Monday, September 4, 2017

Sarasota's Bahi Hut tiki bar: a trip back through time

How to time travel: Pull the wooden spoon door handle. Take a whiff of stale cigarette smoke. Step inside. Allow your eyes to adjust to the dark room. Look around. Welcome to 1954. Welcome to Sarasota's Bahi Hut.

Growing up in Orlando, I was lucky enough to have a grandmother that took me to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World every other weekend. My favorite land was, and still is, Adventureland. We even stopped by the Polynesian Resort once in awhile via monorail for a look around. My favorite cups to drink out of when I was a kid were old tiki and buddha glasses my mom bought at Goodwill. I still have a couple of them. As a young adult, I owned a rusty VW Westfalia camper bus with green shag carpet, bamboo curtains, and a shrunken head hanging from the rearview mirror.

Needless to say, I've been a tiki fanatic since wayback. So, when I finally got the chance to visit the famous Bahi Hut in Sarasota, I was thrilled to visit a past I never lived but one I've dreamed of my entire life. The experience is truly like stepping back into time. Nothing seems to have changed since the bar opened in 1954. And I say this in reverence. Mid-century-modern light fixtures barely illuminate the room, but they do it gloriously. The same faded paneling, the same faded artwork, and the same "Polynesian" carvings hang on the walls. Oh, if those walls could talk.

Of course there are island-themed drinks, but, alas, they don't come in ceramic tiki mugs. They are strong, however, very strong. In fact, there's a two-drink limit on the Mai Tai. Other libations include the Sneaky Tiki, the Scoobey Snack, and the Passionate Ultimate Screw. The only food option is a small dish of pretzels served with your cocktail. There is a vintage cigarette machine in the hallway to the bathrooms.

So, I know tiki isn't for everyone. Not everyone can appreciate the truly remarkable era of the tiki lounge, the deliciously sweet and decadent cocktails, and the tiki motif that stole from Polynesian culture, mixed it with mid-century modern, and elevated it to art. Most simply regard tiki as quaint or cheesy, and the epitome of bad decor choices. Not everyone gets tiki, but I do, and I know there are many out there like me. Long live tiki and long live Bahi Hut.

Take a look around...

Bahi Hut is located on the north side of Sarasota on Tamiami Trail, and is a part of the Golden Host Resort hotel.

Bahi Hut
Golden Host Resort
4675 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The newest Orlando Pollo Tropical opens July 29th on I-Drive with a beach-themed party and a free meal to the first 100 customers

Fans of Pollo Tropical: there's a brand new location opening this weekend on International Drive in Orlando. Here are some details if you want to check it out and win some free food:

Central Florida’s International Drive corridor is sizzling with excitement, as the newest Pollo Tropical restaurant will open at 5294 North International Drive on Saturday, July 29 with a Beach Party celebration! Florida’s favorite destination for fire-grilled chicken, mojo roast pork and signature side dishes is opening the new location to bring its loyal guests and new guests an additional, convenient location.

The Grand Opening Beach Party takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will feature Pollo Tropical gift certificates, spin-to-win prizes, music, face painting, a rock climbing wall, and more. The first 100 guests in line for the grand opening will receive a free Pollo Tropical ¼ Chicken Meal. One lucky guest from the first 100 to arrive will win Free Pollo Tropical for a year!

Attendees are encouraged to arrive by 9:00 a.m. in order to be among the first 100 guests in line. Participants in the Free Pollo Tropical for a Year raffle must be 18 years of age or older to participate.

The new Pollo Tropical location features all of the beloved Pollo Tropical items including the brand’s signature citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken, Create Your Own TropiChops®, sandwiches and salads, wraps, platters, kids meals and family meals that boast generous portions at a great value. Freshly-prepared sides include rice, beans, yuca with garlic sauce, sweet plantains and many more, as well as an assortment of authentic sauces. Pollo Tropical uses ingredients without added trans fats or hormones.

