The Tampa Bay Times and food critic Laura Reiley celebrated the announcement of her top 100 restaurants for 2019 with a bash at the Franklin Food Hall Thursday night. A mix of a who's who of Tampa's culinary world and their admirers feasted on a generous offerings of delicious delights from some of the kitchens at the hall. Traditionally the Times and Reiley have revealed a 50 best restaurants list, but she says due to the remarkable increase in quality establishments they broadened the field to 100 for her retrospective tally for 2019. See the entire story and video here
The celebration was as much a love fest for Reiley, who recently announced her imminent departure for a gig with the Washington Post, as it was a tip of the hat to the kitchen wizards named on the list. The critic has been a staple in the Tampa food scene since 2007. She is a 2017 James Beard and Pulitzer finalist, and a much revered presence in the culinary world and the Tampa Bay food news scene. Her 2016 work on Farm to Fable, a revealing multipart investigation outing local restaurants falsely claiming to use locally sourced food, is a jewel in the crown of her reporting. She will be sorely missed.
Many of the recipients are no surprise. Ty Rodriguez and Farrell Alvarez of the Rooster and the Till again took top honors. Their food is a perennial favorite because, well, is so damned good! Chef Alvarez is inventive, energetic, and always seems to be on the cutting edge of what's next in the taste tempting world. St Pete's Reading Room was runner up.
The winners list is long and varied. It is broken down into 25 categories, some being particular foodstuffs like Cuban sandwiches and desserts, and some being eating experiences like food halls and the best pet friendly restaurants. Check it out. And, don't blink. There are 25 new places scheduled to open so far in 2019. Start eating!
Kick some Washington butt Laura. We hope they know what a prize they are getting. Cheers!
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