This evening I headed to Downtown Vero to this funky, electric neighborhood pub, the Kilted Mermaid. This restaurant/pub is one of the few in Vero that offers a wide variety of vegan menu options. They’re most known for their small production wines and craft beers paired with artisan cheeses and decadent cheese and chocolate fondues. Upon entering, you’ll feel this sense of excitement as there is always something fun going on. There are a number of different seating options inside and outside – you’re able to seat yourself at any of the available tables, barstools or even in the cozy lounge area in the back (my personal favorite). However, tonight I decided to find a table near a window with some good lighting and I was greeted immediately by one of their lovely servers.
Alright, enough about where I sat, Let’s get to the food!
Baked Pretzel – ($7.00)
I am a sucker when it comes to carbs so of course the first thing I ordered was a soft pretzel. Kilted’s baked pretzel is served with a house made vegan cashew cheese and stone ground mustard. The pretzel was warm and perfectly cooked and had that soft chewy texture a soft pretzel should have. As great as the pretzel was, the two dippings were the stars of the show. The stone-ground mustard’s coarse texture was the perfect addition to the pretzel- I had to ask for more! The vegan cashew “cheese” was TO. DIE. FOR. It had this sensational tangy flavor and smooth texture and paired perfectly with the warm baked soft pretzel.
Dip Trio – ($12.00)
The next starter I ordered was the Dip Trio, which consisted of the same vegan cashew cheese that was served with the baked pretzel, a black bean dip, as well as a red pepper hummus. The three dips were served with warm pita bread, crackers and fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and bell peppers. My favorite of the three was the vegan cashew cheese, especially with the pita and cauliflower. The red pepper hummus had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency that was rich and garlicy and went perfectly with the crackers and bell peppers. The black bean dip, which had hints of cilantro, onion and lime, was surprisingly delicious paired with the carrots. The dish as a whole was excellent and enough to share with a few people.
Asian Cashew Bowl – ($12.00)
If you know me, you know how much I love a good rice bowl. I will 100% be ordering this next time I come back. Simple but absolutely delightful. The asian cashew bowl consisted of broccoli, red pepper, cabbage, spinach, and roasted cashews sauteed over a bed of rice. It’s then drizzled with a house made soy, peanut, ginger sauce and seaweed, sesame seasoning to tie it all together. So much flavor! This dish was very filling- honestly enough for two people to enjoy, especially if you plan on getting dessert.
Impossible Meatball Sub – ($14.00)
Another excellent vegan entree option is the impossible “meatball” sub. It must be called impossible because there’s almost no way this could be vegan. I had to double check that the server dropped off the right dish. The impossible meatballs were juicy and tender, served coated in a house made marinara with peppers and onions on a perfectly toasted ciabatta bread. I decided to add the vegan feta for $2.00 which blew me away. Before I went vegan, feta was my favorite cheese so I was excited but also skeptical before trying it out. It was the perfect savory addition to the meatball sub with hints of dill and a delightfully creamy texture.
Vegan Chocolate Fondue – ($14.50)
You can’t go to The Kilted Mermaid and not order the chocolate fondue. Luckily for me, they offer a vegan option that uses an almond milk base instead of cream. It’s served with a plate of perfectly ripe strawberries and bananas for dipping. My personal favorite way to fondue is adding one strawberry and one banana on the skewer, dipping it into the rich, velvety chocolate. Make sure to bring a few friends if you’re planning on indulging because the fondue is enough to feed a party of 4. Or treat yourself, I don’t judge!
There is seriously something I love about this place. It really makes you feel like you’re hanging out in your dream backyard with your best friends, eating excellent food and drinking your favorite drink. You can just tell that there is a lot of love going into this business. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the vegan items on the menu.
Join me at Costa d’Este for a full day of food experiences. Get your day started off right when you rise and shine beachside! Not only can you come here to eat and drink all day, but also enjoy the many other experiences they have to offer in between. 7 am three days a week, you’ll find your zen during Yoga on the Beach…working up an appetite for the day ahead. After you’ve perfected your downward dog pose, order the Carnitas Breakfast Tacos. Two flour tortilla tacos piled high with a braised pulled pork, topped with scrambled eggs, manchego cheese, pico de gallo, and fresh guacamole. Switch it up and order with chorizo if you’re feeling a little spicy.
