A Miami favorite Douglas Rodriguez has taken his talents to Tampa. The man who helped usher in a wave of Nuevo Latino Cuisine and is an OG member of the Mango Gang has taken his talents to our neighbor in the north, Tampa, to lead the food and beverage at the stunning new Hotel Haya in Ybor City.
His marquee restaurant Flor Fina is worth the visit, showcasing the coastal cuisines of Latin America, the Mediterranean, and our very own Gulf Coast, boasting a live-fire wood burning grill that uses local sugar maple wood.
We started our meal with a slew of appetizers including the Sweet Corn Fritters with Labneh ranch; the Mezze Platter filled with smoky black bean hummus, charred carrot turmeric orange, caraway cauliflower, roasted sofrito, and served with lentil fritters, plantain chips, flatbread; and the Arugula & Stracciatella Salad made with sweet potatoes, brown butter, sage, spiced bread croutons, and agrodolce.
Larger dish highlights included the Ricotta Gnudi with chicken oysters, black trumpet mushrooms, truffle butter, crispy chicken skin; Brussels Sprouts with walnut cream and pomegranate; Borracho Chicken that is injected with local beer injected and topped with a marsala mushroom demi glaze; and the Whole Market Fish with brown butter, fennel, chimichurri rice.
Of course it isn’t a meal without dessert and the Shock-Alate Parfait with dark chocolate natilla, milk chocolate natilla, white chocolate ice cream, espresso granita, milk espuma and the Lime In The Coconut Pavlova filled with coconut yogurt, tropical fruit salad, key lime ice cream can’t be missed.
The restaurant’s bar is a scene to be taken in with a golden-hued ceiling, ample spaces to lounge, and an expansive array of cocktails with a rum focus. Some of our favorites were the Smokey Joe made with Havana Club Clasico Rum, Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, demerara, coffee bitters, smoke, and served in a cigar box filled with smoke; the Library Card made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Cacao, Lapsang Tea, Combier, Campari; the Painkiller made with Havana Club Blanco, Appleton Estate Signature Blend, coconut, pineapple, orange, lime, and served in a porcelain peacock; the Guarapo Fuerte created with Espolon blanco Tequila, St. George green chili, cucumber, lime, fresh-pressed cane juice; and the Black Diamond made with Montelobos Mezcal, watermelon, Ancho Reyes Verde, Campari, lime, club soda, lava salt.
For those visiting Tampa, Hotel Haya is the spot to stay. The boutique hotel, which just opened in September of this year, is an ode to its neighborhood of Ybor City. The hotel embodies everything special about Ybor City: exuberant Cuban, Italian, and Spanish influences.
The hotel goes above and beyond to feature local Tampa artisans wherever it can. The rooms — most of which have balconies — feature Chihuly-style glass blown globes from artisans from Morean Art Center to mimic the street lamps of Ybor City. Available for purchase will be custom cigars from J.C. Newman Cigars, one of the oldest family-owned cigar companies in the country, and custom candles hand poured by Seventh Avenue Apothecary.
The hotel itself has a “mid-century Cuban” feel with exposed brick walls, a repurposed corner “HAYA” sign, and contemporary and classic art – including four massive Francisco Goya reproductions, one of the most influential Spanish artists of the 18th and 19th centuries.
There’s even an onsite cafe Café Quiquiriqui (pronounced KI-KI-RIKI; Spanish for the call of a rooster and a nod to the free-roaming roosters of Ybor City) that is perfect for a quick breakfast of lunch with homemade empanadas and pastries, and of course, the quintessential Cuban sandwich.
Make sure Hotel Haya and its delicious restaurants are in your travel plans in 2021, and until then, check out the tasty photos below.