaniments the Edge rooftop is a place you would go for a pre dinner cocktail or a delicious night cap.

10.      HAVEN - 2208 W. Morrison Ave Tampa, FL

Located just down the street from the Epicurean Hotel, Haven is the sleek contemporary sister restaurant to the famous Bern’s Steak House (remember #7). Having just opened in 2015 Haven is one of the most popular restaurants in Tampa. With an always-delicious modern Mediterranean dinner menu that changes seasonally Haven’s menu focuses on charcuterie, a large selection of cheese (more than 60 types), and a variety of meat options. This upscale date night spot also features an extensive bar selection and is famous for its 300 varieties of bourbon and 40 different wines by the glass. They also have a $2 oyster and $4 cocktail happy hour from 5-7PM Monday to Saturday!

11.     CIRO’S SPEAKEASY & SUPPER CLUB –  2109 Bayshore Boulevard Tampa, FL

Although Ben Afflicts 1920 blockbuster Live By Night was based on Tampa Bay in the 1920s – this speakeasy is the real deal. At Ciro’s Speakeasy you can really get a feel for what it was like during prohibition thanks to their intimate setting, private cocktail booths and well crafter cocktails. This small cocktail bar fills up fast on weekends with a capacity of only 70 patrons so make sure to call ahead for a reservation or you may find yourself left out in the cold, sugar. This small cocktail bar is also password protected and it changes nightly so check their website for info.

12.   DATZ – 2616 S. MacDill Tampa, FL

If a gluttnous boozy breakfast/brunch is what you are after this place is perfect. A very popular spot among locals, Datz is always busy for brunch on weekends. This south Tampa gastropub smokes all of the meat in house and bakes all of their bread nextdoor at their bakery Dough. The family friendly restaurant doesn’t take reservations on weekends however you can go on their website and get on their waitlist via a text app. Make sure to try their monkey bread and eggs barbacoa (a gluten free option), two dishes they are absolutly famous for. Also if you need a little hair of the dog they have many local craft beers on tap and make amazing bloody marys!

13.    COLUMBIA - 801 Old Water St Tampa, FL

Columbia is Florida’s oldest Spanish restaurant! Located in the heart of Ybor City (Tampa Bat’s historic Latin Quarter). Columbia brother restaurant to Ulele (remember #3) has been around since 1905. This family run restaurant expanded over the years from a bar and sandwich shop to a restaurant that now spans the entire block and seats 1,700 people. Columbia, like Bern’s is a major attraction in Tampa Bay and draws politicians, movie stars and big businessman that are passing through. With great menu offerings (like their famous salad and paella) there is no wrong choice. Want a little entertainment with your dinner? Columbia has a flamenco show six nights a week! Olé!!

 

DESTINATION MONTREAL!!!

Have you ever traveled somewhere and felt more at home there then you do at home? For me Montréal is one of those places. When I was in my early twenties I visited a friend going to university there and it didn’t take me long to get hooked.  It seems that now I am drawn back to this beautiful historic French city every summer. With over 100 festivals annually, Montreal is a vibrant, energetic city where something is always happening. It’s a place with a booming culinary scene that comes with great value and more bang for you buck then any other major city in Canada.  It has a social scene that is young, trendy, creative, and shows itself through the colourful street art and murals that prominently decorate the city.  With so many great hotels, attractions, historic building and delicious places to eat there is no way you can’t enjoy yourself.

Last month I visited Montréal and filmed this travel vlog. My goal was to highlight why I think Montreal is such a great place to visit. Whether you are Canadian or not it’s a perfect destination to travel without putting too much strain on your wallet. It’s a place with endless options and infinite amounts of amusement – so why not visit? Watch my vlog below to see what I got up to when I went to Montreal.

Thanks for watching my vlog! If you are interested in visiting any of the places I went to I have added information on them below! You can also visit Tourisme Montreal to see what festivals are currently going on in Montreal.


Markets:

Atwater Market - 138 Atwater Avenue Montréal, Québec H4C 2H6

Located in the southwest corner of Montréal near the Lachine Canal, the Atwater Market was established in 1933. Open year-round, Atwater Market is known for its many butchers and delicatessens, as well as its horticultural vendors and farmers whose kiosks are brimming with fresh produce and border the perimeter of the building from spring through summer. Its many shopkeepers offer a wide variety of fresh, unique and specialty products. The expertise and dedication of many of the merchants have been passed down from generation to generation and have helped build Atwater Market’s reputation internationally.