You can pair these with fresh fruit or potatoes…was drawn to the healthier fruit option for the morning. After a hearty yet healthy reboot breakfast, you can hit the waves by paddleboard or kayak through their beach team, Paddles by the Sea. As a guest of the hotel, you’ll enjoy these water toys complimentary during your stay. Not a guest of the hotel, no worries as for a small fee, you can still take part in the water sports or even snag a couple of beach chairs to soak up the sun. Up for a little challenge, paddle out to the Shipwreck about 100 yards offshore, and see all the fish that have made it their home.
Ready for round two…cool off with some Fresh Caught Local Fish Ceviche paired with Plantain Chips. They even have a ceviche duo if you can’t decide between the fish or octopus options. Both are amazing and refreshing! Sticking with the taco kick, order the grilled Mahi Fish Tacos. Topped with a cabbage & green mango slaw, pickled red onions, guacamole, and a lime chipotle aioli. Usually, I favor fried fish tacos but haven’t gone back to fried after eating these. So flavorful and seasoned perfectly. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more ready for a massage.
C | Spa offers a variety of relaxing treatments…from the Halo Salt Room to facials, massages, and nail services. Try pairing the Halo Salt experience with the Canna Bliss Massage and you’ll be in heaven. They have 100% non-THC CBD oil, so no worries about work thinking you were having too much fun. Last but definitely not least, I’m finally about to embark on dinner! Wave, this Cuban-inspired restaurant, has a great mix of just about everything…and if you literally want everything, just order the Mixed Grill. This is perfect for a shareable plate or can order all to yourself if you can’t decide which protein you’re in the mood for. It comes with Steak, Grilled Octopus, Sausage, Shrimp, Scallops, Plantains, and Veggies.
Now that you’ve had your light appetizer, you’re ready for the entrees. The newest version of the Scallops entree has a celery root and potato hash, spinach, house-cured pork belly, and an apple butter sauce. Mmm, you will be licking your lips after this sweet yet savory dish. It’s a perfect balance! Like your filet mignon to stay hot and sizzling through your entire meal… order it here at the Wave! It comes on a hot stone plate to help keep it warm until the last bite. Do order it a temp less than normal as this will ensure it’s perfect for your pallet.
When you’re ready… come spend the day at Costa d’Este… your body and belly will thank you!
Paralysis Wing Eating Challenge Contestants!
I wanted to reach out to you and remind everyone that the Paralysis Wing Eating Challenge is happening tomorrow evening, Tuesday, Aug 28th at Off the Rail!
Here are the details of the contest:
You must eat 2 wings per sauce (8 wings total) starting with Medium, Hot, XXX, and finally Jim’s PARALYSIS sauce (no time limit) with nothing to drink and no napkins. Once you have eaten all 8 wings, you must sit through a grueling 5-minute after-burn also with nothing to drink and no napkins. If multiple people successfully complete the challenge, they will be entered into a random drawing for a $25.00 Off the Rail gift certificate and our Wing Challenge Survivor T-Shirt.
Entry Fee: Zip, Zero, Nada! Jim the owner is donating the wings for the challenge!!!
Location: Off the Rail – 1327 21st St, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Date: Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
Arrival Time: 6:15pm (check-in)
Contest Starts at: 6:30pm
Order your favorite beverage before the contest begins so it will be ready for you once you complete the challenge. Stage a few napkins so when you are done they are easily accessible. If you have not done any hot wing challenges before, eating something else afterwards can help relive any heat you may feel. I also recommend you eat carbohydrates to help absorb the hot sauce in your stomach. The contest organizer will provide several baskets of french fries for you to eat immediately after you have completed the contest.
The restaurant has a liability waiver that must be signed by all contestants before you begin. Vero Beach Marketing, Vero Vine, and Vero Beach Foodie assume no personal liability’s from your participation in this contest. Taking a drink, using a napkin, or eating anything else during the contest will disqualify you from winning any prizes. We reserve the right to replace you if you do now show up on time to the contest. All decisions by the contest organizer are final. We strive to make this as fair as possible for all contestants, so if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me via this email.
Thank you for participating and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow night!
