Are you feeling the holiday spirit? It’s 67 degrees today in Tampa and I am already sipping on an eggnog latte. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will bring back their annual Christmas Town series starting this Saturday, November 17th.
Christmas Town favorites will return including Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola and Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland.
New for Christmas Town this year:
Brunch with Santa: Christmas-themed dining experience for the whole family. Some items on the menu include fried chicken and waffles with apple butter, butternut bisque with cinnamon cream, and chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. Santa Clause will make an appearance with a photo opportunity. Adults can enjoy unlimited mimosa and “Build-Your-Own-Bloody-Mary” upgrades. The event will occur on select dates at Serengeti Overlook Restaurant
“Christmas Is…” holiday show at Dragon Fire Grill joining Christmas on Ice, Elmo’s Christmas Wish, the Holiday Hills Band, Carols of the Bells light show, and Christmas Town Sing-A-Long Train
Christmas Town Village will be located in a new location this year. Find it inside the Gwazi Pathway with holiday merchandise and treats for-sale. The Jingle Bell Express miniature train will be in town. Winter whiskey and wine tastings will be available for adults of age.
My favorite part of Christmas Town is all the lights and of course the snow. The holiday train is also something I really enjoy. It really gets you in the mood for the holidays.
The national holiday will occur on November 11th and be observed on Monday, November 12th, 2018.
Veteran’s Day was originally founded as “Armstice Day” by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11th, 1919, the first anniversary of World War I and eventually become a way to commemorate all who have served our country.
Here is a list of places offering discounts – make sure to bring your valid identification to qualify:
4 Rivers Smokehouse: All veteran’s and first-responders (with valid ID) will receive a complimentary sandwich at their local 4 Rivers) on Monday, November 12th.
Applebee’s Grill + Bar: All veterans and active-duty military can enjoy a free full-size entree Sunday, November 11th, from a selection of eight dishes.
BJ’s Restaurant + Bar: Free meal up to $12.95 + free Dr. Pepper Sunday.
Bonefish Grill: Free bang bang shrimp on Sunday, November 11th.
Buffalo Wild Wings: Free small order of traditional or boneless wing with a side of fries on Sunday, November 11th
California Pizza Kitchen: Free meal from special menu on Sunday, November 11th. BOGO card valid November 12th to November 18th.
Chipotle: BOGO deal on Sunday, November 11th
Cracker Barrel: Free slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake or Craft Coffee Beverage
Cici’s Pizza: Free adult buffet on Sunday, November 11th.
Denny’s: Free Build Your Own Grand Slam from 5AM to 12PM Monday, November 12th for active, inactive, and retired military personnel.
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: Men and women who have served can enjoy 15% off their bill on Sunday, November 11th. Alcohol excluded. Not valid in NY, NJ, or CT.
IHOP: Free Red, White, and Blue pancakes or patriotic pancake combo on Monday, November 12th from 7AM to 7PM.
Longhorn Steakhouse: Free appetizer or dessert on Sunday November 11th.
Miller’s Ale House: 50% off meal on Sunday, November 11th.
Olive Garden: Free meal from special menu on Sunday, November 11th
Outback Steakhouse: Free bloomin’ onion and non-alcoholic beverage on Sunday, November 11th
Red Robin: Free Red’s Tavern Double with bottomless steak fries on Sunday, November 11th
Shake Shack: Free scoop of Shake Shack custard on Sunday, November 11th.
Sonny’s BBQ: Free pulled or sliced pork big deal combo for veteran’s and active duty on Monday, November 12th. Dine-in only.
Starbucks: Free tall hot brewed coffee on Sunday, November 11th.
Texas de Brazil: Two veteran’s dine complimentary and 20% off for up to 6 more guests on November 11th and November 12th.
Texas Roadhouse: Free lunch from special menu on Sunday, November 11th for active, former, or retired military. Dine-in only.
Tijuana Flats: Free entree and drink Sunday with military ID. Dine in or take out. Limit 1 per person.
World of Beer: Free draught beer for veteran’s or $5 off your bill.
Zaxby’s: Free chicken filet sandwich on Monday, November 12th.
Here are local spots in Tampa Bay offering deals for Veteran’s Day:
Brandon Harley-Davidson: Free food and drinks for all veterans, active duty, and retired military personnel on Saturday, November 10th from 11AM-3PM. 20% off general merchandise official licensed products.
Fresh Harvest at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa: 2-4-1 buffet or 50% OFF buffet. $20 in free play will be offered to veteran’s (must visit Player’s Club to redeem).
