Hurray for Pom Pom's, now open in St. Pete

With nosh and bevvies as colorful as its decor, Pom Pom's debuts to St. Pete Grand Central District.

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click to enlarge Hurray for Pom Pom's, now open in St. Pete - DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
Hurray for Pom Pom's, now open in St. Pete

click to enlarge An early look at where the pastry magic will happen. - JULIE GARISTO
An early look at where the pastry magic will happen.
Do you love gourmet tea or are you looking for a filling but relatively inexpensive bite in a cheerfully funky atmosphere? 

Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria, an established cafe in Orlando beloved for its late-night hours, has opened another of its colorful nosh-and-sip spots in downtown St. Pete's Grand Central District at 2950 Central Ave.

Pom Pom's is striving for quality with flair. The colorfully welcoming exterior boasts the vintage charm of a converted 1950s gas station — painted and decorated with help by locals — offered an artfully painted door display in the parking lot with an arms-raised Buddha statue seemingly paying homage to a hand sanitizer overhead in the front dining area.  

If you're tired of the same ol' same ol', you can expect anything but here. Uniquely healthy, meat and meatless fusion twists meld Asian-American-Continental flavors, such as the Viet Pom — turkey, carrot, daikon, cilantro, cucumber and spicy Sriracha mayo or the sweet-meets-savory Danny — ginger, cranberry, chutney, almonds, red onions, brie and apples. 

Manager Craig Palombine said a soft opening on Friday went well.

"Everyone was extremely happy with the food," he said. "The unique flavor combinations caught a few of our guests by surprise, but (they) ended up leaving with a sense of adventure as well as a satisfied, fully belly." 

Founder/Orlando location owner Pom Moongauklang grew up in Thailand as a migrant farmworker, earned a culinary degree as a pastry chef and conceived of her new fun-casual concept after working in high-end pressure cookers like Lucky Cheng’s, known for its drag-queen servers and Nobu, Robert DeNiro's restaurant. 

Moongauklang's pastry expertise will come into play in St. Pete with an enticing offering of sweets to go with those gourmet teas on the menu. Late-night weekend hours will take effect soon too.

"Great food, tea and service, all in a happy, airy place with lots of natural lighting," said Luis Gottardi, who runs the website Art Taco. "Use the Sriracha mayo — yum." 

Continuing a tradition of incorporating local art into its ambiance, the new St. Pete cafe has nabbed established 'Burg artist Jennifer Kosharek as its curator, who's put together a stunning display of works by Chad Mize, Saori Murphy, Mark Mitchell, Brandy Stark and Liz Furlong.

Opening week's special hours are noon to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

click to enlarge Art is everywhere at the teahouse and restaurant. - daniel veintimilla
daniel veintimilla
Art is everywhere at the teahouse and restaurant.

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