Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Slapfish is coming to Orlando

Slapfish, a Modern Seafood Franchise serving up bold, crave-worthy dishes in a fast casual setting, announces its expansion into the sunny state of Florida. The first location is slated to open in Orlando in mid-2018, with plans for ten more restaurants throughout the state within the next five years. Specializing in boat-to-plate dining and chef-driven dishes, the brand’s first location in the Southeast region of the U.S. marks a significant milestone for Slapfish.

Florida franchisees including father-and-son duo Brandon and Charles Bengel, and Les Hatter bring decades of experience expanding QSR concepts to new Florida markets including the opening of 20 Five Guys. Orlando’s unique mix of locals and tourists, easy access to shorelines, and drool-worthy bounty of both gulf and Pacific seafood, make for a strong entry into an untapped market. With plans to open up to 40 locations across the state, the restaurateurs look forward to making Slapfish a household name.

“From the moment we experienced Slapfish, we knew right away that this brand is the future of fast casual seafood,” says President, Brandon Bengel. “Slapfish is unlike any other concept in the marketplace and the industry as a whole with its versatile menu and commitment to serving well-managed seafood at affordable prices. In addition to filling a niche in the Orlando dining scene, we are confident that locals will fall in love with the brand, just like we did.”

Slapfish is celebrated for its original dishes like the Clobster Grilled Cheese, Chowder Fries, Power Burrito, Lobster Grinder, and Surf N Turf Lobster Burger, as well as its seasonally rotating menu. Founded as a food truck by Chef Andrew Gruel in 2011, the quickly expanding concept has since grown into eleven brick-and-mortar locations throughout California, New Mexico, and Utah, with upcoming openings in South Korea, the UK, Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona, Northern Virginia, and Northern California in 2018.

“Florida is the perfect next step in our expansion strategy, as we can’t wait to pack our award-winning tacos, sandwiches, rolls and bowls with fresh-from-the-dock seafood,” adds Chef Andrew Gruel. “We are redefining the way people eat seafood, and we look forward to introducing our bold flavors and responsibly-sourced dishes to Floridians.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Let me at that Lobster Burrito at Rubio's

I'm a regular at Rubio's Coastal Grill in Winter Park -- especially on Tuesdays for what I consider the best "Taco Tuesday" deal in town: $1.75 fish tacos. I stopped in this week for the usual, but my eyes were drawn to Rubio's new seasonal langostino lobster tacos and burritos. Yes, I got a couple of fish tacos, but I had to try the lobster too.

The lobster burrito was served in flour tortilla with chunks of lobster, citrus rice, salsa fresca, guacamole, black beans, lettuce and chipotle sauce. My goodness it was good.

Rubio's also has a surf and turf burrito with lobster and steak, so I might be back next Tuesday to try that as well.

Langostino Lobster Burrito at Rubio's

Lobster Tacos

Fish Tacos
Note: I dined compliments of Rubio's.

Rubio's Coastal Grill
510 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sonny's Smokin' Showdown moves to Orlando's Tinker Field

Sonny’s BBQ, one of the nation’s largest and most popular barbecue chains, is firing up the smokers for its highly anticipated Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown. The 2018 event marks a huge change in the programming of the Smokin’ Showdown, as it will move from the Central Florida Zoo to one of Orlando’s top sports and entertainment facilities. On Saturday, March 3, 2018, Sonny’s BBQ will host its third annual event at Tinker and McCracken Fields, part of Camping World Stadium located at 1 Citrus Bowl Pl, Orlando, FL 32805. The all-day event will feature live music with top country artists, food vendors, a kid zone area, and cooking demonstrations for all BBQ enthusiasts.
“We’re very excited to move Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown to the Camping World Stadium,” said Montana Coleman, co-organizer of Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown. “The event has nearly doubled in attendance and footprint, so we were tasked with finding a central location that was large enough to accommodate barbecue lover’s year after year, and Camping World fit the bill.”
The new site in Orlando will allow Sonny’s Smokin' Showdown to add more food vendors, increase the kids zone area, and expand the overall footprint of the event with new interactive areas.
"We're looking forward to hosting 'Sonny's Smokin' Barbecue' in Orlando for the first time and welcoming some of the best pitmasters from around the world to share their tips and techniques," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "Barbecue is a big deal in the South so the competition should be fierce and fun."
This great event also hosts one of the nation’s biggest bbq competitions.  This invitation-only competition brings together the nation’s top pitmasters in one arena for an epic barbecue battle. Teams are judged on five different meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and a mystery meat, which will be announced at the event. The grand champion team will receive $20,000. The total prize pool totals $68,000.
Tickets are available here for pre-sale for $12 today through Sunday, November 12, and $15 up to March 2, 2018. Kid’s 12 and under are free. VIP tickets can also be purchased for $40.
For more information about Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown, please visit For more information about Sonny’s BBQ, visit

Monday, October 16, 2017

Topgolf Orlando opens this Friday: Let's check out the food!

Topgolf opens the doors to its Orlando venue on Friday at 9 a.m. The new three level, 65,000-square-foot venue is the company’s 36th location worldwide and first location to open with Toptracer technology. Topgolf is a golf entertainment complex with a full-service restaurant, bar and event venues.

I checked out the golf, the Toptracer technology and the food, of course, at a pre-opening event last week. Let me just say, that Topgolf is fun. It's kind of like a night out bowling, but out in the open air with a commanding view of the backside of International Drive. I'm no golfer, but it was a blast. I'm no bowler either, for the record. It was very cool to see the trajectory and distance of your ball on the video screen after your shot.

So, yea, the golf was great - but let's face it - I was there for the food. Topgolf ups the entertainment venue food quotient with lots of unexpected twists. I didn't expect ratatouille or a citrus beurre blanc chicken, but there it was on my plate. If you're looking to dine on something different than burgers and chicken wings during a night out with friends, family or co-workers, Topgolf is the place.

Topgolf is located in the heart of Orlando tourist town at:

9295 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819

Here's a quick tour of the facility and the food...

Note: I dined compliments of Topgolf Orlando.

Monday, October 9, 2017

National Pulled Pork Day is October 12th at Sonny's BBQ

There's a "National Day" for almost any kind of food. You're probably familiar with "National Donut Day on the first Friday of June, and "National Ice Cream Day" on the third Sunday of July. But did you know "National Chop Suey Day" is August 29th, or that April 24th is "National Pigs in a Blanket Day?" Yea, it's getting out of hand. So what's one more, right?

October 12th is "National Pulled Pork Day" as ordained by Sonny's BBQ. That's a day I can get behind. On that day, Sonny's is offering up $1 Pulled Pork Sliders and, through Oct. 15th, $1 off it's pulled pork menu items: Redneck Egg Rolls, Pulled Pork Dinners and Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

So, why not come celebrate the majesty and magic of pulled pork with me this Thursday at Sonny's BBQ?  It's a date.