Thomas Miller, aka “The Food Guy” is big on organic everything and very particular about his butter.He has reviewed over 125+ local restaurants in the last 3 years and is invited by Disney to review the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival every year.His food photos are devoured by 10’s of thousands monthly on VeroVine.com and as a Google Maps Local Guide, his photos have been viewed over 5 million times.His foodie tribe is over 4,800+ people right here in Vero Beach and his VIP Foodie Dining Experiences are some of the Top Culinary experiences in Indian River County and beyond.
by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
I never imagined myself as a food blogger or restaurant critic until a few years ago. I’ve been looking for a way to get into the food industry, but could not figure out what to do, and keep my day job with bankers hours. Back in June of 2015, an opportunity fell into my lap. A farm back in my home state of Indiana was looking for a chef and content producer to help them promote their products. They are innovators in their field, and I thought it would be a good way to start learning about blogging and content production. A lot of their customers follow the paleo and low carb way of eating, so I decided to create a bunless burger recipe for them using their grass-fed ground beef. Right around this time, I learned of a food photo contest on Vero Vine. I took a chance and entered the picture of my “EPIC Bunless Burger” and ended up taking 1st place! From there, my relationship with Vero Vine and Stacy Cook grew and I started guest blogging, and the rest is history!
My Award Winning EPIC Bunless Burger
Since I use forks for my rating system, I thought it would only be fitting to have an annual GOLDEN FORK awards article to highlight the best of the best from the past year. With over 60 different restaurants and reviews, it took me a while to look them over again and choose my favorites. I created 12 different categories for this year’s awards. including such as Best Burger, Best Steak, and Best Seafood dishes, etc.
Now on to the awards! Let’s jump right in and see who this year’s winners are, and see what I had to eat from this past year!
Best Appetizer – Citron Bistro – Shrimp Bruschetta
“The first starter they brought out for me to try was this stunning interpretation of the classic bruschetta. It had jumbo shrimp served scampi style and were perfectly cooked. It was served with tomatoes and scallions on grilled sourdough bread and was finished with micro greens as a garnish. The sauce on the plate was a lemon ver blanc sauce with balsamic vinegar for decoration. It was outstanding!”
“This is not your typical wedge salad you would get at a steak house. First off, it’s not actually made with a lettuce wedge, which is great, because they are difficult to eat anyway. The diversity of ingredients in this salad is staggering! It’s made with Butter Lettuce, Marinated steak, Craisins, Almonds, Bacon, Avocado, Red Onion, Cilantro, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Chimichurri and Peri Peri Hot Sauce! First bite was an explosion of flavor from all of those ingredients! It was tangy from the chimichurri, slightly smoky from the bacon, the red onion added a nice crunch, and the steak was very tender!”
“Here are the two tacos that I got. One beef and one pork. They come with just the corn tortilla and the meat. You then choose what else you want on top. I went traditional and did white onion and cilantro, salsa and lime juice. They were amazing! The tortillas were grilled, the meat was flavorful, and the toppings were fresh.”
“This is one impressive sandwich! Served on their house made sub roll, it contains ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, bacon, cheddar, provolone, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, banana peppers, black olives, jalapeno, and topped off with Dagwood’s special spices. Oil and vinegar was served alongside. Trying to fold it up for a bite was a challenge in itself. Once I got a handle on it and took a bite this sandwich had a lot of flavors and textures going on all at the same time. It was tangy, crunchy, and a little bit sweet. This is probably a sandwich that I would not have tried on my own, so I’m glad I got to try it, because it may be my go-to when I return in the near future.”
Best Burger – Village Sandwich Shop and Grill – The Roadhouse
“Now that is one impressive looking burger! It’s made with an 8 oz beef patty that has been grilled, topped with cheddar cheese, Duroc bacon, pulled pork that has been dressed with a Carolina BBQ sauce, and topped with frizzled red onions. I cut the burger in half since there was no way I could pick up the entire burger at once. I nearly had to unhinge my jaw to take a bite! It was beefy, smoky from the bacon, a little bit sweet from the BBQ sauce, and crunchy from the fried onions. It definitely had a lot going on flavor and texture wise, and it was fantastic!”
Best Pizza – Italian American Civic Associates – White Pizza
“This is easily one of the best bargains in Vero to feed your entire family. You start with a basic cheese pizza for $7.00, then add what toppings you want on it for $1.00 additional per topping. This “white” pizza had a garlic pesto sauce, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella on top. The aroma of the garlic when Tony brought the pizza to our table was intoxicating! The crust was perfectly baked, the garlic pesto sauce was herby and delicious, and the slices of mozzarella just melted in your mouth. Hands down this has to be one of the best pies I’ve had in Vero the 2 years I’ve lived here.”
