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Thursday, August 22, 2013

BurgerFi South Padre Island - a review

I have heard good, bad, and mediocre to describe the fairly new BurgerFi on South Padre Island.  I have not gone over the Summer months because, frankly, I try to avoid most all eating establishments on the island in the high season.  It is not the optimal time for locals to go out to eat!  You vie with hoards of tourists in large groups with crying children.  Not my idea of a good time.  I laugh, because we, at one time, were a part of those hoards and never thought a thing of waiting in long lines with harried waiters taking forever to get anything.  We smiled and toasted our wonderful vacation.  From an economic standpoint, I'm thrilled to see the madness continue.  However, I no longer choose to play the game.

Sooooo, it is now the last week of Summer on the starts Monday...there will be a bit of a bump (ok, maybe a big bump) of visitors for Labor Day week-end.  However, for the most part, the hoards are waning.  You will hear a tremendous sigh of relief from those of us who, while grateful for the economy of Summer, dream of the days of September and October...when the beaches are less crowded, the weather begins a slight (oh so slight) cooling of the morning air, and everything is wonderful once again.  That is, of course, barring some vicious H*rr***ne (a bad word, I can't type it, bad luck).

Today, my granddaughter waited very patiently for me to get my pedicure at Venus Spa so I told her we could go out for lunch after I was finished.  I had BurgerFi in the back of my mind to hit up when the crowds dissipated and it seemed to me that the island was much less crowded today.  Seemed possible today could be the day, so I asked the girls at Venus if they had tried it and what they thought.  Jennie had - and said she and her husband liked it a lot.  There was talk about their recent inspection getting flying colors from Ryan Wolf.  So, I decided to give it a try if it wasn't a full parking lot.

Upon arrival, we found most of the side parking lot available and so we hurried in.  It was nearly 1:00 and I expected the main lunch push was wrapping up.  We still had a line reaching back about 1/3 of the main dining area.  It seemed doable so we stepped into our place in line.  The line was one long one which split to two cashiers.  That seemed confusing to several people who came in after us who tried to step up to one or the other of the cashiers.  I guess they figured it out because they backed up to the proper end of the line.  The line moved fairly quickly.  The grandchild wanted a cheeseburger with pickles and ketchup only and some fries.  I decided on a single patty with fairly simple standard ingredients...mustard and ketchup and mayo (yep, I like all three) lettuce, onion, and pickle - no cheese.  I saw the combo order of onion rings and fries and the little miss and I decided to split that (with me taking the onion rings).  Two sodas and a tally right under $20.  That was a little pricier than I would hope for, since there was not any visible "kids menu", but if it was delicious, I was game.

BurgerFi has some high-tech soda machines.  They were pretty cool - you could mix sodas (yeah, like that's gonna happen) if desired and it was all touch screen.  I was able to figure it out fairly easily since the buttons flashed so you could realize "hey, push here dummy".  The grandkid thought the whole business was pretty cool...until her tiny fingers hit the Sprite Zero button accidentally and she couldn't figure out how to get back to the screen for regular Sprite.  The dude behind us had to walk us through the endeavor...and we were holding up the line...which is right in the midst of the waiting line.  Not an optimal set-up.  That is, of course, what a lot of the complaining was on Facebook when they first opened.  The traffic flow is poor when crowded.  Nonetheless, we got our sodas, lids, and straws and since the grandchild decided to sit outdoors, we headed that way.  Joy of joys...sliding need to balance drinks and push heavy doors.  I had to go back for condiments and again was thankful for not having to open doors with my hands balancing 4 containers of ketchup! 

We had a beeper for order pick-up and it seemed a bit of a long time for our order to be ready.  I can't imagine what it might be like with a huge crowd.  I had time to look around and observe things while I waited.  I saw big orders of fries passing by, mostly families, a few workers, and lots of happy faces.  That's always a good sign.  I noticed a worker was deep cleaning/scrubbing vacant tables.  A manager came out and reviewed his work and asked if he was cleaning under the table.  He got instruction on scrubbing under the table as well as on top.  Gotta say I liked that!  A few weeks with my grandkid has reminded me what germ mongers kids are! 

Finally, our beeper vibrated and lit up so lunch was ready!  My first thought when I retrieved our tray was "gee, these are pretty tiny burgers for nearly $6" and "damnnnn, that's a lot of fries, we'll never eat all of these".  In the long run, the burgers were actually just the right size for me and...we did not even put a dent in the fries.

