Brewer’s Ball 2018 – 3/4

Craft beer fans should get excited for the 2018 Brewer’s Ball happening on Sunday, March 4th, 2018 from 12PM-5PM at Water Works Park (1710 North Highland Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602) during Tampa Bay Beer Week.

The event is presented by Best Florida Beer.

Guests can roam the park and drink and talk with the brewery owners and brewers during the event.


The Brewer’s Ball festival is a celebration of the best beers in Florida. The top three beers in each category of beer, mead, and cider will be served up for your enjoyment. The Brewer’s Ball has been held for over 11 years celebrating the breweries, the brewers, and the beer they make right here in Florida.

This festival features over 100 of Florida’s Best Beers on tap. East Coast Catering will be on-site serving food from 12PM to 4PM.

Buy tickets:

The event is rain or shine. Lawnchairs are allowed. Service animals are permitted, but other canine friends should be left at home.


The purpose of Best Florida Beer is to aid in the development and promotion of both home and commercial Florida brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

BFB accomplishes this by organizing fair and credible competitions that distinguish excellence in beer with qualified judges. In addition they increase awareness of commercial breweries through consumer education, marketing, events and competitions.

BFB strives to serve as a model of cooperation in its effort to unify the Florida brewing community by establishing partnerships and cultivating resources with like organizations statewide.



Florida Brewers Guild Craft Beer Festival – 03/03

This Saturday, March 3rd, 2018 is the Florida Brewers Guild Craft Beer Festival at Cotanchobee Park in Downtown Tampa (601 Old Water Street, Tampa, FL 33602) from 2PM-5PM. The event will kick off Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018.

Guests will be able to sample more than 200 beers from 60+ Florida craft breweries while raising money for the Florida Brewers Guild, the nonprofit trade association committed to preserving the rights of craft brewers throughout the state.

Tickets are now on-sale and range from $45 for General Admission to $65 for VIP. VIP ticket holders will get one-hour early access (1PM).

Buy tickets:

Guests must be 21 years or older to attend. All attendees will receive unlimited samples and a commemorative tasting glass.

Participating breweries:

The event is sponsored by Boston Leasing Capital, Visit Tallahassee, Gas South, Willamette Valley Hops.

Tampa Theatre WineFest 2018: Wine’s World This Week

Tampa’s historic Tampa Theatre located in Downtown Tampa will have their 16th Annual WineFest: Wine’s World 2018 event this week. The event is Tampa Theatre’s largest annual fundraiser.

The event will kick off on Thursday, March 1st with a screening of Wayne’ World at 7:30PM. On Friday, March 2nd guests will enjoy a special Wine Pairing presented by Mise En Place Chef Marty Blitz.  The stage of the Tampa Theatre will be expanded to host these special guests.

The main event will occur on Saturday, March 3rd with the two-tiered Wine Tasting. Guests can enjoy dozens of independent restaurants and wineries and bid on special auction items (note: the auction is already open for bidding).




The Premium Tasting is from 7:00PM-8:00PM and features exclusive wines for a limited audience. The Grand Tasting is from 8:00PM-10:00PM. The Premium Tasting is already SOLD OUT, but the Grand Tasting still has tickets available while supplies last.

Buy tickets to The Grand Tasting:

Participating vendors:

  • 1895 Bar – Kitchen – Market
  • American Social Tampa
  • Anise Global Gastrobar
  • Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria
  • Bizou Brasserie
  • Breakthru
  • Cape Classics
  • Carne Chophouse
  • Ceviche
  • Cremaschi Wine Imports
  • Cru Cellars
  • Culinary Creations
  • CW’s Gin Joint
  • Daughters Wines
  • District Tavern
  • Dominio de Punctum
  • Duchessa Lia
  • Ella’s
  • Folio Wines
  • Hess Winery
  • J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc.
  • La Crema Winery
  • Little Donut House
  • Mettler Family Vineyards
  • Michael David Winery
  • Noble Wines
  • O Cocina
  • Oberan Wines
  • On Swann
  • Opici
  • Oxford Exchange
  • PRP Wines
  • RNDC
  • Si-am Thaimerican
  • Sokol Blosser Winery
  • Southern Brewing
  • Terroir Wine Group
  • Totara Wines
  • Villa Sandi

The event is sponsored by Mise en Place, APG, Bank of America, The Bank of Tampa, Casper’s Service Company, Creative Contractors Inc., DeBartolo Family Foundation, Florida Health Care News, Growman Brand, Gray Robinson Attorneys at Law, Harris & Hunt P.A., HCP Research Strategy Marketing, Mutual of Omaha Bank, Phelps Dunbar LLP, Quarles & Brady LLP, Nichols Geegan King of Raymond James, Shumaker, Southwest Airlines, Silva & Associates, Tampa Steel Erecting Co., TECO, and more.

