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/

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/

Festa Italiana 20th anniversary this weekend!

Festa Italiana will celebrate their 20th anniversary this weekend in Ybor City.

The opening event, Wines of Italy, has already taken plan and the weekend will bring plenty of delicious feasts and events on Saturday with the main event happening Sunday, April 9th, at Centennial Park from 11AM to 6:30PM.

Over 35 of Tampa Bay’s top restaurants will participate in the festival. Italian singer, Zucchero, will headline the cultural food and wine festival on Sunday. Proceeds will benefit the Italian Club Restoration Fund.

The Italian Club was founded in 1894 that was created to unite the Italian community in Tampa to overcome social and economic challenges when they first arrived in the area. The mission of the group is to preserve and honor the culture, traditions, and heritage of the Italian community and maintain the historical facility as a memorial to the working class immigrants.

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Tickets can be purchased online via Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/festa-italiana-the-main-event-20th-anniversary-feat-zucchero-tickets-29982099266

Children ages 12 and under are FREE to the main event. Centennial Park is located at 1800 East 8th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605.

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 Dinner at Ox & Fields Restaurant

Celebrate the coming 2017 New Year in food paradise with Ox & Fields Restaurant + Bar on December 31st, 2016 from 4PM-11PM.  There will be two pricing options to choose from: Enjoy a 4-course dinner for $50 without beverages or upgrade to a wine pairing with your 4-course meal for $75.

Here is the menu for NYE 2017:


Amuse Bouche:
Chef Selection Small Bite

First Course: (Choice of)
“Steak and Eggs”: Ox-braised Short Ribs, Grits, Poached Egg, Natural Jus
Tuna Crudo: House-cured Vegetables, Sesame Crisp, Citrus-Shoyu Reduction
Cremini Caps: Tofu Stuffed Baby Portobello, Scallion Emulsion
Pairing: 99 Rosas Chardonnay-Viognier 2015

Second Course: (Choice of)
Fork and Knife Caesar: Romaine, Tomato Confit, Garlic Buerre Custini, House-made Caesar
The Fields Salad: Heirloom Tomato, Gem Greens, Cucumber Ribbon, Sesame Crisp, Scallion Dressing
Pairing: Michael Lynch Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Intermezzo:
Chef Select Cheeses and Spreads
Pairing: Rose-infused Cocktail

Third Course: (Choice of)
Crisp Skin Snapper: Orzo Ragout, Asparagus, Oyster Mushroom, Miso Fumet
Coffee Crusted Hanger: Potato Mousseline, Braised Greens, Raibow Carrots, Rosemary Jus
Roasted Squash Ravioli: House-made Spinach Ravioli, Kale, Squash Ragout, Parmesan
Pairing: (Choice of) – Cote du Rhone Grenache-Syrah 2015; Red Puro Malbec-Cabernet 2015

Fourth Course: Dessert
Chocolate Cake, Stout Ganache, Berry Jam, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Pairing: Bubbles

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Reservations can be made on OpenTable: http://www.opentable.com/r/ox-and-fields-reservations-tampa?restref=342361

Things To Do New Year’s Eve 2017 in Tampa Bay

Looking for something to do for New Year’s Eve 2017 in Tampa Bay? I have you covered!

Anise Global Gastrobar: Ring in 2017 with craft cocktails, a buffet, champagne toast, and more in Downtown Tampa with some of the best bartenders in town.

Mastry’s Brewing Co.: If craft beer is your scene head over to Mastry’s Brewing Co. on St. Pete Beach for their Gatsby Gala this NYE.

Ox & Fields Restaurant + Bar: Enjoy a 4-course meal available with optional wine pairings at The Ox this NYE. Menu items such as Tofu Stuffed Baby Portobello, Roasted Squash Ravioli, and Crisp Skin Snapper make the list of options.

Pisces Sushi & Global Bistro: This Sushi Battle Tampa Bay 2016 winner will serve sushi all night on NYE as well as other goodies such as live music and a champagne toast.

Snobachi Handcrafted Ice Cream: This new Thai Ice Cream Roll shop in Ybor City will have it’s Grand Opening on New Year’s Eve – enjoy discounts all day long as they celebrate.

