Husk – Nashville, Tennessee by ThankfulMonster

Recently, on the persistent recommendation from my good friend Burger Beast, I spent a weekend in Nashville. Because he knows me well enough to understand that the promise of a good meal is about the only motivation I need to plan a trip, Burger Beast adamantly insisted that Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken is bucket list worthy. He’s never steered me wrong, especially when it comes to food. And let me tell you, his latest recommendation was no exception.

Still, good as it was, the iconic hot chicken isn’t what inspired me to write this post. It was a burger – one that I happened to find purely by chance while visiting Husk Nashville. I went in that night for the Southern specialties that made them famous. But as I was about to place my order, I veered off the script I had run through in my head, and instead opted to hear the waiter’s recommendation for the one thing on the menu that I absolutely shouldn’t miss. His response was immediate: “The burger, it’s amazing!.” I was as surprised by his response as I was with how quickly he came up with one, since I was expecting him to recommend a more traditional southern dish.

Noticing the doubt on my face, he added “Don’t take my word for it” and asked the question to a passing coworker. “If you had to pick one thing off our menu…” he prompted. And without missing a beat, the coworker responded “The burger” with a contagious enthusiasm and look that could only be described as genuine pride. I was sold.

A few minutes later, the parade of hits began and we noshed on country ham, red eye gravy, pickles and biscuit to start. (Insert at least two thumbs up emojis here). Following these hearty starters, we sampled the creamy deviled eggs, which went down so easily and were so delicious they’d be considered dangerous if I lived anywhere nearby. Then came the shrimp and grits, so intense in flavor they could easily make you forget all about any others you’ve ever tasted.

By now, we were feeling good about our meal and had even higher expectations for the much lauded Husk Burger. When the burger arrived, I quickly noticed it was the opposite of how I usually enjoy my burgers – no crisp lettuce, thick cut tomato, raw onion or pickles in sight. I’m a “salad-on-the-burger” kind of guy and almost always order (and have come to expect) my burgers this way.

I will say though, it looked incredibly appetizing just the way it came. With crunchy ends and melted cheese spilling out ever so slightly from the pillowy soft sesame seed bun. Maybe plain is better? I thought to myself. I picked it up and took a big bite to see for myself. Mmmmmhhhhhh, Yes!

Turns out, it can be wonderfully delicious to experience a burger in a simple, pure form. Just freshly ground Bear Creek Farm beef, onions that have been cooked into the patty as it’s smashed down on the griddle, creating crunchy edges while maintaining moisture at the core. Topped only with perfectly melted American cheese and voila- you have what I now believe to be a masterpiece burger. Turns out Husk hadn’t forgotten to stack other toppings on their burger – they purposely didn’t do it. True culinary satisfaction is accomplished when an expertly prepared burger allows you to appreciate the simple, and superb quality ingredients.

Below are just some of the pictures we took while dining at Husk Nashville.

Husk - Nashville, Tennessee

Husk - Nashville, Tennessee

Husk - Nashville, Tennessee

Husk - Nashville, Tennessee

Husk - Nashville, Tennessee

A big hand to Sean Brock (Chef/Partner), Brian Baxter (Chef de Cuisine)

Thankfulmonster

Palomilla Grill, El Rey de las Fritas and Trust & Co Win Big At 2016 Croquetapalooza

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Another Croquetapalooza & Frita Showdown is in the books.

El Rey de las Fritas took home their 4th consecutive Best Frita Award. Trust & Co won the People’s Choice Best Croqueta Award while Palomilla Grill took the big one, the Judge’s Choice Award for Best Croqueta.

Thanks again to our fine sponsors: Miami Lakes Auto Mall, Downstairs Markets, Islas Canarias Restaurants, Hatuey Cuban Style Beer, Sunshine Provisions and of course Magic City Casino.

Shout out to #TeamBB for all of their hard work.

And special thank you to all the restaurants who participated and those of you who attended.

See you at Wiener Bash in November.

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Remembering Pirates Family Entertainment Center aka Los Piratas

Pirate's - December 1983

‘Pirate’ theme center opens in Miami – December 30th, 1983

My world wasn’t the same after December 1983, why you may be asking yourself? That’s because *Pirate’s Theme Center opened up (7090 Coral Way) just a few short miles from my home in Westchester.

Sure, there was Castle Park (later Malibu Grand Prix) right next to Midway Mall (now Mall of the Americas), Chuck E Cheese in Hialeah right on 49th next to the recently opened Toy R Us and the Mark Twain’s Riverboat Playhouse right near Don Carter’s Bowling Alley on Kendall Drive & 137th but Pirates was for us Westchester kids.

Most folks who remember Pirates called it by the name popularized by Abuelitas who brought their grandchildren there, Piratas.

Pirates was filled with the hottest arcade games of the day and a bunch of interactive games where your skill was paid in tickets that could be traded in for a whistle or some other item you just had to have when you were a kid.