Prost Kitchen + Bar: Free meal for active/retired military on Sunday, November 11th and Monday, November 12th.
Tampa Bay Grand Prix: $10 per race special all weekend for all veteran’s and their families.
Tampa Beer Works: $1 off drafts for veterans on Sunday, November 12th
Some great local businesses will offering perks to voters who show up with their “I Voted” stickers during early voting through Election Day.
Here is a list of participating local businesses with discounts I rounded up:
Ginger Beard Coffee – 10% OFF with “I Voted” sticker. 1208 E Kennedy Blvd #112, Tampa, FL 33606
Ybor City Wine Bar – One FREE glass of select wine or bubbles. 1600 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
Rooster & the Till – Show your “I Voted” sticker and enjoy at 15-percent ‘Neighborhood Love’ discount. 6500 N. Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Nebraska Mini Mart – Show your “I Voted” sticker and enjoy at 15-percent ‘Neighborhood Love’ discount. 4815 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL 33603
Bullfrog Creek Brewing Co. – $1 OFF your craft beer. 3632 Lithia Pinecrest Rd, Valrico, FL 33596
The Refinery – 10% OFF per person with “I Voted” sticker. 5910 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Surf & Turf Cafe – FREE side of fries when you order a sandwich or salad bowl from the cafe with “I Voted” sticker. 101 N Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602
Angry Chair Brewing – BOGO beer with “I Voted” sticker. 6401 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
The Lab Coffee Tampa – $1 OFF any espresso beverage with “I Voted” sticker. 1703 W State St, Tampa, FL 33606
Empamamas (Armature Works) – 10% OFF your order with “I Voted” sticker. 1910 N. Ola Ave., Tampa, FL 33602
Mekenita Cantina – 10% OFF your entire order with “I Voted” sticker. 6707 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604
Independent Bar and Cafe, Tampa – 15% OFF with “I Voted” sticker. 5016 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603
Sulphur Springs Sandwich Shop – 10% OFF to whoever is wearing their “I Voted” sticker. 9000 N. Florida Ave. A, Tampa, FL 33604
Jet City Espresso Seminole Heights – 10% discount off of all coffee/tea drinks with sticker.6601, 5803 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Leaven Brewing – 10% OFF with “I Voted” sticker. 11238 Boyette Rd., Riverview, FL 33569
Heights Pizza – 10% OFF to anyone who presents the “I Voted” sticker on pickup or delivery. 7504 N. Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Snobachi – Buy 1, Get One 50% OFF from Tuesday to Thursday with “I Voted” sticker until Election Day. 2206 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605, Tampa, FL 33605
Cigar City Brewing – 10% OFF for “I Voted” Sticker on Election Day 2018 (Nov. 6). 3924 W. Spruce St., Tampa, FL 33607
Brew Bus Brewing – FREE house beer to people with “I Voted” sticker (Election Day only). 4101 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603
Hemingway’s (Armature Works) – 15% OFF with your voting sticker from now until Election Day! 1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Coppertail Brewing Co. – Come with your “I VOTED” sticker and get a FREE beer. We are honoring this during early voting through Election Day (one per person on the day you voted please). 2601 E. 2nd Ave., Tampa, FL 33605
Taking a trip to Orlando soon? Something delicious is cooking in “The Theme Park Capital of the World”.
Prepare to enjoy some serious dining deals for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. 100+ restaurant will be offering three course prix-fixe meals for $35 per person. The restaurant month is sponsored by American Express and will run from Friday, August 24th to Sunday, September 30th.
It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve been wanting to experience. New additions for 2018 include first-time vegan options as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options.
$1 from every meal will be donated to a local charities Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
According to Visit Orlando, “Proceeds from Magical Dining Month will help Best Buddies expand its programs into Orange County middle schools with high populations of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This mentorship program helps improve students’ quality of life and foster an inclusive middle school culture, by erasing the barrier that typically separates students with disabilities”.
Also: “Proceeds from Magical Dining Month will help the Down Syndrome Association expand its emergency and crisis fund, pay for potential medical needs not covered by insurance, and fund therapy scholarship programs.”
Some notable restaurants on the list include Morimoto Asia, Wine Bar George, K Restaurant, Pharmacy Orlando, Seito Sushi Baldin Park, and more. You’ll find everything from local hotposts to chains and even some steakhouses and upper-tier restaurants on the list.
Miami Beach is a classic tourist attraction. Hotels are all along the strip with bars and restaurants just waiting for customers. It’s a little hard to navigate as well. Most bars are open late and many are open until 5AM with nightclubs filling in the party scene.
