Chicago Paulie’s serves the best hot dog in Tampa

Several people have told me to try Chicago Paulie’s for the last few years. I made a mental note, but did not stop by until today. The restaurant stand is located in a gas station parking lot with a humble table and umbrella nearby in the corner of North Hyde Park (NoHo). This isn’t fancy eats, but an excellent culinary destination that most people will drive right past as they jump on Interstate 275 on Howard Avenue. Don’t be that person.

Chicago Hot Dog from Chicago Paulie's in Tampa

I ordered a Chicago hot dog and some fries. The hot dog was cooked to perfection. The toppings superb. No ketchup (of course), but a healthy amount of mustard. It was hot out. Summer is already starting to take over Florida and I really cannot think of a better thing to enjoy in the summer than a hot dog and maybe some beer. Fries were a nice add-on.

Chicago Paulie’s may be one of Tampa’s best kept secrets although people who love food know about it and they have won Best of the Bay from CL in the past. I thought about Taco Bus and California Tacos before Guy Fieri. Tampa has some good eats if you’re willing to go off the beaten path and many of them are undiscovered and hardly talked about. Chicago Paulie’s is one of those places that would immediately jump to the Food Network just for great eats.

My last visit to Portillo’s by USF was truly disappointing with a sad hot dog, mediocre toppings, a bad bun, and stale fries that would probably upset Mr. Portillo himself, but Chicago Paulie’s…now that is a good hot dog. Simple. I inhaled my food.

 

Chicago Paulie's storefront

The prices aren’t overly cheap or expensive, but just right. Chicago Paulie’s holds a 5-star rating on Yelp with 129 reviews in an era where people will 1-star you just for not having the right kind of ketchup or signage. Most of the customers seem to be natives from Chicago who know their food, and Mr. Paulie himself is a transplant from Chicago.

Chicago Paulie’s is open from Monday to Friday from 11AM-6PM and Saturday from 11AM-2PM. Closed Sundays. I have heard they do sometimes close so you may want to call ahead if possible.  I highly recommend Chicago Paulie’s. It is the best hot dog I have enjoyed in Tampa.

Restaurant Name: Chicago Paulie’s

Cuisine: American

Neighborhood: North Hyde Park

Address: 1301 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33607

Cost: $

Phone Number: (813) 494-4275

Website: http://www.chicagopaulies.com/

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GUIDE: Where to celebrate Easter 2019 in Tampa Bay

Looking for something to do for Easter Sunday 2019 in Tampa Bay? Numerous hotels, restaurants, and bars are having events with buffets. Most have options for kids as well.

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Here are some options:

  • Shepard’s OCEAN FLAME: This Clearwater Beach spot is serving your favorites from 10AM-9PM and offering brunch items until 2:30pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach 33767. (727) 442-5107. http://bit.ly/shepoceanflame
  • Bizou Brasserie: Bizou’s Easter brunch buffet in Downtown Tampa will be served from 10AM to 3PM. Buffet prices are inclusive of all non-alcoholic beverages. Bloody Marys and Mimosas will be offered for $6 each (after 11AM) during brunch. Buffet is $45+ for adults and kids over age 12, $22+ for ages 5-12 years old, and FREE for kids ages 4 and under. Reservations are highly recommended, as preferred dining times fill up quickly. 601 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 227-9555. https://www.opentable.com/bizou-brasserie.
  • GameTime: Head over to Ybor City for Easter brunch with Sonic the Hedgehog, everyone’s favorite mascot. Take a picture and enjoy a delicious buffet on Easter Sunday, April 21st from 10AM to 3PM. Enjoy food and entertainment for all ages. Only $16.99 per adult, and $9.99 per child under 12 years old. 1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 241-9675.
  • Rusty Pelican: Enjoy a waterfront Easter Sunday Champagne Buffet from 9:30AM to 4PM. Tickets are $75 for adults and $35 for children ages 5 to 12. On the menu: Applewood Smoked Prime Rib, Pesto Crusted Leg of Lamb, Honey Glazed Salmon, Crab Legs, Raw Bar, Decadent Desserts, Bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Mary Bar, Photo Booth, and more. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 281-1943. http://bit.ly/2UdieSI
  • FarmTable Cucina: Enjoy a special Easter brunch for $89 per person from 11AM to 3PM, which includes bottomless mimosas. On the menu: Seafood Bar, Bowtie Pasta, Potato Salad, Roasted Beet Salad, Caprese, Panzanella, Breakfast Pastries, Breads, Desserts, and more. 179 2nd Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 523-6297. http://farmtablecucina.com/reservation/
  • Sirata Beach Resort: Head to the beach for an annual Easter Buffet Brunch. Enjoy fun, food, and festivities for the entire family. $49.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids. and $39.95 for Seniors. Add an unlimited Bloody Mary & Mimosa Bar for just $20. 5300 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 363-5100. http://bit.ly/SirataEasterBrunch

NEWS: Spaddy’s Coffee Co. owner and restaurant sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement

Update: Both parties have come to an agreement and Florida Avenue Eats has rebranded as Florida Eats.

