disney world 3
Almost twenty-five years since my first visit, I took advantage of my month-long Floridian adventures and returned to Walt Disney World.

With a terminally busy schedule, I was only able to commit one day to Disney and everyone I shared my excitement with responded with a troubling instinct – “can you do Disney in a day?“.

I had no idea. But it was all the time I had and, silver lining style, I knew I’d be able to at least¬†let you guys know if it wasn’t…

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A dream is a wish your heart makes. ūüíę

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hamburger mary drag brunch
As far as I’m concerned brunch, drag queens, and broadway are a few of the more glorious thrills this wide world has to offer. The combination of all three? A dream brought to life by Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando.

Each Sunday, their ‘Broadway Brunch’ welcomes patrons old and new to enjoy some gargantuan-plated American brunch classics while The Minx, Nicky Monet and around a dozen of their drag queen compadres put on an always-changing song and dance review.

During my visit, I enjoyed as much of the Country Biscuits and Gravy breakfast (two hot & fluffy biscuits sitting atop two sausage patties, covered with sausage gravy, and served with 2 scrambled eggs) as I could stomach before two hours of seat-dancing through a dozen performances – everything from naughty Disney mashups to outstanding Sister Act renditions.

Though their Sunday brunch menu (served from 11 to 3 – timed perfectly with the show’s midday start) features omelettes, pancakes, chicken fried chicken, et al, the brunch is not about the food. It is about the love, family-friendly hilarity, and passion of the drag community.

That and enough mimosas and skinny margaritas to lose all your dollar bills in two songs or under.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate a birthday, bachelorette, or basic boozy brunch – Hamburger Mary’s is the best solution Florida has to offer.

hamburger mary drag brunch
hamburger mary drag brunch
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proper dtsp
Proper Kitchen and Cocktails (monikered Proper DTSP) is the most frequently praised¬†love child of King of 1st Avenue South, Stephen Schrutt – the trend-savvy owner of Proper’s equally successful neighbours, The Avenue and Park & Rec (the latter of which offers its retro game-playing patrons a micro pickup menu from both siblings).

While opening three restaurants in a competitive row hardly sounds like a stairway to entreprenerial¬†heaven, each hot spot’s respective identity keeps the crowds returning night after night.¬†To celebrate my last evening in St Pete before heading to the Midwest, it only seemed – for love of a pun – proper to end up at the craft cocktail beacon of¬†Schrutt’s epicurious¬†trifecta.

Not to say Proper is all drank and no play. Far from it. Their culinary calling card is their wood-burning smoker and the idiosyncratic creations inspired by it.

To kick things off, my dining companion and I loaded the table with wood-fired oysters (stuffed with chorizo & chili garlic butter on the half shell), gator bites (a Floridian specialty pumped up by cilantro crema and chili garlic aioli), and a grilled sweet watermelon salad (blending arugula, gargantuan feta chunks, candied pecans & cornbread croutons under balsamic vinaigrette).

Individually, each dish was incredible and only intensified by the arrival of an¬†Old Man & The Sea¬†(Mount Gay Black Barrel, Benedictine, Banane Du Brasil, Tiki Bitters & Angostura) and¬†10 Lords A Leaping¬†(Monkey Shoulder Scotch, honey, fresh lemon, and St. Elizabeth‚Äč All Spice Dram).

Do not visit Proper without planning a tour of the cocktail menu.

As one can only go meat or go home¬†in such an establishment, we then turned¬†to taste tests of their four signature sauces (classic, gold, sweet & spicy, and the killer¬†smoked habanero) before settling on ribs and lean-cut¬†brisket. The latter, in all its ample Angus glory,¬†lacked the punch I expected after throat-tingling¬†my way through the smoked habanero but worked perfectly with the accompanying cornbread and ‘slaw. The half rack of St Louis cut (read: rectangular)¬†ribs, however, blew me away; phenomenally meaty, tender, and seasoned to perfection. Even for a woman who avoids meat on the bone.

Though we struggled eating half of what we ordered, our waiter Josh waxed so genuinely lyrical¬†about their Nutella bread pudding¬†we decided dessert (which changes daily) couldn’t be desisted. A decision worth every gooey, bouncy and naughty¬†spoonful.

Do cocktails. Do chill vibes with a strong – albeit nostalgic – playlist. Do enough food to feed you for weeks. Do it proper.

proper dtsp
proper dtsp
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z grille
Z Grille is a bit of a ‘blink and you miss it’ destination in downtown St Pete (or DTSP, as the cool kids call it). From the corner of 1st Avenue South, its an unassuming stretch of al fresco tables that have nothing on the grind-rail lined interior and sophistication whipped out of its open kitchen.

Z Grille’s chef and owner, Zach Gross, is a creature of constant experimentation. Though there are a few items that would cause an uproar if removed, the menu is as improvisational and creative as the Grille can get away with. It is a daring take in a competitive area and something they’re doing very well.

It is the type of place you want to bring all your friends so you can try a little bite of everything. Especially the Shrimp ‘Nachoz’ (crab queso, corn salsa, Pico De Gallo, avocado Salsa, queso fresco, cilantro cr√®me, and pickled onions) and the gargantuan Foie Burger (house ground brisket & Ribeye, grilled onions, grilled tomato, applewood bacon, foie gras & garlic mayo), which is served with the most addictive manchego and chive-sprinkled truffle fries I have ever had the pleasure to taste.

Pro tip: save room for a few killer cocktails – they are as aptly named (ie Skinny “Beeyotch”) as they are delicious.

z grille st pete
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