Orlando Beer Festival coming November 16th with over 200 craft beers

Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 16th, 2019 at 2PM – Orlando Beer Festival is happening that day at Orlando Festival Park located at 2911 East Robinson Street.

Over 200 craft beers will be poured at the event from over 50 breweries. Tickets are now sale for the beer festival and are discounted if you purchase them in advance, prices will rise on the day of the event, if available.

The event will feature over 10 local food trucks, live music, interactive games, college football streaming, local vendors, a wine tasting experience, and more. The event is for ages 21+ and will strictly enforce this policy. Orlando Beer Festival is a rain or shine event.

Limited VIP tickets are currently available and includes an hour and a half of early admission, parking, Orlando Beer Festival t-shirt, a commemorative beer glass, VIP zone with shaded seating and craft cocktail experience, complimentary lite bites of food, VIP lanyard, and more. Designated Driver tickets are available. Please do not drink and drive.

Proceeds will benefit the Central Florida Brewer’s Guild.

Event sponsors include Publix Apron’s Cooking School, Orlando Federal Credit Union, Drive Shack, Hard Rock Live Orlando, Universal Roofing & Contracting, and Renewal by Anderson of FL.

Find out more information at orlandobeerfestival.com.

Event name: Orlando Beer Festival

Venue: Orlando Festival Park

Address: 2911 East Robinson Street Orlando, FL

Date & Time: Saturday, November 16th, 2PM-5PM

Ages: 21+ only

Cost: $40+

Buy tickets: http://bit.ly/30NLdg0

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Dining Guide: Great local restaurants to eat at in Brandon

Full disclosure: I have performed sponsored work for Kiwami Ramen Sushi. These opinions on this list are strictly my own and do not represent any sponsors or paid work.

Brandon has been transforming over the years from a quiet suburban town to a busy place with tons of apartment complexes and subdivisions rising around the area. There is now a Top Golf, Dave and Buster’s, and the Westfield Brandon Towncenter has exploded with traffic. People are moving south to Riverview and East to Valrico. The new Riverview GDX and Xscape Riverview theaters further prove the population growth of this area.

Many people complain that there are not local options in Brandon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll find a wide-variety of food from a variety of cuisines around the area, if you know where to look. Most places will run you around $10-20 per person for a meal. The options continue to grow, here is a list of some of my recommendations.

Allegria Italiana: Your old school Italian eatery with white table covers and a romantic vibe, Allegria Italiana has a great variety of gourmet Italian food that is better than many places around the bay. The servers have been friendly on my visits and prices are about what you would expect for this kind of concept. Everything from the appetizers and pasta to dessert is great. $$ 518 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 651-1166 allegriaitaliana.com

La Cubanita: Great Cuban sandwiches and steak sandwiches. You can’t really go wrong with their cafe con leche and a sandwich. They also have great deals on platters of food and have specials daily. There are many places around Brandon with sandwiches and coffee, but this is one of the best. They serve La Segunda bread which is of course the best. $ 723 W. Lumsden Rd., Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 661-2253. 

Kiwami Ramen and Sushi: Newcomer serving quality, gourmet ramen and sushi. The perfect marriage no matter what your mood is. Prices are fair and far less than the options in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Lunch specials on weekdays and happy hour deals make Kiwami and even better choice. The rolls are different from you’ll find in most places in Tampa. 10262 Causeway Blvd., Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 393-0683. kiwamiramensushi.com

Ploy Thai: Ploy Thai has been serving Thai food for over a decade on State Road 60. The restaurant has changed and evolved over the year from more of a sushi concept and then back into a more Thai-focused restaurant. The menu is large and they have transitioned more into a finer dining concept. $$ 1941 W. Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 684-5007.

Sushi Kampai: If you like some simple rolls or great deals, Sushi Kampai is for you. The rolls are affordable and they also have lunch combos and bento boxes. You’ll find some Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food options on the menu as well. Service can be slow when they get busy so plan ahead. They also offer delivery and take-out if you’re feeling lazy. $ 10312 Bloomingdale Ave. #111, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 620-3717.