There has been talk in town for some time in Tampa about a new restaurant coming to Seminole Heights called Florida Avenue Eats. The restaurant is owned by Greg Spadaccini of Spaddy’s Coffee Co., a popular coffee truck in the area. The restaurant was recently sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Ave. Brewing, just 4 days after their grand opening.

Spadaccini has made a GoFundMe to help with legal funds. The statement on the GoFundMe reads:

“My name is Greg Spadaccini and I need your help to raise funds for legal representation. I am the owner and operator of Spaddy’s Coffee Co. in Seminole Heights and in April of 2019 I decided to launch Florida Avenue Eats. It’s a fast casual restaurant serving bowls, wraps, and salads. 4 days after our grand opening, I was served at 6:30am with a summons to appear in civil federal court from Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Avenue Brewing.  Florida Avenue is a public road, one of Tampa’s longest stretching business roads, and the road we operate business on.

Adding the name “Florida Avenue” to the name of a business is not in any way unique and should not prohibit business owners like myself from operating under that naming convention.

Not only are they taking legal action against my business Florida Avenue Eats, but they have decided sue me personally.

With a newborn at home and incurring the recent expenses of a new restaurant buildout, I simply do not have the funds to personally protect myself and my family legally.

I am asking my community for support to help facilitate funds for legal representation. Anything counts, I will be forever grateful for your support.

Best wishes,
Greg “Spaddy” Spadaccini”

GoFundMe link: http://www.gofundme.com/f/legal-aid-for-spaddy

Some comments for local businesses:

The owner of Brew Bus Brewing and Florida Ave. Brewing has released a statement:

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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All is right in Sarasota

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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/

NEWS: Big Ray’s Fish Camp in Tampa fundraises for Notre Dame repair on Good Friday

If you were on social media on Monday, you certainly saw the non-stop coverage of the Notre-Dame in Paris that caught on fire. Social media users watched helplessly as the historic building burned. The interior was intact after the fire and the country plans to rebuild.

A restaurant in Tampa wants to help raise funds for the rebuilding of the cathedral.

Big Ray’s Fish Camp in South Tampa plans to have a fundraiser on Good Friday, April 19th, to help donate some money back to the rebuilding of the Notre Dame.

Big Ray’s Fish Camp is located at 6116 Interbay Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33611. You can contact Big Ray’s Fish Camp at (813) 605-3615.

NEWS: Mini Doughnut Factory flagship South Tampa location now permanently CLOSED

The Tampa Bay Business Journal broke news last night that Mini Doughnut Factory’s flagship store in South Tampa is now permanently closed. It appears that the legal and financial woes were too much for the franchise to handle.

Just a few years ago Mini Doughnut Factory was one of the fastest rising businesses in Tampa with a fever pitch of business and support throughout the city. Mini Doughnut Factory won best donuts in town for multiple years in a row and was a local favorite of most locals. Major plans for expansion and to become a chain failed to materialize after an ill-fated opening in St. Petersburg.

The chain had a huge social media following and not a day would pass without seeing some mini donuts on Snapchat and Instagram in the last few years. John Mayer even stopped by a for a bite one day. Lines of little girls and mothers would be visible from early in the morning at the South Tampa store.

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NEWS: Mole y Abuela offers 50% off bar tabs during Tampa Bay Lightning 2019 playoff games

Looking for somewhere to drink during the NHL Stanley Cup 2019 playoff games? Tampa Bay Lightning fans can head over to Mole y Abuela in Downtown Tampa and enjoy 50% off all tabs at the bar and rooftop bar during all Lightning playoff games. Their rooftop projector will be showing all the games throughout the playoffs.

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Mole y Abuela opened in the old Fly Bar space on Franklin Street recently. The offer cocktails, wine, beer, Spanish tapas, and some great Spanish wines. It is run by celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani and open from 5PM to midnight from Monday to Thursday and 5PM to 3AM on Friday and Saturday.

Chef Fabio grew up in Florence, Italy and moved to California in 2005 where he opened his first USA-based restaurant called Café Firenze. He has been featured on Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament, and plenty of other Food Network shows. He has a YouTube channel called Fabio’s Kitchen that he released in February 2017.

Mole y Abuela is owned by Nocturnal Hospitality Group which also owns Osteria Tampa and Franklin Manor.

Restaurant Name: Mole y Abuela

Cuisine: Spanish

Neighborhood: Downtown Tampa

Address: 1202 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602

Phone Number: (813) 370-1000

Website: https://moleyabuelatampa.com/

NEWS: Tampa Bay Lightning Kickoff Party this Wednesday at Curtis Hixon Park

Come out this Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 for the Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Playoffs Kickoff Party at Curtis Hixon Park with the National Hockey League (NHL).

GRAMMY, award-winning band, Cage the Elephants, will be playing at the party. The first of a series of concerts and musical performances the NHL is planning for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The concert will take place at 5:15PM EST and is a FREE, non-ticketed event. Fans can join the conversation by using the official hashtag #StanleyCup.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/2354151724604226/

Here is a schedule for the playoffs:

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NEWS: Kiwami Sushi and Ramen opening Saturday, April 6th in Brandon

Brandon’s first official ramen shop is opening this week on Saturday, April 6th at 12PM. Kiwami Sushi and Ramen will offer a special introductory 20% off promotion from April 6th to April 20th.

