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/

Tampa Bay Taco Tuesday Dining Guide

Wondering where to eat for Taco Tuesday in Tampa? No, I’m not talking about your average Tijuana Flats. Taco Tuesday offers deals at many great spots around town and no two taco places are created equal.

Here is my list of go-to spots for Taco Tuesday deals in Tampa Bay and places I’d recommend visiting. There may be more restaurants offering the deal, but that doesn’t mean I recommend them.

  1. La Villa River Hills: I am a Mexican food snob from San Francisco and most places in Tampa are “good for Tampa” and that is about it – they don’t even come close to the quality or ingredients of taquerias on The Mission. La Villa River Hills is the real deal though. Fresh, Mexican cuisine at an affordable price and the quality is apparent in everything from their salsa to their tamales. They offer $2 tacos on Tuesday. The location is near FishHawk and Valrico which is a long drive for many – but well worth it. You might want to call-ahead because the restaurant is small, but this is easily my favorite Mexican place in Tampa Bay right now.
  2. Taco Traveler: This local food truck is delivering tasty non-traditional tacos on Tuesdays at C. 1949 in Seminole Heights. Enjoy $2 taco specials and $1 off select beer inside the building. Live-music is also happening.
  3. Ciccio Cali: One of the best known Taco Tuesday deals in town. Many of the bowls available at Ciccio Cali can be converted into flour tacos for just $2 each during Taco Tuesday. They load them up. My favorite? Hot & Crunchy Tuna. The flavor is there. More places should experiment with sushi tacos in general. Be patient because the crowds can get crazy and my experiences with hostesses have been mixed. It’s located in Brandon, New Tampa, and St. Pete.
  4. TacoSon: The original Taco Bus. TacoSon is where the owners of the original Taco Bus opened shop after their sale and you can tell by the crowds that the original fans have followed them to this location on 56th Street. Avoid the drive-thru unless you’re comfortable with sitting in your car for long periods of time and just go inside. They don’t do Taco Tuesday deals, but on the flip-side tacos there are $2.50 everyday. Real deal. They now have locations in St. Pete and Wesley Chapel as well.
  5. California Tacos To-Go: This local chain has excellent tacos and offers 2 tacos, chips, and a drink for $6.99. A little more expensive than some other spots, but the quality is definitely there. Most recipes hail from SoCal and the loaded fish tacos are truly amazing. Locations in USF, South Tampa, and St. Pete. It’s one of the few places that Guy Fieri recommends that I can agree with.

If a place did not make the list – it is likely that I either do not recommend it, I haven’t visited the place, or I forgot and this list will be regularly updated as well so look for that. If your favorite place isn’t on the list that’s okay too. This is an opinion-based piece and you are entitled to your opinion.

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/

Tampa Bay Foodies Club – Discover Your Kraft

 

Did you miss the first Tampa Bay Foodies Club event last night at Kraftologee? Fear not – there is a recap on their blog! http://tampabayfoodies.org/2017/07/18/discoveryourkraft-kraftologee/

Many thanks to Buddy Brew Coffee, Kombucha Tampa, Sugar Sun Sweets, Coppertail Brewing, and of course Kraftologee for hosting such a great event to start the Tampa Bay Foodies Club.

If you haven’t heard yet, the Tampa Bay Foodies Club is an organization I recently started to help let people know about all the great things happening in Tampa Bay and all the awesome food and culture we have hidden in our city. There is so much there, but only so much I can write about and that is how this came about.

I hope you guys will check it out! http://tampabayfoodies.org/

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