“Next up was this show stopper! The chef told us that he had a few larger than normal prawns that came in so he presented us with one of them. This prawn is a U-4, meaning there are only 4 of them per pound. As you can see from the picture above, it was plate engulfing in size. It was dressed with a sriracha aioli, then torched to add a slightly smoky flavor. It was very flavorful, with just a touch of heat from the sriracha. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection. The prawn was laid on a bed of farrow, and lemon arugula to garnish.”
Best Steak – Maison Martinique / Havana Nights – Grilled Filet Mignon
“My wife joined me for this review and filet is one of her favorites, so we were happy to see the chef bring this dish out to us. The dish consists of a 6 oz (also available in 8 oz) filet that has been fire grilled to a perfect medium and seasoned to perfection. It’s topped with a small lobster tail and a Gorgonzola reduction sauce over the top. Sides were mashed potatoes and broccoli with sliced carrots. The filet was one of the most tender I have ever eaten, and the Gorgonzola sauce was the perfect match for the steak. It was creamy and had a wonderfully bold cheese flavor. We were fighting over the last few bites of steak and the sauce because it was that good!”
Best Over the Top Experience – The Yellow Rose Cakery – Industrials Design
As “The Food Guy”, most of the restaurants I review want to give me an over the top experience to write about, to stand out above the rest. While these experiences are not available to the general public, I thought I would still include this category. With over 5 fabulous cakes and over 100 servings, and only 6 people at the tasting, I thought this was definitely my best over the top experience of the year.
“All we could say was WOW once we saw what she made for us to try. These are known as The Yellow Rose Cakery Industrials design and are $65.00 each and serve 20 people. The price may vary slightly depending on the level of detail you would like, so be sure to ask Andi for additional details.”
“Upon first entry into the restaurant, it was nicer inside than I was expecting. I guess with a name like “Taco Dive” I did not know what to expect. The other surprise was that it was a sit-down restaurant, and not counter service. I figured due to the size of the restaurant and type of food they served, you would simply order at the counter, and they would bring it to you once ready. The interior of the restaurant has been changed quite a bit since the previous tenants that occupied the space. It has that industrial gastro-pub style decor with dark stained wood table tops, metal legs, and dark gray walls. Reclaimed wood pallets hang on the walls, and an old spring mattress is suspended from the ceiling that has been outfitted with Edson bulb light fixtures. “
Chef(s) of the Year – Chef Patrick Hughes and Chef Chet Perrotti
I had the pleasure of meeting these two chefs earlier this year when I reviewed Maison Martinique. They had just taken over the kitchen and were still working out the kinks with the menu. While I only gave them 4 forks for my first visit, I was invited back to review Havana Nights, and they definitely stepped up their game and earned that 5th fork. They are two of the most humble, yet hard working and very talented chefs that I’ve ever met. The food that they prepare is some of the best that I have had anywhere. These guys deserve the recognition, so congratulations to both of you as my pick for Chefs of the Year!
Restaurant of the Year – Maison Martinique / Havana Nights
My pick for the restaurant of the year should come as no surprise with my choice for Chefs of the Year. Maison Martinique and Havana Nights continue to impress me with the personal touch that I get each and every time I’m there. The chefs care about your experience and do make appearances in the dining room throughout the evening to make sure things are to your liking. You also don’t feel rushed to hurry up and eat, so they can turn a table. When you are there, they allow you time to sit back and relax and enjoy your evening. From the dimly lit elegant dining rooms, the romantic atmosphere, the private booths, and the world-class entertainment, this is one of the best fine dining establishments in Vero Beach. Congratulations to Maison Martinique and Havana Nights, and the entire staff on being my pick for Restaurant of the Year!
It was fun looking back at my first year of restaurant reviews and re-discovering all of the great things I’ve had to eat in 2016. I can honestly say that I did not have any bad experiences at any of the restaurants that I visited. I’ve got some new ideas on how to expand my food reviews for 2017, so make sure you check back and read my reviews often to see what I have in store! One thing that I’m super excited about is our new VIP Foodie events we are working on for 2017. We had our first event in December called “The ULTIMATE Italian Dining Experience” and we were sold out 3 weeks early! We are planning to have one per month, and we are already planning events for April of this year. If you are not yet a member of our new group on Facebook called Vero Beach Foodie, please come over and join us, and share your dining experiences with us! Hope to see you there!
by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
For my next tasting experience, I venture a little bit outside of Vero Beach and head north to Sebastian to check out a new restaurant that just opened less than 6 months ago. Owner and Chef, Andy King, has over 28 years experience in the restaurant business and thought it was time to finally open up his own place. Located right off of US Hwy 1 in the Village Shops, The Village Sandwich Shop and Grill is definitely a welcome addition to the Sebastian restaurant scene.