The Ultimate Brewer 3 This Friday

Tampa Bay Beer Week officially kicks off this weekend with The Ultimate Brewer 3, a competition that will get our taste buds ready for what is to come at Brew Bus Brewing in Seminole Heights.

The event will happen Friday, March 2nd, 2018 from 7PM-10PM. There are currently over 50 local breweries in Tampa Bay making craft beer daily, 25 will be competing at the event.

Tickets cost $25 in advance and $35 at the door. There is no VIP  sales for this event.

Buy tickets:

“Pairs of unusual ingredients were randomly drawn and 25 participating breweries chose the beer style that best demonstrates those ingredients. Garlic, Wasabi, or Hazelnut might test a brewer’s creativity, but combine one of those with pineapple, coriander, or chives and now you have quite the challenge. These ingredients are kept secret and the beers are tasted blind on March 2nd 7PM-10PM”.

“The winner will be chosen between a balance of two votes:

  • Consumer Choice as chosen by you’
  • Pro Panel chosen by the participating brewers.

“The brewery with the most votes wins The Ultimate Brewer 2018, will have their name etched on the trophy, and will be presented with the opportunity to brew the official beer of TBBW 2019. The trophy currently resides at Brew Bus Brewing, two-time champion and brewer of this year’s official beer of TBBW 2018″. 

Brew Bus Brewing is located at 4101 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603.


Participating breweries:

Shula Burger now open in SoHo District

Full disclosure: I was invited to Shula Burger to try their food for my opinion and to do a story about their opening which I wanted to publish. The opinions mentioned are my own based on my visit and do not represent Shula Burger.

Shula Burger is now open in the SoHo District in South Tampa at 500 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606. The Fort Lauderdale-based gourmet burger concept is part of the same family as Shula’s Steak House and similar Shula brands. Named after Don Shula, an NFL legend and Hall of Fame Coach who won back to back Superbowls in 1972 and 1973 with the Miami Dolphins.

Shula Burger

Shula’s Signature Burger is made from premium black angus beef, short rib, and brisket. The burgers are fresh and never frozen. Bread buns comes from Tom Cat Bakery, one of the original artisan bread bakeries in New York City. Tampa Owner and Operator, Zydrunas “Z” Rackauskas, seeks to bring something different to the South Tampa area that provides quality food and customer service to a busy and active area.

Another important factor for Z is turnaround time. New technology allows Shula to provide burgers made in less than 5 minutes to customers making it a good option if you’re in rush for lunch.

Those looking for something besides a burger can check out the Goodseed Organic Veggie Burger and Marinated Chicken Sandwich as alternatives.

I found the “Perfect Burger” to be more filling than I originally anticipated. It has a clean taste and pretty solid flavoring. This burger features two patties with Shula’s Special Sauce, cheese, pickles, tomato, and lettuce on a bun. The onion rings were flavorful and I think they were the kind of big onion rings I’d want to dip in some mayo in the future. The strawberry milkshake was a guilty pleasure. I still need to try the french fries in the future and other menu items.

Some toppings I am interested in checking out include their Korean barbeque sauce, Sriracha mayo, fried jalapenos, and tomato-bacon marmalade.

The new location is planning a Grand Opening on March 7th with the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Don Shula will be in attendance. The new location hopes to have beer and wine for sale in the next two months. Customers can enjoy nearly daily discounts leading into the opening day.

First-Responders and Military-personnel can enjoy 15% off with uniform or ID.

Shula Burger is open from 11AM to 11PM from Sunday to Wednesday and 11AM to 4AM from Thursday to Saturday making it an option for those hitting the bars and nightlife in South Tampa.

Restaurant Name: Shula Burger

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Cuisine: Burgers, American

Cost: $

Address: 500 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606

Phone Number: (813) 867-8230



CL Meet the Brewers this Saturday, February 17th!

The annual Creative Loafing Meet the Brewers craft beer event is this Saturday, February 17th at Brandon Harley-Davidson (9841 East Adamo Drive, Tampa, FL 33619) from 1PM to 4PM.

GA Tickets cost $30 in advance and $40 at the door. General Admission includes unlimited beer while you mix and mingle with local brewers. A portion of proceeds will benefit Ybor City Museum Society.

VIP costs $75 in advance and $85 at the door and includes an hour of early admission to the event and food provided by Mini Doughnut Factory, The Mill Brandon, beer from Slim Pickens Cider & Mead, and more.