Taste of Berlin: This German eatery is owned by some German expats and has a great schnitzel. Most items on the menu are made from scratch down to the sauces. The German beer selection isn’t quite as expansive as Mr. Dunderbak’s in Tampa, but there are some decent options on the menu for those looking to wash down their food. The owners regularly host events here especially for Oktoberfest. $$ 526 Oakfield Dr, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 685-9392.

LC’s Cafe and Supper Club: LC’s Cafe is a nice little spot for a lite breakfast or brunch. They have some Cuban food options and also some breakfast options. It isn’t anything fancy, but the decor feels like home and it is a great place to go and catch up with someone. It is a family-owned small business. $$ 1602 Oakfield Dr #103, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 526-9395.

Shrimp Boat: If you love seafood, you will love Shrimp Boat. This busy local restaurant on Bloomingdale serves quality seafood dishes and even their regular American dishes scream quality. It gets very busy, but there is usually some space in the bar area. They have happy hour deals and specials regularly and you also cannot go wrong with their soups. $$ 1020 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, FL 33596. (813) 571-5858. shrimpboatgrille.com

Green Island Frozen Yogurt & Tea Bar: Green Island has been around for over a decade if I’m not mistaken. They were one of the first boba shops and frozen yogurt shops to open in Tampa Bay. It’s a nice option if you’re on State Road 60 and heading to the nearby M.D. Oriental Market. Their bubble tea isn’t my favorite, but their Thai tea is pretty good and so is the coconut smoothie or watermelon smoothie (when available). $ 10047 E. Adamo Dr, Tampa, FL 33619. (813) 374-9006. 

Smokin Pig BBQ: Smokin Pig serves some great barbeque options and has plenty of space inside for those who want to dine-in. They have family deals as well as specials and combos. My favorite thing here is their Mac and Cheese, it is incredibly cheesy and delicious. Their brisket tastes great and I like their corn bread. $$ 3834 US-301, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 512-2500 smokinpig.com

Chicago’s Best Burgers: If you want some truly amazing burgers do not miss Chicago’s Best. They maintain a low profile online, but they serve one of the best burgers I have enjoyed in Tampa Bay. You’ll spend a little more than some other shops, but the taste is well worth it. I highly recommend it. $$ 1925 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 654-3232.

 

Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A battle over the internet for the chicken sandwich title

If you’ve been paying attention lately to the internet, you’ve probably seen a fair amount of interest by both the public and media about the new chicken sandwich that Popeye’s recently launched.

Many people say its a contender or even better than the Chick-fil-A version, and it comes without the controversy that Chick-fil-A has recently found itself in.

To be quite honest this is the first time I’ve ever seen people talk so much about Popeye’s so the sandwich is definitely a win from a PR perspective. Other fast food giants are also racing to join the conversation. Wendy’s is getting sassy on Twitter, which should surprise no one at this point.

 

I haven’t had a chance to try the Popeye’s chicken sandwich yet, but it’s definitely on my radar. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich…I prefer the morning chicken biscuit better so we’ll see how I like this sandwich when I finally do make it over to a Popeye’s.

Some more chicken reads:

Bay Cannon Beer Company now open in West Tampa

Bay Cannon Beer Company recently opened its doors to the public at 2106 West Main Street in Tampa. Main Street was an important street to the city of Tampa that lost relevance over the years as Tampa residents moved North and East, but businesses like Bay Cannon are aiming to change that by introducing local hubs like this brewery.

Some beer options on the menu right now are the Hefeweizen, Dry Hopped Blonde Ale, Hazy Mozaic IPA, Belgian Dubbel, Hibiscus Rose Sour Ale, and more.

It’s located right near the Howard and Armenia exits on I-275.