We visited the restaurant on a Tuesday evening around 6:00pm for dinner. Parking is available next to and behind the restaurant, and a few spots out front right off of US Hwy 1. The main entrance is on the south side of the building. Upon entry, you walk right into the cozy dining room with open seating. The restaurant is nicely decorated with colorful tropical pictures and beach themed table cloths.
Chef Andy was expecting us so, he had a few items already lined up for us to try, so let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what we had to eat!
Lobster Bisque – ($4.00) – The wonderful aroma of the lobster coming from this soup was the first thing I noticed as they sat it down in front of me. Without a description on the menu to reference what’s in the soup, I’m going to guess and say that it was made with a tomato base, shellfish stock, cream, and lobster. The soup was perfectly seasoned and had the bold taste of lobster in each bite. It was served along with grilled toast and was excellent!
Avocado & Bacon Salad – ($8.00) – Avocado is something that I like, but don’t eat a lot of, so I was anxious to try this salad when Andy told us about it. It’s made with chopped romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, crumbled bacon, and is tossed in an avocado dressing. My first impression was that it was very colorful! The lettuce was fresh and crisp, the cherry tomatoes were really sweet, and the crumbled bacon on it added a nice crunch and a slight smokiness. It was delicious!
Crispy Southern Fried Green Tomatoes – ($7.00) – Fried green tomatoes are not something that I would have personally ordered before I started doing food reviews, but now that I have had them at several different places, it’s definitely something that I have come to love, and Andy’s are no exception. It’s made with fresh green tomato slices that have been battered and fried, served over a spring lettuce mix, and topped with bacon and a chipotle ranch dressing. The crumbled bacon on top was something new I had not seen before and was very good. The chipotle ranch dressing was a perfect match with a little bit of heat to it.
Roadhouse Burger – ($11.00) – Now that is one impressive looking burger! It’s made with an 8 oz beef patty that has been grilled, topped with cheddar cheese, Duroc bacon, pulled pork that has been dressed with a Carolina BBQ sauce, and topped with frizzled red onions. I cut the burger in half since there was no way I could pick up the entire burger at once. I nearly had to unhinge my jaw to take a bite! It was beefy, smoky from the bacon, a little bit sweet from the BBQ sauce, and crunchy from the fried onions. It definitely had a lot going on flavor and texture wise, and it was fantastic!
Shrimp N Grits – ($13.00) – Shrimp and grits seem to be big in the south, not so much in the Midwest where I moved down here from a few years ago. I have to admit, this is my first time for shrimp and grits, so I was excited to finally give it a try. It’s made with fresh local shrimp that have been sautéed with veggies in a Creole cream sauce and served over bacon and cheddar grits. First off, the shrimp were cooked and seasoned to perfection. Since it’s a Creole cream sauce, I expected a bit more heat, and would have welcomed it since I tend to like Creole dishes a bit spicier. The grits were also nice and creamy!
With “Sandwich Shop” right in the name of this new restaurant, I thought I had an idea of what to expect when I arrived. My expectations were definitely turned upside down when I discovered that they are so much more than just a “sandwich shop”. While we only got to try a few dishes from the menu, everything that we did get to try was really great. From salads, sandwiches, steaks, chicken and seafood, they definitely have you covered no matter what you are in the mood for.
Have you tried The Village Sandwich Shop and Grill? What has your experience been with them? Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at email@example.com with your questions or comments.
by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
My next tasting experience takes me down to 14th Ave once again, and this time to Taco Dive! Located in the previous Counter Culture location, they opened their doors this past summer on July 20th. Owners Allison O’Connor and Bonnie Turk both left their secure careers as educators behind to venture into the restaurant business. Their first location has been open for a while and is located in Fort Pierce. Banking on their first successful location, they decided it was time to branch out and open a second one in Vero Beach. So far it has been a hit and definitely a welcome addition to the downtown Vero restaurant scene.