I got back to the table and unloaded.  Eating outdoors on perpetually breezy SPI is always a challenge for a child.  Flyaway napkins, flyaway hamburger wrapper...I had to keep on top of where things were at all times.  I snapped a couple of photos.  Miss A. declared them to be really, really good hamburgers (she's a harsh hamburger critic and generally prefers chicken nuggets so that's a big kudo).  My burger was outstanding flavor-wise, albeit a bit dry.  However, since I love a chargrilled burger, I really like that it was well-done.  Many, however, will think it is over-cooked.  I know my younger son would.  The 1-patty burger is a very thin patty...and thin dries out when grilled, it's just a fact. The veg was fresh, the pickle particularly delicious, and the buns have the entertaining feature of being branded (literally) with the BurgerFi name.  That really thrilled my granddaughter!  "How did they DO that Grandma?" was asked repeatedly.  Finding the 7-year-old words to describe branding resulted in several different ways of describing how they might have branded the hamburger bun.  In the end, I finally admitted I just didn't know exactly HOW they did it!  I also tried to discuss with her the benefits of an "all natural" burger patty.  I gave up...just too over her head :-)

I finally got to eat my three HUGE AND DELICIOUS onion rings.  I was full at that point.  I love onion rings.  The fries are "hand cut" and have the skin on them (which was a negative for the grandchild) and were quite limp after a few minutes of being on the table....but, still, surprisingly tasty and had a light dusting of sea salt.  Grandchild only ate 3 of, if you have kids looking for McD's crisp - you won't find it here. (After I typed those words, I Googled their website.  Apparently, there is a "secret menu" where you can ask for extra crisp fries.  Well duh, now I know!)

Over all, I enjoyed the meal.  Another manager stopped by the table to see if everything was fine with our meal.  We said it was very good.  Having a manager walk through...that's a good thing. 

So, in summary...the onion rings were exceptional, fries really nothing to write home about and burgers quite good, but over-priced IMHO.  I managed to keep myself away from the custard/shakes section.  I have heard amazing things about a Red Velvet Cake Shake.    I really want to try that...but it's better that I don't!

We'll stop in again when the season is low and the family is hungry.  I expect, however, my spouse will find that he doesn't want to spend that much money to grab a burger...since we aren't on perpetual vacation (as he frequently likes to remind me).  Say what???  I beg to differ!

This photo has nothing to do with BurgerFi... but everything
to do with being on perpetual vacation :-)


3 – Pretty Yummy - I feel my flip flops wanting to head back from time to time!

Burgerfi on UrbanspoonStumbleUpon

Monday, August 5, 2013


If you were on the island a bit before noon today and saw a crazy woman making a U-turn on Padre Blvd...I admit, it was me.  I had been to CVS to pick up some prescriptions after finishing up Zumba and a work-out at Olympian Fitness Gym of Port Isabel.  I was icky sweaty and my hair was poking out all over the place and I had no intention of stopping between leaving CVS and taking a peak at the ocean (as I do every time my wheels drive onto the island) by driving down to a beach access on Gulf Blvd.  Beautiful day for the beach I'll my thoughts were happy as I turned onto Padre off of Amberjack.  That's when I did a double-take and impetuous U-turn.  I saw the new doughnut shop!!!  I had heard good things so, despite most certainly returning every bit of calories I had just burned off right back onto my butt, I decided to walk into this new potential den of iniquity...the first doughnut shop on the island since we've lived in the area. 

One of the things I missed about Austin when moving here was the absence of local doughnuts (that I know of); not even Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts...nada, zip, nothin'!  I do NOT count Wal-Mart doughnuts AT ALL.  They suck and are a total waste of calories.  HEB will do in an absolute craving pinch, but really, nothing to write home about.  I'm a lemon filled doughnut NUT and very rarely HEB has them so I cave.  I also really like a good yeasty glazed doughnut.  HEB's just don't do it for me.

So, I carefully stepped out of my car and surreptitiously looked around to see if anyone was watching me....I darted into the brand new Captain Donut!  It does not look like much from the outside - pretty mundane - but then you walk in...and inhale the dizzying delicious scent...and see the shining Pandora's case is in front of you...and smiling sirens are welcoming you.  OMG...what HAVE I done?  It would have been better not to know!
(not really)

I truly didn't expect much in the way of selection or extreme freshness considering it was nearly lunch time.  Boy was I in for a surprise!  Clean, new, lots of choices, nothing industrial looking in the case.  Yee Haw!!!  Donut nirvana!

After chatting with a couple of people in the shop, and the lovely Ms. Madie who created the S'mores Donut, I decided on a couple of donuts to go.  I got one of the basic glazed donuts and one of the aforementioned S'mores Donut.  I snapped some cell phone photos, and took my carefully packaged bag of donuts and left.  I fully had every intention of waiting to get home before I touched the bag.
The sirens of Captain Donuts.  Madie apparently spends her
time thinking up awesome donut concoctions.  Isn't that the cutest
apron and hat???

Then, imagine, the yeasty smell of fresh donut molecules sensuously winding their way to my nose, saying silently "come on Debbi, open the bag...just try a bite...just a bite".  Well, let me tell you, that glazed donut was out of the bag and in my belly before I hit the bridge.  I am so ashamed. (not really)

FRESH yeast donut with a delicate, not sloppy, sugar glaze.  Oh my.  Never would I have had the ability to eat just a bite.  It was a damn good donut.  I closed the bag and placed it out of my reach when I stopped at the light before the bridge.  Whew...close call, I could have inhaled the second one too had I had more immediate access.  I have no donut will power when the donut is as good as that glazed donut! (note I am officially changing my spelling from doughnut to donut because it is Captain Donut after all)

I made it home, fixed a cup of coffee from the last in the pot (love thermal coffee carafes - fresh coffee at noon, brewed at 6am), took a picture of the remaining donut and sat down to savor it. 

