BurgerMonger

I am a burger guy. I will be the person to order burgers in the most random locations. We could be dining at a seafood restaurant, classy Spanish restaurant, or even a place with hundreds of items to choose from, such as The Cheesecake Factory, and I will still proceed to order a cheeseburger and fries. No, I don’t get tired of burgers and fries. I am an American and this is what I live for: a juicy burger with fries, lots of ketchup, and mayonnaise!

I read about BurgerMonger when it first opened. A considerable amount of buzz swept the internet about it on food sites, such as Yelp, Urbanspoon, Chowhound, and even local newspapers. They had quite a viral marketing campaign. BurgerMonger uses 100% All natural Akaushi Kobe Beef and Kobe Beef quality is top notch. I put it on my list of places to try, but somehow it took me almost a year after adding it to my list to finally get to try it. I was a little nervous…would the buzz match the actual product?

I entered the restaurant on a Friday night, it was quite empty. Odd because BurgerMonger smelled heavenly inside. I decided to go with The BurgerMonger Akaushi 6 oz. burger for $6.99. I don’t think I have ever seen so many toppings before. It took me a few minutes to decide, but I went with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, ketchup, mayonnaise, and their special monger sauce. I also got Monger fries ($1.99), a 1/2 lb. portion of fries, as well as a fountain soda.

I sat in a booth near a USF Bulls sign. I admit I love a business that supports my team, the USF Bulls. More local Tampa businesses should jump off the Gator bandwagon and support their local sports team more.

My fountain drink tasted pretty good. The drinks actually tasted carbonated and not full of seltzer.

The BurgerMonger logo doesn’t scream delicious to me, but gets the job done.

The food arrived in a few minutes…

The fries were not very impressive. They looked and tasted similar to Five Guys fries (which I hate), but actually tasted worse and given the choice I would choose the Five Guy fries over these. I decided that future visits will have to be burger-only ventures (assuming I enjoyed the burger) because these fries simply weren’t worth $1.99.

My burger arrived and looked quite appetizing. It was hard to not dive right into it while I took some photographs. The smell of the burger was fantastic.

All the ingredients were neatly stacked. The vegetables looked fresh. Once I finally took into the burger it was like my mouth had gone straight to heaven. I momentarily blacked out from the rush of that burger and when I came to the entire burger was gone and I was full. Worth the drive from Riverview? Yes. A burger experience like none before it? Yes. This burger could make a bad day better and a good day perfect. The meat was easy to eat and packed full of flavor. Every bite was succulent and scrumptious. I immediately started text messaging my family. Must-have.

I found out at the end of my visit that they now have a BurgerMonger Monday special where you can get the same burger I had for $5 instead of $6.99. Sweet! Time to clear out my Monday evenings.

Burger Monger on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: BurgerMonger

Cuisine: American

Address: 10412 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa 33618

Neighborhood: Carrollwood

Phone Number: 813-968-6860

Website: http://www.burgermonger.com/

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Mel’s Hot Dogs

Mel’s Hot Dogs is a part of my USF Dining Guide.

Mel’s Hot Dogs is well-known as one of Tampa’s best places to have a Chicago-style hot dog since 1973. The menu has a number of quality hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken choices, and burgers to choose from. Once you decide what main entree you want you, you choose whether to upgrade to a basket and have coleslaw or baked beans with french fries. They have both soda and draft beers to choose from.

My personal favorite is their corn dogs ($2.50). They are crispy just like you would have at a fair, such as the Florida State Fair, and the beef hot dogs inside taste fantastic. The french fries are also crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The baked beans are usually sweet and the coleslaw tastes like real home-made slaw.

The hot dogs ($2.75) vary depending on which one, but you can usually count on the bun to be toasty and soft and the beef to taste just right. I normally will not eat hot dogs, but Mel’s is probably the only place where hot dogs actually taste good to me and it’s because of their attention to making quality food. I have tasted their Angus Beef Burgers ($4.75) as well and was impressed with how good it tasted, Mel’s can do more than just your average hot dog. Checkout their menu for more.

The employees are friendly and strike up a conversation every once in awhile. Normally you only wait a few minutes for your food and Mel’s is located right next to Busch Gardens and just two miles from USF so it is a convenient local business for students and tourists to stop at. There is plenty of seating for both small and large parties as well, though parking is a little limited they have extra in the back.

Justin happy with his hot dog.