Buy tickets:

The event is sponsored by Brandon Harley-DavidsonSmashburgerMini Doughnut FactoryFlorida Brewers GuildTampa Bay Beer WeekTampa Bay Brew Tours by Thirsty PelicanYbor City Museum SocietyThe Mill BrandonRoundhouse CreativeLyft, and UNATION.

Brewery list:

  • 3 Daughters Brewing
  • 7venth Sun Brewing Co.
  • 81Bay Brewing Co.
  • Big Storm Brewing Co.
  • Big Top Brewing Co.
  • Cigar City Brewing
  • Cigar City Cider & Mead
  • Crooked Thumb Brewery
  • Darwin Brewing Co.
  • Dissent Craft Brewing Co.
  • Dunedin Brewery
  • Escape Brewing Co.
  • Flying Boat Brewing Co.
  • Hidden Springs Ale Works
  • JDub’s Brewing Co.
  • Marker 48 Brewing
  • Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.
  • Sea Dog Brewery
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Co.
  • Tampa Beer Works
  • The Wild Rover Brewery
  • Ulele Spring Brewery

Check out the beer list here:

The Rez Grill now open at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Full disclosure: I was invited to The Rez Grill for a tasting of the menu in exchange for my opinion. These opinions are my own and do not represent Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.

I stopped by The Rez Grill at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa for a taste recently. The inside is a mixture between retro and modern decor – the seating was quite comfortable even in the communal area. The manager and mixologist take just as much care of the experience inside as the Executive Chef Frank Anderson. Chef Anderson is a transplant from Los Angeles and it shows.

Many of the menu items at The Rez are easily approachable American cuisine, but with culinary twists and additions that amplify the dishes to a more gourmet level. Chicken & Waffles and St. Louis Ribs aren’t anything new to people in Tampa, but I really enjoyed the consistency and moisture of the waffles and chicken. Bacon Jam was a nice touch. The ribs were also quite tasty.

One thing that was different was that many of their dishes invite you to share and trust me the portion is plenty for a party of 3-4 people or more depending on your appetite. I was surprised at the large portion sizes, but I think the idea behind The Rez is to offer some great food at a price point that can draw both older and younger diners with different amounts of cash to spend. Splitting entrees will lead you to spend around $10 per person in a party of 3-4 people for entrees.

A major winner to me on the menu was the appetizer options. They were all incredibly delicious.

The Benton’s Ham with Biscuits were fantastic. The oysters were probably one of the best I have had in Tampa – you must try those if offered the chance. The Chicken Liver Toast and Pimento Toast were also winners in my book. I would be happy to stop by The Rez sometime and grab a cocktail with an appetizer and share it with a friend or family member.

The dessert options were also excellent and my favorite two were the Espresso Creme Brulee and Chocolate Budino. Chef Anderson also created the dessert menu and executed it well.

There are quite a few things I didn’t try including the prime meats, burgers, sandwiches, and Florida-caught seafood. The price points of these dishes suggest different offerings between fine-dining and casual dining. Dinner entrees can range from $17 for Cavatelli Pasta to $85 for Wagyu A-4 Japanese Steak.

From the cocktail menu I tried the Improved G & T which features St. George Gin, Elderflower, Tonic Water, B’lure Ice and makes the cocktail turn blue. It was a fine gin and tonic drink, but personally I’m not a huge fan of Gin. I’m still waiting for my moment when I become a fan.

What did impress me was The Rez Cocktail which has house-infused pineapple tequila, mint, lime, and club soda. It tasted like a mojito and was incredibly delicious. I would order this drink anytime at The Rez. The wine selections that were poured during the tasting were also great. You’ll find quite a number of California wines on the list which may be a homage back to Chef Anderson.

Speaking of Chef Anderson, he was very hospitable and definitely not hard to talk to for a chef. His methodology behind each dish was explained well and I think he has lots of potential to create some great eats at The Rez Grill and at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa in general.

Overall, The Rez Grill has some great options and if you find yourself at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, I’d recommend making a stop and giving it a try. Do bring a friend or two or three.

Surf & Turf Truck serving great seafood at Armature Works

Surf & Turf Truck and I go back a few years. We met during a food truck rally blitz in Seminole Heights and Ybor City. Always friendly at the register and humble about their food and vision.

I met the owner of Empamamas, Stephanie Swanz, at Surf & Turf Truck when she was working their front window while her food truck was being finished up. She perfectly matched their chill and friendly attitude – something not to be missed in a business where most of your business is done at an ordering station.