Imagine my surprise when I noticed it was gone...before even half my coffee was gone.    I am such a pig.  I had really not expected to love the S'mores donut because I'm not a huge fan of the usual chocolate glaze on donuts.  However, this was thin and tasty and added to the taste of the donut instead of overwhelming the donut.  These dudes (and dudettes) are awesome donut makers!  I hope and pray they make it.  Winter Texans...prepare to have coffee and donuts all Winter long down here.  We must keep this place in business for those times of utter and abject weakness when I turn into Homer Simpson and walk/drive in my sleep to get the donuts!!!

Next time I'm going earlier... I want to see every single option they have...including the Kolaches!!!
Until then, Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

JULY 5, 2014

My son needed donuts after his haircut so we nipped across the street to visit The Captain!  Happy to find lemon-filled (delicious) and our regular faves glazed and chocolate frosted.  My gaze lingered longingly on the giant cinnamon rolls...and my bright idea was to buy two of them "for my husband"...yeah, that's the ticket.  Here are couple of photos - they were all gone lickety split...with fingers licked as well!  Still havented tried the Kolache...but I will!

Delicious 1/2 dozen from Captain Donut...yum!

Cinnamon rolls so big 2 barely fit in the box!
(I was happy they didn't have raisins...that would have been a no-go for me)

Captain Donut on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Graduation Cookies Take Two!

A couple of fondant accents, drop flower and mini rose RI transfers,
as well as an outlined and accented stamp were some of the
ways I decorated mini cookies for a grad platter. 
A friend asked me to make some grad cookies for her daughter's college graduation party.  I loved the color palette and thoroughly enjoyed playing around with this project.  Orange, blue, and white are the Sam Houston State University Bearkat colors and the following are what I came up with.  They are based on a vanilla bean sugar cookie and used a variety of techniques when decorating - basic piping, rubber stamping, stacked "3-D" plaque cookies, and some royal icing transfers (a variety of flowers).  Lots of fun - a few mistakes (mostly eaten) and off they went to celebrate this week-end.  Enjoy the photos!

Three plaque cookies from 5-6 inches in size. 
Nice centerpieces for a cookie platter.
The white dots were all piped with a PME 1.5 tip,
the orange with a PME 2 tip,
and the blue shell border with a Wilton tip #13.
I found these rubber stamps
(Class of, Congrats, and the Grad Cap)
at Hobby Lobby.  I think they were just $3.99 each.
 I have to tell the story of the '13 plaque cookie.  It was supposed to be the Congratulations plaque cookie.  I let it dry 18 hours under a fan, but apparently it wasn't dry enough.  When I pressed the stamp on the surface and gave it a slight push - the whole thing cracked and caved in.  I was going to give it to my husband to eat and left it under a fan all day so he would not end up with black lips!  However, after it dried, I thought "hmmm, could I re-coat it?"  So I tried it and it didn't dry very smooth and I could see a vague bit of black under the orange.  Then, when I was outlining and flooding the numbers 2013...I broke the number two.  I didn't have a back-up cookie.  So, I thought "hmmmm...could I make a 3-d cookie and cover up a whole mess of woes and still come out sunny?"  Having nothing to lose (and a back-up plaque or two) I gave it a try. To get the apostrophe, I used a mini leaf cutter and cut it out of a spare cookie from the batch...not a very smooth edge, but I carefully pressed it into shape and quickly iced it and didn't touch it any more!  It turned our fairly well I thought.  I gave all 3 plaques to my friend - she could choose whether to use one or all in her cookie platter.

There were quite a few stars - this is a sampling.  The center bottom
star is stenciled and highlighted with blue dots...
 the rest are free-hand.  My friend asked for
three-dozen minis.  It was fun getting creative with the minis.
Large 3 1/2 to 4 inch cookies included grad caps, scrolls, and
shooting stars (not shown)  A bit of gold lustre dust dissolved in
a drop of vodka added a nice accent to the tassels.

These are various drop flowers, piped roses, and piped ribbon roses.
The little hearts on the bottom left cookie were a simple dot
piped wet-on-wet and dragged with a needle tool to form a circle of hearts.
The transfers were all prepared on parchment paper, allowed to dry
overnight, and then glued to the base-coated cookie with royal icing. 
Mini leaves piped with a PME ST50 tip.  One of my new favorites!

This bunch of minis had a couple of wet-on-wet techniques.
I marbled the bottom one with white and orange after
base coating the cookie blue.  I like the way it looks.  I used
a technique for wet-on-wet flowers I've seen done by Buttercup Cookies.
Mine is not as good as hers...but I like the concept.

I've enjoyed sharing this project with you - I've made more graduation cookies this year than I've ever made before...EVER!  Since I'm just a hobby baker at this point, making large sets for friends is helping me stretch my wings!  If she sends me photos of the party, I'll update the blog post!!!  Congratulations, Elizabeth, on your graduation...hope you and your friends and family enjoy the cookies!
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!