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: http://www.xorbia.com/e/cltampa/brewers/

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: https://www.cltampa.com/brewers

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Beef O’ Brady’s launches new menu items and deals

Full disclosure: I was invited to Beef O’ Brady’s to taste their new menu and check out the new deals they have available in exchange for my opinion. Opinions are my own and do not represent Beef O’ Brady’s.

I recently visited the original Beef O’ Brady’s location (founded in 1985) in Brandon to check out their new menu and deals. I have lived in Brandon since 2005 and was not aware that the restaurant chain originated in my own backyard or of their location on Kings and Oakfield. The founder, Jim Mellody, who passed in 2002, continues to have this location run by family heirs.

The original location is exactly what you would expect from a classic sports bar and is a reminder of the dominance this concept carried in the late 90s and early 2000s era with wood decor and dim lighting. The entrance is reminiscent of a time long gone for Americans as fast-casual chains have taken a bite out of the restaurant industry and the 2008 Financial Crisis ate many of the prominent American chains.

This was especially true in Brandon which suffered greatly when the housing market collapsed as a suburban neighborhood. Times have changed though and Brandon is growing faster than ever with new apartment complexes and home communities appearing year-round.

Many of the additions to the menu at Beef O’ Brady’s are following current food trends such as healthier menu items at arguably affordable prices. The prices are much cheaper than similar American concepts such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, and the like.

Boom Boom Shrimp

I first tried their Boom Boom Shrimp which looks pretty much like Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill. This appetizer has appeared on menus in numerous restaurants in the last few years as Bonefish has sought to push it into the limelight. The dish doesn’t match the flavor or taste of the obvious dish it resembles but isn’t half bad either.  I wouldn’t mind sharing this with a few people as an appetizer occasionally.

Chicken Fajitas

One of the better deals I saw that is new to the menu is Fajitas on Thursdays for $9.99. Some chains have driven the price of these menu items up to $15-$20 that historically was always a draw for more budget-conscious, middle-class families. Beef O’ Brady’s gives a nod back to that trend with this and the quality is arguably the same or better when compared to those other chains. The regular price of this dish is also great at around $12.

The wings on the menu have also managed to weather a hike in chicken wing prices that have hindered profits at other sports pubs such as Buffalo Wild Wings. Beef O’ Brady’s continues to offer specials for wings on Wednesday and the traditional wings are meaty. I tried the Nashville Hot Dry Rub flavor which is far superior to the spicier rubs at Buffalo Wild Wings that hardly stick to the meat.

Another dish I was tried was the Five Cheese Cheeseburger. It resembles a Frisco Melt and is quite filling.  The topping is a mozzarella stick. As a fan of burgers in general, I found the burger was good, but missing a sauce to help with all the meat and bread happening. During my days at USF I was frequently grabbing a burger from Beef O Brady’s in between classes and they have always been above-average for the price-point and concept. Curly fries are always great  as well, though this time I went traditional (still good).

From the healthy options or “lighter side”, I tried a chicken salad with quinoa. I was a little surprised to see this on the menu but see it as a nod to the changing habits of Americans and probably an attempt to lead to a compromise in couples and families trying to find a place that caters to different food habits and tastes. The grilled chicken tastes good and the prices are around $10 which again is not too bad for a healthier dish.

Overall, these new menu items suggest Beef O’ Brady’s is making a serious effort to diversify the menu and add more options than traditional pub fare and that makes sense considering the price of wings these days and the way the average diners tastes have diversified.

These options and prices could mostly stand up by themselves (especially the fajitas) for the restaurant sphere they are in. I recommend it to people wanting traditional American food on a budget.

Portillo’s rolls out delivery in-app on Thursday in Tampa/Brandon

Portillo’s Hot Dogs will roll out delivery in-app on Thursday, November 2nd for Tampa and Brandon. Customers will be able to use the website and Portillo’s app to order delivery to their doors within a 30 minute radius of Portillo’s locations. The app will allow customers to customize delivery orders to their preference.