The new Saucing Island® at Pollo Tropical brings on the flavor—and a little heat—with signature sauces that include Guava BBQ, Curry Mustard, Pineapple Rum, Cilantro Garlic and Spicy Poyo-Poyo. The sauces allow guests to entice their taste buds and customize their meals with amazing tropical flavors.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Restaurant Hacks and apps that save you money when dining out in Orlando

Thank you News 6 for a great story on saving money when dining out and for allowing me to give my tips. Special thanks to Danielle Frew, the up-and-coming writer/producer/reporter getting ready to take broadcast news to the next level. The full story:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Get ready Orlando: Season 2 of Eating Orlando on YouTube begins August 1st

Season 2 is finally here! The eating adventures continue with Season 2 of the Eating Orlando YouTube channel starting August 1, 2017. Mark your calendars and subscribe now so you won't miss a single episode. Here are some of the adventures you can expect:

  • A night on the town at STK Orlando
  • Dinner with Celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi
  • What geeks like to eat at MegaCon Orlando
  • Finding the best pizza in Brooklyn (an Eating Orlando RoadTrip)
  • Checking out the new guy in town: Earl's
  • A visit to the new "World's Largest (Entertainment) McDonald's
  • Eating in the kitchen at Buca di Beppo
  • This is how English eat Curry
  • Joey Fatone: Boyband member to hotdog vendor
  • Visiting the very first Chick-fil-A (another Eating Orlando RoadTrip)
  • And more -- much more!

About Eating Orlando on YouTube

Eating Orlando, Orlando's favorite food blog, is now on YouTube. Join food writer James Emerson, and his band of hungry hipsters, on a gastronomical road trip across Orlando, the theme parks, and all of Central Florida. From Disney to Universal and Apopka to Zephyrhills, we’ll visit the best places to eat all across the state. Orlando restaurant reviews, news and the best places to eat in Florida. Come join the expedition as we continue eating Orlando one restaurant at a time!

Want to check out Carrabba's new happy hour specials with a $50 gift card compliments of Eating Orlando?

Carrabba's Italian Grill recently asked me to check out their new Happy Hour specials and I, of course, said "Yes!!" And if you want to check out Carrabba's for yourself, with a $50 gift card in hand, compliments of Eating Orlando, just enter the contest below and I'll select a random winner.

Featuring both food and drink specials, Carrabba's Happy Hour are available seven days a week through the end of the month. Menu highlights include:

  • $5 Specialty Cocktails (Pomegranate Martini, Blackberry Bellini, Sicilian Prickly Pear Margarita and Sparkling Tuscan Lemonade)
  • $5 Premium Spirits (Absolut, Beefeater, Bacardi, Altos Plata, Jim Beam, Crown Royal and Dewar's)
  • $4 Well Spirits
  • $2 - $3 Draft Beers ($3: Stella ArtoisBlue Moon and Peroni; $2: Bud Light)
  • 1/2 Price Appetizers (Mozzarella Marinara, Zucchini Fritte, Wood-Fired Italian Wings, Shrimp Scampi, Calamari, Tomato Caprese with Fresh Burrata, and Mussels in White Wine Lemon Butter)
On my visit, I tried the Sicilian Prickly Pear Margarita, and it was fantastic -- sweet and fruity -- but not overpowering. I also sampled the Pomegranate Martini. And, like the last 10 visits to Carrabba's, I ordered the fried calamari. I've always been a fan of this Carrabba's appetizer, and I still am. I especially love it when it is 1/2 off!

Happy Hour has to end eventually. When it did, I moved on to Carrabba's lasagna and my dining partner tried the pork tenderloin. Limoncello Bread Pudding was the dessert of choice. Take a look at the photos and see for yourself. I won't bore you with details of the dinner because we all know you're here to enter the contest, so here are the rules: You have to visit the Eating Orlando Facebook page, like the page -- you must like the page, and then just post a comment why you should win the $50 gift card. I will pick a random winner this Friday, July 28, 2017 at 5 pm. Here's the link...

Eating Orlando on Facebook