What’s better on a lazy, possibly slightly hung-over Sunday afternoon than indulging in some crazy-good food while enjoying a few high-quality hairs of the dog and some not-too-loud tuneage? This last summer, Chef Greg Baker, the Refinery crew and a variety of gifted local musicians made the most of their respective talents for a series of friendly, laid-back cookouts and acoustic quasi-shows on the buzzy Seminole Heights restaurant’s upstairs deck. Members of The Tim Version, Urbane Cowboys, Vagina Sore Jr. and others serenaded folks while plates of roasted pork and soul-food sides — all done in The Refinery’s consistently innovative fashion — were downed and chased with countless gallons of good beer. We’re looking forward to next summer’s slate of grooves and grub, but we’ll have to remember to get there early; by July, Pig Jam tended to be a pretty much standing-room-only affair. 5137 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-237-2000, thetamparefinery.com.
Runners-up: Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, Datz
Watch: Greg Baker shares the secret dish he makes for his wife Michelle that he never makes for anyone else. The winners of several Best of the Bay awards this year, including Best Restaurant Tag Team, Greg & Michelle spoke with CL's David Warner during the Best of the Bay awards reception Sept. 19 at Creative Loafing.
When St. Pete changed its drinking curfew to 3 a.m., the downtown area exploded with new bars. Instead of continuing to try luring drinkers from St. Pete over the bridge to Tampa, a few popular SoHo hangouts set up sister establishments in the ’Burg. In November of 2011, World of Beer and MacDinton’s opened their doors, catering to patrons who put a premium on drinking beer over mixed drinks, and who prefer to sing along to cover bands rather than dancing to DJs. MacDinton’s Jannus, 242 First Ave. N, St Petersburg, 727-565-0544, macdintons.com/Jannus-St-Petersburg; World of Beer. 100 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-823-2337.
Runners-up: Einstein Bros., Panera
Outside of France, good baguettes are hard to come by. You know the kind. They crackle, and spray you with crumbs when your teeth pierce the crisp, chewy crust to reveal what seems an impossibly airy interior. Luckily, Café de Paris Bakery brings France to you in the person of master baker Xavier De Marchi. He’s the real deal, and so is his bread. 2300 Gulf Boulevard, Indian Rocks Beach, 727-593-0277, cafedeparisbakery.com.
Runners-up: Mazzaro's, Housewife Bake Shop
Runners-up: Five Bucks, Fly Bar
Runners-up: Holy Hog, Kojaks
Runners-up: 220 East, La Teresita
Tampa has done an amazing job of attracting members to its guild from all aspects of the business; there are “cocktail bartenders,” but also club bartenders and dive bartenders. It’s inspiring to see a small community come together and work harmoniously. I was lucky enough to return to Tampa for their Sunset Tiki party and experience that same energy. I find myself taking pages out of their book here in Boston.
David Delaney Jr is the VP of Boston USBG.