These are Tampa Bay’s top 10 new restaurants

On March 11, 2020, I published the last restaurant review I would write for the rest of that year.

Of course, I had no idea what the future held at the time. That week, we ran a playful rundown of the Filipino fare served at Jollibee, a fast-food restaurant with a cultlike international following that had recently opened in Pinellas Park.

I’ve been a restaurant critic for close to seven years now and I can say with some certainty that I never expected my last review before a pandemic to focus on the nuances and flavor profiles of Jolly Spaghetti

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The 10 best dishes our food critic ate in Tampa Bay in 2021

For many of us, the great takeout game of 2020 stretched well into 2021. To-go meals made up many of my dinners. But despite not eating out as much as I did during pre-pandemic times, I still discovered dozens of exciting new restaurants and fantastic meals. Whittling down that list to my 10 favorite dishes wasn’t easy, and there were more than a few great bites that didn’t quite make the cut. Here are some of the most memorable dishes I ate during the past 12 months.

This story is part of our 2022 Top Restaurants series. Read the other

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What’s in a Peruvian sandwich? This Tampa food truck has the answer

TAMPA — What makes a really good Peruvian sandwich?

At Meanchi’s, a Peruvian-inspired food truck in Tampa, owner Josh Varon seems to have found the answer.

For him, it’s a combination of things. First, it’s about tradition — giving indigenous ingredients and recipes the attention they deserve. But it’s also about adopting a contemporary, fast-casual mindset: taking risks and thinking outside the box.

His best-selling Chicharron sandwich ($11) makes a pretty compelling argument for both. Instead of the traditional pork belly, Varon swaps in roasted, fried pork shoulder and pairs it with thick planks of fried sweet potatoes, a zingy

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