Upon first entry into the restaurant, it was nicer inside than I was expecting. I guess with a name like “Taco Dive” I did not know what to expect. The other surprise was that it was a sit down restaurant, and not counter service. I figured due to the size of the restaurant and type of food they served, you would simply order at a counter, and they would bring it to you once ready. The interior of the restaurant has been changed quite a bit since the previous tenants that occupied the space. It has that industrial gastro-pub style decor with dark stained wood table tops, metal legs and dark grey walls. Reclaimed wood pallets hang on the walls, and an old spring mattress is suspended from the ceiling that has been outfitted with Edson bulb light fixtures.
Now on to the food! Let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat!
Smothered Tots – ($7.00) – The first item they brought out for us to taste was this wonderful dish! It’s a pie plate full of tater tots that have been baked until golden brown, then smothered with their house made queso, and topped off with diced jalapeño’s. The tots were nice and crispy, the queso was full of flavor, and the jalapeño’s added just a little bit of heat to the dish. This is definitely a fun shareable appetizer and a great way to start your meal.
Taco Bella (Left) – ($5.00) – A lot of my readers are always asking me about vegetarian options in Vero, so I thought it was a good idea that I try one and let you know my opinion about it. This taco is made with a flour tortilla and is slathered with guacamole, then it’s filled with marinated portabella mushrooms, arugula, black bean corn salad, and topped off with diced tomato and a wedge of lime. Upon first bite, I was able to taste the black beans and the tomato’s, but not the mushrooms. They could have used a little bit more seasoning for my taste, but everything on it was very fresh.
Irish (Middle) – ($5.00) – I’m a huge fan of NY Deli, so I decided to try the corned beef taco. It’s made with a flour tortilla, house made corned beef that is slow roasted in cold barley soup (beer), and topped with sautéed cabbage, tater tots and spicy mustard. The corned beef was definitely the star of the show. It was as flavorful and salty as I expected it to be, and I could actually taste the beer it was slow roasted in. The cabbage added a nice texture variation, and the spicy mustard was a great way to top it off. I will be getting this one again on my next visit.
Steak (Right) – ($5.00) – My wife was with me for this review, and steak is one of her favorites, so we decided to give this one a try. It’s made with a flour tortilla, marinated beef tenderloin, shredded cabbage, diced tomato, thinly sliced radishes, and topped with queso fresco crumbles and their cilantro Dive sauce. The steak was fantastic! It was very tender and had a nice beefy flavor. The cabbage and sliced radish added a nice crunchy texture, and the queso and cilantro Dive sauce added a creaminess to it. It was so good, we were fighting over the last few bites of it!
BBQ Pork Torta – ($7.00) – Now this is not something that I expected to find on the menu at a taco place. It’s made with slow roasted pork, tossed in a Carolina BBQ sauce, and topped with a pineapple slaw. The bun is from Miranda’s bakery in Fort Pierce. I’m into BBQ and consider myself an experienced pit master, and this is really good pork. With just the right amount of BBQ sauce, the pork was moist and tender. The slaw was crunchy, a little sweet, and delicious! This is one amazing torta!
I’ve had the opportunity to dine here twice now and both times I’ve been really impressed. It is more upscale and trendier than I thought it would be, but still casual and family friendly. While their main menu offerings are Mexican inspired, they do offer some additional choices that will please just about any diner. Almost everything that comes out of the kitchen is scratch made so they can accommodate just about any request you might have. From salads, nachos, tacos and tortas, to having some really great local beers on tap, this is definitely not your average “hole in the wall”
Have you tried Taco Dive? What has your experience been with them? Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.
by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
As someone who lived in the Midwest for most of his life before moving to Vero, I got to experience the changing of the seasons. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and the “Ice Cream” season. What is the “ice cream season” you ask? Most of the really good ice cream places tend to close up for winter since their products are not in high demand year round, especially when temperatures are below freezing outside. One of the advantages of living in a warmer climate is we don’t have to suffer through the “ice cream” season and wait for the good ones to open back up in the spring. Living in the south and a warmer climate definitely has its advantages.
My next tasting experience takes me over to Rita’s Italian Ice. They are located off of US Hwy 1 in Vero Beach. It’s nestled back in a shopping center near Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I have to admit, I’ve not personally tried Rita’s because I did not think I would be a fan of the Italian ice. I’m not a fan of snow cones, so I made the assumption that I would not like Italian ice either. I could not have been more wrong. The texture was WAY different that I was expecting and with the added custard or flavorings, it was smoother and creamier than I thought it would be. I was really surprised how good it was and how much I liked it.
