NEWS: Shake Shack now open at UTC Sarasota

Gourmet burger giant Shake Shack opens today at The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) Sarasota. The burger franchise hopes to have 200 locations by 2020.

Shake Shack is serving the Pie Oh My Concrete, which has vanilla custard mixed with a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds seasonal pie. 5% of the sales of this item will support Sunshine Community Compost.

Their goal is “to strengthen community connections and give back to the planet through accessible education and action programs that increase local composting, resource recovery and zero waste efforts”.

Other specialties offered include:

  • Shack Attack: Chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Mast Brothers chocolate chunks and chocolate sprinkles
  • Caramel Cone: Vanilla custard, salted caramel, sugar cone pieces and chocolate sprinkles

Local Florida craft beer will be for-sale at the location including Crooked Can Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, and Orange Blossom Brewing Co. Shake Shack’s own exclusive Brooklyn Brewing ShackMeister® Ale.

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The #SarasotaSquad shook things up today and got an exclusive sneak peek at the brand new @shakeshack at @universitytowncenter! We were really impressed with the quality of both the food and the service. The crinkle cut #fries were crispy and light, the chicken bites were fantastic and the burgers came in a few steps ahead of the classic fast food sandwich. Don’t step foot in here if you’re looking for fresh eats, this is where you eat on cheat day. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #SquadGoals. Thank you to @letseatsrq for inviting us! . . . . . . . . . #sarasota #sarasotafoodie #sarasotaeats #sarasotaeatsout #sarasotafood #sarasotarestaurants #srqfood #srqfoodie #srqlife #sarasotafoodblogger #sarasotafood #manateecounty #lakewoodranch #bradenton #shakeshack #smokeshack #srqlife

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The Herald-Tribune reported live from the opening today.

Now hopefully Shake Shack will set the stage and come to Tampa soon, hungry fans are still waiting for the franchise to enter the market. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the lease in Sarasota is for 10 years.

Shake Shack was founded in 2001 as a hot dog cart that has grown into a massive burger business. The company entered the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and prides itself on “100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. No hormones or antibiotics – EVER”.

Address: 190 N Cattlemen Road, Unit 1 Sarasota, FL 34243

Phone Number: (941) 413-1351

Hours: 11AM to 10PM, Sunday – Thursday, 11AM to 11PM, Friday & Saturday

Website: http://www.shakeshack.com/location/sarasota-fl/

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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

Website: http://www.shulaburger.com

Menu: http://www.shulaburger.com/menu/

Smashburger plans 35 new restaurants in Florida West Coast

Smashburger opened its first Tampa location last week in South Tampa at 4035 South Dale Mabry Highway and plans to open at least 35 new restaurants along the Florida West Coast in the next 5 to 6 years.

The investment will cost $37 million dollars. Each location will employ 30 people, adding about 1,400 new jobs in total to the region.

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The Denver-based, fast-casual, burger concept is also located in Clearwater and Sarasota. Smashburger was founded in 2007 and serves “made-to-order, never frozen” burgers.

Their localized burger for the Tampa Bay area is the “Media Noche” burger, which contains smoked ham, aged Swiss cheese, pickles, red onion, and mustard on an egg bun. Local craft beer from the area will be a highlight of these locations.

Some would say the Tampa market is over-saturated with burger concepts. I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

There are just a number of low-quality, badly-managed, and overpriced restaurants that have expanded too much and you can see that playing out in the market with bankruptcies and retreats from locations.

The burger business is a $73 billion dollar business and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Smashburger is participating in the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Burger Week and serving their “Sin City Burger” from Vegas for the promotion for $6.69 plus tax. The burger features “signature Smash sauce (a mayo, mustard, relishy blend), topped with a fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, and haystack onions”.

I stopped by last week for a taste and my favorite burger was the Truffle Mushroom Swiss. I thought about that burger days after visiting. I don’t care what food snobs say about truffle being overrated, I’ll take some on everything, thank you very much.

CL Slider Showdown this Wednesday, October 18th

Creative Loafing will kick off their annual Tampa Bay Burger Week this Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 with their inaugural Slider Showdown at The Vault in Downtown Tampa from 6PM to 9PM. They will release their annual burger issue at the competition.

General admission tickets cost $25 in advance until the 17th and then go up to $30 at the door. VIP is $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Buy tickets: http://cltampa.xorbia.com/sliders

VIP includes a slider from each competing restaurant, a private VIP-only area sponsored by The Vault, one complimentary beer or cocktail, side options to accompany the competing sliders, & more.

Participating restaurants include:

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/154627968464861/

Orlando Burger Battle this weekend!

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Travel to Orlando and check out the Orlando Burger Battle this Saturday, September 23rd from 5PM to 9PM at the new Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando located at 100 West Livingston Street.

Enjoy gourmet burgers, sides, and plenty of alcohol as well. Live music, performers, and fun zones will be throughout the event as well. Orlando Burger Battle is presented by Orlando Magazine in partnership with food critic Joseph Hayes.

Over 10 restaurants will duke it out for who makes the best burger in Orlando.

Participating restaurants include Raglan Road Irish Pub, Hash House A Go-Go, Jimmy Hula’s, White Wolf Café, The Whiskey, Artisan’s Table, Ace Cafe, Planet Hollywood, The Tap Room at Dubsdread, Shula’s 347 Grill, and Chroma Bar & Kitchen.

Celebrity judges with various backgrounds will participate in the event.

Buy tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/orlando-burger-battle-tickets-36283076659

Tickets are still available. General Admission (GA) tickets costs $55 and VIP tickets cost $75.

GA includes:

• All you can eat burgers from each participating restaurant
• All you can eat fries
• Beer, wine, and cocktail bars
• Milkshake bar
• Concert
• Games

VIP:

• All general admission items plus …
• Early admission to the event
• Exclusive VIP Lounge with Ace Cafe catering
• Private butler service
• V.I.P. gift bag
• Meet-N-Greet with celebrity judges

DEAL: Use code “Carlos25” to get $25 OFF General Admission tickets to the event.

Buy tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/orlando-burger-battle-tickets-36283076659

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1812487785458230/

Burger Bash in Da Burg Food Truck Rally – 1/20

The Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association will host a food truck rally on Friday, January 20th, 2017 from 6PM-9PM called Burger Bash in Da Burg at Port St. Pete’s Marine Discovery Center.

Over 10 food trucks will be at the food event and specialty burgers will be sold to hungry attendees. Beer, wine, and sangria will be available for purchase.

The event will have FREE admission and parking. Inside and outside waterfront seating will be provided and the movie Good Burger will play at the event starting at 7PM.

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Participating food trucks:

Interested vendors should inquire at http://www.gulftobayfta.org/contact-us

Event name: Burger Bash in Da Burg

Venue: Port St. Pete

Address: 250 8th Ave SE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Date & Time: Friday, January 20th, 2017, 6PM-9PM

Cost: FREE to attend and park

Age: All ages welcome

St. Petersburg restaurant features Trump Tower Burger

Boulevard Burgers & Tap House located in St. Petersburg (not in Russia but Florida) will honor President-Elect Donald Trump with a “Trump Tower Burger” special for the month of January. Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration will occur on Friday, January 20, 2017.

Trump Tower Burger

According to a press release, the burger will embrace the traits of Mr. Trump and “his empire” with features that embody him including: “double patties for “Trump Tower” sky-high height, onion straws that embody Trump’s famous blonde locks, and good ol’ American cheese”.

Donald Trump is a well-documented fast food junkie, often frequenting fast food chains instead of local shops during the campaign trail and has been recorded stating he eats fast food because “at least you know what they are putting in it”.

Like many Americans, Donald Trump is considered overweight and has slightly high cholesterol, according to Bloomberg Politics. Trump’s fast food habit led Esquire to state “large obnoxious man enjoys large obnoxious meals”.

The restaurant claims they want to “Make American Cheese Great Again” as well – whatever that means. Boulevard Burgers & Tap House was opened in 2014 on Gulf Boulevard across from St. Pete Beach and features burgers, craft beer, fresh seafood, and live entertainment on weekends.

Boulevard owner, Marco, has establishments throughout New York and St. Petersburg’s Fortunato’s On Central and the Local 662. The management recently acquired De’Lites Ice Cream next to Boulevard Burgers with a new concept planned for Fall 2017.

Boulevard Burgers & Tap House. 5905 Gulf Boulevard, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 201-4906. blvdburgers.com

Shake Shack looking to open location in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Business Journal (TBBJ) reported earlier this summer that Shake Shack is looking to open at least one location in the Tampa Bay area. They are joined by a number of competitors in the area serving fast-casual gourmet burgers including Burger 21, Burger Monger, BurgerFi, and a planned Wahlburger’s entry into the market. Most of these burger chains are concentrated on Dale Mabry Highway and in South Tampa along Howard Avenue. The TBBJ held a poll recently asking where people would like to see Shake Shack open up.

Shake Shack

Personally, I think Shake Shack would be a good choice in the university area along Fowler Avenue or on Bruce B. Downs in New Tampa. There is a true lack of gourmet burgers in this area with the only options being Five Guys and maybe Burger 21 further along Bruce B. Downs heading towards Wesley Chapel. The addition of Portillo’s to the university area in late September/early October sets the stage for new restaurants to open in the university area.

There also seems to be few gourmet burger locations in the Brandon area besides Ford’s Garage and Square 1 Burgers in a densely populated area. The Brandon area is booming lately with new movie theaters, Dave & Buster’s, and new apartment complexes appearing rapidly.

No doubt the first location will also draw in plenty of traffic to wherever it opens and provide an economic advantage to that area. Parking considerations should hopefully drive Shake Shack to a location that will allow plenty of access. My visits to Shake Shack in Winter Park were always met with congested parking (where it shares space with Trader Joe’s market) when that location opened in 2014.

Wherever they decide to open – let’s hope it opens soon! I am ready to chow down.

Photography credit: Evan Sung

Local Legendary Burger @ Hard Rock Cafe Tampa

Full disclosure: I was invited by the Hard Rock for a complimentary tasting of their new burger. The opinions expressed are my own based on my experience.

This past Monday I visited the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino restaurant, Hard Rock Cafe, to taste their Local Legendary Burger: Old Bay Burger. The idea of the burger is to prepare something in-house that has “local flavor and flair”. During my visit I also tried an appetizer, drink special, and dessert.

Southwest Chicken Flatbread

I started off with the Southwest Chicken Flatbread as an appetizer. Flatbreads always sound great when I order them and they are usually disappointing. Not the case with the Southwest Chicken Flatbread at the Hard Rock Cafe. This was one of the best flatbreads I have eaten in the Tampa Bay region. It captured a nice mix of flavors and had fresh avocados served on top. The crust had just the right crunchy – not too crispy or too tough. I highly recommend this.

Summertime Blues drink

The Summertime Blues drink is a special added to the menu currently. It is made with Blueberry Real syrup, house-made lemonade, and Red Bull Yellow energy drink. The mixture is sweet and packed with plenty of energy. This beverage is non-alcoholic.

Local Legendary Burger

Local Legendary Burger

After the appetizer was gone, the main course arrived: the Local Legendary Burger called the Old Bay Burger. Named after Old Bay Seasoning – a product of Maryland where crabs are plentiful. The burger utilizes a crab cake mixture laid on top of the burger (important to note for anyone with allergies).

I really enjoyed this burger – it’s totally different from what you’d normally find on a menu and it’s really filling as you can see in the photograph. You can taste the seasoning in each bite and how the different parts of the burger interact. Part of me wanted to actually just have the crab cake part and cut out the beef just to see how that might change the mix of flavors – it was enjoyable regardless though. The chef also made a sauce to accompany the burger.

I’d love to hear people’s opinions on what they think of the Local Legendary at the Hard Rock Cafe and see how it compares to my experience.

Key Lime Pie

Finally, the meal ended with the dessert. The newest addition to the Hard Rock Cafe is their Key Lime Pie so I decided to go with that. The filling was reminiscent of a flan due to it being soft and almost like pudding. The taste was not too sour or sweet – somewhere in between. The crust was excellent and definitely the highlight of the dessert.

Thus the meal came to an end. There are plenty of new things worth trying at the Hard Rock Cafe whether you are looking for a snack or a meal.

Hard Rock Cafe. 5223 Orient Rd., Tampa, FL 33610. (813) 627-7757 seminolehardrocktampa.com

Burger 21 VIB: Very Important Blogger “Slide into Summer” Tasting #B21VIB

This and many future blogs to come were saved by my good friend Jason Lawrence, who saved my hard drive from my former laptop (RIP). A big thanks to him! If you ever need IT work, Jason is your guy!

I was invited to Burger 21 for their VIB: Very Important Blogger “Slide into Summer” Tasting a few weeks ago. This tasting was a complimentary event for local bloggers. Burger 21 is frequently buzzed in Tampa by local diners (It is currently #1 in Tampa on Urbanspoon) and my excitement was built by many of my Twitter followers, who claimed Burger 21 has the best burger they have ever had. A bold statement indeed.

I made it to Westchase early to avoid the 275 rush hour traffic. The Veterans Expressway made the trip shorter than expected. It was my first time the neighborhood and Westchase is simply beautiful. Burger 21 picked a nice place to drop their first restaurant. I was the first one to arrive at the tasting. Two tables were reserved in the back of the restaurant for diners. Burger 21 has a diner feel to it, but is spotlessly clean and there are many windows that allow light into the restaurant…perfect for taking photographs at a food tasting event. I got hooked up to their Wi-Fi and was live-tweeting before I knew it.

As you can see I was about to have a food feast! Many other bloggers, writers, and social media personalities made it to the event. I was re-united with some old friends and I met many new people as well (some frequent readers of this blog). The staff at Burger 21 was completely hospitable to us and after a few minutes the first of our first of seven shakes arrived.

The first shake was the chocolate malted milk ball shake. Burger 21 paid attention to detail on their shakes. They only use Blue Bell ice cream in their shakes. They were all perfectly made to the smallest detail in appearance. Fellow blogger Tender B. and I both agreed that the sweetness was not over-powering. It was a nice starter, but the shake I was awaiting was the tiramisu shake. The food and shakes came out quickly and before I knew it the first slider arrived.

The bacon cheddar slider and sweet potato fries. The slider was certainly much better than your average slider. I loved the bacon inside, but it was a little hard to compare the burger to a real burger when it was clearly made well-done and doesn’t have the complete properties of a true burger. The sweet potato fries were excellent! I seriously fell in love with them.They were a perfect mix of sweet and salty. I experimented with many of the sauces at Burger 21 and the Thai Ketchup was my favorite. It has a kick to it in a way that regular ketchup just cannot compare. True story: Since trying Burger 21’s Thai Ketchup I am dissatisfied with regular ketchup and feel like there is something missing every time.

The next slider was Burger 21’s BLT Turkey Slider with regular fries. I do not like turkey meat burgers…my Step-Dad makes them at home and those are the nights I tend to avoid the house, however Burger 21 actually did a great job on their BLT Turkey Sliders. The turkey meat was moist (something you don’t normally find in turkey meat after it has been cooked) and I actually enjoyed the slider. The regular fries were good, but could not compare to the amazing sweet potato fries. I would order the sweet potato fries on every visit to Burger 21.

The strawberry short cake shake was the next stop on this tasting adventure. One thing I noted was how fresh the fruit tasted. Anytime Burger 21 used a shake that incorporated a fruit you could taste the real fruit in the shake. They put just the right amount of sweetness for my taste buds. Some places add tons of sugars when fruits naturally sweeten a drink.

The Ybor City double espresso shake was delicious! I love food creations involving coffee, such as coffee cake, and this double espresso shake could stand alone without a meal. It had a coffee taste without a bitter after-taste. It made me think of the tasty coffee shakes I have at Cafe Kili – refreshing.

The black and bleu slider was my least favorite slider. It has a smoked taste and was quite dry. In my opinion it would benefit from some different toppings and a signature sauce.

The chocolate peanut butter shake was probably the only shake I disliked. The balance of chocolate to peanut butter was off and it ended up tasting more like peanut butter blended with sprinkles of chocolate. There was still more food and shakes on the way (including my anticipated Tiramisu shake) so I only had a few sips of the chocolate peanut butter shake before moving on.

Burger 21 is known for having some of the best hot dogs in Tampa and only uses Hebrew National hot dogs. From the 4 hot dogs offered I decided to go with the chili cheese dog with no jalapenos (I’m sensitive to spiciness -__- let’s hope I fix that in Korea). Losing the jalapenos did not detract from the taste of the hot dog. WOW. This has to be the best chili cheese dog I have tasted in Tampa Bay. Better than Mel’s Hot Dogs near USF, though a different style. The toasted bread bun was delicious as well and completed the chili dog.

Yum!

Finally, the tiramisu shake (monthly feature during my visit as well) arrived in front of me! My favorite dessert in the world was now in front of me in shake form. It was great! Fellow diner Chandra Lee and I agreed that it could not replace a true tiramisu, but in my opinion it came pretty close! I especially loved the presentation of the shake.

The banana foster shake rivaled the tiramisu shake well. Many people claimed it was their favorite. I think I could put in on the level of the tiramisu. The taste of banana was fresh as was the strawberry, but far superior in overall taste and mixture.

The final shake: the key lime pie shake came after all the others and everyone was stuffed before it arrived. I tried to evaluate it fairly, but decided I was far too full to fairly evaluate it. Maybe someday in the future.

Overall, Burger 21 has many great things on their menu. I enjoyed the sliders, shakes, and fries. The sweet potato fries were delicious and I fell in love with their Thai Ketchup sauce. My two favorite shakes were the Tiramisu and the Banana Foster shakes. I want to go back and try their burgers again someday with and see how a true burger fares against the sliders. I read online that their Ahi Tuna burger is excellent and I hope to try it one day.

Burger 21 is opening a new location on North Dale Mabry in Carrollwood this Fall so I imagine a burger battle will be brewing for who has the best burgers in Tampa. The Carlos Eats Team will be there to cover it when it opens.

#B21VIB guests:

@missdestructo (declaring it Destructo vs. Food)

@JeffHouck (with Son o’ Stew in attendance as well)

@ChandraLee

@WestchasePatch

@TenderB_WCCL(read his blog on the event)

@Tracyguida (read her blog on the event)

@DineTampaBay

@Antony511

@tampabayfood

Burger 21 on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Burger 21

Cuisine: American

Neighborhood: Westchase

Address: 9664 W. Linebaugh Ave. Tampa, FL 33626

Phone Number: (813) 475-5921

Website: http://www.burger21.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/myburger21

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Burger21