Here are some recommendations on where to go in South Beach when you’re there.
Uber Pool and Lyft will easily transport you around this area for less than $5 in most cases so avoid attempting to park if possible.
Bodega Taqueria y Tequila: This place is unassuming from the outside, but behind the front and through a few doors is a beautiful bar with libations and food as well as music spinning until 5AM. The best part about this place is their daily happy hour from 6PM to 8PM which features loaded tacos for $2 and $6 cocktails as well as $4 chips and salsa / $5 mezcal and tequila shots. There is a $35 minimum for card so make sure you bring cash or use the ATM there if you don’t mind paying a fee. These were some of the best tacos I have enjoyed in a long time. The ribeye and mahi mahi tacos were excellent. I enjoyed a Maduro Old Fashioned. I highly recommend this spot. Note: 18% Gratuity and 7% Sales Tax will automatically be added to your bill. 1220 16th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 704-2145http://www.bodegasouthbeach.com/
Employees Only: Quality craft cocktails await at this speakeasy hidden behind a psychic / tarot card room. The best seats are at the bar in my opinion just because its beautiful, but service was also great tableside. Drinks are fairly priced for Miami Beach and they pack a punch. The Hurricane was enjoyable. 1030 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (786) 264-3945http://employeesonlymiami.com
Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company: You’ll find this beautiful neon lit bar in Collins Park area. The best time to go is during happy hour from 4PM to 7PM where you can enjoy a fantastic Classic Daquiri for $5 as I did or even Tommy’s Margarita for $8. You’ll easily spend $20 a drink in the off hours which is pretty average for Miami. 237 20th Street Suite B, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 763-8217http://mysweetliberty.com/
The Broken Shaker: Socialites can enjoy a tiki bar with craft cocktails at The Broken Shaker at Freehand Hotel. There is plenty of people mingling and on dates so it may not be the best bar for someone flying solo. The drinks here are strong, inventive, and flavorful. It might be one of the best bars I have been to and I would go with a crowd or some friends for sure. Expect to spend $15-$20 on a drink. Happy Hour is only for hotel guests as is the pool area. 2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33140 (305) 531-2727http://freehandhotels.com/miami/broken-shaker/
Moshi Moshi: If you want a reasonably priced Japanese restaurant in South Beach, Moshi Moshi will fit the bill. It’s located right next toEspañola Way. They deliver and are open-late. Lunch specials here are under $8 which is a steal for South Beach. I enjoyed a takoyaki (octopus balls) during my visit and it was superb as well as Crunchy Krab Ceviche which wasn’t ceviche at all but a great assortment of imitation Krab, crunchies, avocados, eel sauce, and spicy mayo. Sushi rolls start at $5 and many are under $10. 1448 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 531-4520
Rosseta Bakery: This local bakery in Miami has excellent Italian breads and pastries as well as a beautiful interior and is a great place to get work done and wake up in the morning with a coffee after a long night of drinking and partying in Miami Beach. You must try the prosciutto croissant sandwich. It is life-changing. The staff is incredibly friendly and they were playing Destiny’s Child and Beyonce songs at 7AM. I can get behind that. 929 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (786) 216-7795 http://www.rosettabakery.com
Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Creative Loafing Tampa. Any opinions expressed are my own and do not represent Creative Loafing.
Get ready to party like it is Cinco de Mayo this month. Local newspaper Creative Loafing Tampa will have their annual Margarita Wars competition on Friday, July 27th from 7PM to 10PM at TPepin’s Hospitality at 4121 North 50th Street in Tampa.
Guests will sample margaritas from more than 15 mixologists around town and vote for “Tampa Bay’s Best Margarita” while enjoying Mexican bites from top restaurants.
Margaritas are one of the most popular drinks in the United States and Americans drink up to 185,000 margaritas per hour according to The Nibble.
In fact, The United States is the number one tequila market in the world beating even Mexico. Not only that, but the South accounts for 34.9% of all margarita sales nationwide. It makes sense considering how hot it is.
Tickets start at $45 and are now on-sale. VIP attendees will enjoy an hour of early entry as well as other perks.
4th of July brings lots of excitment and American pride. Fireworks and partying are at the top of the agenda as well.
Wondering where to go and get your dose of red, white, and blue? I have you covered.
