I can't decide the proper way to make this announcement, so I'm just going to blurt it out: this is my final post under the "Hackknife South" heading. Many of you are no doubt already aware that Mrs. H. has accepted a prominent position at company headquarters in Manhattan and we have been in the process of relocating to New York over the past few weeks (and if you weren't aware of this, consider yourself now up to speed). Although we are sad to be leaving Florida, I am practically bursting with enthusiasm over the dining and blogging potential of the greater NYC area (which will occur under this blog's new moniker, "Hackknife Northeast" - original, I know), not to mention Westchester County (our new place of residence) and nearby Connecticut, home of many unique and noteworthy eats (and favorite state of the good folks over at Roadfood). So, in the spirit of moving onward and upward, here is the last dispatch from Tampa.
On the day before we loaded up the family truckster and headed north for good, I let my kids decide what they wanted to do for their going-away activity. Q-Zar Laser Tag on N. Dale Mabry Highway was the consensus choice and, while the two of them were perfectly content eating mediocre snack bar pizza for lunch, I held out for something a little more intriguing. Many times before, I had passed the nearby Harley-Davidson of Tampa complex and had noticed a bright orange food truck parked in the lot at 6920 N. Dale Mabry, wondering how good the burgers might possibly be. Today was the day we would find out.
The people running the operation (native New Yorkers, as it turns out) received bonus points in my book for both displaying a Buccaneers flag with the old-school insignia and for offering Whatever Pops (the missus and I had enjoyed these artisanal treats at a food truck summit a couple of years back) to hot and thirsty customers. The burgers here, however, are the obvious draw and I selected the Street Burger, a slab of tasty ground beef grilled up and served with cheddar cheese, pink sauce (a mixture of ketchup and mayo), cilantro aioli, lettuce, shoestring potatoes, and, the coup de gras, a slice of grilled pineapple.
The addition of the pineapple turned this beauty of a sandwich into about the best polynesian-style burger in the land, quite possibly the top burger in Tampa (discovered better late than never, I suppose). The hand-cut fries that accompanied it were nearly as top-shelf, warm and crispy and loaded up with just the right amount of salt.
I hate leaving town with regrets, but I had a hard time not feeling a sense of lost opportunity here (still, I am comforted by the fact that I have a recent issue of Westchester Magazine on my shelf with a list of the top 25 sandwiches in Westchester County just awaiting my gastronomic exploration). From Ted Peter's to the Refinery to Bern's, I salute you, o Tampa Bay dining scene - here's hoping for continued excellence and further enhancement in the years to come. Perhaps we'll meet again when we become snowbirds...