Mel's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Mel’s Hot Dogs

Cuisine: American

Address: 4136 E Busch Blvd. Tampa, FL 33617

Neighborhood: USF

Phone Number: (813) 985-8000

Website: http://www.melshotdogs.com/

*Prices do not include basket prices

California Tacos

California Tacos is part of my USF Dining Guide.

California Tacos is a true taco stand in every sense of the name. Most people don’t know what to make of the exterior. It looks like it was shipped from Southern California and dropped on Bearss Ave. in Tampa, Florida. The name “California” itself drew me to this place because California is known for quality food and after a few Tampa Yelpers reviewed the location with positive reviews I decided to try it out for myself.

Upon parking I found myself staring at a taco stand with only a few tables and chairs around. This place was going to be a completely different experience then the Taco Bus. I was greeted by a man at the cashier window and he asked me if it was my first time. When I responded yes I was provided some surfer munchies (carrots and various other veggies) while I waited on my order. I decided to order their California Burrito with Carne Asada inside (around $8 or $9 with guacamole and sour cream). The thought of having french fries inside a burrito blew my mind. When I tasted it though I was so impressed.

The taste is completely different from anything you have probably had anywhere else. Nothing like Moes, Chipotle, TJ Flats, or authentic Mexican joints like the Taco Bus. The cheeses are clearly American cheeses (tasted like cheddar), but somehow it was just amazing. The steak wasn’t seasoned like Vallartas or Taco Bus, but man it was still good. The french fries, which had blown my mind actually tasted amazing inside a burrito. It’s like when you put onion rings in your burger for the first time or first dipped french fries in your ice cream…an unknown genius thought.

The Horchata was actually made very well. The perfect amount of sweetness, I think sometimes Taco Bus has too much cinnamon sweet taste, but California Tacos does it just right. The drink size is unfortunately smaller.

Delicious tacos! Too bad they aren’t bigger.

On my next visit I had their Tijuana Tacos (3 for $3), which are like miniature tacos with their pork. They are simply heavenly. The man at the stand wasn’t lying when he said they would leave me wanting more. I ordered two and then still decided to try their Tasty Tostada ($2.79), a huge tostada that maybe I should not have ordered because man I was going to gain some weight eating all this good food. Regardless, I was glad I tried both and after trying them I became confidant that this place deserves attention and love for making all this good food.

Their tostadas are loaded. Full of ingredients and tastes great, but hard to grab because of all the ingredients…make sure you grab a fork!

To rate this restaurant against the Taco Bus or any Mexican restaurant is simply unfair (though comparison works due to some similarities). The meats have the same names, but have different (and interestingly good) tastes. The Southern California style is something I am unfamiliar with as I was a Northern California former resident, but I am impressed with their quality of food and will happily visit California Tacos many times in the future.

California Tacos To Go on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: California Tacos

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 1450 Skipper Rd. Tampa, FL 33613

Neighborhood: USF

Phone Number: (813) 971-8226

Website: http://www.californiatacostogo.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/California-Tacos/75129943307?ref=ts

Miller’s Ale House

Normally I try to refrain from reviewing chain restaurants, but my first visit to Miller’s Ale House was such a good experience that I have decided to write about it. My friends recommended their Honey Mustard Wings, we ordered 50 wings for about $24. Not bad pricing and more than enough to feed 5 people. The wings tasted great and didn’t need anything on top, though some of my friends added some spicy sauce and some extra honey mustard sauce. Normally I always dip my wings in blue cheese no matter the flavor, but these wings were so good I didn’t bother. It also did not take long for the wings to come out, which was good because some people dining with me were extremely hungry.

Delicious Honey Mustard Wings!

Tampa Yelpers also happened to recommend the Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure (my friends favorite) from the dessert menu, so we decided to have a moment of gluttony and indulge in dessert.

The Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure (homemade ice cream cake with Oreo cookie crust, caramel, chocolate fudge, and heath bar crunch) was the best part of our visit. Every bite was an enjoyable as the last. The chocolate taste was there, but not overdone. You could taste the cake and ice cream well without a strong contrast from the rest of the dessert. It mixed together perfectly and this has to be one of the best desserts I have had (and certainly the best in a pub). It tasted so good that waiting for someone else to have their piece made me a little anxious…next time I really want to try their other version which has Nutter Butter cookies inside.

A good dining experience…now I want to check out the one in Brandon.

Miller's Ale House Restaurants on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Miller’s Ale House

Cuisine: American

Address: 14803 N Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa, FL 33618

Neighborhood: Carrollwood

Phone Number: (813) 969-0020

Website: http://www.millersalehouse.com/