Here are some places throwing events for 4th of July this Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 in Tampa Bay:
Aloft Hotel: Every Wednesday is Wine Down Wednesdays at Aloft Tampa Downtown and this 4th of July is no different. The event will feature $20 regular admission and $10 reduced entry with RSVP. Guests will enjoy bottomless wine, champagne, craft beer, and appetizers from 5PM-9PM and drink specials afterwards. Fireworks begins at 9PM. 100 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 898-8000
American Social: Celebrate Independence Day at American Social with food, drinks, music, and fireworks. The waterfront access of American Social makes this a great spot to view fireworks. Drink specials include $4 Tito’s Vodka and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey as well as $3 Bud Light/Budweiser all day. 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. Suite 107, Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 605-3333
American Victory Museum & Ship: Celebrate Independence Day at this 4th of July Family Funfest from 6:30PM-9:30PM. There will be music, games, food, beer, wine, contests, and giveaways. American Victory Museum provides a voyage to American Maritime History. Tickets range from $7-$13. 705 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602
Astro Skate of Brandon: This local Brandon skating rink will offer $5 admission on 4th of July from 1PM-6PM (skate rentals extra). FREE all-you-can-eat hot dogs from 1PM-2PM and a singing contetst for “God Bless America” with a $25 cash prize. 750 W Robertson St, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 681-3635
George M. Steinbrenner Field: There is no sport more American than baseball and the Tampa Tarpons have a game scheduled against the Clearwater Threshers at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Doors open at 5PM with the game kicking off at 6:30PM. Tickets range from $5-$8 and there will be specials including $3 16 oz. Budweiser / Bud Light drafts and $5 for 6 chicken wings. FREE Admission for current and former EMT Specialists, Firefighters, Police, and Military Personnel. 1 Steinbrenner Dr., Tampa, FL 33614
Hollander Hotel Downtown St. Petersburg: Feel like getting wet? Hollander Hotel will have a pool party on 4th of July with DJ Dutch from 1PM-5PM. No cover. 421 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 873-7900
Museum of the Fine Arts, St. Petersburg: The MFA Cafe has a special buffet planned for 4th of July at 6:30PM. On the menu: Brown sugar and chipotle rubbed beef brisket, Carolina hickory smoked chicken quarters, BBQ pulled pork sliders, Sweet cole slaw, Grilled bbq gulf shrimp salad sliders, Charred corn aioli, Grilled corn on the cob with cilantro-lime butter, Build your own red, white and blue cupcake bar, and more. Enjoy fireworks after the feast. $46 for adults and $23 for children. Limited-seating. Call (727) 822-1032 for reservations. 255 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
The Sail: Channelside’s usual 4th of July festivities are on hold this year as construction continues on the plaza. The Sail located a few miles down the Tampa Riverwalk will have food trucks for 4th of July and a front-view of Downtown Tampa fireworks. Catch Casablanca Fusion, Sugar Shack Tampa, and Sexton’s Pizza from 11AM-9PM and The Bacon Boss, The Melt Machine, and Just Smokin BBQ from 5PM-11PM serving some street eats. There will be live music and drinks at the bar. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 274-7778
Shephard’s Beach Resort: Shephard’s Beach Resort on Clearwater Beach has as weekly Wednesday night club party called NEON BEACH at their Wave Nightclub. The event will offer $2 drinks all night long starting at 9PM right after the fireworks go off on the beach. Guests must be 18 years or older to enter. There will be a relaxed dress code. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, FL 33767 (727) 442-5107
Bartenders showcased their talents and the winners move on to London (the home of Bombay Sapphire) for the finals and the chance to win $10,000, a digital feature in GQ, and other Conde Nast digital properties.
Cocktail competitions are awesome because you get to see bartenders push themselves to the limit. Bartenders have that same creativity that chefs show in the kitchen and the same passion too. The United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) helps to promote that and USBG Miami helped to partner with this event.
Bartenders are judged on flavor, appearance, bartender presentation, and imagination. The key to these competitions is to make something new, while also staying true to the spirit that you’re competing with. Due to these requirements, the people’s choice award will often not be the same as the one the judges choose.
Last night’s winner for people’s choice was Evan Lewis from Taquerias el Mexicano in Miami. His cocktail is called “Queen’s Bouget” and incorporates Bombay Sapphire Gin, Blueberry “Gin-ager”, Lemon Aquafaba, Blueberry Cardamom syrup, Sparkling Elderflower Liqueur, topped with a Floral Candy Orchid. This drink made gin truly fun to drink.
