Monday, June 18, 2018
Dining

Dining Planner: It's a war zone with burger battles and sushi skirmishes galore

FOOD FIGHT: BATTLE STATIONS

It's a war out there. A delicious one. First up is the Beer and Burger Throwdown on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Attendees taste and vote for their burger favorites, with restaurants and food trucks offering their best burger creations for $3 to $5, local brews on tap from the beer stations and free craft beer and home brews to sample. Guests can watch college football under the tents, enjoy the DJs, play in the game zone for adults or hang out with pets in the dog zone. There's also a fun zone for kids and a craft village in the stadium's North Parking Lot. Noon to 6 p.m. $10, cash at door; free for active military and kids younger than 16. Burger, beer and beverage costs are extra. Proceeds benefit Animal Coalition of Tampa. 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (727) 674-1464.

This is in preparation for more ham-to-ham(burger) combat when the Battle of the Burg(er) returns to St. Petersburg's Grand Central District. This year, 11 restaurants compete in a monthlong contest to determine who serves the best burger (with a separate category for vegetarian burgers). During the month of September, diners are invited to eat at the participating restaurants (Casita Taqueria, Engine Rose, Old Key West Bar & Grill, Punky's Bar & Grill, the Burg Bar & Grill, the Queens Head, Zaytoon Grill, Community Cafe, Craftsman House Gallery, Leafy Greens Cafe and Love Food Central) to taste the entries and then vote online for their favorite at grandcentraldistrict.org. The winners will be announced on Oct. 3.

Not feeling the beef? You can still get feisty at the Sushi Battle Tampa Bay. Who has the best volcano roll in the area? You'll have to wait for the eruption on Sept. 29 to find out. Big City Events is putting on the second annual event, this time at the St. Petersburg Coliseum. So far, the lineup includes Ocean Prime, Ciccio Water, Pisces, Kona, Wabi Sabi, Yo! Sushi, iThai & Sushi and Ujame Sushi, with more restaurants likely to sign up. There will be a panel of local judges, but guests get to vote on their fave with the Audience Choice Award. To make their decision, guests will nibble unlimited sushi samples from all the restaurants throughout the night. General admission tickets, $45, will include a free sake bomb with a commemorative glass, shot glass and chopsticks to take home. A sake tasting ticket can also be added for $20. VIP tickets, $75, get folks in an hour early from the hoi polloi start time of 6:30 p.m. Need more incentive than a big wasabi kick? Last year there were sumo wrestler suits, Japanese drums and dances, Godzilla movies and the hilarity that is the group sake bomb. 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. sushibattletampa.com.

And if you believe you catch more flies with honey than battling, head Saturday to the Taste of Honey at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, a sweet sampling with more than 100 honeys harvested from around the world to taste, beekeeping workshops, honey-infused foods and live music. The event is a fundraiser to benefit the beekeeping program at the Botanical Gardens. 2 to 5 p.m. $20 advance, $25 at the door. 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa. (813) 974-2329.

OF ALL THE ZIN JOINTS: WINEFEST

Tampa Theatre's 15th annual WineFest is this weekend, with bites from local independent restaurants, sips from wineries, an exclusive evening of wine and food pairings and a special screening of this year's theme film, Casablanca (costumes encouraged). This is the theater's biggest annual fundraising event, benefitting the historic movie palace's artistic, educational and community programs, as well as its ongoing preservation and restoration. Things start off Friday with a two-tiered wine tasting and silent auction. On Saturday, the historic stage will be expanded to seat more than 250 and transformed into Rick's Café for an elegant wine pairing at 6:30 p.m. with a multicourse menu created by Mise en Place chef Marty Blitz. Things wrap up Sunday with a screening of Casablanca at 3 p.m., followed by a conversation with Tampa Bay Times movie critic Steve Persall and former Tampa Tribune movie critic Bob Ross. 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. tampatheatre.org.

 
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