It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And, no, we haven’t morphed back a couple of weeks to Christmastime.
It’s time for Funky Buddha’s 2020 Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival, taking place on Saturday, January 11. This year’s fest — which celebrates the namesake gold medal winner in the 2016 World Beer Cup and previously number-one ranked porter in the world according to RateBeer.com — is a little different than times past.
The biggest change? Admission is now totally free. (Some prior years required a ticket which essentially equated to buying big bottles of the porter in advance.) Also, rather than an outdoor affair at nearby Jaco Pastorius Park or a cozy shindig in Funky Buddha’s backlot, this all-day festival (11:30 a.m. to midnight) is taking over the brewery’s Oakland Park taproom and barrel room. For the MBCP enthusiasts, 2020 marks the first time you’ll be able to snag 12-ounce bottles of the brew, with four-packs going for 15 bucks.
There’s a lot more happening with this fest than sweet, savory, bacon-y heaven, too. More than 50 specialty Funky Buddha beers will be on tap and available in sample and full-pour sizes, including a bourbon barrel-aged French toast, rum barrel-aged piña colada, an array of hard seltzers and a wine barrel-aged rosé. (Clearly, barrel-aged is a thing, y’all). Tasty Vibrations, Deep Fried Funk and Spider Cherry will provide tunes throughout the day and there will be quirky activations like live custom hat printing and a silent disco, too.
On Sunday, after you’ve had all the beer, return for its Maple Bacon Hangover Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with more beer and bottomless options (including the MBCP) and hearty dishes like the black cherry glazed pork belly with over-pecan wood bacon and porcini mushroom grits.
So, start saving that belly room, bacon and beer lovers — you’ll need it.
And now on to other news and notes from South Florida’s restaurant scene.
Tacos y tequila — ¡guau! TacoCraft Taqueria and Tequila Bar is scheduled to open in mid- to late 2020 near downtown Fort Lauderdale. Taking the place of the now-shuttered Midici, on Federal Highway near Fresh Market, the modern Mexican concept will be the fourth South Florida location for joint force Marc Falsetto of Handcrafted Hospitality, Charles Hazlett, and Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza founders Anthony Bruno and Pat Marzano. Located adjacent Flagler Village and — in a nod to the neighborhood's style — adorned with tons of vibrant street art, the new TacoCraft will feature indoor and outdoor seating for up to 160 — ten more than the number of tequilas offered. Other TacoCraft are located in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Himmarshee, and South Miami; a fifth is set to open in Plantation in late 2020.
Get stoned. The Ninth-Annual Riverwalk Stone Crab and Seafood Festival is this Saturday, January 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fort Lauderdale’s Esplanade Park. With free admission, the fest features dishes starting at $5 from the likes of Kelly’s Landing, the Historic Downtowner, Vinny’s Stone Crab and Seafood and many more. Pro-tip: If you’re planning to have a cerveza, buy your beer garden ticket early for $20 and get unlimited samples from Veza Sur, Islamorada Beer Company and others.
An ailing ale house. Miller’s Ale House, which has more than 50 locations throughout the Sunshine State, has closed its Fort Lauderdale location, located at 2861 N. Federal Highway. The restaurant’s branding has been completely stripped and a sign on its door cites an expiring lease as a contributor to its closure. So, no more Sunday Ticket on its dozens of TVs, NFL fans. For this weekend’s playoff action, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Funky and junky. Los Angeles-based Vuture Food is parking at Fort Lauderdale’s Orchestrated Minds Brewing on Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. for a Plant-Based Junk Food experience. Based on national buzz from sea to shining sea, must-tries include its “shrimp” and fries and Nashville Hot Chik’n Sammich. After you hit Vuture, make sure to get some Shugga (Orchestrated Minds’ American Imperial stout) inside.
My big fat Greek festival. The Hollywood Greek Festival returns to St. George Greek Orthodox Church Friday through Sunday. In addition to Greek plates ranging from $7 to $16, a few key details to fully get your opa on: First responders and active military get free admission all weekend long (otherwise $3). There’s a raffle to win $10,000 (tickets are $25). And, get ready to get your dance on because things always get festive, particularly late in the evening.
Discs and drafts. Building on the yoga, bingo, board games and food trucks that you can find at local breweries, now you can play... disc golf. Gulf Stream Brewing Company is hosting a disc-golf putting tournament on Thursday evening, so bring yourself and your A-game. All participants (entry is free) get discounted beer and there will be prizes for the top three finishers.
News and notes. Pembroke Pines' pedestrian-friendly The Shops at Pembroke Gardens welcomed two new eateries in December — Sirocco Mediterranean and Level29 by William Levy. Sirocco spans more than 4,000 square feet with an upscale outdoor/indoor vibe. Open daily from 4 to 11 p.m. with Fridays and Saturdays open as late as 3 a.m., Sirocco will offer what owner Tarek Younes calls "our authentic take on Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine." Level29, the brainchild of Cuban-American actor William Levy, serves Nikkei cuisine, a unique blend of Japanese and Peruvian ingredients and influences. Inside Level29, Delicatus Gourmet Bakery & Market will offer French pastries, Spanish and Italian goods, and meats, cheeses, coffee, and other international delicacies. Level29 is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to midnight; Delicatus' hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ... Though its original New York City location closed in 2016, Swifty’s – known for its high-society/club feel and menu — has opened as a seasonal pop-up experience at the Colony hotel in Palm Beach. ... Just Salad, a New York-based fast-casual concept that serves up salads, bowls, and a crunchy avocado toast, will open its first Palm Beach location on January 10 at Boca Center. ... The Grille at the Abdo New River Room, located in the Broward Center, will open two-and-a-half hours ahead of all evening performances during its 2020 Broadway Series. The restaurant will feature a customized menu matching the vibe of each show.