Caffeine Roasters now open on Kennedy in South Tampa

Caffeine Roasters has moved into where Drama Burger once stood at 2420 West Kennedy Boulevard and is now open. Caffeine is also located in Downtown Tampa minutes from Franklin Manor at 212 East Cass Street. I am a fan of the Downtown location and also really enjoy the new space as well.

The expansion mirrors an expansion happening with many of the new coffee shop brands taking on Buddy Brew Coffee and Kahwa locally.

The menu is the same at both locations and the space has lots of seating from couches to tables and plugs and Wi-Fi available. The only downside of the new location on Kennedy is lack of parking – the place has only been open for a few weeks and parking already sucks.

On the positive side, they have a drive-thru so you can take your coffee with you if you can’t find parking.

The staff is very friendly and happy to explain the types of coffee they provide and the background of what they are doing – that was also noticeable when I visited the Downtown Tampa location in the past as well.

Last but most certainly not least, their coffee tastes great – I had an El Salvador roast during my visit and fully enjoyed it without hardly any sweeteners or add-ons. Check out Caffeine Roasters!

Restaurant Name: Caffeine Roasters

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Address: 2420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609

Phone Number: (813) 644-7245

Website: http://www.caffeineusa.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CaffeineRoastersTampa/

Twitter: @CaffeineTampa

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/caffeineroasterstampa/

Little Donut House more than a little disappointing

What is it about miniature donuts that makes them so enticing? Is it how magical they look on Instagram and Snapchat? I’m not really sure, but I decided to give them a shot this past weekend at Little Donut House located at 4048 West Kennedy Boulevard.

I was initially inspired to try Little Donut House after sampling their Margarita Donut at CL Margarita Wars which was actually quite tasty and impressed me with an innovative taste.

My friend and I ordered 6 donuts ($4.50) and shared them during our visit to Little Donut House. None of them were appealing.

littledonut1

The donuts were cold and lacked any flavors that stood out. They did not taste fresh from the donut underneath to the toppings. Most of the menu items were basically chocolate choices and the other ones did not sound too appetizing.

I suppose you can argue that the donuts were not fresh because we visited in the middle  of the afternoon. Still – I liken it to a pizza place selling pizza by the slice in the afternoon that should probably be thrown out.

If you’re open for business – the quality should still be there.

Quality toppings and ingredients could definitely pave the way for an excellent mini donut. There is lots of possibilities, but I haven’t seen that execution yet.

The most disappointing donut I had was the Maple Bacon Donut. The bacon on the donut tasted like bacon you might get from a salad bar drizzled on top of a miniature donut and fell completely flat on flavor.

It’s really hard to make bacon unappealing and that’s why this experience has stuck with me in the back of my mind for days.

I am not a fan of Mini Doughnut Factory either – too sweet, too cakey, just not for me…but Little Donut House fell even under that scope.

I wasn’t even aware that Little Donut House and Mini Doughnut Factory were in the middle of litigation recently over a name dispute, but frankly I don’t like either.

For mini donuts I am going to stick to Disco Donuts and for regular donuts I am sticking to Craving Donuts.

Taco Traveler delivers world class eats

I stopped by The Taco Traveler food truck today for Taco Tuesday at C. 1949 Florida Beer Garden. The two have teamed up for a weekly Taco Tuesday event as of late. It was my first time visiting either business.

The Taco Traveler is a local food truck that started last year serving tacos inspired from around the world.

To be honest, I’m surprised there are not more taco trucks in Tampa Bay considering how popular Mexican food is and how easy you can blend it with other cuisines. In world history, Mexico was an important connection between the Eastern and Western worlds and many flavors and spices traveled through Mexico to other nations.

Let me mention also that The Taco Traveler isn’t trying to play towards traditional Mexican cuisine, but the dishes it puts out do capture the flavors I want in my food.

The Taco Traveler has a few standard menu items and rotating specials.