In addition, the delivery on the app will offer Portillo’s fast packs which are great for quick catering for groups. Types of snack packs include hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, salads, and more.

There is a $15 order minimum for deliveries.

Portillo’s first launched their app last August in an effort to help people place takeout orders for drive-thru or in-store pickup. This addition of delivery expands the app for customers.

Use promo code BEEF for a limited time to get $5 OFF your first order from Portillo’s.

Download Portillo’s app for iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/portillos/id1122104646?mt=8

Download Portillo’s app for Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.olo.portillos&hl=en

Dave & Buster’s Tampa opens Monday October 30th to the public

Rumored for years, Dave & Buster’s is finally opening its doors to the public on Monday, October 30th, 2017. It is the 102nd location for the franchise which was founded in 1982 in Dallas, Texas.

The new building is located at 10209 Estuary Lakes Drive Tampa, FL 33619. The location is next to Bass Pro Shops and right at the tip of Brandon. It is easily accessible from I-75 and also the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and located of Faulkeburg Road.  It will be open Sunday to Thursday from 11AM to Midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 2AM.

Coming in at 40,000 Square Feet – the building has a modern sports bar, dining area, and game room that will attract people of all ages. Parking is easily available in the parking lot right out front and there will be a number of deals available to customers.

More than 230 jobs are being created as a result of Dave & Buster’s entering the area and they are still hiring.

Dave & Buster’s Deals

Happy Hour is available Monday to Friday from 4:30PM-7PM Sunday to Thursday from 10PM-close.

Happy Hour includes:

  • 1/2 price cocktails
  • $2.50 domestic pints
  • $1 off 22 oz. drafts
  • $1 off glasses of wine
  • $3 off bottles of wine

2 for Tuesdays:

  • $2 tacos
  • $2 select beers
  • 2 FREE plays with $10 power card purchase/re-charge (all day)

1/2 price Wednesdays:

  • 1/2 off games all day

Football Game Day Specials (10/30/17-2/4/18 on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays):

  • $3.50 22 oz. select draft beers
  • $5 game day appetizers

Ricopan Bakery: delicious, affordable, local eats

Looking for a quick spot for lunch today we decided to hit up Ricopan Bakery. Most restaurants seem to be closed on Sundays in the area, but Ricopan is open 7 days a week.

We found their online profiles, but weren’t aware that they sold sandwiches and arepas until we arrived.  It looks like they might have a sister store in Kissimmee.

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Everything there was affordable and roughly $7 or less. The menu included Cubans, Medianoches, Steak subs, and more. Apparently they also have tamales on the weekends and other goodies.

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The place has a mom and pop vibe to it and is located right by the popular Liborio’s Latin Cafe on Causeway just off 78th Street in Brandon. The two attendants at the front were friendly, though a little shy.

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We ordered two cafe con leches, a steak sandwich, breakfast arepa with eggs and chorizo, and two guava cheese pastries. The cafe con leche was good, but not the best. Many of the locals stopping in went for Postobon which is to be expected at a Colombian spot. They also had Malta, coconut juice, freshly squeezed OJ, and natural juices as well.

Another thing I noticed on the back of the menu was Colombian burgers, salchipapas, and various other Colombian fast-food being sold at Ricopan which I would be interested in trying in the future.

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The Colombian empanadas were also quickly being purchased by their customers that I observed.

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The food was excellent. I had the breakfast arepa with cheese on top. Eggs and Chorizo on the side. It was excellent.

Probably one of the best arepas I’ve had in awhile. I definitely would go back to try their chicken or beef arepas in the future. Price was fair too. Scrambled eggs had plenty of ingredients including tomatoes and bellpeppers and tasted homemade. The chorizo was good, but I could barely touch it before I was full.

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The steak sandwich we ordered was also excellent. The bread was perfect, the steak was nice and juicy on the inside, it wasn’t tough or dry like you’ll have in some palomilla steaks when you go to latin cafes and order a sandwich. They put the shredded potato sticks on top. It was also a big portion for just $7.

I’d definitely come back to get the Cuban which I noticed was $4.99.

