Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Drama Burger, Tampa, FL

Okay, drama-seekers…at long last you’ll be welcomed somewhere. Drama Burger, which opened in December of 2015, is a funky little Lithuanian (yes, you read correctly) boutique burger spot housed in a re-purposed Chinese drive-through restaurant. The venue has an offbeat charm with its minimalist, industrial Eastern Euro-chic décor, concrete floors, mix and match furniture and eclectic pendant lights – but don’t go in expecting fancy trappings despite the fact that it’s conceivable to pay $13 or more for a burger here.

If you’re a traditionalist (or don’t have at least a modicum of an adventurous eating streak), you probably shouldn’t even bother because you’ll need to be able to wrap your head around ingredients like ajika, pickled kohlrabi and harissa mayo at Drama Burger. But if you’re ever going to step out of your comfort zone, this would be the time and place to do so.

The craft Angus beef offerings are minced fresh daily, sold a la carte and range in price from $9 to $14 (quality in this case warranting the heftier price tag). Served on sweet brioche buns, they’re topped with escalated accoutrements like house made BBQ sauces and mayos, a variety of fresh greens, pickled veggies, assorted onions and unusual cheeses. All burgers are cooked to a juicy medium rare (just as God intended) unless otherwise specified and are ridiculously indulgent.

The $14 March burger of the month (Berlin Burger) left me bitterly wishing I could rent some extra stomach space and finish the entire thing. This masterpiece consisted of TWO beef patties layered with thick-cut bacon, BBQ sauce, chipotle mayo, a thick slab of fried Emmental cheese, pickled cucumber, white onion, iceberg lettuce, spinach and arugula. Truly a ground-breaking composition for the Tampa Bay area. Helpful hint: You’ll need a roll of Visqueen and fire hose to emerge from this battle unscathed.

My  beloved was intrigued by the Pastrami Burger – another fat burger topped with Drama Burger’s homemade pastrami (which involves nine days of brining, smoking and boiling to reach its fabulous fruition). Embellished with mustard mayo, red onion and pickles, not a morsel remained after he wrapped his Neanderpaws around it and tucked in. There’s also a dedicated pastrami sandwich dressed identically that easily stands on its own. Honey, I don't think that Fitbit on your wrist is going to save you.

Other strong contenders sampled were the Salmon Burger – a chopped salmon patty (definitely not your mom’s) with roasted leek mayo, spinach and pickled veggies – and a spicy Lamb Burger piled with eggplant, Greek yogurt with cumin and other goodies.

Salmon Burger:

Vegetarians needn’t sulk - you won’t be left sitting on your hands while watching the carnivores dig in. Portobello burgers are available along with a short list of salads and several flavorful animal protein-free sides and apps (from which one could easily build a tapas meal). Shatteringly crunchy onion rings are a solid choice, as are creamy avocado wedges deep fried in spicy tempura batter and served with zippy aioli for dipping. Trying to avoid fried foods? Consider the roasted baby carrots with maple syrup and harissa paste. While perhaps served a little too firm for my Southern palate, their sweet-meets-heat flavor profile and food stylist-esque presentation will make it easy for veggie lovers to gobble up their MDR of Vitamin A. Other options include green pea falafel, sautéed kale with butter and sesame seeds, and broccoli with cheddar.
I honestly wasn’t expecting desserts to be as memorable as they were. Red Velvet Cake is delightfully deconstructed and features moist, dense chunks of cake presented atop a schmear of cream cheese frosting, then crowned with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh berries. Maybe one of the best Red Velvet Cake applications I’ve ever tasted.
 The ultimate charmer, however, is the Chocolate Rocky – a riff on a classic dessert popular in Lithuania, Portugal and Italy. For this diabolical taste sensation, chocolate ganache and biscotti bits are combined, formed into a log and dredged in powdered sugar. Then, the entire thing is wrapped in butcher paper and tied with twine to resemble an artisanal sausage. A serving is one half of the roll, which shows up looking for all the world like a little gift-wrapped package with more of the homemade vanilla ice cream thrown in for good measure.

Beverages include homemade lemonade, milkshakes and an eclectic assortment of local beers like Angry Chair, Cigar City and Cycle along with European classics such as Carslberg and Guiness. A short selection of Vinecraft organic wines is also available.

While not inexpensive (it’s easy to spend $60+ for two sandwiches and sides, a couple of drafts apiece and a dessert to share), it’s a worthwhile destination for burger lovers seeking something out of the ordinary. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to be delighted.

Drama Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. You had me at "Lithuanian boutique burger spot housed in a re-purposed Chinese drive-through restaurant". Sounds yummy and interesting.

  2. I love a good burger. This looks way out of the ordinary.

  3. I am an event photographer, I love this venue, and I will revisit this venue in a heartbeat. The venue NYC have really great staff and pretty decent drinks. Their halls and rooms are absolutely gorgeous.

  4. I have to check this place out just for their onion rings.