Jean-Telon Market - 7070 Henri-Julien Avenue Montréal, Québec H2S 3S3

In the heart of Little Italy, the Jean-Talon Market is one of the oldest public markets in Montréal opening in May of 1933. The Jean-Talon Market is known for its numerous local fruit and vegetable vendors as well as the cultural diversity of its shopkeepers. It is one of the largest public markets in North America and its atmosphere is lively in both summer and winter.

At the Jean-Talon Market, you won’t just find fruits and vegetables, but also flowers, spices, oils, cheese, meat, fish and artisanal bakery goods, in addition to a wide selection of regional products from all over Québec!


Restaurants:

Bouillon Bilk - 1595 Boul. St-Laurent Montréal QC H2X 2S9

A lovely, refined restaurant located in downtown Montreal that caters to a young hip professional crowd. Their dishes are both elegant and thoughtful often presenting masterpieces so beautiful to look at you are not sure you should eat them. So do what I do, snap a photo and save the memory and then dive right in and explore the symphony of flavors in each dish. Waiters are also very helpful and knowledgeable at making recommendations from both the menu and the wine list.

I recommend calling for reservations - 514.845.1595 or visit their website.

La Diperie - 68 Ave des Pins E, Montréal, QC H2W 1N5

LA DIPERIE is one of my favorite soft service ice cream shops! With over 20 different dips, numerous toppings and endless combinations – this place will have you rethinking how you use to do ice cream.

Grumman 78 – 630 Rue de Courcelle, Montréal, QC H4C 3C5

Situated on the western edge of St-Henri, Grumman 78 is located in an old garage that formerly housed the City’s cavalry. Industrial yet warm, this restaurant’s take on Mexican street food is perfect for intimate gatherings or large groups. They also have a food truck that you can usually find at different events and festivals in the city. 

For reservations call - 514-290-5125 or visit their website.

Olive and Gourmando - 351 Saint-Paul W. MONTREAL, QC H2Y 2A7

Olive and Gourmando is a small café patisserie restaurant located in Old Montreal that serves amazing Panini sandwiches. They often have a line up out the door but don’t shy away because you can always get take out. One of my favorite items on the menu is the Cuban sandwich!


Festivals:

Just For Laughs – Comedy shows are held at various locations. Festival stomping grounds are located in the Place D’Arts on Rue Ste. Catherine.

A yearly festival dedicated to making you laugh! The Just for Laughs festival brings together a plethora of the worlds top comics to entertain you for an entire month! Be prepared to bust a gut because you will be laughing till you cry. Some of my favorite comics to see this year were Jermain Fowler, Nick Thune and Joe Mande!

Piknic Electronik  - Parc Jean Drapeau

Piknic Électronik is a weekly electronic music festival that takes place every Sunday during the summer in Montréal. Established in 2003, the festival takes place at Parc Jean-Drapeau and features local and international DJs and producers. There are two stages, food trucks and lots of space to bring a blanket, lounge under a tree and spend your day off listening to some good music with friends.

To see what this weeks music line up is visit their website.

♥ ♥ These are just two of the 100+ festivals that go on each year in Montréal. Make sure to check out Tourisme Montreal to see what else is happening in the city.


Museums:

MAC aka The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal - 185 Sainte-Catherine Ouest

Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal presents temporary exhibitions devoted to outstanding and relevant current artists from all over the world. It is a place of discovery, offering visitors experiences that are continually changing and new, and often unexpected and stirring. Every form of expression may be featured: digital and sound works, installations, paintings, sculptures, ephemeral pieces, and more.

Check out their website to see exhibits currently on at the museum.

MMFA aka Montreal Museum of Fine Art - 1380 Sherbrooke Street West

The Montreal Museum of Fine Art is one of the most prominent art museums in Canada. It has works that encompass all the great cultures of the world. The museum itself dates back to 1860 and has a permanent collection of approximately 41,000 works. They are currently building their fifth pavilion making it one of the largest art museums in North America.

Check out their website to see exhibits currently on at the museum.