Riverview Food Truck Rally Friday – October 7th!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. I have been compensated for my time and writing. Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally works with more than 100 food trucks and books them for events, corporate and private catering, among other things.

This Friday, October 7th, 2016 check out the Riverview Food Truck Rally from 5PM-9PM at Summerfield Crossings Golf Course located at 13050 Summerfield Blvd. Riverview, FL 33579. 10 food trucks will appear in Riverview for a night of local eats.

The event is presented by Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally. Sponsors include: Tax Happens LLC (Theresa Turner, CPA), KerinRealty (Kerin Clarkin), Riverview Our Town IncSummerfield Crossings GC (Jason Blanchard).

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Oktoberfest Tampa 2016 this weekend!

UPDATE: Due to Hurricane Matthew – Friday’s schedule is cancelled for Oktoberfest Tampa – However Saturday and Sunday will proceed and Friday VIP ticket holders will be able to use their tickets on Sunday. More info is available on their Facebook listed above.

The 7th Annual Oktoberfest Tampa will occur this upcoming weekend from October 7th to October 9th, 2016. Participants will celebrate German culture and enjoy entertainment and German food and beer on Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The event is presented by Goose Island Beer Company, Audi Tampa, and Are You Safe.

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There will be daily Ceremonial Keg Tappings, Mr. & Mrs. Oktoberfest and Mustache competition on Saturday, and some good ol’ chicken dancing every day.The event is family-friendly and pet-friendly. Oktoberfest Games are FREE to play for all.

Sponsors include Goose Island, Audi, Coppertail Brewing Co., Creative Loafing Tampa, Pepin Distributing, Barrymore Hotel, Victory Brewing Co., Tampa Bay Metro Magazine, Jack Bernstein, The Eagle 107.3, and Aloft Tampa.


Get Tickets

Tickets are on-sale and are $10 for 1 day General-Admission and $25 for Weekend General Admission passes, plus applicable fees. Buy GA tickets: http://bit.ly/2dzH4DB

VIP tickets range from $100-$150 and includes a commemorative Oktoberfest stein, no lines, complimentary refills on beer, wine, or pop, König’s Feast (full-plate of food plus a pretzel), table-side service (food delivered to you), air-conditioned VIP restrooms, VIP box office, a VIP shade tent with private bar, VIP concierge, and bottle service.

Use promo code CARLOSEATS and get $10 off VIP at Oktoberfest Tampa. Buy VIP tickets: http://www.oktoberfesttampa.com/vip

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

Event re-entry will be allowed at the event and wristbands will be tied to each day. Cash or Credit Card accepted on site (VISA, MC, AmEx, Discover) and ATMs will be on-site.


Food & Drinks

Beer will cost $5 a Half-Liter and $10 for a Liter. You must have a commemorative Stein in order to purchase 1 Liter.

Oktoberfest Tampa

Beer line-up:

  • 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)
  • Hidden Springs Ale Works (frikin tapping Sunday)
  • O’Douls – cans

Wine:

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

Coppertail Brewing Co. will unveil a new beer at Oktoberfest Tampa – a German style dunkel.

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Food will include a variety of traditional German food fare such as chicken schnitzel, traditional bratwurst, Sauerbraten (German-style pot roast), German pretzels, cucumber salad, traditional potato salad, sauerkraut, Spätzle, and a variety of bratwurst including Nurmberger Bratwurst, Frankfurter, Debreziner, and Currywurst.


Schedule:

Friday – 4PM-11PM

Saturday – 11AM-11PM

Sunday – 11AM-6PM


Event Name: Oktoberfest Tampa

Venue: Curtis Hixon Park

Address: 600 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602

Date & Time: Friday, October 7th, 4PM-11PM, Saturday, October 8th, 11AM-11PM, Sunday, October 9th, 11AM-6PM

Cost: $10-$150, Kids ages 12 and under FREE

Website: http://www.oktoberfesttampa.com/

Twitter: @OktoberfestTPA #beerisgood

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1047043435347720/