Burgers, beer, babes, and… vegan cupcakes?

August 17, 2011

This is a piece I did for Creative Loafing (Tampa’s most awesome free local newspaper), again thought I’d share if you all missed it. Two very different eateries have opened in South Tampa. Stacked Burgers opened Mon., Aug. 1, and is steadily cranking out the burgers. I swung by to scope the place out on their third day of business and was warmly greeted by the manager, Lenny, who helped enlighten me about their concept. In a nutshell, “three almost famous ex-jocks … agreed they all love a great hamburger and a cold beer,” and thus, Stacked Burgers was born. In the space formerly occupied by Tijuana Flats, due east of the bustling SoHo bar scene, Stacked Burgers appears to be targeting the not-uncommon audience that enjoys burgers and football, or even hungry drunks willing to walk a few blocks to get a burger. SB opens every day at 11 a.m., and stays open until 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. They already have large flat-screen TVs adorning the walls, with more to be added soon, and near-term plans also include partially enclosing the deck area and adding TVs for outdoor entertainment (once the weather becomes more favorable). The restaurant’s name is quite clearly a double entendre, as not only are most of the burgers and sandwiches multiple patties stacked atop each other, but the waitstaff (comprised primarily of college-aged ladies) is also rather … well … endowed? Think popular-local-wing-restaurant and you’ll understand the direction that the partners went with the concept. Many menu items are also thick with undertones, such as the “Chicken Chest Sandwich” (double grilled chicken breast sandwich) or the “French Maid Dip Burger” (a Stacked Steak Burger with cheese and sautéed onions, and a side of au jus). The patrons all seemed to be enjoying their meals, and although I was sad to see the Flats go, it appears that Stacked Burger may be just what was needed to re-boot this dining space. Conceptually almost the polar opposite of Stacked Burger, Viitals Healthy Gourmet Café opened today in South Tampa. A husband and wife team, Ivan and Silvia Nikolov opened the first Viitals bakery in October ’09 at 6605 N. Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights, and just completed (last night at 5am!) their new location on South Dale Mabry in the shopping plaza adjacent to Publix (immediately north, next to Doormet). Ivan is an interesting character: a completely natural bodybuilder with a passion for health. He came to the U.S. in 2002 from Bulgaria. Seeing the dearth of options for nutritious food, he and his wife opened a café offering exactly that, fare that not only looks and tastes good, but is as healthy as Ivan could make it. As for the name, Viitals is the plural of “vital” — the extra “I” is in homage to his wife; the café’s name is an anagram of hers. No joke, Viitals’ current best-selling items are gluten-free, vegan, protein-enriched cupcakes. While those adjectives typically conjure up images of artificial flavorings and cardboard-textured foodstuffs, the offerings here are quite the opposite. Hand-crafted items are made fresh daily that are all gluten-free (with many items being vegan) and each menu item’s focus almost “designed” from the ground up to be the most nutritious presentation of that dish possible: no trans fats, no refined sugars (replaced with palm coconut sugar), baked with olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Viitals will offer up fare that many of South Tampa’s body-conscious residents will likely embrace with open arms. The new location will also incorporate high-quality European-style espresso bar using only organic coffee, espresso, milks (including coconut for the vegan coffee lovers) and other ingredients. They’ll also offer ready-made paninis, smoothies, baked goods and more. http://www.stackedburgers.net

Stacked Burgers on Urbanspoon

http://www.viitals.com

VIITALS Healthy Gourmet Café & Specialty Bakery on Urbanspoon

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