Best Of 2021

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

Burnz

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.” burnzrbg.com

Peachey’s

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. thedali.org

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. xtremetacos.com

Stone Soup Co. V Stone Soup Cafe

CL Best of the Bay Readers Picks have always been tough to win, but it’s even harder when your business’ name is very similar to other one. Just as Ybor City’s Stone Soup Company and Stone Soup Cafe & Pub in St. Pete. Readers always got them mixed up, therefore fudging up numbers… and I’m thinking out loud now, but maybe the 2022 voting item should just ask readers to choose the “Best Stone Soup restaurant in Tampa Bay.” xsoup4u.com and stonesoupcafe.com

Babushka’s

At this tiny little restaurant in a tiny little Temple Terrace strip mall, don’t fret about when certain courses of your meal will come out. The plates arrive at the table when they’re ready, and who cares? The borscht, dumplings, and other Russian goodies are like a warm hug from a tiny little grandma, aka Babushka. babushkas.us


Jamison B Bakehouse

One of the only silver lining of COVID was Jamison B Bakehouse pivoting from restaurants to selling bread bags. For $40, you got three loaves (or two and a pack of pretzels, bagels) and a box of pastries, all designed at the whims of the bread gods. In the mood for fig and olive bread? Pumpernickel sauerkraut? Guava hand pies? With each day of the pandemic feeling the same, the weekly surprise of treats was a godsend. With the menu to view online, you can even add more treats (get the focaccia pizza) to pick up on Saturdays at 2 p.m. jamisonb.org

Raw Smoothie Co. Rise N Grind

Most everyone who gets in their car before 9 a.m. on the weekdays and gives half a rat’s ass about their health has a smoothie shop where they regularly spend disposable income. Mine is the OG storefront for this Tampa shop where the “Rise & Grind” (banana, espresso beans, peanut butter, cacao, honey, almond milk) not only keeps me full when I forget to bring my lunch to work, but inspires me to try and take better care of my body (read: skip the quarter-pounder, or ramen) day in and day out. rawsmoothieco.com

Supernatural Food & Wine

But not every breakfast is super-loaded with nutrients made to stoke the fire that is your body’s metabolism. Some breakfasts are meant to make your heart content, and that’s what SuperNatural’s “plain” cider sourdonut does for me. It’s spiced perfectly, and puffed at different volumes depending on the weather outside (kind of like me), with just a touch of salt to wake the senses. The best part, though, is that the vegan creation is served with the doughnut hole on the side, because it takes filling a hole to make you whole sometimes. supernaturalfoodandwine.square.site