Free beer returns to Busch Gardens, St. Pete gets a new dog bar waterpark, and more Tampa Bay foodie news

And Tampa's 12th annual Cuban Sandwich Festival returns to Ybor City this weekend.

click to enlarge Free beer returns to Busch Gardens, St. Pete gets a new dog bar waterpark, and more Tampa Bay foodie news
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay / Facebook

Mutts & Martinis Grand Central District’s newest addition is getting ready to open its doors, and it's the ideal place for your dogs to cool off in the summer heat. Bar and doggy waterpark concept Mutts & Martinis celebrates its highly-anticipated grand opening on Friday, May 26. Its social media promises DJs all weekend-long alongside a light food menu and fully-stocked bar. Folks don't have to be members to attend its grand opening festivities, but memberships will be required after this weekend, in addition to having your pups registered. Besides its massive dog waterpark, Mutts & Martinis offers a variety of specialty cocktails for their owners. Various flavors of mutt-garitas and martinis are on its menu, alongside an expected spread of beers and speciality cocktails like the "Puffy Poodle," complete with rum, lime and strawberry puree. 2900 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

Coming soon

The Catalyst on the Deuces Multifaceted hospitality concept The Catalyst on the Deuces will soon open out of a prized, pink building in southside St. Pete, where it plans to dish out tasty Jamaican food, cocktails and laid-back patio hangs. When Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy announced the closure of Chief’s Creole Cafe last month, the couple stated they would retain the facility, but it would remain "available to any entrepreneur who would like or need a venue." Local entrepreneur Jason Bryant, his business partner Jeffrey Copeland and Chris, Sheldon and Andrew Steele—owners of St. Pete's recently-closed Sid’s Caribbean Cafe—stepped up to the plate. Bryant says that The Catalyst aims to soft open on Thursday, June 1, and that light renovations have already taken place in the dining room and outdoor patio of the former Chief’s Creole Cafe. Sid’s quietly closed its doors on Central Avenue earlier this year to the dismay of oxtail-lovers across The ‘Burg, but will bring its jerk chicken, stewed cabbage and savory beef patties to the southside next month. 901 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg.  @catalystonthedueces on Instagram

Dirty Shirley Bar and restaurant Dirty Shirley will soon open in the space that most recently housed late-night diner 2nd & Second, which quietly closed doors within the last few weeks. Construction on its replacement started immediately after that. ILovetheBurg says that the concept—slated to open sometime next month—is operated by the same folks that ran 2nd & Second, but with a brand new chef in charge of the kitchen. Future customers can expect comforting American classics like pork chops, mac and cheese bites and chicken wings alongside an expected spread of beer, wine and craft cocktails. We can only assume that Dirty Shirley will dish out the cocktail it's named after, which is a boozy spin on the nostalgic red soda. Dirty Shirley is currently hiring for both front of house and back of house positions. Folks interested in a "high volume, fun environment, with a passion for quality food and beautifully crafted cocktails" can send resumes to [email protected]. 201 2nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. @dirtyshirleystpete on Instagram


Lowry Parcade’s 7th anniversary Lowry Parcade, one of Tampa’s favorite watering holes, celebrates its seventh anniversary with a weekend-long party full of exclusive beer releases, food trucks, synthwave music parties, nerdy burlesque shows, and a day of free arcade play. Lowry Parcade’s new Level 7 sour—with notes of blueberry, elderberry, lavender and lemon—was brewed in collaboration with the Pink Boots Society, and will be available for purchase all weekend-long. While Friday’s festivities and free play Sunday are cover-free, Saturday’s “cosplay burlesque” show will cost $5-$10 to get in. Lowry Parcade features dozens of craft beer options and games in a laid-back atmosphere, from vintage pinball machines to arcade favorites like skee-ball, air hockey, "Mortal Kombat" and "Pac-Man." Lowry Parcade's seventh anniversary weekend runs Friday-Sunday, May 26-28. 1213 W Waters Ave., Tampa.
12th annual Cuban Sandwich Festival If you're looking for an activity to do Memorial Day weekend (besides day drinking at the beach), then you can head to Ybor City's 12th annual Cuban Sandwich Festival. This food and cultural festival returns to the heart of historic Ybor City on Sunday, May 28 from noon-6 p.m. Once again, Centennial Park hosts this annual, free-to-attend event. In addition to a spread of local vendors slinging their best Cuban sammies, next month's festival will also feature a variety of live music and performances, salsa dance lessons, and other family-friendly activities. The grand finale of 2023's festival will once again be its mission to create the largest Cuban sandwich in the world, where participants will attempt to beat last year's record of 280 feet.  1800 E 8th Ave., Ybor