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The two guava pastries we had were tasty and they put a good amount of guava on them. I think next time I would try the croissant instead just because I prefer the softer bread texture. All their pastries looked delicious though and were fairly priced.

I’m glad that we went and tried Ricopan Bakery today and will be back in the future and recommend you give it a look if you’re in Brandon sometime as well!

Restaurant name: Ricopan Bakery

Neighborhood: Brandon, Palm River

Cuisine: Colombian, Bakery, Sandwiches, Arepas

Address: 8216 Causeway Blvd, Tampa, FL 33619

Phone Number: (813) 846-4970

 

S Bar in Brandon now permanently closed

S Bar in Brandon has permanently closed for business. The restaurant combined sushi, southern bistro cuisine, and prohibition era cocktails. It is the former location of The Rack in Brandon and had an impressive re-design.

The owners decided to move and help family out of state and ultimately decided they could no longer keep the business going.

Here is a statement from the restaurant:

Here’s hoping something new will open in this space in the future.

S Bar Speakeasy and Sushi Bar now open (Brandon)

Full disclosure: I was invited to S Bar for their preview night about a week ago where they served complimentary hor d’oeuvres to the public to preview their restaurant. I visited again today on my own for some sushi for lunch and decided to write a post about their grand opening. Opinions stated are my own.

Brandon has a new concept called S Bar open that fuses 1920s speakeasy cocktails and southern bistro food with a sushi bar. The restaurant opened to the public last Sunday June 11th, 2017.

The location was formerly known as The Rack in the past and the entire restaurant has been re-done to have a more intimate and upscale ambiance. Many of the staff members and management also are related to The Rack and you’ll find some of your favorite sushi rolls from that time on the menu at S Bar.

Sushi rolls range from about $4 to $16 and include the popular Volcano Roll and The Rack rolls from the previous tenant of the establishment. During the days of The Rack, I was personally in love with the Volcano Roll and many places simply could not compare. Specials are being developed and will roll out in the future – most information for that will be posted to their Facebook page.

The southern bistro menu includes grits, fried green tomatoes, corn bread, and more in development. The menu will be fully available in the near future.

S Bar seems to be targeting a more upscale crowd then its predecessor and it would be a great place to grab some drinks locally in Brandon or to go out on a date night or a night out with friends for young professionals or professionals in general.

The Executive Chef for S Bar, Gia Tran, has previously worked at Ocean Prime and won the Sushi Battle last year in 2016 and also ran the Urban Sushi Burrito food stand that could be found at most Big City Events festivals such as the Margarita Festival and Rum Festival.

If you’re in Brandon driving down State Road 60 off I-75, stop by and give it a look.  The restaurant is open late daily and apparently brunch is in the works.

S Bar - now open

Restaurant name: S Bar

Cuisine: Sushi, Southern

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 1025 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511

Phone Number: (813) 575-7227

Website: http://www.thesbar.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theSbar/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/S__bar/

Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen in Brandon

This past weekend I dined at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen in Brandon across the street from Portillo’s.

Our new favorite Cajun spot!!

A post shared by Amanda Gee (@hunypot) on

The restaurant is fairly new and opened back in 2016 and is part of a small chain of restaurants that are also found in Winter Park and Altamonte Springs. My family is hooked on their food and I found out why during my visit.

Prices are fair and the quality is excellent. My Aunt has been to New Orleans a little over half-a-dozen times and praised the food –  I’m sure this would vary from person to person.

What I can say is that I enjoyed my food – the Rita’s Chicken which is panko-crusted chicken with lemon sauce over dirty rice ($15.25).

The portions here are huge and easily shareable between two people – not a problem. The server and bartenders encountered were all friendly and even during their slow times the restaurant was nearly at capacity.

For dessert we enjoyed beignets covered in powdered sugar. I don’t think there are too many places in Tampa where you can grab these and I usually stop for some at the Poor Porker in Lakeland on trips to Orlando. It wasn’t quite the Poor Porker – but still delicious and a shorter drive (If the Poor Porker is reading this – please come to Tampa).