Later on they opened a second wing in the back which included if my memory serves me correct one of those ball pits and bumper boats amongst other attractions.

Pirates Miami

Pirates Theater picture courtesy of Marisol Geilin Sosa

My parents brought my sister and I to Pirates regularly and we attended a handful of birthday celebrations which meant hangin’ in the theater, eating & watching the animatronics show. I do remember the Pizza being good but I was just a kid so who knows.

My most vivid memory at Pirates was my first encounter with the animated video game Dragon’s Lair. It probably holds the lifetime record for taking the largest amount of quarters from me, I was absolutely horrible at it (and it was 50 cents a game).

If you’ve got any Pirates or Pirates stories for that matter leave a comment, I’d love to hear them.

And if you’ve you got any pictures me love you long time.

*Prior to its incarnation as a child’s entertainment center, it was Davidson Lumber Yard, it’s now a Pollo Tropical.

Ulele – Tampa, Florida

Ulele - Tampa, Florida

Ulele serves Comfort Food inspired by Tampa’s indigenous people. I gotta tell you that I was a little taken by how massive and beautiful the property is. Once inside it was comfortable and I loved those massive doors/windows that open up to a incredible view which just adds to your meal.

I can count on one finger how many times I’ve eaten Oysters before, and my wife Marcela even less. I think the word “Wow” is the only thing that comes to mind after the first bite/slurp. I’d be down for some more of these anytime and Marcela’s now a believer too.

There’s more to those Alligator Hush Puppies than it appears, there is a great depth of flavor. Now before you turn up your nose at the thought of trying these this is what’s in them: Alligator, Country Ham, Bacon, Jalapeño & fresh Corn. I know. I know. And those two sauces (Honey Datil Pepper and fresh ground Horseradish Aioli) are on the next level, trust me.

My bud John asked for the Crab Mac & Cheese. The four Cheese Mac is topped with Blue Crab and some Panko bread crumbs for some crunch. He ate it as if it was his last meal on earth.

The Ulele Burger (the reason I came to Ulele) did not disappoint. Listen…..can you hear me? OK, Just checking….the Ulele Burger features a Short Rib/Brisket/Chuck Burger patty blend topped with Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Portobello Mushrooms, fire-roasted Red Peppers, fried Leeks and then a healthy drizzling of their house Steak Sauce. After unhinging my jaw I was able to take a full bite that brought all the flavors together, from there it was on. I had to share with Marcela, well I didn’t really have to but I did…..whether I should have is a different question all together.

John orders the other dish on the menu that had my eyes mesmerized, the Water Works Meatloaf. The only thing better than an excellent Meatloaf is one who’s been given some love marks from the char-grill. And another big yes to the White Cheddar Popcorn Mashed Potatoes, the ingredients alone tell you it’s a winner.

I thought we were done til I saw the word “Guava” on the dessert portion of the menu. Fortune Taylor’s Guava Pie with its Shortbread Cookie crust made its way to our table to ensure that there’s no way that a food coma could be averted.

It was a very fresh, filling and tasty meal from start to finish. We also had some great local Craft Beers but their names escape me now. My suggestion when you visit is that you pace yourself or come with a party of 4 so you can divide and conquer.

Charbroiled Oysters

Charbroiled Oysters

Gator Hush Puppies

Gator Hush Puppies

Crab Mac & Cheese

Crab Mac & Cheese

Ulele Burger

Ulele Burger

Meatloaf w/Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf w/Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Guava Cake

Guava Cake

Guava Cake Closeup

Guava Cake Closeup

Eat, Relax & Coma:

Ulele
1810 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
813-999-4952

Every Dawg Has Its Day, Jersey Dawg Retires

Jersey Dawg

Jersey Dawg at Arts Park

I remember driving out to a gas station to eat from Jersey Dawg on its first day if not, one of its first days of business. I was ecstatic that someone had finally brought New Jersey favorites like Sliders and Rippers to South Florida at last. I wasn’t disappointed and instantly hit it off with its owner Rob Goodman.

I always thought of Jersey Dawg as the little truck that could. He won one of my 2015 Burgie Awards for Best Hot Dog and then did the unthinkable, won the Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger Award at the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. He had a great supporting cast of folks cooking at Burger Bash that included Fred (El Rey de las Fritas), Alex (Palomilla Grill) and Josh (Poblanos Mexican Fusion Truck).

Jersey Dawg

Jersey Dawg wins 2016 Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger Award

With winning the award comes the added pressure of proving you were deserving and having a plan to next level your business. It took some months after the win to evaluate what Jersey Dawg had become, where it was going and where it needed to go.

I don’t think Rob ever imagined in his wildest dreams that he’d win Burger Bash and it changed everything. Maybe it wasn’t fun for him anymore, I’m not sure he didn’t say exactly what it was but I respected his decision when he called to tell me he was retiring Jersey Dawg.

