Tampa Heights is about to get a new omakase concept, Oktoberfest parties are here, and more local foodie news

And Champion Pizza is now open out of Ichicoro's former space.

click to enlarge Tampa Heights is about to get a new omakase concept, Oktoberfest parties are here, and more local foodie news
Photo via BarrieHaus/ Facebook

Kōsen A unique fine dining concept will soon open its doors in Tampa Heights. High-end omakase restaurant Kōsen lives at 307 W Palm Ave., right around the corner from Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Rocca and Armature Works. While a press release from its owners doesn’t specify a grand opening date, it states that Kōsen will debut sometime in October and is currently accepting reservations for next month. Kōsen's offering is a unique, 20-plus course reservation-only omakase menu at its 10-seat sushi counter, giving each guest an immersive and interactive dining experience. Adjacent to Kōsen’s intimate sushi bar is a 25-seat dining room named “Kō,” which will boast a 10-course tasting menu out of its open kitchen. Kō—which is set to open a few weeks after Kōsen—“will take a modern approach to Japan’s culinary tradition of Kaiseki—showcasing the best of both land and sea." This new Tampa Heights concept will be led by New York-based Chef Wei Chen, who spent many years in Kyoto mastering the art of sushi-making. Notably, Chen trained for seven years under master sushi chef Masa Takayama at NYC’s leading omakase restaurant Masa, which has maintained its steady 3 Michelin stars for the last several years. 307 W Palm Ave., Tampa. Kosentampa.com

Champion Pizza Ichicoro’s now-closed restaurant has been sitting vacant for the last several months, but NYC-based chain Champion Pizza just took over the space at 5229 N Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights. The new concept celebrates its grand opening today, Sept. 29 from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Champion Pizza is known for offering over 30 different flavors of thin crust ‘za, although no two locations boast the same exact menu. Popular options include Buffalo chicken, margherita, lasagna, meat lover’s, pesto chicken and supreme, alongside other flavors that are particular to certain locations. In addition to dishing out piping hot slices of ‘za, customers can also indulge in a variety of fried chicken options. “We're setting foot into a groundbreaking collaboration that I believe will redefine the culinary landscape of Tampa,” Champion Pizza writes on Instagram. “We’re introducing our very first partnership with the krispy and flavorful Korean Chiking in Tampa.” The new pizza and chicken joint is now open from noon-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 5229 N Florida Ave., Tampa. @championpizza on Instagram

Coming soon

Lepley's Kitchen & Lounge If you’re one of Tyler Lepley’s 920,000 Instagram followers, you may have noticed the actor teasing the opening of his restaurant—which just happens to be located right here in Tampa. Lepley's Kitchen & Lounge will soon debut at 6310 N Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights’ former Social House space, which quietly closed its doors earlier this year. It’s unsure exactly when Social House shuttered its doors, although the business confirmed the closure in mid-July, right around the time that Lepley teased the opening of his debut restaurant and lounge on social media. Last week, the actor posted that his restaurant was hiring for both back of house and front of house positions, so the grand opening of Lepley's Kitchen & Lounge may not be too far away. If you’re driving past the former Social House on Florida Avenue any time soon, you’ll also notice that the once gray building is now a vibrant blue. While it’s unsure what type of cuisine Lepley’s will serve, the restaurant promises “ incredible vibes, beautiful people and a new culinary standard.” 6310 N Florida Ave., Tampa. @lepleystampa on Instagram


Green Bench Brewing Co.’s 10th anniversary One of St. Pete’s most popular breweries is celebrating a decade in The ‘Burg, and it’s hosting an art show, releasing exclusive beers and dropping special merch to commemorate it. Festivities kicked off Wednesday with a reunion filled with old friends and former staff, Thursday’s party continues with tunes from DJ Beacon and “A Sunshine City” art exhibition curated by beloved St. Pete artist Chad Mize, and a Friday karaoke night. The official anniversary party happens this Saturday with a waterslide, pools and other entertainment during the day and a feature presentation of Green Bench Brewing Co.’s history and a toast from the owners at night—in addition to specials like $10 select Webb’s bottles and $5 core beers and seasonals all day-long. There's no cover to attend Green Bench's anniversary festivities happening this weekend, but feel free to bring cash for its discounted brews. 1133 Baum Ave. N, St. Petersburg. greenbenchbrewing.com Over 25 ways to celebrate Oktoberfest around Tampa Bay this fall  Craft breweries in every corner of Tampa Bay love celebrating Oktoberfest every fall, each hosting their own versions of the world’s largest beer festival. From märzens and kölsches to pilsners and lagers, these Bavarian-themed parties feature some of the best German-style beer around—whether its imported from the motherland or brewed right here in Florida. For all the polka music-lovers and stein-hoisters out there— here are 25 Oktoberfest celebrations happening throughout Tampa Bay this fall. All events are free to attend unless an admission price is listed. We recommend attending the German American Society of Pinellas County’s weekend-long party, Curtis Hixon Park’s massive Oktoberfest festival, Dunedin Brewery’s 23rd annual celebration and St. Pete’s Piertoberfest happening this Sunday. ICYMI

Ybor Heights brewery Deviant Libation just dropped its first canned beer After celebrating its long-awaited grand opening back in January, Deviant Libation—located at 3800 N Nebraska Ave. in Ybor Heights—released its very first canned beer, a sour ale called “Visibility,” last weekend. Although it’s too late to enjoy the drag performances, food trucks and DJs, you can still swing by the brewery and sip on the “moderately soured ale aged on mango, papaya, and American white oak,” or grab some cans to-go. “We are stoked to partner with BKN, a fellow LGBTQ+ organization, on our first beer can drop. This is a huge deal, and we can't wait to start pouring it out to celebrate this milestone with everyone in the Tampa Bay community," says Deviant Libation owner Tim Ogden in a press release. "LGBTQ+ visibility matters, and Deviant Libation is intent on creating a space that drips with inclusivity and celebrates equity and diversity.” @deviantlibation on Instagram

St. Pete institution Rococo Steakhouse recently announced that David Blackmon is its newly-appointed executive chef. He most recently served as the executive chef of Atlanta-based, new American concept Bacchanalia, which received James Beard nominations in 2014 and 2015.  According to a press release, Chef Blackmon’s cooking style “focuses on sustainability techniques using preservation and fermentation.” 655 2nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Rococosteak.com

Popular review website Yelp just dropped 2023’s “Tampa Bay’s Top Places to Eat” list—and its chock full of local institutions like Mazzaro’s, Pia’s and On Swann alongside newcomers such as Himes Breakfast House and Flan Factory, plus popular vegan spots like Vine Vegan and Florish. “From Mediterranean and Cuban restaurants to plant-based favorites and cafes, these locally loved spots are sure to satisfy your cravings,"  Yelp writes in its introduction. "This list highlights 50 local businesses, including Box of Cubans, Oxford Exchange, Florish, and Mio’s Grill, just to name a few."  Riverview-based concept Box Of Cubans snagged the list's number one spot.

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About The Author

Kyla Fields

Kyla Fields is the Managing Editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay who started their journey at CL as summer 2019 intern. They are the proud owner of a charming, sausage-shaped, four-year-old rescue mutt named Piña.
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