Riverwalk Tampa held their 2nd annual Burger Showdown (last year’s) at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park this past Friday. The participating restaurants included: Bay Bistro Riverwalk, Beef O Brady’s, Brewburgers, Danny’s All American Diner, Eats American Grill, Fountain Square, Irish 31, The Moon Under Water and Smokey Bones. The panel of judges (a mix of Chefs and local celebrities) chose EATS! American Grill with their “Houseblend Burger” as the Best Burger in the Bay winner: …is composed of Applewood Smoked Bacon combined with a 80/20 Angus, seasoned with EATS! Rib Rub and infused with Blue Cheese Crumbles. EATS! topped the burger with Sweet White Onions sautéed in EATS! Heat 5-Pepper sauce, more Blue Cheese Crumbles, Ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes, Leaf Lettuce and served all on a classic Brioche Bun.
The Burger fans in attendance chose Danny’s All American Diner as the People’s Choice with “The Nolan Ryan“: …with pancetta pieces, cheddar cheese, ham bacon and BBQ sauce all atop the burger. The Best Use of Bacon category also went to Danny’s All American Diner while Smokey Bones won the Bring The Heat category with “The Bones Carolina BBQ Burger”: …on a pretzel bun and topped with chipotle mayo, slow smoked hand pulled pork, grilled pablano peppers, smoked cheddar cheese, hot fried onion rings and Bone’s special cole slaw.
Every 1st Wednesday of the month Tampa’s trucks gather for the Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta. Yes, Tampa’s Mayor Bob Buckhorn hosts his own Food Truck Event at Gaslight Square Park in Downtown Tampa. They’ve got a Facebook Page where they list the monthly line ups. As luck would have it, for the month of August they didn’t put up the line up and even worse, it was raining pretty much the entire time I was there. It didn’t stop the trucks who kept their windows open and kept serving to whoever braved the weather.
The trucks were set up along two sides of the park. I only made it along one side near the beginning, where I had to stop and revisit Burger Culture. A few months back Burger Culture was in South Florida and did a couple of events under the radar. Most food truck fans weren’t even aware that they were in town along with another Tampa native truck, Fat Tortillas.
Burger Culture’s menu is as straightforward as it comes: Burgers, Fries and Shakes, nothing else. The Burgers always have revolving specialties but I didn’t event ask. Last time I had a Bacon Cheeseburger and I had my mind set on that for this time too. Super crispy ass bacon, melted oozing American Cheese and a burger patty cooked to medium, who could ask for more? They use a special seasoning on their patties that lays right on top of the burger and pops out every bite or so to remind you it’s there. A “Solid Burger” as the Chowfather would say. If you missed them earlier this year then don’t fret as Burger Culture will return to South Florida for 4th Annual Burgie Awards in February 2013.
Burger Culture Truck
Burger Culture Bacon Cheeseburger
My wife walked around and snapped some pictures so you have her to thank for all these:
Maggie On The Move Truck
Maggie on the Move Menu – click to enlarge
The Renny’s Oki Doki Truck has some very sharp graphics but when you get past them you see the menu has some great sounding items on it. My wife ordered the Yaki Soba: Stir Fried Noodles with Vegetables and Pork Belly. Its smell was absolutely mesmerizing but unfortunately it didn’t deliver. Some seasoning would have made this a winner. Don’t get me wrong though, this won’t deter me from coming back as I’d like to try everything on the menu.
Renny’s Oki Doki Truck
Renny’s Oki Doki Menu – click to enlarge
Renny’s Oki Doki’s Yaki Soba
The Keep’n it Reel truck focuses on seafood but their Jalapeño Cheddar Hush Puppies caught my wife’s eye as she was walking by. We’re not big on “of the sea” food but I’ll take a dip every once in a while. The Pups had a very crispy exterior with that soft almost baked kinda inside you expect from a Hush-puppy. No overpowering Cheese or Jalapeño taste here, just enough to create an awesome pop in your mouth snack. That might be an exaggeration, two bites is more like it.