Let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!
Mango Vanilla Gelati – ($3.91 Inc Tax) – A Gelati is a combination of a flavored Italian Ice in the bottom of the cup, then it’s topped with their soft serve custard. First off, the vanilla soft serve custard is fabulous! It’s very smooth and creamy. It has a higher fat content than regular ice cream does which helps give it that luxurious texture. We ended up digging around the custard to get down to the mango Italian ice in the bottom, and it was really good too. I can see why this is a top seller and a customer favorite!
Lemon Misto – ($4.33 Inc Tax) – Doesn’t that look like it would be refreshing on a hot day! It’s made with Italian ice, real lemon with chunks of lemon peel, and a vanilla custard cream all blended together. The flavor was bright and refreshing, and the texture was like a creamy slushy. The vanilla custard, in this case, was more like a flavored heavy whipping cream, instead of the frozen soft serve custard, which made it easier to drink through a straw.
Brownie Sundae – ($5.62 Inc Tax) – I was excited to try this next one since brownies are one of my favorite desserts! This is made with their vanilla soft serve custard, hot fudge, chunks of brownie, mini chocolate chips, whipped cream and a cherry on top. The custard was smooth and creamy, the hot fudge was warm and delicious, and the chocolate chips added a nice texture variation. The brownies had that satisfying chewy texture we all love about them, just like the little one bite brownies I think all of you foodies know about. Hands down, my favorite dessert of the night!
Pumpkin Vanilla Gelati – ($3.91 Inc Tax) – In keeping with the time of year, Rita’s is offering this seasonal customer favorite! It’s made with a pumpkin spiced Italian ice in the bottom of the cup, and their vanilla soft serve custard on top. The pumpkin spice flavored Italian ice seems to be a little bit creamier than I expected it to be, and the flavor was just right. This holiday treat won’t be around much longer, so be sure to stop by soon if you would like to give it a try!
Blendini – ($4.44 Inc Tax) – Most every ice cream shop has their own version of this popular treat, and Rita’s is called the Blendini! This is made with their vanilla soft serve custard , mint chocolate chip Italian ice, and Oreo cookies all blended together. While it was thick and required a spoon to eat, it seemed a little bit lighter than others I’ve tried at the other competitors, and I think that is due to the addition of the Italian ice blended into it. It was still rich, thick, and delicious, but not as heavy as you might expect.
Rita’s Italian Ice is definitely a contender with all of the other “ice cream” shops that we have around town. Their custard and Italian Ice are second to none, and they definitely have a lot of variety for you to choose from. My wife is a huge fan of ice cream, so we go out for it on a frequent basis. Now that my misconceptions about Italian ice have been debunked, I definitely think Rita’s will become a regular stop for us when we are craving sweet Italian treats!
Have you tried Rita’s Italian Ice? What has your experience been with them? Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at email@example.com with your questions or comments.
by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
November 30th, 2016
One of the most highly anticipated new business openings in Vero Beach as of late has been the new Wawa station being built on US Hwy 1. While Wawa does sell gasoline, most people say they are a restaurant and convenience store first, and a gas station second. I’ve heard the rumors about the food being really good, but honestly how good can gas station food be anyway? Everything that I did get to taste today was fantastic! I was really surprised by all of the variety and options you have to choose from. They have breakfast options that are available all day, soups, salads & wraps, hoagies & sandwiches, freshly made snacks, and quick grab and go options as well. I hope to be going back very soon to do a complete food review, so stay tuned for that in the upcoming weeks!
To place an order for a food item, there are kiosks throughout the store. You tap the screen to get started, select your options, place your order and get a ticket with an order number. You then take that ticket to the register and pay for it. I was told that they hope to have your order ready in only 5 minutes, so from the time of placing it and paying for it, you should only have to wait a short time for it. I plan to test this out on one of my next visits to see if they can actually get them done in this short of time.
Grand Opening Festivities
The store officially opens to the public tomorrow, December 1st at 8:00am. Their Grand Opening festivities start at 10:00am. There will be a parade of Wawa’s milestones, local representatives, members of the police & fire departments, and Wawa management and conclude with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The Grand Opening event will conclude with Hoagies for Heroes, a hoagie building competition between local police and fire departments, who will face off in a battle of bravery, skill, and sandwich-making expertise. The winning team will win $1,000 to be donated to their local charity of choice.