On the list were the Korean BBQ Taco, Banh Mi Taco, Tex Mex Taco…to name a few. I went with the Tex Mex Taco which was the Taco Tuesday special ($2) and the Korean BBQ Taco ($4.50 with tax). Both surpassed my expectations and impressed me.

They offer a choice of flour or corn tortillas and the correct answer to that question is always corn tortillas.

The sad part about corn tortillas is when they rip – but that’s what forks are for!

Tacos - Korean BBQ Taco and Tex Mex Taco

The Tex Mex Taco comes with your choice of beef or chicken, cheese, shredded lettuce, house-made salsa, sour cream, and green onions. What impressed me about it was the quality of the beef I ordered and the seasonings of it – it was excellent down to every last bite.

The salsa was also quite tasty.

Then there was the Korean BBQ Taco which came with pickled red cabbage, Korean BBQ, sriracha aioli, kimchi, queso fresco, and green onions. It was INCREDIBLE and I was truly happy with this taco.

I’m a bit of a Korean food snob having lived in Seoul in the past, but this taco was definitely what I wanted and how I imagine a Korean taco would taste. It made me start thinking about all the other possibilities of what can be done using Korean cuisine when applied to other categories.

Can I also say that more places in Tampa should use queso fresco? It’s such an amazing topping to food dishes and you hardly see it on menus here.

The prices were reasonable considering they are a small trailer food truck. I had two tacos and felt pretty full. I would like to try their nachos in the future.

I will definitely return in the future for more tacos.

C. 1949 was also quite an experience. The bar menu was huge and the staff was friendly. They had a ton of local options and the draft beer and local list was filled with tons of choices and varieties and many new craft beer choices that are just recently hitting the market.

It’s obvious that the management of C. 1949 cares about providing quality craft beer to their customers.

The atmosphere at C. 1949 fits Seminole Heights as a neighborhood and has that hipster vibe down.

The lighting and actual decor is modern and the bar itself is spacious, well air-conditioned, and has plenty of seats. Outdoor seating is nice although it was certainly be more enjoyable when Florida cools down a bit.

The live acoustic musician outside was great and fit the overall vibe. C. 1949 seems to be doing lots of events lately and you can see more about it on their website if you’re interested: http://c1949.com/

Brio Tuscan Grille celebrating National Lasagna Day

Full disclosure: I was invited to Brio Tuscan Grille for a tasting of their menu in exchange for this article about their upcoming promotion for National Lasagna Day.

This Thursday, July 27th, Brio Tuscan Grille will celebrate National Lasagna Day early and offer guests 50% off their Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese. Lunch will include a half-portion option with salad and dinner will only offer the full-portion size of the dish.

Here are some quick facts about lasagna – please note that some are disputed by different historians:

  • The name lasagna comes from the Greek word laganon – one of the world’s oldest forms of pasta.
  • The word “lasagna” originally was in reference to the pot that the food was cooked in, not to the actual dish.
  • Modern lasagna was created in Naples, Italy during the Middle Ages – recipes seem to point back to the 13th century.
  • The World’s Largest Lasagna is 5.29 tons, took 10 hour to make, and was made in 2012 in Poland. The lasagna was made in honor of the Italian national soccer team.
  • Recipes for lasagna originally could not have called for tomatoes although they are essential to the dish nowadays because tomatoes were not commonly available until after the Age of Exploration in the 1500s.
  • Fun fact: tomatoes were believed to be poisonous when they were first introduced in Europe. Hard to believe that considering how important tomatoes are to Italian cuisine now.

Brio’s Mama’s Lasagna is a mixture of Bolognese meat sauce, Alfredo, ricotta, and Mozzarella.

Brio Tuscan Grille is located at the International Plaza in Tampa at 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607. The Tampa location can be reached at (813) 877-3939. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at http://www.brioitalian.com/.

Bento Cafe opening in Downtown St. Petersburg

Popular Asian eatery, Bento Cafe, is planning to open their first Tampa Bay location in Downtown St. Petersburg in the Spring of 2018. According to St. Pete Rising the location will feature 80 seats along with outdoor sidewalk tables.