Surf & Turf always came ready to serve and would knock out order after order at each event they were at. The truck remained creative with themed events, while also serving seafood staples on the regular.

Now they have landed at the new Armature Works building as a vendor in the Heights Public Market. This lucky break came through their network of business contacts. I am sure the owners of Armature are pleased with what they found at Surf & Turf. As a vendor they are a great contrast from the other options at the market.

Lobster Roll

Genuinely good seafood in Tampa is harder to find than one would think. Way too many places stick to just grouper and tilapia and charge too much. There are only a few places that you can enjoy seafood in a casual setting. Surf & Turf took risks on lobster rolls before it was hip in Tampa. During my chat with the owner, Adam, I took a look at some other menu items including the Blue Crab Roll and Salmon Burger.

Blue Crab Roll at Surf & Turf

The Blue Crab Roll is at a much friendlier price point than the Lobster Roll at $12 and still packs tons of flavor. I have to say that for a small amount of time restaurants in Tampa were throwing Old Bay seasoning on everything and doing it incorrectly (much to my disappointment), however the Old Bay Mayo in this blue crab roll is superb. The bread is perfectly done as well. Is there anything better than a delicious sandwich? I think not. A scrumptious side of brussel sprouts completes the order.

Salmon Burger sample

*sample size

Surf & Turf’s Salmon Burger also did not disappoint and left me licking my fingers in joy. Quite buyer friendly at $8 – this burger is both filling and delicious inside and on the healthier side. I would order this Salmon Burger any day of the week and it was indeed sold out that day after customers gravitated to it.

Surf & Turf is on The Daily Meal’s Top 101 Food Trucks for 2016 at #42 and it deserves more recognition in Tampa. It is great to see gourmet food trucks on the move in our city. You can now visit Surf & Turf daily at Armature Works for the time being and I highly recommend heading over and giving them a try.

Rocco’s Tacos Grand Opening Sunday, February 11th

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar will have its Grand Opening on Sunday, February 11th, 2018 at International Plaza & Bay Street starting at 7PM. Guests will be joined by Co-Owner, Rocco Mangel and Big Time Restaurant Group.

Guests can enjoy Rocco’s signature chips, guacamole and salsa complimentary, as well as live entertainment and a cash bar during the event.

When party goers hear the buzzword “Tequila!” echo through the restaurant, Rocco will take his spot on top of the bar with a bottle of tequila in hand, ready to pour complimentary shots for guests.

Rocco Mangel is the restaurateur behind Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar and has 7 restaurants in Florida and 1 in Brooklyn, New York. He is a New York native who began his start as as a busboy for Big City Tavern, another venture of Big Time Restaurant Group.

His first location in Florida was in West Palm Beach with co-ownership from Big Time Restaurant Group back in 2008. The brand plans another expansion to Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International Airport this year. Additionally, you can find his “Rocco’s Spice” in the spice aisle of all Publix Super Markets.

Guests should regularly expect upbeat music, a spirited happy hour, Taco & Tequila Tuesday, and Bottomless Brunch on the weekend at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar.

Over 300 varieties of tequila will be on the menu and can be enjoyed alone or mixed in their signature margaritas.

Dinner service in Tampa begins Monday, February 12th and lunch service will begin on Monday, February 19th.

Winter Whiskeyfest this Friday, February 9th, 2018

Do you love whiskey? I know I do. Winter Whiskeyfest is happening this Friday, February 9th, 2018 from 6PM to 9PM. The event is presented by I Love The Burg. It will take place at La Florida above Red Mesa in Downtown St. Petersburg (128 3rd Street South St. Petersburg, FL 33701).

Tickets are limited and there are only 250 tickets available. Tickets cost $75 per person for admission.

Use discount code CARLOSDRINKS for $10 OFF until February 7th.

Whiskey glasses.

This includes entry to the event, over 12 different whiskey brands to taste, a commemorative tasting glass, light bites such as steak crostinis and ceviche, as well as live entertainment by DJ Austen Van Der Bleek.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit METRO to support their LGBT, Transgender, and Youth programs.

Participating distillers:

  • Belle Meade Bourbon
  • Coopers Craft
  • Old Forester Signature 100
  • Old Forester Statesman
  • Jack Daniels
  • Michters
  • Whistle Pig
  • High West
  • Kentucky Owl
  • Hillbilly
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch
  • Pikesville Rye
  • Larceny
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel
  • Deanston
  • Bunnahabhain
  • Ledaig
  • Breaker Bourbon Whisky
  • Kozuba Distillery
  • Horse Soldier Bourbon
  • Amador
  • Kentucky Peerless Distilling

Buy tickets: