Whatever Pops sells quality grilled cheese sandwiches

I haven’t had a chance to stop in at Whatever Pops in Seminole Heights yet.

However – I just tried their grilled cheese for the first time today at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa located at 600 North Ashley Drive, which is running for the next 7 weeks and features ice skating, vendors, and food from vendors like Whatever Pops.

The grilled cheese I had was phenomenal. Excellent mix of cheeses and sourdough bread. Gooey and yet crispy at the same time. Every last bite. Maybe one of the better grilled cheese sandwiches I have enjoyed in Tampa. Serving at $6 is a reasonable price for a specialized market as well.

The order came out quickly as well.

The only thing I was sad about was that they ran out of tomato soup. That will most certainly be a reason to return in the near future though.

The attendant at the stand told me sales in Seminole Heights are down 40% ever since the Seminole Heights Serial Killer made the news. People from all over town are coming over to try and support, but she said regardless sales are still down and fall during the night at levels that are hurting business.

Please keep the local Seminole Heights businesses in mind if you’re trying to pick a place to eat or shop at. Maybe consider ordering some catering or delivery from them if you’re not able to stop by.

Seminole Heights is one of the reasons our local food scene in Tampa has grown over the years and it would be a shame if those businesses were to close because of something completely beyond their control.

Visit Whatever Pops in Seminole Heights at 5127 North Florida Avenue Tampa, FL 33603. Reach them at (813) 559-7677.

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Busch Gardens Christmas Town now open

This is a sponsored post for Busch Gardens about their annual Christmas Town event. I visited the theme park with media passes to experience the event for a first-hand account. Opinions are my own and do not reflect those of Busch Gardens.

Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season has finally started. Busch Gardens is now running their annual Christmas Town event from now until January 6th. January 1st to January 6th will have a new Three Kings Day Celebration.

See a calendar with the schedule for Christmas Town: http://bit.ly/2jZURf9

The winter event features tons of photo opportunities for families, couples, and friends.

You’ll find Christmas characters spread throughout the theme park including Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and others. The park penguins are on-display and there is also a Sing-A-Long Express Train running with holiday songs playing on-board.

Shows and musical events include Christmas on Ice, Carols of the Bells, and the Holiday Hills Brass Band. The Christmas on Ice show is quite popular and actually fills to capacity so I would recommend showing up a little before the showtime to make sure you get a seat.

Busch Gardens added more food items to the menu including mini doughnuts and a number of other specialty items.

The prices vary but each thing will probably run you anywhere from $4-$10. They are selling sampler packs and if you’re planning to hit a number of booths, it might be an economical option for you and your group. The food stands and theme park restaurants are also open with some specialized items added.

I think a cool addition to think about for the future might be to add a food truck park with snow around it or maybe an ice bar with adult beverages.

The theme park rides are also open which leaves a ton of things to do. My favorite was the Cheetah Hunt which zooms past many of the lights and Christmas trees as pictured above.

I would recommend showing up earlier so you can have time to get on rides and also enjoy all the Christmas festivities before the theme park closes. We did enjoy a ride or two during our visit but chose to spend more of our time looking at the lights and enjoying the holiday additions.

The lights have really become more impressive in the last few years and it will certainly give you a piece of the holiday spirit. I loved the Christmas trees and displays. This unusually chilly weather lately will also enhance it. I recommend visiting Busch Gardens Christmas Town if you’re looking for a special night out with the family, a date, or a night with some friends.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Christmas Town Santa

Christmas Town is included with Busch Gardens admissions tickets.

For a limited time, guests can pay for a day and get two parks now through 2018 FREE. Guests can enjoy unlimited admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay through Dec. 31, 2018 and to Adventure Island through the 2018 season.

For more information visit Busch Gardens online at: http://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/christmas-town/

St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival this Friday! FREE Admission.

The Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association will host the first St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival this Friday, November 3rd from 6PM-11PM at Albert Whitted Park, Downtown St. Petersburg, in collaboration with Carlos Eats and the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The event is FREE to attend. Food trucks will accept cash and most major credit cards.

The first 400 guests will receive a complimentary Asian folding hand fan. 400 lanterns will be spread around the event for your enjoyment. Live music will be performed by Acoustic Thunder (Covers 50’s to current). Tampa Taiko and a Lion Dance Troupe will be in attendance at the event.

Adult beverages will be available for purchase.

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Parking information:

These lots will be available in addition to Downtown St. Petersburg garages:

Albert Whitted Parking (adjacent to the event) – Take 1st Street SE. to Dali Blvd

Dali Museum Parking – Take 1st Street SE. to Dali Blvd

Al Lang Parking – Corner of 1st Street SE & 1st Ave SE

Participating food trucks: 

Participating dessert trucks:

What: St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival

Venue: Albert Whitted Park, Downtown St. Petersburg

Date & Time: Friday, November 3rd, 2017, 6PM-11PM

Address: 480 Bayshore Dr SE St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Cost: FREE To attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1858715594391995/

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/

ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival – Puerto Rico Donation Drive

Looking for somewhere to donate supplies for Puerto Rico and Caribbean relief and those impacted by Hurricane Maria this weekend in Tampa?

This Sunday, October 1st, 2017, ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival will take place from 11AM-6PM at Centennial Park in Ybor City. The event is a FREE and family-friendly art and culture festival that will celebrate latin culture and food along with live music performances from local bands. The event is presented by Rumba 106.5.

The event celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month which is an annual celebration from September 15th to October 15th in the U.S.A.

It celebrates “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America”. It began “in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988”.

There will be a “Veterans Thunder Alley Booths” to show case a number of Veteran non-profit organizations. These organizations will interact with our community and share their personnel stories and how they are helping our Veterans and first-responders in Tampa.

The event will serve as a drive for Course of Action PR which is organizing for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. They have processed 2.5 million lbs. of supplies and over 600,000 lbs. of water for Puerto Rico, but there is still more to do.

List of supplies needed:
Rice
Beans
Canned food/non-perishable food
Nutrition bars
Tuna packets (not canned)
Drink boxes/packets (juice boxes)
Baby supplies (bottles, diapers, baby wipes, formula, cereal, shampoo, baby lotion, baby powder, etc.)
Small and large generators
Adult diapers and supplies for the elderly
Regular wipes
Water purifiers
Water purification kits
Manual can openers
Clean/new gas cans
Dog/cat food
Personal hygiene/bath care items
Medical supplies (bandaids, peroxide, bandages, etc.)
Paper towels
New Towels
Cots
Air mattresses
New Pillows
Blankets
Toilet paper
Hand sanitizers
Flashlights
Batteries (AA, C, D, 9V)
LED work lights
Walkie talkies/two way radios
Rope
Bailing wire
Tarps
Long extension cords
12V to 120 volt power inverters
MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat)
Solar panels for charging batteries
Cell phone chargers
Basic tool kits
Shovels
Hand saws
Power saws
Chainsaws
Drills
Mosquito repellent
Duct and electrical tape

The organization says they have enough clothes and water at this time.

You can donate to Course of Action PR at their main base at 4916 S. Lois Avenue, Tampa, FL from Monday to Saturday from 11:00AM-7:00PM.

Event Name: ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival

Venue: Centennial Park

Address: 1800 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605

Date & Time: Sunday, October 1st, 2017, 11AM-6PM

Cost: FREE to attend

Website: http://www.vivatampabayfestival.com/

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/276418779433950/

Inaugural Whiskey Tampa Foxtrot on October 14th

Bern’s Steak House and Epicurean Hotel are having their inaugural Whiskey Tampa Foxtrot on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at the Epicurean Hotel located at 1207 South Howard Avenue.

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The event will feature over 200 handcrafted whiskeys and artisan foods from local restaurant to complement the tasting. Educational seminars will also be held by industry experts. The event is for ages 21+.

Whiskey List: http://whiskeytampafoxtrot.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/WHICKEY-LIST3.pdf

Restaurant partners include: Bern’s Steak House, Haven Tampa, Elevage, Locale Market, Parkshore Grill, and Rooster and The Till.

Tickets are now on-sale. VIP Admission is $150, General Admission (GA) is $95 and seminars cost $20. VIP includes early admission and exclusive bottle tastings and a special Markers Mark VIP Lounge.

Buy GA: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whiskey-tampa-foxtrot-general-admission-tickets-37734171924

Buy VIP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whiskey-tampa-foxtrot-vip-tickets-37734384560

Buy Seminar Tickets: http://whiskeytampafoxtrot.com/#Seminars

Proceeds will benefit Operation First Response. The mission of Operation First Response is to serve all branches of our nation’s Wounded Heroes/Disabled Veterans and their families with personal and financial needs.

8th Annual Oktoberfest Tampa coming October 13-15

The 8th Annual Oktoberfest Tampa will take place from Friday, October 13th, 2017 to Sunday, October 15th, 2017 at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa. The event is sponsored by Goose Island and Tampa Bay Audi Dealers.

Get tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-oktoberfest-tampa-2017-ga-tickets-36273577246

Oktoberfest games will be FREE to play at the event and there will be German food, live alphorn performances, oompah music, Schuplattler dancers, and a German DJ – DJ Jay Kay. There will be a beard and mustache showdown as well.

Beer will cost $5 for a half-liter (16 oz.) and $10 for a liter (32 oz.) at the festival. You must have a commemorative Stein in order to purchase the liter size. Wine will cost $7 a glass.

Beer list:

  • Goose Island Oktoberfest
  • Blue Point Brewery Oktoberfest
  • Victory Brewing Company Festbier
  • Beck’s Brewery Pilsner
  • Oktoberfest Tampa Dunkel by Coppertail Brewing
  • Coppertail Brewing Co – Wheat Stroke
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Company – Craft Firkins (daily)
  • O’Douls Non-Alcoholic Cans

Wine list:

  • Riesling (Chateau St. Michelle)
  • Gewürztraminer (Chateau St. Michelle)
  • Merlot (Clos du Bois)

Tickets are on-sale and cost $10 for GA for guests ages 21 years or older at the door. Weekend GA passes are available for $25.

VIP tickets are available and come with several perks including complimentary drink refills, a commemorative Oktoberfest stein, table side food service, air-conditioned restrooms, VIP shade tent with a private bar, and more.

Buy tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-oktoberfest-tampa-2017-ga-tickets-36273577246

The event is family-friendly and children ages 12 and under are FREE with a parent or guardian. There will be a Kids Zone with kid-friendly games during the event.

FREE ENTRY for any Military members (active or retired) and Tampa First Responders (TPD, TFD, EMS) and their significant other – simply show proper ID at the front gate.

Cash or Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) will be accepted on-site with ATMs available as well.

CL HighBall Another Round This Thursday!

Looking to start your summer off with some of the best cocktails in town?

Local newspaper Creative Loafing is bringing their CL HighBall cocktail competition to Tampa this Thursday, May 11th from 7PM to 10PM at the Rialto Theatre in Tampa Heights next to Foundation Coffee and Hidden Springs Ale Works brewery.

Over a dozen restaurants and bars from both sides of Tampa Bay will feature unlimited craft cocktails with vodka, whisky, rum, or gin for this summer event and be competing to win the title of “Tampa Bay’s Best Cocktail”.

The winning cocktail will be featured later this year at CL’s Best of the Bay Awards Party in September.

Tickets are $25 in advance for General Admission and $40 at the door. VIP tickets are available for $50 in advance and $80 at the door if available. VIP includes an extra hour of sampling and VIP-only appetizers from Casey’s Craft Bar Kitchen.

This event is for participants ages 21+ only.

Buy tickets: http://bit.ly/2qLcNM6

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Ybor City Museum Society. The Ybor City Museum Society is committed to “its mission of preserving, promoting and celebrating the unique cultural heritage of Ybor City, one of only three National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida”. Learn more about the society at ybormuseum.org

Here is a video from the fun in St. Pete earlier this year:

Event Name: CL HighBall Another Round

Venue: Rialto Theatre

Address: 1617 N. Franklin St. in Tampa

Date & Time: Thursday, May 11th, 2017 7PM to 10PM

Ages: 21+ only

Buy Tickets: http://bit.ly/2qLcNM6

Website: http://www.cltampa.com/highball

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/406121439767056/

Ciccio’s Gasparilla Brunch & Brews – 1/28

This Saturday, January 28th, is Gasparilla and Ciccio/Water is celebrating with a special event called Ciccio’s Gasparilla Brunch & Brews from 10AM-2PM at 1015 South Howard Avenue. Guests will also enjoy a live DJ set.

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The event will feature a $35 All-You-Can-Eat-And-Drink Beer & Brunch celebration. Cash only. Tickets can only be purchased at the door. Parking will cost $20 with limited spaces available.

Don’t forget your pirate gear!

Use #TurnTampaTeal to score a FREE drink at the party.

Proceeds will benefit The Teal Recovery Project, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that focuses on fundraising, educating, and empowering women battling cervical cancer.

Event name: Ciccio’s Gasparilla Brunch & Brews

Date & Time: Saturday, January 28th, 2017, 10AM-2PM

Address: 1015 South Howard Avenue Tampa, Florida 33606

Cost: $35 to attend, $20 parking, Cash-only

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1773892346265765/

New Year’s Eve 2017 Party @ Anise Global Gastrobar

Anise Global Gastrobar in Downtown Tampa, located at 777 North Ashley Drive across from Curtis Hixon Park, will host their annual New Year’s Eve Party from 9PM-2AM this Saturday, December 31st.

Guests can expect excellent craft cocktails from some of the best bartenders in town and gourmet bites. The event starts late enough to make plans earlier in the day before heading to the party.

Anise NYE Party

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Photo credit @antone2382 on Instagram

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Photo credit @vintranasianman on Instagram.

Tickets are on-sale and cost $60 per person for admission. Admission includes a welcome cocktail, buffet, drink specials, and a champagne toast. Tables are also available and vary from $180-$480. For more information contact Anise at (813) 225-4272.

Purchase tickets at: http://www.aniseglobal.com/tickets/