Bay Cannon is also offering food from Chef Josh with options such as Chicken Wings Scarpariello, Beer Cheese Fondue, Golden Beet Tartare, Cannon Burger, Cuban Grilled Cheese, Grilled Shrimp Tacos, Harvest Salad, and Dough Nation Sundae.

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Beer and tacos? AND fries? Why yes, yes I will.

A post shared by Colleen Parker (@cparkernyc) on

I’m looking forward to heading by soon.

Find out more at www.baycannon.com.

NEWS: Florida Eats now permanently closed in Seminole Heights

Florida Eats is now permanently closed in Seminole Heights after being open just a few months. The Chipotle-style eatery posted on Facebook about their end of business due to “circumstances out of our control”.

Friday, August 2nd, 2019 was the last day of service. Florida Eats had a controversial upstart when a lawsuit (since cancelled) was filed by Brew Bus Brewing against the restaurant and owner, Greg Spaddy, for infringement of the name Florida Avenue Brewing.

Next door neighbor King of the Coop seems to have lots of momentum and be performing well in the next door space, it doesn’t seem like the location was an issue.

The Refinery also recently closed in Seminole Heights and is converting into a event/wedding hall. The Refinery was part of an early investment into the Seminole Heights neighborhood and brought several businesses into the fold after the tumult of the financial crisis began to wane with a focus on attempting to provide local ingredients at an affordable price.

NAAAP hosting one year anniversary rooftop party July 18th in Downtown Tampa

The National Association of Asian American Professionals Tampa Bay (NAAAP) is celebrating their first anniversary on Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at Hampton + Home2 by Hilton Downtown Tampa from 6:30PM to 8:30PM. The event is being coined Rooftop Celebr*asian and is free to attend. Food will be provided by event sponsors including Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, Rice N Roll, Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi, On-A-Roll Sushi, and Tsunami Sarasota.

Participants are encouraged to bring their networking cards and enjoy food, drinks, and raffle prizes.

The mission NAAAP is “to collaborate with its communities to promote career advancement, engage in community service, assist in employment opportunities, enhance public awareness of our voice, and support businesses as it gives back to NAAAP members”.

Event name: Rooftop Celebr*asian

Venue: Hampton + Home2 by Hilton Downtown Tampa

Address: 1155 E. Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL 33602

Date & Time: Thursday, July 18th, 2019, 6:30PM-8:30PM

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/387080268822366/

Get tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/rooftop-celebrasian-tickets-63526009003

NEWS: Recess Pizza grand opening set for June 22nd in Downtown Orlando

The culinary team behind Orlando Meats is having their grand opening for their latest concept, Recess Pizza, on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019.

The team took over the culinary kitchen at Orange County Brewers back in May just two blocks south of the Orange County Courthouse on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street in Downtown Orlando.

Culinary Director Eliot Hillis and Head Chef Seth Parker have developed an alkaline dough for their pizza crust that is being paired with their high-quality cuts from Orlando Meats and cooked in a wood-fire oven.

Some pizzas menu options include:

  • Kya: pork belly, halloumi, chimichurri, crema
  • Tammi: pulled pork, slaw, cheddar, spicy white stuff
  • Beverly: spicy pork, broccolini, ricotta, mozzarella, pomodoro
  • Steph: ham and cheddar, blue cheese, garlic puree
  • & more

The menu will offer more than pizza with hot sandwiches and salads available. Brunch will be available on the menu and launch during the opening. Online ordering will be available on Slice and delivery on Uber Eats and Grubhub.

Limited-edition pizzas will be available for the opening as well as beer specials at the brewery. A raffle will be held at the opening with an array of local partners. The event will be held during regular business hours from 11:30AM to 11PM.

Find out more at recesspizza.com.

Recess Pizza. 131 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801. (321) 204-9616.

Margarita Wars coming July 26th to TPepin Hospitality Centre in Tampa

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Creative Loafing Tampa. I have partnered with them for their upcoming Margarita Wars and have received tickets in exchange for my post about their upcoming event and cross-promotions. Opinions are my own and do not reflect Creative Loafing or affiliates.