Overall – I enjoyed my food and experience and will return soon. There’s a lunch menu and daily happy hour plus plenty of drink specials. Interesting menu items for future visits include the Jambalaya, Po’Boy selections, Chicken & Waffles, Fried Catfish, Cajun Shrimp Pasta, and Gumbo selections.

Restaurant name: Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen

Cuisine: Cajun

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 1721 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511

Phone Number: (813) 315-8443

Menu: http://tibbys.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2017_TibbysMenu-Brandon_Online-Only.pdf

Happy Hour: 4PM-6PM Daily

Website: http://tibbys.com/

Dave & Buster’s arcade coming to Brandon

Popular game arcade and sports bar, Dave & Buster’s, is making plans to come to Brandon after years of speculation of when they would arrive in the Tampa Bay market. The 40,000 square-foot facility features a restaurant and 412 parking spots.

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The restaurant serves American food fare including burgers, ribs, steak, seafood, sandwiches, and salads. Alcohol options includes wine, bottled beer, local beer, and spirits.

Let’s hope they bring the new Dance Dance Revolution over to the Brandon location (cue: 90’s and early 2000’s memories).

Major local competitor GameTime just finished a remodeling worth $1 million in Ybor City that includes high-end modern materials and furnishings, 65 TV’s, and new attractions and games. Time will tell if Dave & Buster’s has any impact on their business.

The greater Brandon area has been rapidly building new apartment complexes and home projects keeping in line with all the new business coming to the area with TopGolf and Bass Pro Shops already established in the area. In addition, this fall Goodrich Quality Theaters will open a multiplex in Gibsonton and Xscape Theatres will open in Riverview on the corner of Progress Blvd. and I-75 soon as well. Previously the only option for Brandon residents was AMC Regency 20.

Cauliflower Pizza @ Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

During the Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza Tweetup in Carrollwood, I spotted a curious pizza that I was sadly too full to try. Fortunately, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza contacted me recently and invited me to come out and try a complimentary pie of their Cauliflower Pizza. I, of course, accepted and ventured to the Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza location in Brandon. The Brandon location has a different feel from the Carrollwood location, it feels more like a mom & pop pizza restaurant. One large room with a few televisions and various things on the wall. When I arrived a waitress helped me out right away and sat me down at the bar.

She told me I had to try their Eggplant Marino and brought it out right away. The fried eggplant was toasty and the marinara and cheese on top tasted great, the taste of the eggplant was faint but still present. A nice way to get some extra fruits in…I personally don’t normally eat eggplants because I usually find them to be bitter so I found this to be a cool way to cook it. It wasn’t long before the Cauliflower Pizza was ready and in front of me.

The Cauliflower Pizza has an interesting appearance. It looks like a cheese pizza at first glance, but if you look again you see the pieces of cauliflower spread throughout the pie. I normally associate cauliflower with soul food, so I have never imagined it in this context. It was surprisingly very pleasant. The pizza has a balance between the bread, cheese, and cauliflower that I enjoyed. Neither is overpowering and the pizza is not sloppy or greasy. As I mentioned in my other blog about Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, their pizzas are light and won’t leave you feeling sick or painfully full afterwards. The pie is one of Anthony’s specialty pizzas and is $16.75 for a 12″ and $19.75 for a 16″ pie.

The manager mentioned they put olive oil on the bread and it certainly does add some extra flavor to the oven-roasted pizza. Cauliflower is known for preventing cancer and having a number of other health benefits and although this form might be less effective than eating one whole, it must be better than eating pepperonis and sausages. As I was live tweeting my visit, many people mentioned to me that the Cauliflower Pizza is one of their favorites and there is much to love about this pizza. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza was secretly making me eat healthier, while still enjoying my food. I took the few pieces I couldn’t finish to a friends house and everyone devoured it and was surprised to find out there was cauliflower in the pizza they ate.

Stay tuned for an Anthony’s Coal Fired Giveaway on my next blog!

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

Cuisine: Italian, Pizza

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 1912 W. Brandon Blvd. Brandon, FL 33511

Phone Number: (813) 409-3830

Website: http://anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com/