The new shop will be located at 10262 Causeway Blvd. Tampa, Florida 33619, just minutes from the Westfield Brandon Towncenter and the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway Faulkenburg exit.

The owner’s background is from Orenchi Ramen, which is a popular ramen chain in California. Kiwami will be serving shoyu and tonkotsu ramen for lunch as well as dan dan noodle soup for vegetarians. The menu will expand at dinner to include spicy miso ramen, kimchi ramen, and more.

Prices will start at around $11 and lunch specials will be available.

The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays.

They are still hiring staff including sushi chefs, line cooks, servers, and hosts. Interesting parties can apply in person at the restaurant or call (813) 393-0683.

Find out more at kiwamiramensushi.com.

8th Annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival Winners

The 8th Annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival was a success yet again. Competitors came from all around to compete for the World’s Best Cuban Sandwich. Cuban Sandwich Festival is a precursor to the World Food Championships. This year’s event was held in Historic Ybor City at Centennial Park which is where the event was first hosted 8 years ago.

The winners of the event are split into categories that competitors participated in.

Tampa Historic Sandwich:

  1. Las Palmas Latin Grill: This is a small restaurant near Wesley Chapel and New Tampa serving Cuban food. 6431 E County Line Rd Suite 104, Tampa, FL 33647. (813) 803-3903. laspalmaslatingrill.com
  2. First Harvest Deli
  3. GloriRod’s Coffee Shop: Lowry Park coffee shop named after Figuereo matriarch founded by Juan and Kir Figuereo, Gloria that serves sandwiches, pastries, empanadas, and salads, among other things. They claim their secret is their pork, which is marinated with Gloria’s secret recipe and slow-roasted until it melts off the bone. GloriRod’s opened in late 2018 and found the Cuban Sandwich Festival via Facebook, they wanted to enter due to the important of the Cuban Sandwich to history and culture in Tampa. 7901 N. Armenia Ave Ste B, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 650-1332. glorirodscoffeeshop.com

Non-Traditional Cuban Sandwich:

  1. That’s My Dog: Mobile food truck from South Florida in the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami area. facebook.com/thatsmydogfoodtruck
  2. Smokin Showin Catering: Two firemen who love to cook based out of Land O Lakes. They do a variety of bbq including smoked pork, chicken, meatloaf, ribs, and more.  (813) 294-9892. smokeshowincatering.com
  3. Firebread

Popular Cuban Sandwich:

  1. Cuban Spot: Houston food truck serving up Cuban eats. Originally from Miami, but living in Texas for 14 years. These minds behind Cuban Spot have no formal kitchen training, but are passionate about Cuban food. Owners say the Cuban population is rising little by little in Houston due to the cheap cost of living. Cuban Spot’s founders were tired of all the taco spots in Texas and decided to create a spot for Cuban food 4 years ago in 2015. Initially focusing on Cuban dishes such as Cuban fritas, the Cuban Sandwich became a shining star for them and after being called the best by their customers, they decided to enter the Cuban Sandwich Festival. They credit their success on their modifications to their Cuban bread, their flavorful and juicy pulled park, and using hot pork instead of cold slices. (713) 679-3802. thecubanspot.com
  2. Tampa Sammich, LLC: Local sandwich standard serving up Cubans made with La Segunda Bread. (813) 447-4316. facebook.com/tampasammich
  3. This Little Pig: Food stand specializing in creole, bbq, fusion. Chef John originally hails from Miami and worked at the Brennan’s at Palace Cafe, Bourbon House, and Dickie Brennan’s Steak House in New Orleans. After reviving and running Maple Street Patisserie Et Deli on Magazine Street, Chef John held the Executive Chef position at Upperline restaurant before coming back to Florida to be closer to family and raise children in Tampa. This Little Pig does pop ups at local breweries and “open format” catering. Chef John used his influences from Miami and Tampa to guide him in this sandwich that uses in-house cured and smoked Tasso, pork roasted in traditional mojo, a dijon/majo blend, and crispy garlic dill with salami and swiss served on historic La Segunda Cuban bread with butter and foil wrapped cobblestones. This Little Pig also offered a Po’ Boy version with lettuce, tomatoe, and spice creole comeback sauce – a nod to their time in New Orleans. (813)526-3497 facebook.com/thislittlepigbbq

World’s Best Cuban Sandwich:

  1. Chef Iliana Concierge Chef: Chef Iliana competes all over the country in food competitions. This will be her second time at the World Food Championships and she has won 3 golden tickets in total to the competition. She works with Fight2Feed to create competitions to help feed people in need in 26 cities. She signed up for the Cuban Sandwich Festival as a way to challenge herself and competed with the support of her family this year who she cooked with as a family exercise. She also won the Kissimmee Cuban Sandwich Festival earlier in 2019. www.facebook.com/conciergechefevents
  2. Cuban Spot: Houston food truck serving up Cuban eats. (713) 679-3802. thecubanspot.com
  3. Los Cochintos