Ready to sip some margaritas? Creative Loafing is back with their annual Margarita Wars on Friday, July 26th at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa from 7PM to 10PM. More than 15 of Tampa Bay’s mixologists will duke it out for who makes the best margs in town. All guests will enjoy unlimited samples of margaritas as well as food samples, entertainment, and voting in the Best Margarita competition.

Tickets are now on-sale. Prices will rise at the door if available on the event date. VIP includes an extra hour of admission as well as a VIP-area, swag, one beer, a $25 voucher to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, and more. It’s a great way to beat the rush and start the party early.

Use discount code CARLOSEATS to get $5 off your ticket until June 30th.

Event name: Margarita Wars

Venue: TPepin’s Hospitality Centre

Date & Time: Friday, July 26th, 7PM to 10PM, VIP starts at 6PM

Address: 4121 North 50th Street Tampa, Florida

Ages: 21+

Cost: $45+

Buy tickets: http://tampabayeventtickets.com/events/93473861/margarita-wars-2019

Website: http://margaritawarstampabay.com

NEWS: Zentu Cafe vegan mobile kitchen is now permanently closed

Local vegan spot and mobile kitchen Zentu Cafe announced it’s permanent closure today on Instagram in a loss for local vegans. It was located inside Blue Torch Cigars and Winery at 5908 N. Armenia Ave. in Tampa. The cafe opened in February 2019 and their mission was “to switch up what Tampa is used to where vegan food is bland, overly healthy, or super bad for you.”

The statement reads, “It is with infinite sadness that we must announce the closure of Zentu Cafe. It’s been a good run, educational and we loved being part of this amazing community here in Tampa. We especially thank Blue Torch Cigar for hosting us and letting us try to grow. Enjoy this amazing upswing in vegan opportunities and we look forward to trying other restaurants soon”!

The project was a partnership between Benny Blanchard of The Human’s Mechanic in Seminole Heights and Tim Fedorko of Farmacy Vegan Kitchen & Bakery.

 

NEWS: Hidden Star Tiki Bar opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa

Hidden Star Tiki Bar is opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa inside Anise Global Gastrobar. Anise has been serving high-quality cocktails as well as gastronomical food fare with an Asian twist in Tampa for years and is the creation of Xuan Pham Hurt.

This is her fourth creation in Tampa following her North Star Eatery at Hall on Franklin and her Stinky Bunz food truck that started it all.

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When asked what inspired this tiki bar to be created, Hurt told me, “It never fails that whenever I travel to different cities, I always seek out their best tiki bars. We felt that the residents and visitors of Downtown Tampa would appreciate their very own tiny oasis in the middle of the city. Tasty tropical beverages with whimsical garnishes can make any day feel like a vacation. We are fortunate to have the space to provide an intimate setting for the creation of innovative and playful cocktails made with our highest standards”.

Hurt will work with Sean O’Connor, who she describes as a local tiki trademan, Christina Gilson, Anise Beverage Director, Justin Gray, United States Bartenders Guild Veteran, and the rest of the Anise bar team to develop the cocktail menu. They want to provide modern rifts on classic favorites that Hurt feels will exceed everyone’s expectations.

Hidden Star will only be open Friday and Saturday nights from 7PM to 2AM. Guests will check-in at the Anise host stand and will be escorted to the hidden entrance once seats become available.

Due to the limited space, reservations will not be taken nor will estimated wait times given. Random chances for expedited entry will be announced via email newsletters and social media pages.

Hidden Star guests can expect an original menu of 7 to 8 elevated tiki cocktails and a few bar snack that they can enjoy in an intimate setting while surrounded by other enthusiasts. Beer, wine, mixed drinks, and a full dining menu will continue to only be offered in the main dining room at Anise.

Service is expected to start on the weekend of June 28th.

Find more information and sign-up for updates at aniseglobal.com.