November 04, 2013

Orlando weekend recap

Last weekend we ventured out of Tampa Bay and into the Orlando area. No theme parks in mind on this particular visit, just relaxing and enjoying time together and with friends.

The best part of our trip was our temporary vacation home at Windsor Hills Resort. Windsor Hills is a perfectly kept community of vacation homes for families visiting the Orlando area. They boast themselves as "the closest vacation home resort to Walt Disney World." The property seemed to be very secure, and totally picture perfect. The lawns were perfectly manicured, the neighborhood was perfectly quietly, and it looked like the ultimate suburbia dream land. Nearby you could find every chain restaurant you could imagine and lots of souvenir shops. If you are vacationing with your family to the Disney area, this is the way to do it. Our vacation home had 6 bedrooms, a game room, and a private pool.

Ah, Pleasantville
My favorite meal of the trip came from Shula Burger. I found out that this was actually the newest location - it was in Kissimmee at the Rolling Oaks Plaza. (We actually visited the Rolling Oaks Plaza several times while we were in town. It has pretty much everything you need.) Shula Burger is a part of the Shula family of restaurants (including Shula's Steak House), from namesake and former NFL coach Don Shula. The Kissimmee location of Shula Burger is the 5th - and I was really surprised when I learned that one of the locations is in the Southwest terminal at Tampa International Airport. I am hoping that Shula Burger adds a full scale Tampa or St. Pete location in the near future. I have been thinking about that burger since I had it 2 weeks ago!

Shula Burger is a fast-casual burger chain. You order at the counter and your meal is delivered to your table. The staff was incredibly accommodating, starting with Carlos who greeted us at the door and explained the experience to us. He mentioned that he had tried everything on the menu (lucky guy!) and would be happy to make recommendations if we needed them. I stuck with my favorite type of burger, the Mushroom Swiss burger. There were 9 signature burgers to choose from or you could customize your own creation. I counted at least 8 cooks in the kitchen during our Saturday afternoon visit. It was nice to know that they had adequate staff to handle the lunch rush.

The Shula Burger and Sweet Potato Tots
Mushroom Swiss Burger with Sea Salt Fries
I was also very happy to find that Shula Burger uses brioche buns for their burgers. I hate going to a burger place and being served a cheap bun. The buns used at Shula Burger were strong enough to hold the patty and toppings without falling apart. The burger patties are made from Black Angus beef, short rib, and brisket. The burger was very juicy and flavorful. I loved that they used a perfect ratio of cheese on the burger. The cheese fit the whole patty - not too big or too small like at other burger places. The branding of Shula on the bun was a nice touch too. The Sea Salt fries sounded a little intimidating because I don't love salt THAT much, but they were pretty much regular fries. The salt was not overwhelming or even really that noticeable and the fries were extra crispy.

In case you can't tell, I give Shula Burger an A+!

On Saturday evening we ventured out to Citywalk at Universal. I love going to the Universal parks, especially during Grinchmas. Our visit to Citywalk featured a trip to Rising Star. Rising Star is the ultimate karaoke venue for those who dream about being on stage. You sing karaoke along with a live band and backup singers. All of the singers were really good. This is not your typical "tone deaf" karaoke bar (although maybe some not so good singers came on after we left?). Rising Star has an ample list of karaoke classics and several current songs to choose from. The downside was that the band takes 30 minute breaks in between sets of about 30 minutes. I'm not sure why they go from 100% entertainment to 0% entertainment for such long periods. However, this is the perfect spot for anyone who dreams of being on stage and wants a taste of stardom - even if just for 1 song.

Rising Star - backup singers, live band, and an awesome performer
What are your favorite places in Orlando? I hope to be back for Grinchmas this year!

Check out Shula Burger on UrbanSpoon:
Shula Burger on Urbanspoon


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