Five Courses: Fusion lives on through 400 block newcomer and more

Downtown St. Pete saw the launch of Pin Wok & Bowl, plus other food and drink news.

click to enlarge Thai and Japanese fusion is Pin Wok & Bowl's focus in downtown St. Pete. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
Thai and Japanese fusion is Pin Wok & Bowl's focus in downtown St. Pete.

Pin Wok & Bowl has replaced The Mango Tree's fusion fare in downtown St. Pete. Opened July 14 next door to La V, the new restaurant at 445 Central Ave. spotlights Japanese-meets-Thai cuisine with a menu consisting primarily of bowls (think poke, fried rice and ramen), along with sushi burritos and rolls, curry entrees and so much more.

The eclectic interior, which feels a bit roomier, still features a small sushi bar, plus a mix of booth and table seating. Go during lunch to land wallet-friendly specials between $10 and $13.

• Wednesday is the last time locals can patronize Hablo Taco at Channelside Bay Plaza. The final fiesta for the 2-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant, which is closing ahead of demolition of the Tampa mall's southwest wing, is set to showcase food and drink deals from 4 to 11:30 p.m.

"And who knows amigos," reads Hablo Taco's Facebook event page, "you may see us again sooner than you think!!"

• Fresh takes on Vietnamese and Chinese favorites are the specialties of VN Pho, the family-owned restaurant formerly known as Lee Garden at 8309 W. Hillsborough Ave. With an updated look and menu in Tampa's Town 'N Country area, the refreshed dining spot, which celebrated its grand reopening on Aug. 9, offers everything from rice vermicelli bowls to pork dumplings. There's even a lineup of boba smoothies (!).

Nearby, Portofino's Italian Kitchen, located at 6742 Memorial Highway, recently started serving up modern Italian eats in the former home of Salerno's. Chef Christopher Muller uses family recipes from his mother and grandmother, in conjunction with his classical training, to fashion the large bill of fare's made-to-order dishes — among them stuffed clams oreganato, eggplant rollatini, specialty pizzas and veal saltimbocca.

A selection of Italian, French and California wines are on hand to wash it all down with, too.

• It's getting hard to keep up with the Bay area's influx of rolled ice cream establishments, but here's another: H20°C. Patrons of this newcomer at 13520 University Plaza St. (that's near the USF Tampa campus) can satisfy their cravings for the popular Thai-inspired sweets, as well as milkshakes and boba tea presented in light bulb-shaped vessels.

• Tampa's Box of Cubans highlights Cuban staples like guava and cheese pastries, cafe con leche and the illustrious Cuban sandwich inside the BP gas stop at 10323 Causeway Blvd. No surprise to those who swear by fuel station Cubanos, the one that's served up here (sans salami, mind you) is as good as it gets — so we've heard. Tuk Tuk Thai Fusion also launched in Riverview at 10471 Gibsonton Drive a couple weeks ago. A second location for Channelside's Precinct Pizza debuted July 31 at 10970 Cross Creek Blvd. in New Tampa, accommodating dine-in and delivery customers. And another (swah-rey) dessert bar for St. Pete is the works at 625 Central Ave.

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