December 10, 2021

Tampa Bay's best new restaurants of 2021

It goes without saying that dining has changed quite a bit in Tampa Bay over the last couple years, and despite all the challenges,  incredible new restaurants have continued to pop-up. The last 12 months have been some of Tampa Bay's best for new eats, and what you'll find here are staff picks for the best restaurants that made their debut in 2021. 
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Sal Y Mar  
3650 Midtown Dr. 8th Floor, Tampa
Midtown Tampa Rooftop bar Sal Y Mar is perched on top of the dual-branded Aloft and Element Hotel in Midtown Tampa. The Tulum-inspired, tapas heavy-menu includes cajun shrimp corn fritters, chipotle-charred chicken, and, most importantly, a mason jar cheesecake. The upscale space has inside and outside seating and 360-degree views of Tampa.
Photo via Sal Y Mar/Facebook

Sal Y Mar

3650 Midtown Dr. 8th Floor, Tampa
Midtown Tampa Rooftop bar Sal Y Mar is perched on top of the dual-branded Aloft and Element Hotel in Midtown Tampa. The Tulum-inspired, tapas heavy-menu includes cajun shrimp corn fritters, chipotle-charred chicken, and, most importantly, a mason jar cheesecake. The upscale space has inside and outside seating and 360-degree views of Tampa.
Dirty Laundry  
1742 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Stephen Schrutt, owner of Hunger & Thirst Restaurant Group—the same folks behind downtown St. Pete heavy hitters The Avenue, No Vacancy, Park & Rec and Tropicana Field’s BallPark & Rec—has opened a new cafe and speakeasy bay with a kitschy pseudo-laundromat exterior. To get in, pay a visit to the inconspicuous pay phone under the neon “Talk Dirty to Me” sign inside of the laundromat, receive the numerical password, and then punch those numbers on the pay phone keypad. A quick push on a washing machine leads you into St. Pete’s newest speakeasy concept.
Photo via Dirty Laundry/Website

Dirty Laundry

1742 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Stephen Schrutt, owner of Hunger & Thirst Restaurant Group—the same folks behind downtown St. Pete heavy hitters The Avenue, No Vacancy, Park & Rec and Tropicana Field’s BallPark & Rec—has opened a new cafe and speakeasy bay with a kitschy pseudo-laundromat exterior. To get in, pay a visit to the inconspicuous pay phone under the neon “Talk Dirty to Me” sign inside of the laundromat, receive the numerical password, and then punch those numbers on the pay phone keypad. A quick push on a washing machine leads you into St. Pete’s newest speakeasy concept.
Gangchu  
618 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa
The latest concept from the owner of Ichicoro Ramen opened this year in Seminole Heights near 7venth Sun Brewery. Gangchu basically means, “it rocks” or “it’s the shit” in Korean, and notably features dishes like both boneless and “Gangchu chicken” wings, beef bulgogi wrap and Gangchu cheesesteak sandwiches or kimchi pancakes and fried rice and tteokbokki (aka spice rice cake). A nine-item cocktail list features drink names inspired by local thoroughfares like, Nebraska, Hanna, Knollwood, Shadowlawn, Minnehaha and more.
Photo via Gangchu/Facebook

Gangchu

618 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa
The latest concept from the owner of Ichicoro Ramen opened this year in Seminole Heights near 7venth Sun Brewery. Gangchu basically means, “it rocks” or “it’s the shit” in Korean, and notably features dishes like both boneless and “Gangchu chicken” wings, beef bulgogi wrap and Gangchu cheesesteak sandwiches or kimchi pancakes and fried rice and tteokbokki (aka spice rice cake). A nine-item cocktail list features drink names inspired by local thoroughfares like, Nebraska, Hanna, Knollwood, Shadowlawn, Minnehaha and more.
Willa’s and Willa’s Provisions 
1700 W Fig St., Tampa
Willa’s and its companion concept Willa’s Provision debuted this year in NoHo. The trendy-casual spot dishes seasonal French and American cuisine, while its adjacent grab-and-go sibling serves up items like breakfast tacos, baked goods (carrot cake loaf!), King State coffee, ice cream, beer, wine and more.
Photo via Willa’s/Instagram

Willa’s and Willa’s Provisions

1700 W Fig St., Tampa
Willa’s and its companion concept Willa’s Provision debuted this year in NoHo. The trendy-casual spot dishes seasonal French and American cuisine, while its adjacent grab-and-go sibling serves up items like breakfast tacos, baked goods (carrot cake loaf!), King State coffee, ice cream, beer, wine and more.
Fado 
435 5th Ave. N, St. Petersburg
Chef Rui Borges brings the Portuguese sister concept of his Orlando restaurant Lison to the ‘Burg. Menu items include pastéis de bacalhau, bife à Portuguesa (Portuguese steak) and serradura for dessert.
Photo via Fado/Facebook

Fado

435 5th Ave. N, St. Petersburg
Chef Rui Borges brings the Portuguese sister concept of his Orlando restaurant Lison to the ‘Burg. Menu items include pastéis de bacalhau, bife à Portuguesa (Portuguese steak) and serradura for dessert.

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At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future.