Below is a photo gallery of my visit today!
I Heart Wawa Button
LARGE Sandwich Sign
Coke a Cola FreeStyle Machines
Lots of Coffee Options
Coffee Fixin’s Bar
Just a few creamer options!
Candy and Snacks
Candy and Snacks
Candy and Snacks
About Wawa, Inc. Wawa, Inc:
A privately held company began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th Century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, PA in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and “certified” process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960’s, Grahame Wood, George’s grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. Today, Wawa is the all-day, everyday stop for fresh, built-to-order foods, beverages, coffee, fuel services, and surcharge-free ATMs. In 2015, Wawa was named “America’s Most Beloved Convenience Store” by a Market Force study of 7,000 consumers, and in 2016 Wawa was recognized by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Large Employers”, a survey-based ranking of employers offering the best associate experiences and strongest opportunities. A chain of more than 730 convenience retail stores (almost 500 offering gasoline), Wawa stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. The stores offer a large fresh food service selection, including Wawa brands such as built-to-order hoagies, freshly brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches, built-to-order specialty beverages, and an assortment of soups, sides, and snacks.
The Vero Beach store is the 101st store in the Wawa family, and the 29th one to open in 2016.
This year we had out of town relatives and “The Food Guy” here for Thanksgiving. We each decided to make a few dishes to spread out the work and add some variety this year. Stacy managed the mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, the cranberries, gravy and the world famous “Cook Family” broccoli casserole. Tom was on turkey duty, the stuffing, a dark chocolate cream pie, and deviled eggs.
This year we decided to keep it simple and make everything traditionally from top to bottom. The one exception was our dessert there we went completely ‘Over the Top’. Have a look at our Vero Beach Thanksgiving meal. If you are interested in any recipes or want to share your own we would very much appreciate you sharing with us this holiday.
After 3 and 1/2 hours, this beauty emerges from the oven. Tom and Stacy made an agreement before the baking to each share one “turkey oyster” each, which is usually a special treat for the one who carves the turkey. The trick to keeping the breast moist is cheesecloth over the top and basted each hour with chicken stock and butter. I learned this trick from Martha Stewart and have had successful results each year.
We took all the drippings and started simmering. Slow and steady is the pace stirring in the flour. Once thickened, we put it in the blender with all the giblets to make a very smooth texture and rich taste.
Creamy goodness best describes the texture of these light and fluffy bites. Tom prepared these with extra care blending all of the ingredients in a food processor to a smooth consistency. Then used a star tip and an icing bag to fill each egg. They were then topped with sweet smoked paprika.
As simple as it gets, Russet Potatoes, butter, salt, white pepper and half and half. Hand mashed and stirred to a fluffy consistency. Baked before serving to brown the hills and valley’s created with a spoon as a finishing touch.
Stacy’s grandmother’s recipe. Always a favorite. The trick is the layers. It’s rich and a delicious compliment in between your turkey and mashed potatoe bites.
Sweet Potatoe Casserole
Simple, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and brown sugar, this gets cooked twice before the marshmallows are melted on top. We like to char the top to give a slightly crunchy texture under that fluffy top.
Is it relish or a sauce? We just call it cranberries. Not too sweet and a bit of tart is just right. A hint of clove in that brown sugary goodness. We use this to compliment every other bite.
This is Tom’s grandmother’s recipe. What makes it so special you ask? It’s not so much the ingredients but the application as he stuffs it under the skin and in the cavity of the bird. This is where it picks up the extra flavor and stays so moist! So simple, yet so good!
Dark Chocolate Cream Pie
Almost 100% from scratch, the only cheat was the Nutter Butter cookies crumbled for the crust. We then made a chocolate ganache with 60% dark chocolate chips and combined that with a block of cream cheese. Then we folded in some whipped cream to lighten it up a bit. To top if off, we made a peanut butter whipped cream and added some additional crumbled nutter butter cookies on top for decoration.
You gotta get yourself a Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie. Warning: Explicit Language. View Video.
Your local Vero Beach Foodies ready to pounce on some Turkey ‘n fixin’s.
Give a shout out to your “Food Guy” or “Food Gal” in the comments below and tell us what your favorite dish was this holiday or even share a recipe.
From our families to yours, have a great holiday. See you around the town.