Saigon Summer Night Market Fingers crossed that Florida’s impending hurricane season won’t affect a brand new night market that’s popping up in Clearwater this summer. Located at 14100 US Hwy. 19 N at Clearwater’s Little Saigon Plaza, a night market chock full of Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian delicacies will pop up every Saturday and Sunday night starting on June 3. It’s free-to-attend and kid friendly, and will run from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. both nights. From boba teas, spring rolls and barbecue to specialty desserts, papaya salad and Vietnamese-style crawfish—the newly-launched Saigon Summer Market is a great place to sample a variety of freshly-made street foods. Some of the vendors that attendees can expect at next weekend’s market include boba slingers Bambu, Tampa’s Gao Restaurant, Thuy Cafe, Juju Tayaki, T & T’s Pho, Quan Ngon FL, JuMary Eats, Basil & Rosemary, alongside a dozen other small businesses. 14100 US Hwy. 19 N , Clearwater. Saigon Summer Night Market on Facebook
Event Details

Saigon Summer Night Market

Saturdays, 6-11 p.m. and Sundays, 6-11 p.m.

Little Saigon Plaza 14100 US Hwy. 19 N, Clearwater Clearwater


Free beer returns to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay this summer This week, the park announced that from now until July 20, annual pass holders who are 21-and-over can score two free 7-ounce beers per visit, while guests with regular admission can score one free beer. The free beers will be available at Twisted Tails Pretzels, which is located in the Pantopia area of the park from 10:30 a.m. to one hour prior to park closure. The park's Hospitality House used to be the spot for free beers, but last January the building was transformed into the Springs Taproom, which hosts a full bar with a 12-tap rotating beer list, frozen cocktails and small bites. But moving the free beers to Twisted Tails is a smart move by the park, considering the spot is home to BG's only place to get pretzel-wrapped hot dogs and sausages. Free beer has been a Busch Gardens staple for over 50 years, all the way back to when it was owned by Anheuser-Busch. But the park ended the promotion in 2009. In 2019, during its 60th anniversary, BG brought it back.—Colin Wolf

Creative Loafing kicks off 17th annual Tampa Bay Restaurant Week with its annual ‘Meet the Chefs’ event
Tampa Bay Restaurant Week happens June 15-25 this year, and Creative Loafing Tampa Bay—alongside a handful of other local organizations like Feeding Tampa Bay—celebrates some of the most exciting concepts in our area. Starting June 15, local foodies can enjoy a special prix-fixe menu and drink specials at a variety of local participating restaurants like Cru Cellars, Allelo, The Living Room, Bouzy, Caracara, Teak St. Pete, Cider Press Vegan Gastropub, Azure and Willa’s. A handful of these same concepts will sling samples of their most prized dishes at Creative Loafing's Meet The Chefs party next month, which is hosted each year to help kick off Tampa Bay Restaurant Week. Guests can rub elbow with chefs from restaurants like CW's Gin Joint, Rome + Fig, The Black Pearl and Mighty Quinns BBQ, alongside several other local concepts. 2023’s Meet of the Chefs returns to downtown Tampa's The Vault on Thursday, June 8 from 6 pm.-9 p.m.

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