Best Of 2021

Cacciatore & Sons

The reliable, independently owned food counter-small grocery store combo is sadly not a concept on the rise. It is an evaporating relic; one hesitant grandson or daughter away from disappearing completely. Solidly satisfying and affordable lunch or early dinner offerings aside, Cacciatore & Sons should be recognized with the hope of highlighting this singular and important genre of the food service industry. The meatball sandwich on local Cuban bread is a hunger-seeking missile of deliciousness and its wide selection of housemade antipasto will keep you coming back. While you’re waiting for your order to be completed peruse the fresh produce, delicious dry goods and nice wines offered in the grocery portion of the store. Bonus.

Best of the Bay 2021 Food & Drink: Creative Loafing Tampa Bay critics and readers pick all the best things that made their mouths water in 2020.

Best of the Bay 2021 Food & Drink

Get Along strawberry shortcake doughnut

Joel Davis’ Union coffee shop closed at Pickford’s Counter over the summer, but there’s a sweet side to the bad news, and that’s Get Along, a doughnut company where Davis leans on baker, recording engineer and skateboarder Asher Lakes plus Library Coffeehouse co-founder Marie Cullinan who help run the show. The shop—set to eventually open in Seminole Heights—has been doing pop ups, and if you can get your mouth around one of its strawberry shortcake concoctions, then you might petition decision makers in Plant City to make the sweet treats mandatory at their spring festival. @getalongtpa on Instagram

Winner: Mise en Place

Runners-Up: The Library , Caracara


Bern’s Steak House is a rite of passage in the Tampa dining scene, but now so is Burnz, just two miles north on Howard Avenue. There’s no wine room at the West Tampa restaurant, but there are Caribbean, Hispanic & American plates in a setting that’s definitely less velvet-y than the Bern’s reception). So next time you’re planning a date night, tell your partner , “We’re going to Burnz, baby.”


It’s the fair food treat that I still think about daily: Peachey’s fresh and warm glazed yeast donut topped with a mountain of coconut cream pie filling, whipped cream and coconut shavings. It was big enough to share, but I didn’t want to. Peachey’s (FKA The Amish Baking Company) gets out of Florida during the super warm months, but should be back in Sarasota by November. @peacheysbakingco on Instagram

Café Gala at The Dalí

"Van Gogh Alive” at The Dalí was the most popular art exhibit Tampa Bay’s hosted in a long time. I had to book an appointment a month in advance to see it, and I’m an arts writer. But as much as I loved the exhibit, it’s not locally made. And it will probably be mostly the same no matter where in the world one sees it. But the Dalí did add a few personal touches that made the experience special for me. My favorites were the vases of sunflowers decorating the tables at Cafe Gala and Chuck Bandel’s Van Gogh-themed charcuterie board. Bandel’s pairing of Dutch cheese with a sunflower seed bar and a roasted pear was absolutely delightful. Before we dug in, I snapped a photo of our art snack next to a vase of sunflowers that would make most any art-lover think of Van Gogh.

Xtreme Tacos Seminole Heights stoner burrito

In 2017, Crave Digital founder Chris Fasick, named the Xtreme Tacos Stoner Burrito the “Best Burritos That Need Their Own Blankets and Birth Certificates.” I didn’t think it was possible, but the baby-sized burrito is now stuffed with even more protein, rice, beans, french fries, thinly shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and shredded cheese. I’m a 36-year-old, 6-foot, 200-pound human, and this thing literally stretched from my fingertips past my elbow. This thing doesn’t just need a birth certificate anymore, it needs vaccines so it can go to preschool.