It makes sense considering how much Downtown St. Petersburg has grown over the years, but it is definitely a little disappointing to all the USF – Tampa students that have waited years for a location after frequenting locations at the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and even University of North Florida. Apparently Bento is also looking for 2 locations in Tampa.

Bento Cafe has been hinting at a Tampa Bay location for over 2 years on Facebook and seems to be expanding rapidly across the state over the next year or so. Hopefully in the future Bento will look at the USF area as a potential future investment area.

Bento is known for their fast-casual Asian environment with inspirations from Japanese, Thai, Korean, and other Asian cuisines. 

Their sushi rolls are quite popular and their sashimi rice bowls are a personal favorite as well as their Spicy Cream Chicken. In addition, Bento also sells bubble tea and other popular Asian drinks.

Visit Bento online at http://www.bentocafesushi.com/

Exploring The Tampa Food Scene (Sponsored)

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Party Buses. I have been compensated for this post appearing on my website.

The Tampa Bay area food scene is one that begs to be discovered. Whether you’re new to the area, visiting, or a long time resident, there’s sure to be a corner that you’ve yet to experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who leans toward independent, hip eateries or high quality classics, you’re in luck when you’re here. 

The best thing about food in Tampa is the fact that it’s so diverse. This area is a melting pot of cultures, and the restaurant scene shows it. It seems like there is a stream of new destinations popping up too, and this makes it even easier to jump into some tasty dishes. Checking out restaurants and food trucks isn’t the only way to enjoy fresh food in the area, though! 

Farmers Markets

Farmer’s Markets are a great way to get acquainted with the community while simultaneously getting the best selection of mostly organic produce and other goods made by locals. Live music is another positive aspect of shopping at one of these destinations. Not only is the produce super fresh here, but it’s also extremely affordable, and you can feel good knowing that you’re contributing to the local economy whenever you decide to spend your money here. Check out North Tampa Market, Seminole Heights Summer Market, and Fresh Market at Hyde Park Village. 

Community Festivals

Another great way to check out the food scene in Tampa is to attend a local festival. Here, you’ll find vendors cooking up delicious eats all day long. There’s a diverse selection to choose from, too! Some of the more popular events include the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival, Mayors Mac & Cheese Throwdown, Tampa Bay Margarita Festival, Annual Best of Tampa Bay, and Taste of South Tampa. This is only a small listing of what is planned through the year, so be sure to do a bit of research to find something that fits your tastes! 

Throwing a Tampa Party Bus or a limousine into the mix can turn a regular dinner gathering with friends into something truly memorable. It’s easy to plan a fantastic night out when you have professional transportation along for the ride! You’ll be able to check out multiple spots in one night without worrying about who will be the designated driver at the end of the festivities. With counter tops and cup holder, you can enjoy food and drink on board between stops.

Burger Culture South Tampa now open

Full disclosure: Burger Culture and I cross-promote on events and I have consulted for Burger Culture. Last year’s popular Grilled Cheese Festival was coined by Burger Culture. Any opinions stated are my own and do not reflect Burger Culture specifically.

Burger Culture is finally open in South Tampa after much planning in preparation for a second location. The new location is in North Hyde Park at 2304 West Gray Street.

The full menu is available and their current hours are 11AM-9PM although that is subject to change in the future. Delivery is still available through UberEATS, extending Burger Culture’s delivery range.

The interior has a warehouse vibe with lots of art painted on the walls by local graffiti artist, Justin Bass. I was honestly really impressed with all the artwork both inside the building and the mural made last week during Burger Culture’s Launch Party. I just got back to town from San Francisco and truly believe that art and culture is what Tampa needs if it is going to become a bigger city.

You can reach Burger Culture at (813) 992-7444.

This Sunday, July 23rd – Burger Culture will host a Grilled Cheese Sunday Brunch and I’ll be there from 12PM-3PM. The event will showcase gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, brunch sides, and complimentary champagne (while supplies last). Come out and check out the new location.

RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1303073126456560/