Keep’n It Reel Truck
Keep’n It Reel Menu – click to enlarge
Keep’n It Reel Jalapeño Hush-puppies
Keep’n It Reel Jalapeño Hush-puppy Half
The City of Tampa Television produced this near 4 minute video clip about the Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta. You can get a better idea of the layout of the event and of the variety of trucks that attend. I regret missing out on the Not Your Ordinary Food Truck with their “Wild Poutine” and Michelle Faedo’s On the Go which recently won the “Best Cuban Sandwich” competition in Tampa.
This past Friday, Tampa held its 1st Burger Showdown at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park where 12 area restaurants competed for the title of Best Burger. The restaurants who laid it all on the grill for the competition were: Ashley Street Grille, BGR The Burger Joint, Burger 21, Champions Bar & Grill, Chili’s, Danny’s All American Diner and Dairy Bar, Datz, Green Iguana Bar & Grill, Lee Roy Selmon’s, Square 1 Burgers & Bar, Stacked Burgers, the Tampa Convention Center/Aramark.
The panel of Culinary and Celebrity Judges awarded Best Burger in the Bay to Green Iguana for their ALA DAMM BAMA BOURBON BBQ BURGER “The South Speaks Burger”: A Smokey half pound Beef topped with Bourbon Molasses Pulled Pork, Smoked Cheese and Fried Sweet Potato on a Sweet Bun teased with Tabasco Mayo and Crisp Carolina Slaw. Finished with a thick tempura Fried Pickle.
The attendees voted BGR The Burger Joint as the People’s Choice winner for their burger “The Wellington” : Deep-Roasted Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Garlic, Black Truffles with Blue Cheese and House Made Mojo Sauce all atop the Burger.
The judges also voted Ashley Street Grille from the Sheraton Riverwalk the winner of the Best Other-Than-Beef (O.T.B.) Burger, The Amberjack Slider: with Fresh Poppy Seed Slaw and a Lemon-Dill Aioli.
All pictures are courtesy of the Burger Showdown: Read More→
I love cartoon characters and/or mascots from the burger chains’ early days. So I always get excited when some never indie joint has decided have their own dude (or dudette) representing the place. On the flip-side of this coin, you always hope that the resto has some good food or it’s just a waste of a monger.
My wife was with me but just wanted something to drink so I took this opportunity to order her a Hershey Chocolate Häagen-Dazs Milk Shake that she didn’t want (maybe she didn’t but I needed to try it). I go for the Fries (Double Order which is 1 pound), Chili Dog and The Burger Monger (6 oz. of Akaushi Kobe Beef).
Hershey's Chocolate Shake
The shake arrives and I watch the person who claimed they didn’t want any, slurping away. I take a taste and it’s just like a milk shake version of a Hershey’s candy bar (makes sense I guess). The fries are crispy, delicious and since I don’t end up eating them all taken to go.
Chili Cheese Dog
The Hot Dog is also Akaushi Beef and topped with an amazing chili sauce. This could be, might be and is, probably the Best Chili Dog I’ve ever had. Honestly, no joke. I loved it and I’m still thinking of it lovingly like a love affair from summer camp in junior high.
Cheeseburger with Buttery Toasted Bun in the back
Cheese Burger waiting for me
There’s nothing like a fresh baked bun to get you excited about what’s in-between it. The burger had a nice char, was very flavorful and at 6 oz wasn’t too big of burger. If it’s too small for you, you can go “The Monster Monger” route which are 2 – 8 oz. patties. I chose to go with good ole’ neon yellow American which was the right choice. The buns are mildly garlic buttered which I didn’t care for. I’m gonna assume you can ask for it just toasted which I will do next time. And yes, there will be a next time.
I started writing the Burger Beast food blog to tell folks about those little forgotten gems in South Florida. Over the course of the last 4 years or so I've added News, Opinions, & Tips on a variety of Food related subjects. My first love will always be Burgers but Comfort Food is where it's at. At the end of the day I’m a regular dude who writes about a bunch of things I think you should know about.