It had a good run and left a lasting impression on the South Florida Burger scene, not many people can say they accomplished that.

Here are some of the favorites that were served out of that Jersey Dawg window:

Jersey Dawg

Jersey Dawg’s Chili Cheese Fries

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Jersey Dawg’s Chili Cheese Onion Ripper

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Jersey Dawg’s Chili Cheese Slider

Jersey Dawg

Jersey Dawg’s Slider

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Jersey Dawg’s Taylor Ham & Cheese Ripper

Fries topped w/Taylor Ham

Fries topped w/Taylor Ham, Chili & Cheese

Remember, it’s not goodbye but til’ next time.

Babe Froman’s Sausage Fest ’16 Is This Saturday

Babe Froman Sausage Party

What are you doing this Saturday afternoon? I’ve got an idea for you, how about Babe Froman’s Sausage Fest ’16?

Babe Froman Fine Sausages is having an Open House/Biergarten Extravaganza featuring their delicious Sausages, local brews and some special collaboration goodies plus music by the Black Market Sound System.

-This event is 21+ and includes all food and drink for $25:

  • Endless Sausage from Babe Froman
  • Sunshine ProvisionsBurger Beast Blend Sliders
  • Night Owl Cookie Co.‘s Special Edition Cookie Collab
  • Tio Colo Hialeah’s Special Edition Ice Cream Sandwich Collab
  • Sony Pictures “Sausage Party” Movie Giveaways
  • Local Craft Beer from Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Tickets are $25 & available at http://babesausagefest.eventbrite.com/

Saturday, August 6, 2016 from 3-8PM

Babe Froman HQ – The Haus @Southland Commerce Center (19151 SW 108 Ave. #27, Miami, FL 33157)

Smoke BBQ in Delray Beach and Ft. Lauderdale

A few weeks back I spent the weekend in Boca Raton. Of course, this staycation revolved around food spots. I had Smoke BBQ on my to do list and my friend Jamie confirmed that it was a must do.

I knew that there is another location in Ft. Lauderdale but didn’t realize how different the menus were.

The two reasons I was excited to hit up Smoke BBQ was for the Pastrami and the Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage both of which are only available at their Lauderdale spot.

The Smoke BBQ in Delray Beach is a full fledged restaurant with a liquor bar. The selection is much larger and includes plenty of bar food like Nachos, Wings and Burgers alongside the actual BBQ portion of the menu.

The Ft. Lauderdale can be best described as a chophouse, a no frills BBQ spot enveloped by an intoxicating smoky smell when you walk in.

I much preferred the Brisket at the Delray Smoke BBQ over the Ft. Lauderdale one but that really was my only bone to pick in both locations. The Ft. Lauderdale Brisket was a little too thick for my liking and was fattier than its Delray brother.

My picks for the Smoke BBQ in Delray Beach are the Burger (perfectly cooked & smoky) and the Smoked Chicken Wings (you guessed it , nice & smoky).

For the Smoke BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale the must haves are the Pastrami on Rye (which does run out so get there early), the Baby Back Ribs and that Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage (still dreaming about it).

Oh yes, and get the Cornbread.

Smoke BBQ – Delray Beach

Smoke - Delray Beach, Florida

Smoke - Delray Beach, Florida

Smoke - Delray Beach, Florida

Pulled Pork Nachos

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Homemade Potato Chips

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Smoked Chicken Wings – Buffalo Style

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Half Rack of Ribs

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Northern Style Sweet Cornbread

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Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter

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Grandma’s Mac and Cheese

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Brisket

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Smoke Burger topped with some of their Mustard based BBQ Sauce

Smoke - Delray Beach, Florida

Smoke - Delray Beach, Florida

Banana Cream Coconut Pudding

Smoke BBQ – Ft. Lauderdale

Smoke - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Pastrami on Rye Bread

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Smoke - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Tater Tots

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Mac and Cheese

Smoke - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Cornbread

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Brisket

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Baby Back Ribs & Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage

Choose Wisely:

Smoke BBQ
8 E Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444
561-330-4236

or

Smoke BBQ
3351 NE 32nd St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
954-530-5334

Food Truck Fest at Miami’s Magic City Casino This Saturday

Wheelin Dealin - Magic City Casino

The Wheelin’ Dealin’ Food Truck Festival in Miami takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month which means it’s this Saturday!!!

This is event is a collaboration by Burger Beast and the good folks at Magic City Casino where its held. It is the state of Florida’s longest running Food Truck event (over 5 years!).

Beer is sold at this event and parking is FREE and plentiful.