The winners of the Southeast judging contest who will move on to London are:
Derek Stilmann from Beaker + Gray in Miami. His drink is called “Who I Am” and incorporates elements of his life into each ingredient. The cocktail has Bombay Sapphire Gin, Spiced Milk Syrup, Lustau Cream Sherry, Gunpowder Tea, Orange Liqueur, Absinthe Salt, and Rose Mist.
Cody Henson from El Coyote Charleston with “Ceylon Fix”. This drink includes Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon Juice, Pineapple Syrup, and Doctor Possner’s New Star Soda.
Did you hear that Tampa is now ranked one of the most hipster cities in the United States?
If we’re talking hipsters, Seminole Heights has taken the mantle from Ybor City in the past few years as restaurants, bars, breweries, and cafes have popped up all over this small town that supports local busines.
Here are 10 places to eat and drink in Seminole Heights when you visit:
1. Brew Bus Brewing / Florida Ave. Brewing: Brew Bus has quickly grown to be one of the most successful businesses in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. The owners have Exectuive Chef Max Sherard making gourmet food in the kitchen and plenty of beers rolling out of the brewery all the time. They also recently added craft cocktails to the menu. You can jump on the Brew Bus here and ride all around town to some of Seminole Heights less parking friendly businesses. It’s a good hub to the neighborhood. 4101 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 990-7310
2. Angry Chair Brewing Co.: One of the most popular local breweries in town. Parking is a conondrum, but you did jump on the Brew Bus like I told you above right? Angry Chair has craft beer fans lining up hours before release parties and most people in town will tell you it has grown to be one of their favorite local breweries. 6401 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 238-1122
3. Chop Chop Shop: No one can deny that what is cooking in this kitchen is delicious. The cuisine is a mixture of Japanese and Korean inspiration and whatever the chef is cooking up in the kitchen. No complaints from hungry fans who happily call in orders and show up to eat whenever they get a chance. 6605 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 770-7306
4. The Independent Bar & Cafe: I hope you’re noticing a theme that Seminole Heights is a bit of a watering hole. The Independen has long been a local stronghold in the neighborhood where you’ll see local business owners and residents grabbing a beer and having a blast. 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 341-4883
5. The Refinery: Always give credit where credit is due. The Refinery was one of the first restaurants to take a risk inside Seminole Heights and helped to form the foundation of the restaurants all over Florida Avenue now. It’s unfortunate that the original location is now closed as I was a fan, but you can find them a few blocks away now in the former Fodder & Shine spot. The burger is my go-to. 5910 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 234-3710
6. Revolution Ice Cream: After making a name for themselves in Brandon, Revolution Ice Cream brought their delicious desserts to Seminole Heights and saved many people a trip on I-4 or I-75 and that’s truly a miracle. Their ice cream incorporates many local businesses into their flavors and they are constantly changing and evolving. 6701 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 513-5053
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7. Rooster & The Till: If you want a truly gourmet experience, Rooster & The Till is arguably one of the best restaurants in Tampa offering that. Be prepared to spend some money, but you’ll want lick your plate as you taste their creations. 6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 374-8940
8. Lowry Parcade: We nerds needed a spot to join together and Lowry Parade has provided done just that. Where else can you catch a rock band playing Mega Man on a speedrun, sip a local craft beer, and hit an arcade or pinball machine. I hope Lowry Parcade grows and expands so they can increase their selection and add some more fighting games and retro throwbacks, that’s my dream personally. 1213 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 915-9180
9. The Mermaid Tavern: This dive bar is much more of the core, original feeling that Seminole Heights was founded on. This is a great spot to catch up with friends or unwind. DJs spinning regularly. 6719 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 238-5618
10. Spaddy’s Coffee Co.: Every neighborhood needs local coffee and Tampa wouldn’t be a hipster town without our coffee scene. Spaddy serves local roasts from Zeal Coffee Roasters and offers a wide menu of choices. His truck is open early and has really grown into the neighborhood. One of the great things about Seminole Heights is the local feel of it and Spaddy embodies that feeling all the way. 5206 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (954) 829-2111
Have you always dreamt of visting Europe? How about visiting the Tower of London or Big Ben?
Norwegian Airlines could make that a reality with their NEW direct flights on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets from Tampa to London that begins service on October 31st, 2018. Norwegian is the world’s sixth largest low-cost airline and carried around 33 million passengers in 2017.
Chief Commerical Officer Thomas Ramdahl shares, “We are excited to introduce another U.S. destination to our network. Tampa Bay will be a very popular destination amongst European traveler. Similarly, Europe is in high demand among Tampa Bay and Florida resident. With our growing commitment to Florida, we’re also increasing our Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to London services for the winter season due to the great demand.”