Here are a couple of great things I ate last month at Miami’s Wheelin’ Dealin’ Food Truck Festivali:

Jersey-style Chili Cheese Fries topped w/Taylor Ham

Jersey Dawg’s Jersey-style Chili Cheese Fries topped w/Taylor Ham

Miami Roasted Corn's Elote in a Cup (Sweet Plantains, Bacon, Parm Cheese & Corn)

Miami Roasted Corn’s Elote in a Cup (Sweet Plantains, Bacon, Parm Cheese & Corn)

Shotgun Joe's Brazilian Grill's Picanha Steak (cut up for sharing)

Shotgun Joe’s Brazilian Grill’s Picanha Steak (cut up for sharing)

May 21st Food Truck Line-Up:

Arepas Las Gorditas
Che Grill
Da Burger Shack
Don Mofongo
El Rey de las Fritas
HipPOPs handcrafted gelato bars
Ipek’s Wykked Kitchen
Jersey Dawg
Killer Melts
King of Racks BBQ
The Lobsta Guy
Marlie’s Delights
Miami Roasted Corn
RickRey’s Peruvian Fusion ← 1st time at Magic City Casino
Shotgun Joe’s Brazilian Grill
Sugar Yummy Mama
Sweet Blendz
Taco Fresh
The Waffle Wagon ← 1st time at Magic City Casino
World Famous

The Details:

Wheelin’ Dealin’ Street Food Festival at Magic City Casino
Facebook: Wheelin’ Dealin’ Event Page
Date: This Saturday May 21st & Every 3rd Saturday of the Month
Time: 5PM – 10PM
Location: 450 NW 37th Ave Miami, Florida 33126
Parking: Plenty of Free Parking

Bake Shack – Dania Beach, Florida

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

I’ve been waking up super early for the last couple of weeks and was looking forward to sleeping in on Wednesday or so I thought. All it took was a message from a *trusted palate to change my plans for my midweek nap-fest.

Surprisingly, my wife Marcela was up for waking up early to make the drive to Bake Shack in Dania Beach. I wanted to make sure we arrived near opening time (7AM) since I knew they’re only open til 3PM and wanted to ensure the Donuts were not sold out.

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Apple Fritters

After a 30 minute drive and a bunch of unnecessary toll charges on I-95 we arrived a few minutes after seven (alright 9 minutes actually). Our friend Tony who owns HipPOPs‘ HQ is right around the corner so I text him to meet us there. He’s already here when we walk in and I’m mesmerized by the Donuts. I can’t really decide so I go the rather safe route of a Glazed, Maple Bacon and an Apple Fritter trio.

They’ve got some sandwiches, Breakfast dishes and a Burger on the lunch side of the menu. For some reason these two decide to get some California Sandwich which includes Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado and an Egg……Lettuce & Tomato for Breakfast? No thank you.

I do the only sensible thing and order their Breakfast Sandwich which brings Eggs, Cheese and your choice of Sausage or Bacon or in my case Sausage AND Bacon. So here’s the kicker, it’s served on “Donut Bread” which was a nice touch but maybe a light glaze on the top bun might be an even better idea.

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

California Breakfast Sandwich (Egg, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato)

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Breakfast Sandwich (Egg, Bacon, Sausage & Cheese) on Donut Bread

There are no faults to find with these Donuts. They’re nice, airy, light and flavorful. The Glazed Donut took home my award for best of the day but I really should have given the Bacon Chocolate Donut a shot, it looked like a possible contender.

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Maple Bacon Cream, Smores, Carrot Cake & Boston Cream Donuts

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Blackberry Cream, Blackberry Glaze, Snickers & Cannoli Donuts

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Maple Bacon Donut

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Glazed Donut

Bake Shack - Dania Beach, Florida

Apple Fritter

I enjoyed the Breakfast and Donuts so I need to return to try their Burger. If it’s half as good as everything else then we’ve got a winner on our hands South Florida.

P.S.: I forgot to mention I had a Latte and it was very good.

If The Shack Is A Rockin’:

Bake Shack
238 S Federal Hwy, Dania Beach, FL 33004
754-217-4235

*Burger Beast Street Correspondent Vanessa suggested Bake Shack

Leah Arts District Summer Series – Saturday June 11th Block Party & 18th Movie Night

Leah Arts District Crowd

It’s been a while but it’s finally back……the Leah Summer Series presented by Mist TWST with the Second Annual #HIALEAHNOW Block Party happening Saturday June 11th (4-9PM). If you attended last year then you know what to expect: Music, Murals, Food and Live Art (Duh!).

This year they’ve added a second event, a Saturday Movie Night in the Leah showing the film Amor Cronico on Saturday June 18th (5-8PM) with some Food Trucks serving their grub. My suggestion grab a Pincho (Daddy’s Grill), a Frita (The Magic Box), a Roasted Corn (Miami Roasted Corn), a Cupcake (Misha’s Cupcakes) and wash it down with a Mist TWST.

All the details for both nights are below. Continue reading